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B REVIEWS B+ Review Contemporary Romance m/m New Adult Sports Romance

Review: Him by Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen

Publisher: Elle Kennedy and Sarina Bowen
Where did you get the book from: review copy from authors
Release date: 28th July

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

book cover – a man baring his 6-pack while holding a hockey stickRyan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend…and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

*blurb taken from goodreads*

I’m still a new reader when it comes to these authors and yet I’m classing them as my new auto-buys when it comes to their NA work. I read Sarina Bowen’s The Year We Fell Down a while back (it’s an amazing book featuring a former hockey player heroine), and I recently inhaled The Deal by Elle Kennedy (also an amazing book). When I saw that these authors had combined their talents for Him, I was super excited. Then I saw the raving ratings from my trusted book friends and I knew I had to get my hands on this book.

Him is a wonderful and sexy read that not only features a friends-to-lovers trope, but also a bromance between the two heroes. Wes is a full of life character and an amazing hockey athlete who is heading towards the NFL. Hockey has been his entire life since he was a kid. Jamie was his best friend from hockey summer camp when they were teens, but it ended after Wes cut all contact after a drunken and sexual encounter. Kennedy and Bowen teases this scene out wonderfully in placing strategic interruptions during the flashback from Wes’ point of view. Wes doesn’t deny, or hide the fact he’s gay. He keeps it low-key but he’s open to his parents, and he’s open to his college team.

But deep down below that fun-loving side of Wes is a well of vulnerability. When Jamie and Wes meet again, Wes unrequited feelings for Jamie erupts back into life. I love that their friendship is rock-solid. The way in which Wes reaches out to Jamie takes bravery, and Jamie’s initial angry reaction resolves itself and their friendship is back on course. There’s a reason why Wes has never been in a relationship. The unrequited feelings he’s felt for Jamie made my heart hurt a little, especially when he interrupts Jamie mid-fling with a girl.

Jamie is wonderful. His feelings for Wes are complicated and easy all at once. He never understood why Wes cut all contact during what Jamie never saw as an issue in their relationship during that drunken and sexual episode between them. Jamie has the privilege of having a loving and open family, something Wes doesn’t have with his parents. Jamie finds himself discovering his own sexuality with his best friend. The authors did a wonderful job in creating a romance while keeping the friendship solid. The scene where Jamie is adorably grumpy and jealous when Wes flirts with another guy is so romantic. And what results at the end is a complete surprise for such an early part of the book and I loved it. Jamie is so open and not afraid–maybe being drunk gives him that courage. The sexual tension and heat between Jamie and Wes never lets up through the entire book

For Wes, Jamie is the one. There are moments where Wes’ feelings for Jamie are so much stronger than Jamie’s and it did feel a little unequal, mostly in the beginning and middle of the book. I did worry that Jamie exploration of his sexuality with Wes didn’t go deep enough at times. I can’t quite put my finger on it. Maybe it’s the fact that Wes’ attraction and love for Jamie had been years in the making.

The ending took me by complete surprise because it’s Wes that creates the moment of separation and it’s very believable with Wes fears of being gay in the NFL. Jamie is bisexual and he takes the time to reassure Wes’ fears. Wes fears he can’t give Jamie what he needs; that Jamie will suddenly go back to girls. It’s a wonderful moment where Jamie digs deep into Wes’ vulnerability and the books ends on such a sweet note.

The romance is the central focus of the book, but Wes and Jamie’s role as coaches also play a part. There are also big decisions to be made on their careers, especially on Jamie’s part. I’d love for the authors to return to Jamie and Wes sometime in the future with a novella.

I give Him a B+

By Lou

One thing that Lou loves most is her HEA in romances.

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