Rating: 2.5 Stars

Publisher: Kelpie Press

Genre: Gay Romance

Tags: Contemporary, Athletes, Closeted MC, Family Drama, Religion, Series 

Length: 326

Reviewer: Cindi

Purchase At: Amazon.com

***Major Spoilers Ahead.***

Blurb –

Sometimes the toughest thing to have faith in is yourself.

The first time Paul Dyson met Robbie Rhodes, they ended up naked in Robbie’s bed. The last time they met, on the ice the morning after, Paul punched Robbie in the face and called him something he’d rather not repeat.

Two years later, they’re teammates on the Seattle Thunder hockey team.

Being gay is wrong, unnatural, and there is no room for them in his world. Paul’s heard that his whole life. So when it hits him that he is gay, he does the only thing he can: he shoves himself so deep in the closet he would need a map to find his way out again.

When the chance to fulfill his lifelong dream comes along, Paul can’t say no, even if it forces him to share hotel rooms with the only man he can’t resist. It doesn’t take long for Paul to give into temptation and find himself falling in love with his brilliant, caring teammate.

But as much as he cares for Paul, Robbie is finding it harder and harder to justify hiding who he is. It goes against everything he was taught was right. He feels like he has a duty to come out to the public. He’d be the first out gay pro-hockey player.

If Paul wants to be with Robbie, he will have to turn his back on his family and everything he’s believed in. If Robbie wants to be will Paul, he’ll have to do the same.

It’s going to take them a lot of faith to find their way together in this shiny new world.

Country Boy is a love story about figuring out who you are, who you want to be, and how to get there. It contains sweet hockey plays, a 1976 Corvette Stingray, fancy underwear, and the journey of a lifetime.

Review –

Unfortunately I predicted this book in book #1 without even realizing it. I stated that I rarely read books about athletes and the reasons behind that.

One thing I didn’t know was that one of the main characters in Country Boy was from Alabama. I had no clue that Paul was from Alabama when I started reading this book. I tend to avoid books set in my state for the very reason this one didn’t work for me.

We met Robbie in City Boy (#1 in the series). I adored Robbie. He was the rookie on the Seattle Thunder hockey team. We knew Robbie was gay in that book. While he hadn’t exactly announced it publicly it wasn’t a secret to his team, friends, or family.

Robbie and Paul had met two years prior to when Country Boy starts. They spent a night together. A nice night. Something that had both believing there could be something between them. Sure, they’d just met, but the connection was real.

Until the next day when they had to play against each other and Paul decided to show his true colors.

Fast forward and they’ve both been called up – at separate times – to the big leagues, the same NHL team. Robbie does exactly what any guy would want to do after the way Paul had acted the morning after their night together. While most wouldn’t act on it, Robbie was able to show his anger on the ice. It got him in trouble but he thought it was worth it. Hell, I thought it was worth it. Paul got exactly what he deserved.

But then Robbie had to go and start something with the guy anyway. WTF???

The book in a nutshell –

Ultra religious closeted Paul falls for another guy, Robbie. He still wants to ‘play around’ but he’s not gay because it’s wrong. If there’s no actual penetration it’s not real sex so it doesn’t count, right? Of course, because Paul’s from the deep South, his daddy is a homophobic prick who uses his religion (Baptist) as justification for threatening to cut his son off – from his own dying mother – if he doesn’t give up the gay nonsense. Paul eventually grows a pair and stands up to his dad. And what do you know? Good old daddy had a boyfriend once upon a time and everything is forgiven from both sides – just like that. Paul suddenly forgets that his father made his life a living hell his whole life if he even dared look in another guy’s direction. When he knows he’s about to royally fuck up the best thing that ever happened to him (that would be Robbie) he suddenly decides to let the world know he’s gay in a big way. Dad is fine, everybody’s fine, it’s all good in the world. The end.

I live in southern Alabama and grew up in an Assembly of God church, much more strict that Baptist. I was forced to go every time the doors were open whether I liked it or not. I was told by my own pastor that I was going to Hell simply because my parents were divorced. If I were to list even half the things my sisters and I went through at that church I’d be called a liar. So seeing somebody like Paul’s dad wasn’t a stretch. I saw it every time I went to church. Hell, I lived it because my mother was one of the most homophobic human beings ever born and she stayed that way up until she died last May. She used religion as her excuse. How I turned out the way I did is beyond me.

