Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
These two characters came to life within the first few chapters and swept me away with their story. I honestly did not want to put this book down to go to bed, but my subconscious took over when I did, and I dreamed about Mitch and Alex. Without a doubt, these men are my favorite couple nominee for any and all 2018 MM romance awards.
Slowburn? Yes. Too much sex on page? No. Friendship? Yes. Characters who mature over time? Why yes. Yes indeed. And that’s not all there is to like about this story.
When college sophomore, hockey player, and kinesiology major Mitch Greyson shows up at an extra credit lecture at his small Vermont college with the express intent of interviewing the Tampa Bay hockey team’s sports doctor, he’s at first disappointed that the man is a no-show. But then he gets to speak to and flirt with the man who came in his place: Alex Dean, a Tampa Bay defenseman who happens to be in Vermont visiting family while his broken arm heals. But Alex wants nothing to do with flirty Mitch. Alex isn’t interested in sex or flirtation. He’s just not made that way. He’s demisexual, and in fact, isn’t even sure if he’ll ever find someone to love, and if he does, he’s not sure if it will be a man or a woman. He’s a 25-year-old virgin and perfectly happy to remain that way. Or so he thinks—until he gets to know Mitch.
Here’s my main sticking point in this story, and yes, it is addressed by the author at the end of the book. But it’s an in-your-face sticking point right from the beginning and may turn some readers off. How many people in 2008 and 2009 knew the term demisexual or knew what was meant by it? I don’t believe many recognized their own demisexuality, never mind in others during the years in which the story is set. Yes, I know the term was invented already, but in general, sexuality was thought to be heterosexual or homosexual at that point. The fine lines—shades of sexuality, so to speak—weren’t discussed and for people who felt they didn’t quite fit in one category or the other, there wasn’t a lot of info available to them to clarify where they fell on the spectrum. The author addresses this issue in her second author’s note (that in my opinion should come before the story, not after) and acknowledges that she took liberties with using the terms. However, I think it would have been easier to accept during the story if the characters acknowledged that they had just recently learned the term. Since it distracted me throughout the book, until I finally got to the author’s note at the end, I’ve dropped my rating a half star.
Fortunately, I was able to move past that and enjoy the balance of the story. And it was a love story, no mistake about that. This was the slowest of slow-burn romances, and so much better because of that. My interest level remained high throughout the book as both characters struggled with issues beyond their control—Alex with his grandfather’s dementia and Mitch with working for the funds he needs to be able to complete the degree he has his heart set on while still practicing and planning to be the best so he can be drafted by the NHL.
I highly recommend this love story to anyone who appreciates a variation from the same-old, same-old tropes and themes. Hockey seems to be a popular sport this year among authors; however, this story is more about the romance than the sport. Other than my issue with the demisexual terminology, this book made me feel the love and raised my spirits—the reason I read in the first place.
Cover art by Lee Hyat Designs displays the bare torso of a young muscular skater against the background of a hockey rink. The male could represent either young man as one is an NHL player and the other a college student on his school’s hockey team. It’s bright and attractive and a good representation for this story.
Sales Links: Universal Buy Link
Kindle Edition, 1st edition
Published May 8th 2018
Original TitleOn The Ice
SeriesStick Side #1