It almost hurt to write this review because it wasn’t the one I was really expecting to write. I have loved this series since Rachel Reid began it. And a diehard fan of Shane and Ilya since they premiered in Heated Rivalry, a favorite novel among many here.
So like so many readers and fans of both author and Game Changer , I’ve been eagerly anticipating the series finale and the novel which would bring some closure to the 11 years long closeted romance of Shane and Ilya.
What I didn’t expect was that I felt the first 25 percent of the book, perhaps more , was such a slog, that I came close to putting it down completely.
The characters I had connected with were missing. Chemistry gone. Shane was the one I had the most issues with. Self involved, complaining, non communicative. Other than sex, I couldn’t see what Ilya saw in him. The relationship and dynamics from Heated Rivalry had dimmed and the sparks doused.
I couldn’t believe this was it.
It wasn’t until the halfway mark, when dramatically the narrative picked up, and their relationship became energized once more that I was invested in their lives, romance, and the story.
There had been serious elements introduced. Depression, family history, suicide. But it was one-sided narratively speaking. And it served to only connect us to Ilya and his shaky emotional status. Leaving Shane in a removed story bubble, away from the relationship and the feelings connecting us to Ilya.
The emotional ties only reached back out after the story was halfway through.
Then we got safely back on established familiar relationship ground. One we recognized from Heated Rivalry, but with personal growth accounted for.
Shame it took that long because the remainder of the story was excellent. It wove plot threads from Role Model into the storyline here, making terrific use of those characters and elements.
Reid also found the missing humor, to intersperse with the serious issues of LGBTQIA+ athletes acceptance in sports, outing, and, the stress of being a pro athlete on relationships.
The last section of The Long Game was everything I’d hoped for and wanted for this couple. It turned into the perfect way to send them off.
I just wish it had happened sooner. That the book was a complete Gordie Howe Hat Trick instead of a one goal win.
But I’ll take it. I’m sorry to see the series end. Just as I am to see the end of every hockey season.
I’ll look forward to the next Rachel Reid with the same enthusiasm as the start of the new season and run for the Stanley Cup as well.
If you’re a lover of hockey romance, contemporary romance, and the works of Rachel Reid, this series is for you. I’m highly recommending it.
Book 1: Game Changer
Book 2: Heated Rivalry
Book 3: Tough Guy
Book 4: Common Goal
Book 5: Role Model
Book 6: The Long Game
The sequel is finally here! Shane and Ilya’s story, first seen in Heated Rivalry, continues in this long-awaited hockey romance from Rachel Reid.
“Everything you could want from this magnetic couple! A passionate, sexy, emotional sequel that grips your heart! Shane and Ilya forever!” —#1 NYT Bestseller Lauren Blakely, author of Hopelessly Bromantic
To the world they are rivals, but to each other they are everything.
That’s how long Shane Hollander and Ilya Rozanov have been seeing each other. How long they’ve been keeping their relationship a secret. From friends, from family…from the league. If Shane wants to stay at the top of his game, what he and Ilya share has to remain secret. He loves Ilya, but what if going public ruins everything?
Ilya is sick of secrets. Shane has gotten so good at hiding his feelings, sometimes Ilya questions if they even exist. The closeness, the intimacy, even the risk that would come with being open about their relationship…Ilya wants it all.
It’s time for them to decide what’s most important—hockey or love.
It’s time to make a call.