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.
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