The thing that bugged me the most about Paul wasn’t his beliefs. I’m not anti-religion. I consider myself to be a very spiritual person. What bugged me was the fact that he was in his twenties and no longer under his father’s control (in any way) and still wouldn’t stand up to him. This, even when he knew he was doing Robbie wrong and would probably lose him. And he was so naive it was embarrassing. The thing that bugged me the most about the book was that it took FOREVER for Paul to finally come to his senses. There was a lot of back and forth. And seriously, there was nothing going on during that time other than Paul and Robbie secretly playing around and trying to figure out when they were actually going to do more than blowjobs and hand jobs. I literally had to force myself to read all 300-plus pages of this book just for it to end exactly the way I suspected it would.

Good things –

  • Robbie. He deserved better and should’ve walked away from Paul after the first time they hooked up and never looked back.
  • Bryce and Dakota from the first book. I didn’t realize how much I appreciated them until I read this one.
  • Paul and his family were Alabama Crimson Tide fans, with his dad having even played for the football team during college. If you know me at all you know I’m a die hard ‘Bama fan.
  • The other guys on the team, especially Sergei and Jake.
  • Paul’s sister, Sissy. She was the only one close to Paul who had any sense.
  • Georgia, a family friend of Robbie’s. She’s the only one on Robbie’s side who had any sense.

What didn’t work –

  • The southernisms. The words ‘bless your heart’ are almost always said sarcastically and meant in a bad way in the South. Unless we’re speaking to a child who just got hurt or something it basically means ‘you’re an idiot’. I lost count of how many times that was said in this book by southern characters.
  • Other readers have mentioned this in other reviews, but the editing in this series is pretty bad. The blurb even has at least one typo in it. I didn’t see it until after I’d started the book.
  • Nikki, Bryce’s ex- wife. What the hell? She wasn’t in this book much but when she was she acted like a child over Bryce and Dakota talking about getting married. I loved her in City Boy. I didn’t get her later acting ridiculous over something that was inevitable.
  • Robbie. I know I said he was one of the things I liked but he’s also one of the things I didn’t. He allowed things to go on for WAY too long, only one time even hinting that he’d leave when there were so many things that should’ve had him running out the door. It’s like the author didn’t want any real drama between the two guys. They needed the drama or risk Robbie looking like a doormat, which is exactly how he came across.
  • Robbie’s parents. Dreadful, regardless of how they were written to be.
  • Robbie has learning disabilities and often uses sign language to communicate his real feelings. I thought that was great. What wasn’t great was how it wasn’t really elaborated on. Paul learning it two years prior because of Robbie, who he didn’t know if he’d ever lay eyes on again, was unrealistic.
  • Like book #1 in the series book #2 was entirely too long in my opinion. Most of the first half of the book could’ve been cut out and it would’ve helped instead of hurt the story.
  • There was some silly, unnecessary flirting at a bar. I’ve yet to figure out what the point of any of that was.

My not loving this book is 100% on me. I failed to read the blurbs of all the books in the series before I read City Boy. I’ve already stated that I don’t normally read fictional books about athletes and why. My lack of love for southern speak has been on almost every single bio I’ve ever had since I started reviewing books. Authors rarely get it right and end up making us look like uneducated backwoods hicks. That’s nothing against this author or any of the others. It’s just my experience with the ones I’ve read set here.

I still like Robbie though I doubt there will ever be any real love for Paul. I get that he was fighting his beliefs but this dragged out way too long and the ‘it’s not real sex if we do it this way’ pissed me off. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too, leaving Robbie feeling like he wasn’t good for anything except blowjobs and hand jobs. Robbie deserved better.

I held off on posting this review for a couple of months, something I almost never do. I felt that by taking a bit of a step back I could come back to it and maybe my opinion of Paul would change somewhat. Unfortunately, it didn’t that much. I’ve since read all the books in the series. Some I loved, some I didn’t. Don’t let my lack of love for this particular book keep you from checking out the Hot Off The Ice books. I found them all to be very entertaining and I got seriously invested in all the characters. I saw recently where the author is writing another one about a couple of characters I grew to love in later books. I’m sure I’ll be all over it as soon as it’s released because of the two main characters.