Release Reviews and Excerpt: US: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

by - Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy 
Expected March 8, 2016

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.

At long last, I’m twenty paces away, then ten. Then I’m opening our door. “Hey babe!” I call out like I always do. “I made it.” I drag my duffel over the threshold, then toss my suit coat on top, abandoning these things beside the door, because all I need now is a kiss.
Only then do I notice that our apartment smells amazing. Jamie has cooked dinner for me. Again. He is the perfect man, I swear to God.
“Hey!” he calls, emerging from the hallway leading to our bedroom. He’s wearing jeans and nothing else except—and this is unusual—a beard. “Do I know you?” He gives me a sexy smile.
“I was going to ask the same thing.” I’m staring at the sandy-blond beard. Jamie has always been clean-shaven. I mean—we’ve known each other since before facial hair. He looks different. Older, maybe.
And hot as blazes. Seriously, I can’t wait to feel that beard against my face, and maybe my balls… Jesus. The blood is already rushing south, and I’ve been home fifteen seconds.
And yet I’m just stuck there in the middle of the room for a moment, because even though it’s been eight months since Jamie and I started up together, I’m still a little stunned at my own good fortune. “Hi,” I say again, stupidly.
He walks forward, his easy gait so familiar that my heart breaks a little bit. He puts his hands on my traps and squeezes the muscle there. “Don’t go away for so long. If you do that again, I’m going to have to sneak into your hotel room on the road.”
“Promise?” I ask, and it comes out like gravel. He’s close enough now that I can smell the ocean scent of his shampoo and the beer he drank while he waited for me.
“If I ever get a winning lottery ticket and a day off, I’ll do it,” he says. “Hotel sex after a game? Sounds hot.”
Now I’m measuring the distance to our sofa and counting the layers of clothes I’ll need to remove in the next ninety seconds.

More Jamie and Wes...Hell, Yes!
We saw Wes and Jamie rekindle their friendship, find love, and become room mates and partners in HIM. But now they are trying to navigate their newly joined, hectic lives. 

Wes is in his rookie professional hockey season and needs to keep media focus on his game not his sexual orientation. Jamie is coaching teen hockey and also needs to be careful. So they are forced to try to hide their true relationship for at least the first year to help avoid judgment.
But it is hard to hide out when one of Wes's team mates moves in the building and wants to be best friends and more people are becoming involved in their lives. They are both traveling so much that their personal lives and time together are taking a hit. And that tends to make both of them a bit cranky and disappointed.  Their days become full of tension, distance, interruptions, obligations that steal their alone time and bring in  some resentment, fear, jealousy, and worry.

I felt for both Jamie and Wes during the course of this story. They faced some tough times. There are struggles that often affect many couples like money, time, careers, and outside influences. But they are also forced to deal with Wes's rising celebrity, the threat of public scrutiny, and some other serious situations. 

Jamie is usually the more easy-going one and has always been sweet and supportive of Wes, but he also likes to be independent and make his own way. 
He has changed his whole life for Wes. He is pleased with his choices, but at times feels like he is in the shadows and does not like having to hide. And he has to deal with some things in this one that really challenge him in various ways.

Wes is usually the more dominant, in control, and edgy one. He is living his dream and has money and success. They have a strong connection, chemistry, and intense feelings that built from a long time friendship.  I love both of these guys, but I think Wes might have pulled ahead a bit for me in this book with how he approached some situations in his assertive manner with no question as to what he wanted or needed. I just adored how he took care of business at times. 

At alternate times during the book it seems that the other is having to try to hold things together while the other struggles, so they sometimes have to alternate who is going to be strong or who is going to concede. They are both vulnerable, have fears, insecurities, and hang ups. My heart broke for them at times. I was frustrated along with them. I worried about the things they worried about. I kept hoping that everything was going to be okay.

But there was also fun rapport along with the deep emotional bond these two share. And some of the side characters, especially their new neighbor Blake added even more comic relief. He was outgoing, outrageous, intrusive, and overbearing but he totally grew on me. I loved how he just decided that Wes and Jamie were going to be his new best friends, and he basically infiltrated their lives. I kind of hope we see a spin off with Blake and another side character since there was a tease of a story there. There were other various team members and side characters filtering in as well adding either humor or drama.

This is an engaging M/M story about love, hockey, friendship, family, priorities, and commitment. It is humorous, steamy, tension-filled, and had ALL THE FEELS. I was so happy to get more from Wes and Jamie and I was not disappointed. I love these guys! I truly think they are both sexy, swoony, hot, and sweet heroes. I love getting the dual points of view and the fact that I honestly do not know which author wrote which parts. It all flows seamlessly and I was invested from the first page and stayed up too late because I did not want to put it down. So this was another Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy success!

ARC provided by Authors in exchange for an honest review.

During Wes’s rookie NHL season in Toronto, he and Jamie have a lot to learn about being a couple, especially as they try to stay under the radar and keep Wes in the closet for the time being. His desire to keep his rookie season focused on his on ice talent and not on his relationship status will put some serious strain on the new relationship, especially when his loudmouth teammate moves into the same building. Hiding leads to conflict between them, as their cocoon that was their apartment becomes yet one more location they must pretend to be something they are not.

I was both excited and nervous about a new book for Wes and Jamie. I loved where they ended after Him, and when I’m feeling settled with a couple, sometimes it’s hard to watch them face new drama and threats to their relationship.

My heart broke as the guys struggled to find balance in their lives. Between Wes hiding, and Jamie being so far from his family, they each faced things they had never contended with before.

But I also loved watching them try to keep their connection strong through alternating away games, and the shear amount of time spent in different locations. Trying to control Wes’s public image without letting his sexuality cloud his first season was also an aspect of the relationship that I loved, though it also added some challenges that hurt to watch them face.

I loved the new characters, both Wes’s team and Jamie’s boss. Blake’s friendship was both frustrating and wonderful in the ways he challenged Wes and Jamie. his close proximity adds conflict, but it also forces the guys to decide what is important. Ok, it just adds conflict, but in a way that had me wanting to make them see what was really going on, because I caught on long before they did…

This was exactly what I hoped Wes and Jamie’s follow-up would be, with a whole new set of challenges to their relationship. They had a lot of learning to do in this first year together and though they thought they knew what they were facing, they were thrown by just how hard it would be to find the balance and acceptance that seemed to come so easily in college.

ARC provided by Authors in exchange for an honest review.

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.

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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