REVIEW: Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid
Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.
Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.
Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.
As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…
One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!
This book is approximately 66,000 words
Dear Rachel Reid,
Sometimes negative reviews do sell books. I accidentally came a cross of one of the reviews which talked about excessive amount of sex in this story (which is usually a big fat NO for me), and about angry rivalry between the leads and I am all for that (provided the execution was good), and I decided I would try it and I am very glad I did.
First and foremost, I have to say that yes, absolutely there is A LOT of sex in this book, like A LOT so much that normally I would have abandoned it. This story was definitely an exception to the rule, I think mostly because a very skilled author wrote it. I *could not stop reading*. No, I cannot say that I became a huge fan of erotic romance in general after I finished this story. My thing always was a great plot with great characterizations and chemistry. If all of that is present, I don’t even need on page sex, although a couple of sex scenes that enhance the story is usually a perfect balance to me.
This book did something different though. The development of the relationship (yes the author did convince me that it was a relationship even if it was just a sexual one for a long time) spans eight or nine years between the beginning and end of the story and I just felt that very subtly author showed how slowly but surely they noticed more about each other, learned more about each other and started caring about each other more than in a purely sexual way much earlier than before their declaration towards each other.
As an aside I also have to say that I have not giggled that much while reading about guys having sex for a long time.
“When Rozanov pressed in, it was slow and careful, but Shane’s whole body trembled anyway. The pain was there, but not as sharp as Shane had been expecting. The pressure was the most overwhelming sensation. He felt impossibly full, and couldn’t imagine how Rozanov was supposed to move once he was all the way in. Shane was struck with the sudden, horrific thought that Rozanov would become stuck inside him. Oh Jesus, they would have to call 911 or something! Shane forced himself to take a breath and pushed images of doctors trying to separate them while all of Rozanov’s teammates watched out of his mind.”
Their story starts when they are both rookies who fight something fierce on ice, but it does not take them long to start exploring their sexual attraction of the ice. Basically we see them each time their teams are playing in the same city – most of the time they get together, hiding from everybody, knowing it could be dangerous if they are discovered, but continuing their affair. The story is written in third person POV which shifts between Ilya and Shane.
Of course Ilya and Shane are not always in the same city and at times author shows them separately and maybe I am misreading the narrative, but I felt like most of the time she did it to make a point – to show that their connection was strengthening that they were thinking about each other.
And as the years pass, we get moments like this :
““I got, um, ginger ale. You like that shit, right?” “Yeah. I do.” Shane looked at him oddly. Shane often abstained from alcohol because he didn’t want to do anything that might compromise his performance on the ice. Over the years he had developed an affinity for ginger ale as a substitute for beer. But it wasn’t like he’d ever talked about that to Rozanov. Instead of asking Rozanov how the hell he knew that he liked ginger ale, or why he cared enough to buy some, he asked, “You want to order takeout, or—” “Do you like tuna melts?” “You want to make me a tuna melt?” Rozanov shrugged. “I’m making one for me. I can make two. Ginger ale is in fridge.”
How about moment like this one? I don’t know about you, but I didn’t doubt that they were in love by then. And the author mostly told their love story and their character growth through sex – I thought it was not a small feat to accomplish, especially to convince a reader like myself.
“Then Rozanov went very still and said, “Oh god. Shane…” and he came in hot bursts, coating Shane’s hand and allowing Shane to use the slickness to bring himself off almost immediately, with the sound of his first name being spoken in a breathless Russian accent still ringing in his ears. They held each other, both breathing heavily as they waited for their hearts to stop racing. But Shane didn’t think his heart would ever stop racing. Shane. He called me Shane. He pulled back so he could see Rozanov’s face, and was shocked to see him staring at him with the same wide-eyed terror that Shane felt. “Ilya,” he said, barely more than a whisper.
Ilya didn’t answer. Instead, he crushed their mouths together and kissed Shane in a raw, uncontrolled way that felt like an apology. Oh no. Oh fuck. Oh no. When they broke apart, Ilya rested his forehead against Shane’s and they just breathed together. Shane held Ilya’s face in his hands, and Ilya was stroking his back. Was Shane supposed to say something? Nothing had actually been admitted here. No grand declarations. No questions asked. Shane untangled himself from Ilya and stood. “I should go.””
Hockey was definitely shown in the book, but I cannot vouch for how well (or not) it was researched. I loved their romance though and ending seemed to fit very well for me.
Grade : B+