Puckboys: Egotistical Puckboy – Eden Finley & Saxon James
Partying, dudes, and hockey. What more could a gay NHL player want?
If it weren’t for Anton Hayes, my life would be perfect.
Not that he affects my life in any way. At all. That would imply I care what the winger from Philly thinks of me.
Which I don’t.
Not even a one-night stand with him can thaw his misplaced animosity toward me.
He says I’m the one with the ego, but he can talk. He rivals me for most egotistical puck boy in the league.
I hate him as much as he hates me. Even if I crave a repeat.
When it comes to hockey, I’m all about the game.
I’ve worked for years to be one of the best in the league, and l’ve done it without splashing my orientation all over the tabloids.
My hockey image is one I’ve carefully cultivated, and after one night with Ezra Palaszczuk, I risk it all.
He’s cocky, obnoxious, and has an ego bigger than Massachusetts. And okay, maybe he’s the sexiest man I’ve ever known.
We’ll never get along. Not when we sleep together. Not even when my possessive streak awakens.
That doesn’t stop us from falling into bed together over and over again.
Hockey romance is my most-read MM sports romance. I don’t know what it is about these hockey players that makes them so shippable. Being gorgeous specimens of humanity, I guess. I barely know anything about the sport. Mind you, I hate sports, but the way these hockey romances play out, I’m almost tempted to watch some games.
Our egotistical puckboy is hockey royalty, Ezra Palaszczuk. He’s an openly gay troublemaking manwhore who never shuts up. Or so it seems. A closer look reveals a man who wants affection but fears rejection. As unlikely as it seems, he’s also an inspiration to aspiring queer athletes. Spend time with him, you’ll notice how he subtly goes out of his way to make people happy.
Ez’s rival in the ice and in ego is top athlete Anton Hayes. Anton has a good boy image. He’s grateful for his privileged upbringing and he’s committed to giving back. Anton’s is so serious about it, he even has secret volunteer gigs nobody, not even his team, knows about.
The man also likes control and has a possessive streak. He doesn’t like to share. He’s still partly in the closet, with only family and teammates knowing he’s gay. He doesn’t want his orientation made public because he doesn’t want to be defined by his sexuality.
By all accounts, the two hated each other. Then one very drunk evening, Ezra was rescued by Anton from being beaten by angry fans. Feeling responsible, he takes Ezra into his apartment to sleep it off. The idiot took it upon himself to provoke his rescuer. The two ended with a hatefuck, and then continued hooking up, right until Anton was traded into Ezra’s team. And that’s when they start catching certain inescapable feelings.
I like my enemies-to-lovers story to be intense. This one has the right level of intensity that makes this trope so delicious. I live for the snark and banter! The romance was executed brilliantly, the transition very organic and so very satisfying.
Ezra, holy heck, the mouth on the guy! There were times when he was almost too much. Even during sex, he wouldn’t shut up. At some particularly exasperating statement, I even thought, man, that is such a boner killer.
Anton has no problems matching Ez snark per snark. I enjoyed how he challenges the other man and keeps him on his toes. He saw through the ego and the bluster and recognized Ez’s vulnerability and innate goodness. And I loved how he accepts Ezra for who he is all the way.
Ezra is mine.
I groan at the thought.
At doing what no one else has ever done.
The thing is, I don’t want to rein him in. I don’t want to change him. He’s light. He’s attention. People are drawn to him and his larger-than-life personality. I want to wind him up and watch him fly, then be the safe place where he can land. The one he always comes back to.
My favorite thing about these two is that they may trade in one-upmanship and sarcasm but when real issues come up, they take time to communicate properly. They talked about everything from the get-go, from how their hook-ups should go down, to going exclusive, to Ez’s family issues, to Anton’s coming out. Ez inspired Anton to embrace his truth. Attaboy!
I struggled with a few other books but when I picked this up, I was riveted for hours. I was immediately drawn to the characters, even the supporting ones. I loved the Queer Collective! They’re a group of queer NHL players who banded together. Most of these guys are from the CU Hockey series.
Rivals/enemies-to-lovers hockey romances always bring to mind that famously steamy rivalry between the cocky Russian and the polite Canadian. Happily, after a couple of chapters, comparisons to that other book faded. Egotistical Puckboy is sufficiently different to set itself apart. It’s fun, sweet, low-angst, and very swoony! It made me laugh and smile.
Let these puckboys show you a good time too!
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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Game Changers: Heated Rivalry – 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…
This book is what every sports romance fan dreams of and more!!!
Heated Rivalry is the second book of the Game Changers series and can be read as a standalone. Admittedly, the super generic cover did nothing to encourage me and I put off reading this for a while. Tsk! Should have read it sooner. I haven’t read the first book but the blurb for book two grabbed my attention as I am on the look out for a true enemies-to-lovers story. Some of the ones I’ve read lacked intensity or don’t even hate each other at all. This one promised to be intense!
And it was!
You can see from the list above that the enemies as lovers, opposite attracts, sports rivals combination mean all kinds of fun, fun dynamics. From the get go, you can feel the super fierce competitive spirit between the two players, each trying to be number one at everything from first draft to Rookie of the Year to the Stanley Cup, to the Olympics to Cosmopolitan’s hottest hockey player. The smacktalk pops up every chance they get. It continues in the bedroom and long after they exchanged L-words. I would gladly read, or better yet, watch an entire series of just Shane and Ilya trying to get one over the other.
He wanted to kiss Rozanov and maybe also punch him for being such an arrogant fucking prick. And he hated himself for wanting any of this. But not enough to stop. Never enough to stop.
I totally relish the crazy, crazy combination of their animosity and the magnetic pull that drew Shane and Ilya together. Their inner turmoils and character progressions were portrayed beautifully. Their chemistry was fireworks!!! My favorite part was that even in the moment of truth, their confessions were so true to their characters.
“Yes. Listen. These women, they are so sexy and fun, but is no matter. I cannot stop thinking about this short fucking hockey player with these stupid freckles and a weak backhand.”
“A weak backhand?” Shane couldn’t stop smiling.
“Yes. And he is just so boring and he drives a terrible car and…that is my problem. All of these beautiful women and I am always wishing they were him.”
LOVE IT!!! ♡(─‿‿─)♡
This one is right in the kokoro:
“…And I want to learn Russian. I wasn’t kidding about that.”
“I’ll teach you.”
Shane smiled so wide and bright, Ilya almost had to look away.
“I should let you sleep,” Shane said.
“Da. Yes. Okay.”
And then… Shane kissed the tips of two fingers and reached out and touched them to the screen. And Ilya’s heart fucking stopped.
Bam! My heart stopped too. Σ>―(〃°ω°〃)♡→
The story covered the span of seven years or so starting from when they first met as rookies up to the present day when they started planning to come out as boyfriends. It documented each encounter and how they evolved from mere hook ups to something the two men can’t quite wrap their heads around. And all this time, they had to keep it a secret.
Author, Rachel Reid, wisely kept game play to a minimum but successfully incorporated the sports in such a way you still felt the game. It was the ideal style for those like me, who had zero knowledge of the hockey. We can enjoy the story while not be overwhelmed with the sport.
I never thought I would enjoy a sports romance book this much. I never even imagined giving one 5 stars but Heated Rivalry took my frosty view of sports-rom and set it on fire! I even googled hockey players and OMG, they’re cute! I’m so into this series now.
Absolutely recommended for when you’re into stories of people who are so wrong yet feel so right for each other.
5 Stars – absolutely perfect