Author: Ben Ryder
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Art: Scott Henrichsen
Buy link: Publisher, ARe
Length: Novella (122 pages)
Rating: 4.5 out of 5 rating stars
A Guest Review by Feliz
Summary Review: Likable protagonists, compelling writing and the unusual background of pro ice hockey made this a pleasant read.
The Blurb: Callum Walker is feeling listless in his life in London. When his job takes him to Canada to install communications software for a new sports arena, he’s glad for a change of scenery.
During his stay, he befriends Noah Lukas, the strikingly handsome star player of the Toronto Bobcats professional hockey team. Callum knows nothing will
ever come of it, but he can’t stop his attraction. As their bond grows, Callum learns more about—and falls more for—Noah through his sensitive and humble interactions with fans, his gentlemanly reaction to flirtations from arena staff, and his frank apprehension over his impending retirement. Their friendship evolves from workout partners to confidants, and then to even more. But Callum’s time in Canada is limited, and circumstances may divide him from a love he wasn’t looking for.
The Review: This book was framed in the course of events of one day of Callum Walker’s life, the first day he was back in London after returning from his business trip to Toronto. The way how the story was told in flashbacks worked nicely to build anticipation as Callum goes about his day, waiting for an all-important telephone call.
The blurb sums up nicely what happened between Callum and Noah during Callum’s stay in Toronto, and Noah is really the nice person the blurb makes him out to be. I know virtually nothing about ice hockey other than violence occurs quite commonly during games, so a nice guy like Noah would seem out of place on the ice. Yet, he isn’t; his rowdy hockey player persona is well-balanced with his softer side that he acts out through his interactions with fans and his charity investments. And, most of all with Callum, who may be a computer whiz but is actually the less worldly innocent of the two.
Outwardly, Noah and Callum don’t seem to have much in common other than a shared pleasure in working out, which is also what brings them together in the first place. Callum is an out gay man, but he doesn’t advertise his sexuality, especially not in a business environment. Noah is very much in the closet, so much so that the threat of exposure makes him literally sick. Callum has his home base set up in London, Noah currently lives in Toronto, but he could be transferred to another ice hockey team any time. And yet, they can’t resist their slowly building mutual attraction, to a point where love is more than a mere possibility. But how will they make it work between them, if at all? It’s this question which worries Callum during the one day that makes up the framework for this story, and the reader alongside him. The eventual conclusion might be one that not every reader will be happy with, but I found it very fitting the two men’s personalities, and realistic too.[spoiler name=”spoiler”] For those who need to know, yes there is a happy ending, even though it’s rather a HFN than a HEA. [/spoiler]
My one problem with this story was with the main female secondary character, who started out a mildly entertaining, slightly obnoxious maneater but turned into a textbook scheming, manipulative bitch soon enough. Not that I’d mind the stereotypical villainous female per se–not much, anyway–but as for me, this female character was only there to provide a convenient source of conflict for the main couple, and to make Callum look good.
However, the overall well-wrought plot made this issue up for me, together with the fact that both Noah and Callum really grew on me, individually and even more so as a couple. According to the author’s Twitter feed, there will be a sequel, which I’ll be looking forward to read.
I recommend Noah as a sweet, positive and overall pleasant read.(By the way, right now as I’m writing this review (April 26th, 2013), this book is free from Dreamspinner, All Romance Café and Rainbow ebooks.)