Game Changers: Role Model – Rachel Reid
The highly anticipated fifth novel in Rachel Reid’s Game Changers series sees a grumpy professional hockey player meet his match in an out-and-proud social media manager
The hits just keep coming for Troy Barrett. Traded to the worst team in the league would be bad enough, but coming on the heels of a messy breakup and a recent scandal… Troy just wants to play hockey and be left alone. He doesn’t want to be in the news anymore, and he definitely doesn’t want to “work on his online presence” with the team’s peppy social media manager.
Harris Drover can tell standoffish Troy isn’t happy about the trade—anyone could tell, frankly, as he doesn’t exactly hide it well—but Harris doesn’t give up on people easily. Even when he’s developing a crush he’s sure is one-sided. And when he sees Troy’s smile finally crack through his grumpy exterior, well… That’s a man Harris couldn’t turn his back on if he wanted to.
Suddenly, Troy’s move to the new team feels like an opportunity—for Troy to embrace his true self, and for both men to surrender to their growing attraction. But indulging in each other behind closed doors is one thing, and for Troy, being in a public relationship with Harris will mean facing off with his fears, once and for all.
As much as I love Rachel Reid’s hockey romance series, Game Changers, I struggled with Book 3. As a result, I didn’t bother with Book 4. However, there was something about Book 5 that piqued my interest again. Because who doesn’t love a bad boy redemption story?
Role Model is top pro hockey player and asshole by association Troy Barrett, fresh from a scandal and having just been traded to bottom ranked team, Ottawa Centaurs. Feeling lonely and miserable, also secretly nursing a broken heart, he grumps his way through the day with the intent of moving to a better team when the season is over.
Troy is considered a pariah in the league after calling out his former teammate/best friend for sexually assaulting several women. Anticipating a frosty reception, he did not expect his new team welcoming him with open arms. Nor did he expect the Centaurs’ out-and-proud social media manager, Harris Drover, befriending him. And slowly but surely, drawing out that super secret side he had hidden for years. Also, is he imagining it or does the man smell like apples?
One thing that made me keen to read this is the promise of Ilya sightings. He is in very fine form here. Witness him cooing over a puppy. The author really made good use of his character in the plot, as well as setting up his and Shane’s second book.
However, what made Role Model stood out for me was that even with Ilya’s magnificent self making a very strong presence, Troy and Harris managed to shine and they did it quite brilliantly. There were no doubts that this is their story.
Raised by a happy family of apple farmers, Harris is the ray of sunshine Troy needed in his life. With his booming laugh and his beaming smiles and him being completely comfortable in his own skin. Everyone in the team loves the guy. I loved his openness and how he looked, really looked, and saw that behind the cold expressions was an anxious young man who could use a friend.
The romance was a beautifully rendered slow burn, friends to lovers, out for you story between two opposite people. It was super sweet and oh so gentle, showing a surprisingly thoughtful and caring side of Troy very few people are privileged to know.
The book did a fabulous job portraying how Troy’s character evolved from an angry, heart-broken and very sullen newcomer to Harris’ tentative friend to a motivated team player to a young man on the cusp of new love to the inspirational hero he is.
My heart went out to Troy when he felt like the whole world was against him. I was rooting so hard for him. The book’s Disney fairy tale ending couldn’t be more perfect. Of all people who deserved that many rainbows and his very own apple-scented prince, it was him.
Role Model is not only a story of bad boy gone good, it also a story about giving voice to those who were silenced and the courage it takes to be truly yourself. Funny, heartwarming and uplifting, this here is Rachel Reid upping her game and scoring a definite win
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
While Role Model can be read as a standalone, hockey is a group effort. So it’s best to meet the rest of the team starting with the meet-cute that led to the Stanley cup in Game Changer and that infamously incendiary trysts between that cocky Russian and the polite Canadian boy in Heated Rivalry.
If you like my content, please consider using my Amazon affiliate links below to buy your copy of Role Model. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases at no additional cost to you.
You can also use my Bookshop affiliate links to buy paperbacks and MP3 CD audiobooks and help support independent bookstores.
