City Boy (Hot Off the Ice #1), A.E. Wasp
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Publisher: A.E. Wasp
Genre: Gay Romance
Tags: Contemporary, Age Gap, Athlete, Family, Low Drama, OFY, Series
Purchase At: Amazon.com
All Bryce Lowery knows how to do is play hockey. He’s been playing professionally since he was fifteen. Twenty years later, he’s rich, famous, tired, and alone. And possibly gay according to his ex-wife.
When a blown tire leads directly to mind-blowing sex with a motorcycle-riding white knight named Dakota, Bryce discovers he is most definitely gay. Now Bryce has a tough choice to make, follow the money to a new multimillion dollar contract, or follow his heart into the unknown?
All Dakota Ryan knows how to do is grow apples. Now at twenty-four, he faces losing both his home and his livelihood in one cruel twist of fate.
Then Bryce Lowery crashes into his life like the answer to all of Dakota’s prayers. He’s whispering promises to make all of Dakota’s wildest dreams come true. But Dakota knows better than to give his heart to someone who could leave, and if life has taught him anything, it’s that everyone leaves.
Dakota has a choice, sit back and wait for Bryce to decide his fate, or for the first time in his life, chose what he wants his future to be.
City Boy is a first time gay, fish out of water, May/December love story with a happy ending. It features snarky siblings, a dirty-talking farmer, lots of food, and big choices. (No poultry was harmed in the making of this book.)
Edited to add: Since I read City Boy I’ve also read the rest of the books in the Hot Off The Ice series and typed the reviews immediately after. Some I liked, some not so much. The reviews will be published over time – in between reviews of books by other authors. Note that if I didn’t like one it’s a good bet that I did the next one. Each review will be my thoughts from right after I finished reading the book.
My original rating for City Boy was 4 stars. After reading Country Boy (#2 in the series) I realized how much I really loved Bryce and Dakota. For that reason, I upped it a half star.
With that being said –
I have to say right off that this is not a ‘gay for you’ story. It’s an ‘I’m finally figuring out what everybody else has always known’ story.
Bryce is a wealthy thirty-four-year-old professional hockey player. Dakota is a twenty-four-year-old farmer who’s about to lose the only home he’s ever known because of a lost will.
Bryce takes a leave of absence from his team to nurse an injured knee. His mother is moving to Colorado so he goes a few days early to get some things settled before she arrives. Bryce, a not-very-experienced driver, tries to drive up one of the winding mountain roads in a vehicle he’s not familiar with. Dakota is the poor guy behind him on his motorcycle just wanting to be able to pass. A blown tire on Bryce’s vehicle – and a near death experience – and they meet. As Dakota is changing the tire, Bryce can’t help but notice how sexy he is. Still unsure about his own sexuality, but eager to know about Dakota’s, he blurts out, “Are you gay?”
This leads to sexy Dakota – who is very much gay – being very eager to teach ‘Mr. I Think I Am But I’m Not Sure’ a thing or do. You know, for research purposes. 😉 They’re total strangers and will never see each other again. A bit of fun and exploration for Bryce in an abandoned cabin and they can go on their merry little way – separately.
Yeah, about that. There’s more to Bryce’s mother moving to Colorado than Dakota is made aware of early on.
Dakota has lost everybody he’s ever loved. Abandoned as a child by his biological parents, he lost his amazing adopted parents much too young, and now he’s lost Tommy, a man he loved as an uncle, the owner of the apple farm Dakota lives and works on. Tommy had wanted to adopt Dakota but Dakota had balked for reasons that were his own. Now that Tommy’s dead he’s wishing he wouldn’t have said no. The new will, that Tommy swore he’d had drawn up before his death, is nowhere to be found. With no will, the homes and property go to one of Tommy’s long-lost relatives.
Yeah, you can see where this is going.
We also can’t forget Kyle, the thieving ex-boyfriend of Dakota’s who’d not only hurt Dakota but had embezzled from Tommy at the same time. Dakota has spent almost every cent he’s earned trying to pay it back – even though nobody’s aware of the thefts except Dakota.
Fast forward and Bryce and Dakota end up on the same property, they do some more ‘experimenting,’ and start developing feelings for each other. This puts Bryce in a bad place at the same time he’s having the time of his life. His contract with the hockey team is up for renewal. He’s been offered a heck-ton of money to stay and play for three more years. He has supported his family since his first contract – a thank you for all they sacrificed for him to play hockey – and doesn’t want to let them down by turning away from a cool 12 million.
Bryce can go back, sign the contract, and can either come out with Dakota by his side or stay in the closet. OR he can retire and spend the rest of his life living outside the public eye with the man he’s grown to love in a very short time.
I never rarely read books about athletes. I’m a big sports fan but a majority of books I’ve read with athletes are all the same – the athlete is closeted but he comes out when he meets the love of his life or whatever. Sometimes (oftentimes) the athlete pretends to be super straight to throw off any suspicions. Throw in the supposed rampant homophobia in sports that prevents the guy from coming out and end of story.
Surprisingly, this was different. Bryce was nervous about coming out, but I don’t think he cared much about what people would think about him when he did. He knew he’d lose a few fans and maybe an endorsement deal or two, but he wasn’t ashamed of being gay. If anything, he was thankful to finally just know. And he also was feeling real love for the first time in his life.
I love Bryce when I normally don’t like the way athletes are written in books. He’s so good to Dakota. He wants to take care of everybody, not really thinking about his own wants. I’m not saying that in a bad way at all. He’s just such a good guy.
What’s not to love about Dakota? He’s perfect and he sees way beyond who Bryce is and his worth. When he hooked up with him the first time he had no clue who he was. When he found out later he didn’t care. He just knew he wanted him.
Then there are the secondary characters. I think my favorites are Bryce’s mother and a younger brother, Keith. I also couldn’t help but like Nikki, Bryce’s ex-wife and current good friend. There are a bunch of kids in Bryce’s family so that was also a big plus. And I can’t not mention Lori, someone Dakota loves like a sister.
Then we get to Kyle, Dakota’s horrible ex. He’s a jerk, but I mostly see him as a missed opportunity in this story. He wasn’t given enough page time and I felt like the story could’ve been better with a bit more Kyle drama.
The thing with the missing will was way too predictable.
Outside of the Kyle and will thing I had other slight issues with the story.
One, it’s too long.
Two, the constant ‘am I gay?’ and ‘oh, you’re so gay’ and ‘does this feel gay?’ and a lot of other similar talk in the very beginning was tiring. It’s said toward the end a few times but it was in jest so that doesn’t count. A ‘girl’ comment had me rolling my eyes as well.
Three, and this is mentioned in a bunch of other reviews, lots of typos and missed punctuation.
Four, the way Bryce came out. I get it. I understand it. Hell, I thought it was beyond sweet. But then I also realized how thoughtless it was in regards to Dakota. He never would’ve hurt Dakota intentionally. He simply didn’t know any better.
One plus for me is that it’s set in Colorado, my favorite place in the world. I’ve been up those winding mountain roads many times so I could easily picture it when Bryce was trying to navigate them.
Overall, I really enjoyed this. I enjoyed it so much I’m about to read book #2, which (if the blurb is to go by) looks exactly like the main reason I avoid athlete books. Hopefully I’m wrong. I’ve already ‘met’ Robbie and like him. It’s his love interest I’m worried about.