Title: US (Him, #2)
Author: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Publisher: Rennie Road Books
Release Date: March 8th 2016
Genre(s): Contemporary/Hockey Romance
Page Count: n/a
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 stars out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?
Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves–Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.
Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.
Or can they? When Wes’s noisiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?
Warning: contains sexual situations, a vibrating chair, long-distance sexytimes, and proof that hockey players look hot in any shade of green.
So, my initial disappointment in this story is entirely my own fault.
You see, my interpretation of the end of HIM – oh wait, SPOILER ALERT if you haven’t read HIM – turn away! – was that since Wes’s coaches, team owners, and PR guy knew about him being gay that he would be discreet around town, but be out with his teammates, etc. like he’d been in college. Not so the case.
Not only is Wes firmly in the closet to his teammates and the world at large, but he’s dragged poor Jamie into the closet with him. Jamie is not introduced as the love of Wes’s life, as his partner, but rather his “roommate”, and Wes is determined to keep his orientation and his relationship with Jamie under wraps until after his rookie season so the media doesn’t make everything about his sex life, but focuses on his playing. And his playing is fantastic! He’s having the kind of rookie year hockey players dream about and pray for. Professionally, things couldn’t be looking better. But the pressure is ever present and the extended time away from Jamie is starting to chafe.
Jamie, on the other hand, is having a hard time having moved to a different country and climate than what he’s used to, being without his close knit family around, being alone most of the time as Wes is constantly on the road, and having to hide their relationship when Wes is home like Jamie is a dirty little secret that no one can know of by keeping their relationship entirely within the walls of their apartment, and to top it off, Jamie’s begins having a hard time at his job when another coach displays a seriously bigoted and racist attitude.
All of this wouldn’t be so hard except neither Jamie, nor Wes, is communicating with each other about what’s happening in their lives. They’re basically just trying to get through the next few months of Wes’s rookie season with the hope that it will all soon be over and they can stop hiding. But they aren’t really talking to each other, and it’s taking a real toll on their relationship.
But you know the truth always comes out, and when it does it creates even more tension between the two.
Personally, I was frustrated by the first three-quarters of the story. Well, frustrated might be generous, to tell the truth I was pissed. I felt like all the good, happy, warm feelings I had from HIM were washed away in this ocean of doubt, miscommunication, and unnecessary angst. It was only the final quarter of the story that got the boys back on track and got me back to my happy place.
And all of that is completely my own fault. Because I built up a HEA at the end of HIM that wasn’t reality and was then disappointed in the way it was turned around for US. That’s not the book’s fault. It’s mine.
The reality of this story is it’s really about a new relationship and a learning curve. The boys love each other just as much and they grow in their relationship, learning to communicate, and being there for one another.
Though it didn’t hold the same excitement and wonder for me that I had for HIM, in the end this follow-up has romance, sexy times, humor, some hurt/comfort, and more Jamie and Wes. And that’s always a good thing.