I enjoyed the two original entries in Lindsey’s cowritten foray into hockey romance, and while I have no idea when or whether that series will continue, I already knew I’d also be invested in the Western Conference version written by Lindsey alone. This book includes all of what I enjoyed about that series but with the usual perfectly unique Lindsey twist. Ravi and Adrien don’t have a “meet cute” so much as they are forced together by fate. That same fate has a terrible sense of humor in that it also puts the men on opposite sides of similar sets of circumstances that have had a significantly negative impact on Adrien’s life. Thus, the initial sparks between them are mostly of the one-sided hate variety. However, the truth slowly revealed over the events of the book shows that Ravi isn’t who Adrien initially assumed him to be. But it’s too late anyway because Adrien is already falling for the other man.
One of the more obvious themes of this book is that a good person can occasionally do a bad thing, and even when that’s not even what happened, another person can find it in themself to look past it. Of course, it doesn’t hurt when good people are already compelled to look beyond the obvious (and attraction play a role). Add in a healthy dose of accidental kink alignment and Adrien and Ravi are essentially perfect for each other. The progression of their relationship doesn’t follow the standard romance arc because all the potential dark moments are presented during their earlier interactions. Instead, the reality of life as a professional hockey player is the true threat to them building something real. Lindsey pours on the emotion without delving into unnecessary angst to show readers that despite the initial hiccups, the foundations between the men are solid. I was slightly less satisfied with the resolution to the external conflict because it seemed a little too easy, but again, Ravi and Adrien had already gone through enough of the bad in their beginning to deserve a little good.
Both Adrien and Ravi have best friends who support them throughout the novel, and I enjoyed glimpses into these three characters as well. I’m all about supportive male friendships that can express support and affection without running into issues of toxic masculinity. A downside, however, to already knowing the premise of the next book in the series is that I was often distracted by every interaction involving Nolan, Luka, and Markos because I’m already dying to know how that works out. However, I was also intrigued by a certain backup goalie and already curious to know how his story might turn out.
I still have no idea why hockey romance is something that appeals to me when I’m not a sports person, but I do know I’ll keep enjoying them when written by my favorite authors. Anything by Lindsey is an instant read for me, and this book only supported my dedication to their amazing writing.