If you like my content, please consider supporting me on Ko-fi. Your donations will help keep this website going. Thank you so much!
This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.
This meme was created by Reading Marie. It’s a great meme because it’s nice and easy to do.
Found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.
- Find a book published 10+ years ago.
- Find a book that will be published THIS year.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT year.
Some slight revision of the rules:
- Find a book published 10+ years ago
- Find a book that will be published THIS month.
- Find a book that will be published NEXT month.
More unfinished books when I was in a bit of a reading slump last month. At least it’s not as bad as the 3-year one I had back in 2013. It wasn’t until I discovered Captive Prince that I got my mojo back in 2016.
Below are the books currently up in the air and/or not doing it for me.
Steel, one of the last Dire Wolves on earth, has searched more than 100 years for the special mate promised by the Fates. Discouraged after meeting his latest prospect, he sees a naked hitchhiker on his way home who’s everything he’d envisioned the man of his dreams would be. His wolf and body tell him he’s found his fated mate but why can’t he pick up his scent?
I love shifter romances but I balk at certain genre tropes that some people love. Fated mates could be a hit or miss. It comes down to a well-done execution. Omegas and MPREG? Not really my thing. Which sadly is what happened here. The hardcore fans would love this though so if wolf dads are your thing, I’d say go for this.
My fault for not reading blurbs carefully.
A kidnapping, slave auction, revelations of long-kept family secrets and a rare, powerful gift from the gods are some of the surprises in store for both of them until they finally find their way into each other’s hearts after discovering neither is who the other thought he was.
Okay so this is me hoping things would click this time. Thing is, I kind of liked the whole premise of the series. I want to see the brothers find their mates. Normally, I like multiple POVs but this was all over the place. The cheesy bits was too much for my liking. I held on for as long as I could but gave up eventually.
Can two men keep a childhood promise for marital bliss?
I have yet to wrangle feels for this book because sadly, it’s is not clicking with me the way Surprise Groom did. I couldn’t really pinpoint what was wrong. Could be the characters weren’t as interesting as book 1 or working at the ranch scenarios didn’t make for riveting reads Which is unfortunate because the chemistry is there. Another try then.
They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?
I really feel bad for having a hard time finishing this because poor cinnamon roll, Ryan Price, needs our love. It’s one of those books with all the right ingredients but yet somehow still come up short for some vague, unexplainable reason. Which is why I think this is purely a ME problem. I’m not abandoning Ryan and Fabian, no no no.
Detective Lane West doesn’t do Complicated. Especially when it comes to his personal life.
Dr. Aiden Sharp is Complicated. Complicated in ways that Lane can barely get his mind around when he’s forced to babysit Aiden as a favor for the District Attorney.
After that, things get very Complicated.
I’ve been wanting to get my hands on this series for a long time now. Now that it’s here, my slump hit. I’m liking the few chapters I’ve read so far and how Aidan is blowing Lane’s mind the first couple of days they’re together. This promises to be a good series opener so I’m holding on.
What’s the worst slump have you been in? How did you break the curse? Here’s hoping you’re having a better luck this weekend!
1. Game Changers: Heated Rivalry – Rachel Reid
The ultimate enemies-to-lovers, sports rivalry book. Changed the way I felt about sports romance.
2. Green Creek: Heartsong – T.J. Klune
“I see you.“
3. Leo Loves Aries – Anyta Sunday
Slow-burn at its finest. The zing nearly killed me.
4. Mnevermind Trilogy – Jordan Castillo Price
Gritty realism. Rollercoaster feels. One of JCP’s best works.
5. The Vampire’s Club Books 3 & 4 – X. Aratare
Vampire romance of my dreams.
6. Left Hand of Calvus – L.A. Witt/Ann Gallagher
I said it before, I’ll say it again. INTENSE.
7. Song of the Navigator – Astrid Amara
To say this is a gutwrenching, highly emotional sci-fi love story is an understatement.
8. Falling Sky – L.A. Witt
Gritty, unforgettable, cyberpunk romance between a human and a vampire.
