Book Review: The New Guy (Hockey Guys, #1) by Sarina Bowen

I never expected to be so charmed by a hockey romance as I was by “The New Guy” by Sarina Bowen. In my search for any self-published books that are good, different and not about vampires, I’ve landed on some genres and topics I’d never normally read. Hockey, for example. I wanted to read contemporary, I’m trying to broaden my reading of gay romance and I stumbled across this new release on Amazon. I don’t even like hockey, but I really liked this book.

“The New Guy” is a steamy romance with spice about a hotshot hockey player who keeps getting traded, Hudson Newgate. His teammates call him “New Guy,” a nickname that sticks. He lands with Brooklyn for a new season. One night, to let off some steam, he winds up at a bar does something he hasn’t done in awhile, flirts with an attractive guy. Turns out this guy is his new neighbor, and even worse – his team’s new athletic trainer. And Hudson’s deep in the closet as a bi guy. Gavin, too, comes with baggage of his own; he’s a single dad whose husband died, and he doesn’t know if he can let himself love again.

This is a grumpy/sunshine sports romance with dual first person point of view. At first I thought I’d find the head-bopping startling and it was in the second chapter, but I enjoyed seeing the relationship from each of their perspectives inside their heads. Their voices were each distinct and well done.

I realized what I liked about sports romances and what I find boring about most romances is that the sports aspect gives a backdrop and a setting that makes the romance more dynamic. Most romances use misunderstandings and external melodramatic soap-opera stuff to build the tension, but with sports romances you have the team dynamics and the culture of the game. I liked how the author handled Hudson’s struggle with being open about his sexuality, and how that would impact his professional career. I thought it was sensitively done. Some of the dialogue about his struggles seemed a little talking-points Wikipedia-heavy, like not how normal people might talk, but overall I thought it was handled well.

Overall I loved the romance and chemistry between Hudson and Gavin, and that’s what drew me to this story. I know nothing about hockey but the descriptions of the game and the team culture also struck an authentic tone. This was a lovely, searingly sexy book with great characters that were developed well. Recommended. I’d read more of this author’s work.

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