Checking It Twice (Belen’s review)

Title: Checking It Twice (The Carlisles #3)
Author: Meg Harding
Buy link: (Second Edition)
Release Date: November 28th 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level:  3.5 flames out of 5
Rating:  4 stars out of 5

Closeted professional hockey player Eric Belanger is falling hard for an out-and-proud male model. He’s unable to resist Dorian’s charm and pushing personal boundaries he never thought he’d cross. But Dorian is the kind of guy who deserves someone who isn’t afraid to be himself. Eric’s fears about what coming out will do to his career clash with the future he hopes to build with Dorian. He knows he’ll eventually have to make a choice.

Dorian Carlisle knows better than to date a man who wants to keep him a secret, but there’s something about Eric he can’t ignore. So he’ll take the risk, and it’ll be all right, because this isn’t a forever romance. He’s happy to live in the moment. But somehow, at some point, feelings sneak up on him and he’s not okay anymore. At a breaking point, Dorian must also make a decision. Their time together will either be the start of something wonderful or nothing more than a happy memory.

Checking It Twice is the third installment of the Carlisles series. Though I suppose it could be read as a standalone, I wouldn’t recommend it.

I really enjoyed the story, which is from both Eric and Dorian’s POV.

Professional hockey player Eric Belanger’s deep in the closet, including from his family and teammates. Only two of his friends know he’s gay and that’s only because they walked in on him the one time he was with a guy.

I really enjoyed the somewhat awkward romantic beginnings between Eric and Dorian, especially as Dorian doesn’t realize that Eric’s even hitting on him at first.

“I wanted to make sure this was okay.”
Dorian stares at him. “I drove from New York to see you. I’ve started watching hockey. I’m kissing you back. We talk every day. How many more clues do you need?”
“Oh,” says Eric, cheeks flaming. “Well, when you put it that way….”

I thought the anxiety Eric feels about possibly coming out, and how that could affect his relationships with his family or being able to play professional hockey, was realistically portrayed. But ultimately, I really enjoyed seeing Dorian fall in love, but not lose himself in Eric’s closet.

Eric rubs a towel over his face, sighing as he gets the stinging sweat out of his eyes. He needs to take a page from everyone else’s book. He’s got plenty of models for healthy relationships to look at—and nonhealthy ones that he should avoid at all costs. He’ll just mimic the good stuff. That’s easy enough. If he makes himself look fantastic, then maybe Dorian will be able to overlook the not so great stuff. Like how Eric is so deep in the closet he might be lost in Narnia.

I always find it hard to read stories where a character has angst or fear of coming out and reading the different ways that fear can destroy a relationship. It generally makes it just a little less romantic than I like my “romances” to be. But Harding has a way of writing her characters so I really care about them and just want them to be happy. It’s always a good thing when an author can suck me in to a story that much.

Dorian always thought he’d feel a little lighter when he finally fell in love. Maybe he’s watched too many movies, read too many books. This doesn’t feel anything like that. Mostly he feels scared.

My only complaint is the same plot device as was in the first two books is used.

Breaking up three-quarters of the way through and learning their lesson, then getting back together.
Which, I’m not going to lie, I find frustrating, even though it’s totally justified in happening and, in this case, handled well.

In the end the story was realistic enough to have me biting my lip and praying for a happy ending. Though we get the HEA, it’s hard-won and nothing came easy for Dorian or Eric. This is a light-to-medium-angst, sweet romance with some humor, some passion, and a wonderful HEA.

It’s a good addition to the series and I’m really looking forward to seeing who the hottie Denver’s got his eye on next!

The Carlisles

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I am an unapologetic book addict/lover. I'm happiest when reading and I spend most of my time with my Kindle, which is never far from my hand. I love to be told a good story! I mostly read fiction: Romance, Erotica, Young Adult, New Adult, Paranormal (shifters? Yes, please!), a little BDSM when I'm in the mood, and I love a good ménage story. I DEFINITELY PREFER A HFN/HEA! My biggest no-no's are cheating, miscommunication / misunderstanding plots, unnecessary angst, and cliffhangers.

A sampling of my "Favorite M/M" stories:

Carry the Ocean The Half of Us Red Dirt Heart Adulting 101 Tied Up In Knots
Shelter the Sea Manties in a Twist David, Renewed Ethan who Loved Carter Perfect Imperfections
Wolfsong Fight the Tide How to Walk Like A Man The Lightning-Struck Heart Forging the Future