Friday, January 17, 2020

Tough Guy 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.

Add to Goodreads –

Book 3
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Ryan Price is a gentle giant. He is 6.7ft and a professional hockey player who sees himself as a guy whose job it is to beat up other guys on the ice. This doesn’t not make him happy. Off the ice he is timid, has low self-esteem, and suffers from crippling social anxiety. Fabian, on the other hand, is out and proud, self-assured, and living the life he wants to live.

Tough Guy is a really lovely romance. It isn’t a perfect or easy and whenever a bump appeared in the road, I was just cheering Fabian and Ryan on, hoping they could work around their problems and be happy together. I love that Ryan isn’t perfect and it is inspiring to see him face his fears. For me, the biggest lesson I got from Tough Guy was that just because you’ve been given what most people think is a great opportunity, doesn’t mean it is the right opportunity for you.

Excellent story and a solid four stars from me.

This is the third book in the series, and is a great addition to the hot hockey player MM romance genre.

Ryan is an enforcer, and a massive figure to be fought whichever team he plays for... but he is pretty fed up with constantly moving, with having to drop his gloves and hurt players all the time. He also has a bad reputation for not getting close to his teammates. His Toronto coach has said this needs to improve, so he is even more stressed than usual. Even though he is on medication due to anxiety and getting counselling, he still hates flying, which is not good for an NHL hockey player. Life is not great really at all.

A chance encounter in a drug store with his first ever crush, Fabian, gives us an absolutely gorgeous story. Fabian is as flamboyant as Ryan is big and burly; Fabian is a fine-boned musician who is about to make it big with his unique solo music style, whereas Ryan is thinking of quitting his career. But somehow together they smooth out the edges, give confidence, and most of all, find love.

Along the way we get to enjoy Ryan actually making a friend on his team, and having the interest of his team as he provides them with baked goods. Fabian's friends, who enjoy supporting him and indulge in bargain brunche,s are also important in supporting these two men as they come to terms with how their futures will work.

I loved this story, the honesty of Ryan and the problems that he had, especially with his stress and anxiety.

Spoiler-Free Review

Tough Guy is the third installment in the Game Changers series, and can easily be read as a standalone with little to no confusion, featuring a cameo by past narrators.

Right off the bat, I need to confess that Ryan's anxiety resonated with me deeply, which made me root for him, even if he was standoffish with his teammates and pretty brutal on the ice as an enforcer, even if it went against his natural teddy bear disposition. Ryan was a ticking time-bomb of stress, with the extra pressure of his coach riding his butt on his behavior.

In walks Fabian back into Ryan's life, just as that last thread is about to snap, in a second-chance romantic entanglement with Ryan's first crush, who just so happens to loathe hockey.

The indie musician versus the hockey enforcer, opposites attract yet also seem to balance each other emotionally, creating a quick, heartwarming novel that offered some much-needed escapism this afternoon. Another layer was the friendships shared with Fabian and Ryan, lending the warm and fuzzies.

Why not 5 stars?

The pacing slowed in places, where I felt my mind wandering, struggling to skip a few passages of redundant inner monologues. While I loved the characters, understood how they fit well with one another, I just didn't feel a push-pull spark of attraction that held my attention. There was also a lack of 'hockey' in this hockey romance.

To be honest, of the three novels in this series, this wasn't my favorite. I devoured the first two, where I just couldn't get enough. However, I do believe it was a worthy addition to the series and look forward to more in the future.

Also Available in the Game Changers Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Game Changer post.

Book 2
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca
B&N  ~  Google Play  ~  iTunes  ~  Kobo
Carina Press – Harlequin

For reviews & more info, check out our Heated Rivalry post.

Rachel Reid has always lived in Nova Scotia, Canada, and will likely continue to do so. She has two boring degrees and two interesting sons. She has been a hockey fan since childhood, but sadly never made it to the NHL herself. She enjoys books about hot men doing hot things, and cool ladies being awesome.

Connect with Rachel

Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Tough Guy (Game Changers #3) by Rachel Reid to read and review.

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