9. Flesh and Bone: Bleed – Joel Abernathy
Another shifter romance that tore my heart to pieces.
10. Soulbound: All Souls Near and Nigh – Hailey Turner
Epic! Because this series doesn’t do low-key.
The New Year is almost here and it’s time for the End of the Year book tag. I found it @MyBookWorld24.
I found this tag on Chelle’s Book Ramblings . It’s simple and fun. I thought I would put my own spin on it and make it a weekly thing.
New York Admirals captain Scott Hunter takes his pregame rituals very seriously. In this case, it’s not just a lucky smoothie he’s craving—it’s the man who made it.
Pro hockey star Scott Hunter knows a good thing when he sees it. So, when a smoothie made by juice bar barista Kip Grady precedes Scott breaking his on-ice slump, he’s desperate to recreate the magic…and to get to know the sexy, funny guy behind the counter.
Kip knew there was more to Scott’s frequent visits than blended fruit, but he never let himself imagine being invited back to Scott’s penthouse. Or kissed with reckless abandon, never mind touched everywhere all at once. When it happens it’s red-hot, incredible and frequent, but also only on Scott’s terms and always behind his closed apartment doors.
Scott needs Kip in his life, but with playoff season approaching, the spotlight on him is suddenly brighter than ever. He can’t afford to do anything that might derail his career…like introducing the world to his boyfriend. Kip is ready to go all-in with Scott—but how much longer will he have to remain a secret?
A very cute meet-cute with a huge dollop of steam and just enough angst to keep you from sugar coma.
Game Changer is the first book of the fantastic Game Changers series by Rachel Reid. The series features hockey players falling in love in and out of the rink. I read the second book, Heated Rivalry, beforehand which I absolutely adored so I was very motivated to read the first book too.
I wasn’t disappointed.
This is almost as charming as book 2. The story is totally different. Whereas the second book was about two rival hockey players falling in love with each other, Gamer Changer was about Scott Hunter, a closeted team captain of the New York Admirals, dropping by a smoothie cafe, bought a lucky blueberry smoothie and quickly fell in love with the barista, Kip Grady.
The two men had instant attraction and threw off sparks that were pretty obvious to any bystander. However they had to keep their relationship a secret because it might ruin Scott’s career. To Kip, it felt like going back to the closet.
As mentioned above, things were all sorts of warm fuzzy feels and sweetness. Also, too much smexy scenes that could have been edited out but that’s the honeymoon period for you. As is usually the case with contemporary romance/rom-com, once reality sets in and Kip started having niggles about being the dirty secret, you brace yourself for the Big Fight, which did happen. The two men both seemed like sensible level-headed guys so I had hopes it wouldn’t. Then again, Scott is a sweetheart and so is Kip and they patched things up after a brief falling out.
That’s not all.
The ending was everything a romantic at heart could ever hope for. A grand gesture by way of the Stanley Cup and here I am just an ‘eyewitness’ and I was giddy and exhilarated and melting softly from all the heartwarming fluff-tastic fluff! Can you imagine what Scott and Kip must feel?
Even if the book followed a typical romance story pattern, it would be the kind that easily becomes a favorite reread. I loved the two MCs and the secondary characters were well-fleshed out (and hella funny too). I gave a little hurrahs every time Rozanov appears. The author kept things fresh, fast-paced and very engaging. Even with all the bedroom play, the plot had a strong narrative to carry it through. All in all, good job, Rachel Reid!
Game Changers is a very apt name for the series because it changed the way I feel about about sports romance. I had sworn I will never read anything sports-related (hah! famous last words) and now here I am eager to delve into more sports-rom. At least if hockey players are involved.
I wished Hollywood would pick the books up and make them into a movie. We all could use a feel-good gay sports-rom and Game Changers could be that breakout hit the genre needs.
Make it happened, Hollywood! I mean, seriously, think of all the awesome memes and tumblr posts you can generate if you get two cute hockey players to kiss each other.
Heated Rivalry review here.
4.5 Stars – perfection is only half a step away
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