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.
For some reason reading the Blurb, I knew Tough Guy would be a very different story. Game Changers and Heated Rivalry have little in common if you count out the hockey and M M; but what I mean is that I was interested in reading this book but not overly excited – which I should have been after reading book 2.
It turns out that Tough Guy is a nice read. It’s a slow burn with a lot of quiet moments and angst, but it was never boring for me. I did not struggle to read through those passages because they gave depth, relatability, and an uncanny realness to the main characters. Ryan and Fabian are the first pair – in this series so far – that I felt I could meet and/or hang out with. There is a grounded way about them that makes it so.
Ryan is such a sweet heart, he does the majority of the heavy lifting in this book. He’s the one I liked, the most real. And with that realness came heavy subjects like mental & physical health, addiction, and the darker side of pro sport. The gloves are off and the Rose-tinted glasses are put aside but there’s enough levity to counterbalance it all.
Fabian is a nice enough main character but as the novel progresses be learned
Although I love some heat in my romance, I like books that showcases different types of struggles when it comes to that type of intimacy. It’s done very tastefully here, it’s not a P.S.A. Or patronizing it’s very organic to the story and the character.