I’ve sort of been skipping around this wonderful contemporary collection of LGBTGIA+ hockey romances by various authors, reading one, and then forgetting to come back to it until I see a title that jars my sieve-like memory.
Guarding Garrett (Hockey Allies Batchelor Bid Romance #1) by R.J. Scott is actually the first in this collection by five authors.
The series hits so many of the elements I love, hockey romances, various tropes from mystery (here) to second chances at love, and much more. An absolutely terrific smorgasbord of hot men on ice and true love.
Guarding Garrett , is as the title indicates, about a top level, highly skilled and popular hockey player on the fictional NHL Burlington Dragons hockey team. Garrett “Hooley” Howell has been getting threatening texts, packages and more, until the team decides to get a bodyguard to protect him until they can investigate who’s behind the threats to their highly valuable player.
That’s a believable plot given the extent of the media most players engage in with the public and their fans. Stalkers are reported on daily.
Garrett and Jason develop great chemistry over the course of their time together. I enjoyed watching their relationship move from an antagonistic stage to one of attraction and friendship. The instant love was perhaps less realistic for me as I felt the story didn’t give us or them enough layers or time from stage one tension/rejection through to the “I Iove you” statements.
These aren’t long books so the author has crammed a lot into a shorter length. In addition to a full romance, there’s the mystery of the stalker and a full blown suspense-filled event at the end to contend with.
Plus the auction that all the novels have as a center feature.
My other quibble? I lost patience with Garrett’s behavior after Jason Dearing, co-owner of Seamax Security, had been hired. I can understand a certain amount of exasperation at the loss of personal freedom. But, It’s was explained to Garrett his life was in danger. This was a corporate decision. He had said repeatedly, he himself didn’t want to put his job with the team in jeopardy. Yet here he was making his bodyguard’s job incredibly difficult. Acting like a immature juvenile over a decision made by your team, your team owner, that impacts your career.
Which Garrett acknowledged. While not stopping.
It made me less invested in this character because I couldn’t relate to this element. Garrett Howell is a top NHL hockey player, one who’s owners have built a team around him. He’s respected. He’s supposed to be a highly talented, disciplined athlete. Someone used to a highly restricted diet, a long training schedule, with the ability to adhere to that tight regimen for years to achieve a goal. Yet here he’s whining like a toddler over supervision for several days to save his life.
A case needed to be made for that mentality by the author and I don’t think it was. A few mentions of a broken family until he was sent to Kyle Pressgroves’ family to live as a young hockey player. But that’s not enough history to excuse pages of frankly poor behavior.
Luckily, the behavior stopped and I could start appreciating Garrett from another perspective.
Despite some aspects of the story I found issues with, it’s fast moving, the main characters have excellent chemistry, and it’s has a satisfactory HEA.
No hockey however really. I do missed my “on the ice” scenes.
Kyle is part of this story as he’s Garrett’s best friend. His story is Keeping Kyle #3 by Jeff Adams. I’ve listed them all below.
They make for wonderful hockey romance reading. I’m recommending this and them.
Hockey Allies Batchelor Bid Romances series:
🔹Guarding Garrett #1 by RJ Scott
🔹Loving Layne #2 by VL Locey
🔹Keeping Kyle #3 by Jeff Adams
🔹Scoring Slater #4 by Susan Scott Shelley
🔹Absolving Ash #5 by Chantal Mer
A hardworking, competitive, and skilled hockey player, Garrett is the cornerstone of the Burlington Dragons hockey team and one of the league’s most popular playmakers. Blessed with a face that delivers millions in endorsements, he has a legion of fans, and a future so bright that he is the envy of many.
When his internet fame puts him in danger, and a stalker threatens his life, the team hires Jason, a quiet but deadly former marine, to protect him. Danger is always close, but forced proximity means sparks fly, attraction burns, and somehow, resentment turns to love.
When Garrett’s stalker ups their game at a charity bachelor auction, there is a real chance it could mean the end for Garrett, but Jason refuses to leave his side whatever the risk.
These two stubborn men will have to fight to walk away from this alive, but their newfound love is worth every sacrifice.