Title: Game Changer
Author: Rachel Reid
Publisher: Carina Press
Length: 334 Pages
At a Glance: Rachel Reid is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading more from her. This novel has some really good bones but just needed a bit more story to hold them together.
Reviewed By: Sammy
Blurb: 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?
Review: Game Changer by Rachel Reid marks the first time I have read anything by this author, but it certainly won’t be the last. While there were a few rough spots in this novel, I truly enjoyed the way this author gave me a good handle on how both of her characters thought through the tangled web their lives quickly became.
Scott Hunter is as deep in the closet as one can get. His entire life has been focused on being supportive and reliable—first to his mother, then to his team, and then to the many fans and sponsors who put their money down on products he endorses. There is a ton of pressure on this professional hockey player, and much of it comes from the fact that he has denied his real self for far too long. Then he meets Kip, the sweet, friendly smoothie maker who gives Scott more than a simple energy boost in the form of a blueberry smoothie. Scott is smitten and Kip is nearly head-over-heels in lust.
As the two begin clandestinely dating, life becomes more and more aggravating, particularly since theirs is a relationship that exists only behind closed doors. Kip promises Scott he can handle it, but when the puck really hits the ice, Kip may feel the need to skate away while Scott remains trapped in a penalty box of his own making.
All silly hockey allusions aside, this story was actually quite good. I felt for both of these men and wanted nothing more than to see them get a happy ever after. However, the daunting and fearful task before Scott—to come out or potentially lose Kip—is huge and not easily navigated. Rachel Reid takes her time to develop this idea and while I understood the need for a slow-developing story, there were times when Scott’s indecision and reasoning were pretty aggravating. Seventy-five percent into this story, I really had to dub Kip a saint for putting his own life on hold just to be with Scott.
Besides the sheer length of time it took for Scott to basically move forward with his life and pursue his own happiness, as opposed to everyone else’s taking main stage, I also had some trouble with how long Kip had remained not only in his parent’s home but in a dead end job. He was a smart guy, and the fact that he lived on the edge of poverty seemed a bit much. Since I assume he wasn’t paying rent, I felt he could and should have taken the time to decide on a future that would make him happy, and yet he was so adrift throughout most of the novel. In many ways it felt as though both Kip and Scott enjoyed the misery they were both enduring, and it took a relationship with each other to wake them up.
However, despite that there were some really lovely moments in this story that stood out for me. I enjoyed their secret dates and the times where they actually talked and connected emotionally even though there was way too much sex to interrupt those fleeting encounters. In many ways I felt this novel would have really been served by a second good edit, toning down the sex, pushing Scott and Kip toward more decisive moments. Perhaps allowing them to really find a way to move forward together rather than forcing the issue and thrusting the burden of saving the relationship onto Scott and having him shoulder it on his own.
Game Changer has an awful lot going for it, but it needed some slimming down and some meatier emotional moments that did not include sex. I think that Rachel Reid is a talented writer, and I look forward to reading more from her. This novel has some really good bones but just needed a bit more story to hold them together.
You can buy Game Changer here:
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