by Rachel Reid.
They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?
Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.
Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.
Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.Taken from book blurb.
Release Date: January 13, 2020.
Length: 262 pages.
Series: Game Changers #3.
Genre: QUILTBAG. Romance. M/M Romance.
Read as: an eBook.
Rachel Reid continues to blow me away. Not only does she make me want to know more about Hockey but she compels me to read her books in one session with her engaging characters and dynamic relationships. Although it is the start of the year, I feel like I have found a 2020 favourite in Tough Guy.
Similar to her first two books in the Game Changer series, Tough Guy tells the story of two emotionally engaging characters as they learn to navigate their emotions and relationship. When I started the book, I intended to read only three chapters but after meeting (and subsequently remembering) the sweet Ryan and conflicted Fabian I had no other choice but to keep reading.
I say Ryan is a sweet character because I just wanted to give the gentle giant a hug. As a professional Hockey player, Ryan is an enforcer who is well known for fighting on the ice. Off the ice, he is an anxious soul who struggles to reconcile his violence with that of his true, softer self. Add to this character a bittersweet desire for Fabian mixed with his inadequacy issues, and you have a nuanced character that I just wanted to see happy.
Throughout Tough Guy, Fabian proves to be a conflicted character. As someone who does not fit the mould of the ‘typical’ masculinity envisioned by his parents, Fabian is a character who has turned away from the world of hockey and the toxic masculinity associated with it. Enter Ryan, the sweet professional hockey player from his past. Despite feeling strongly for Ryan, Fabian struggles to come to terms with his feelings on the sport and Ryan’s reputation.
My enjoyment came from not only the characters and how they interacted but how their relationship played out. The shyness of Ryan coupled with the confused confidence of Fabian really created a dynamic that I loved. I loved reading these two together and how they navigated through their issues to ultimately come together.
Once again Reid has created two beautiful and nuanced characters who tugged at my heart strings. I found myself easily falling for these two and how they interacted – with their shared history only adding to my love affair. Just as I fell in love with Scott and Kip in Game Changer and Shane and Ilya in Heated Rivarly, so too did I fall for Ryan and Fabian in Tough Guy.
If you’re read any of the previous Game Changers books, then Tough Guy is required reading!
If you’re new and want a Hockey themed QUILTBAG romance, then look no further because although it is the third book in the series, you can still easily pick up and read this book. I would also really recommend Rachel Reid in general, she has a beautiful way of creating nuanced characters who you can’t help but love.
Please note: I received a copy of Tough Guy from NetGalley.