Release Day Reviews: HIM: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

by - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
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Release Date July 28, 2015

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.
Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinny dipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

Hockey players...check
Friends to lovers...check
Second chances...check
Hot men...check
Sex and Steam...check

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy have teamed up to bring us a fresh, funny, hockey story that also brings in all the feels.

Jamie Canning and Ryan Wesley spent every summer of their teen years together at Elite hockey camp and they were the best of friends. Until something happened one night and Wes disappeared from Jamie's life.

When their paths cross again, Wes knows he needs to at least apologize and try to reconnect with Jamie. But their timing never seems to be quite right. Eventually they find themselves right back at the camp where it all started for another summer, but this time as coaches. Now Wes has no choice but to explain and figure out if they can repair the bond that was broken.

Jamie is the calm, easy going, rule-following California kid. He's not into relationships, but has plenty of experience with girls and  friends-with-benefits. He is clueless about why Wes ditched him and is still upset over losing his best friend.

Wes is edgy, tatted, pierced, wise cracking, and unfiltered. He is gay and fairly open about it now, but he needs to come clean with Jamie about it and their past. He is the one that knows exactly what he feels and wants even if he does not think he will ever admit it. I loved that he had a softer, vulnerable side underneath his tough, cocky exterior.

Jamie is both confused and fascinated as attraction and memories begin to resurface. But the two both have baggage. They are full of fears, insecurities, misconceptions, and jealousy.  I loved their rapport, their humor, and their intensity, and connection. They are both swoony, sweet heroes but also strong, dirty-mouthed and bossy. Their chemistry is scorching hot. They struggle. They internalize. They worry. But they also laugh, love, and discover passion. However, they are on a deadline and summer will eventually have to end. They have certain futures planned and the world in not always a tolerant place

This story is about friendship, relationships, family, love,  and self discovery as they learn more about themselves and their needs. It is engaging, humorous, steamy, passionate, and emotional.  It flows seamlessly even though it is written by two different authors. The characters are likable and have depth. Their connection is powerful and heartfelt. They shake up each other's worlds and we get to feel it all first hand in both of their points of view. And I totally felt it all. I fell hard for both of these guys and was totally invested in them. I love stories about  first loves, friends-to-lovers, and second chances and this one delivers it in a unique and interesting package (maybe even decorated with purple skittles).

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

OH. MY. GOSH. Elle Kennedy co-authored a M/M novel!!! I am doing all kinds of fan girling right now!!!

I adored the hell out of Jamie and Wes. Everything about our protagonists was absolutely delicious; not to mention, they were low angst (major plus right there). I am thanking the stars in the sky there was no contrived or unnecessary drama. I am so OVER the angst and drama in books lately. I think that’s why I am in such a funk when it comes to reading M/F lately. Thank you, Elle and Sarina, for providing a light, fun read filled with tons of swoon worthy moments, as well as lots of yummy, naughty ones.

Ryan Wesley is a tatted, pierced hockey god; not to mention, out of the closet. Jamie, a hockey god in his own right, was the exact opposite. He was very much into girls—and Wes. Jamie wasn’t in the closet, but he wasn’t exactly out of it either. His character was all about self-exploration and discovery, while Wes’ was all about loving Jamie and trying not to ruin his chance at the big leagues or his friendship. I am not always a fan of dual point of view, but in this instance, I loved that Elle and Sarina went that route. I had fun exploring their relationship/past from both of the guys’ stand points. I think it accentuated the story quite a bit more than if we had only gotten to see one or the other. 

While I did love Him, I also struggled with a couple things here and there. I’ve only ever really read one other M/M series, and the characters were much older in those books. I sometimes struggled with their actions or things they would say. At times, compared to the other series, Jamie and Wes would feel a bit juvenile, and I had to remind myself they were still just youngins. 

I also struggled with the over referencing of the word gay. It felt as though the authors were not only trying to remind us of the fact that the characters were gay, but them as well. 

My favorite two favorite parts of the book were the epilogue and Jamie’s family! His family was absolutely AMAZING!! I wished all kids in the LGBT community had a family like this, maybe then there would be fewer tragedies.

If you’ve been looking for a fun, great friends to lover’s romance? Look no further, Elle and Sarina delivered exactly that! This book had it all…humor, flirtation, tantalizing sensuality, second chances, and hockey. They also gave us some wicked characters that were pretty much perfectly written and developed.

If you love M/M romances, one click this bad boy NOW!!

Thank you, Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy, for a complimentary copy of Him. 
Jamie Canning and Ryan “Wes” Wesley have been friends since childhood. Living on opposite ends of the country, their friendship developed as a result of summers spent at hockey camp, until one night changed everything and led to four years of silence between the pair.

Now they are back at camp as counselors for one last summer before they each enter the NHL. Can they rebuild their friendship? Has too much time passed to repair what they once had?

Wes has known he was gay since high school. He is comfortable with his sexuality, and while his college coach and team knew his sexual preferences, he did not openly publicize it. Now that he is preparing for the NHL, he worries that his new team will not be as accepting as his college buddies were. He also worries what Jamie will think when he finally tells him the truth.

Jamie has always been a ladies man -- loving them as much as they love him. But he can’t deny that his best friend makes him feel things to make him question everything he thought he knew and wanted from life.

Watching Jamie question his desires fascinated me. From a man who thought he knew what he wanted to one who questioned everything, I loved watching him as he discovered and explored his desires.

While I loved watching Jamie’s new discoveries, I loved that Wes knew exactly what he wanted. His struggles were more about acceptance and how to handle the rejection if and when it happened, but it was nice that while Jamie struggled to determine what he really wanted and could give to Wes, Wes knew exactly what he wanted out of their relationship.

I loved the low angst lever of the book. I don’t mean that there weren’t miscommunications, or things were smooth and easy, but when challenges arose, they didn’t rehash the same argument over and over, for the most part they aired the problem and worked to find a solution. Answers were not always quick or immediate, but they dealt with things as they needed.

This was one book that I couldn’t put down. The characters and the story itself were exactly what I needed and I thoroughly enjoyed this from start to finish. It was fun, different, and a great escape.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty Contemporary Romance and New Adult fiction from the wilds of Vermont.

The Ivy Years is her bestselling series. Centered around the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college, The Year We Fell Down began breaking hearts in March, 2014. There are three novels and a novella in the series so far. See for updates.

For lovers of angsty snowboarding heroes, Sarina also writes the Gravity series! Coming in From the Cold features a downhill ski racer and one of the most unique plot conflicts in contemporary romance today. Falling From the Sky is book #2, about a freestyle snowboarder who nearly loses his life in the halfpipe.

Sarina enjoys skiing, coffee products and a nice glass of wine. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.

She would be honored to connect with you at

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

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