Ryker (CrabbyPatty’s review)

Title: Ryker (Owatonna U Hockey #1)
Author: R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey
Publisher: Love Lane Books Ltd
Release Date: September 22, 2018
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 194
Reviewed By: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5


Ryker is hockey royalty, Jacob is a poor country boy. Can two vastly different people find common ground and become the men they want to be?

Ryker comes from a long line of championship-winning hockey players. Playing college hockey to develop his game is his only focus, and nothing will stand in the way of him working to become the best player. He has no room for relationships, people that point out his flaws, or anyone who calls him on his dreams. He certainly has no place for love, and meeting Jacob is nothing but a useful distraction on the side. After all trying to get his Owatonna Eagles teammate into bed is less work and more play. When tragedy rocks his family, his charmed life crumbles, and the only person he can turn to is the same one who claims to hate him.

Jacob Benson has only known hard work and stifling conservative values his whole life. Born and raised in the small rural community of Eden Crossing, Minnesota, he’s the only son of a hard-working but struggling dairy farming family. Jacob is using his skills in hockey to finance his way to an agricultural science degree. These four years at Owatonna U. will probably be the only time he has to enjoy life, gain acceptance about his sexuality, and live openly before his inevitable return to the farm. Running into a pretty rich boy like Ryker Madsen is putting a damper on his enjoyment of life away from home. Ryker’s flip, conceited, carefree attitude grates on Jacob’s every nerve. So why, if Ryker is everything he dislikes, does he want nothing more than to explore the sinful dreams that his annoying teammate stars in every night?

FYI: “Ryker” is in the “Harrisburg Railers” series universe and runs concurrently with that series, but it easily read as a stand-alone. Although if you haven’t read Harrisburg Railer’s #6 “Goal Line” please be aware there ARE spoilers for that series here.

When Ryker Madsen and Jacob Benson meet at a Canadian hockey camp, sparks fly … eventually. For Jacob, hockey is the means to an end and his dream is not playing in the NHL but rather getting his agricultural science degree at Owatonna U so he can return to the family farm in Minnesota. His hockey scholarship pays for college and he needs to improve his skills at the hockey camp to ensure his spot on the Owatonna Eagles team.

Ryker is third-generation hockey, with his grandfather and father having played in the NHL. He’s already drafted by an NHL team and the camp is merely to polish his skills. Ryker is immediately impressed by the big strong Minnesota farm boy, while Jacob hates that Ryker has been given everything on a silver platter and doesn’t understand the struggles other deal with. But when the roommates finally get past all their preconceptions, their slow-burn romance is all kinds of wonderful. This plot just grabs you from page one and carries you off in a great blend of young love and hockey.

I love that the book is primarily set in Minnesota and the authors lovingly describe the beauty of a Minnesota dairy farm, while showing us Jacob’s character and determination in making the farm more successful. And Ryker is so beautifully drawn as well – his obvious hockey brilliance contrasting with the lessons he needs to learn in teamwork and friendship. The love story here is more YA than the Harrisburg Railers series, but just feels right as these two almost-virgins explore their relationship and each other in numerous, very very sexy ways.

The authors also do a good job of introducing other characters who will be featured in upcoming books in the series, and while “Ryker” ends in a HFN, I imagine we’ll learn more about their life together as the “Owatonnna U Hockey” series progress. 4 strong stars for “Ryker.”

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Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Ryker (Owatonna U Hockey #1) provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend. My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh ... not in my wheelhouse, but I'm a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre. Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more. A few "badges" from NetGalley: 100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader