Michael Graham and John Rikker were best friends growing up, spending all their time together, playing hockey either on the ice or on a gaming console in Graham’s den. Until the summer when it was quite clear that their friendship was turning into something else and they couldn’t keep their hands off each other anymore. Taking every chance they got to be together in secret, their developing relationship came to a violent end when they were caught by a gang of homophobic bullies. Graham managed to run away, Rikker didn’t, and ended up in hospital. Then he was shipped off to live with his grandmother and Graham did his best to forget him and the feelings he had, retreating so far into the closet you’d think he’d end up in Narnia.
Five years later, Graham gets a nasty shock when Rikker walks into the locker room after a hockey game, having transferred colleges because he was outed at his previous school and deemed undesirable on the team. Flooded with fear and guilt, Graham knows that Rikker has the power to destroy him with a word. He’s terrified that Rikker will admit that they not only knew each other in high school, but used to hook up. It’s not the comments, snide remarks and outright slurs Rikker has to face makes it look all that appealing to be openly gay on a college hockey team either, so Graham descends into a shame spiral of denial and repressed lust and tries to bury his true feelings with copious amounts of alcohol. His best friend Bella and occasional fuck buddy, Bella, is worried about him, but doesn’t understand why he’s careening out of control.
It’s quite clear that sooner or later Graham and Rikker are going to have to talk and face the past between them. It’s also obvious that both guys still have a lot of complex feelings for the other. Graham isn’t ready or interested in coming out as gay and Rikker isn’t going to force him, even though he’s no longer willing, or able, to live a lie. It’s going to be a very tense hockey season for two guys at Harkness College.
I haven’t read a whole lot of gay romance, which is probably something I should work on changing, and I have very little experience outside my own hetero normative existence. I liked it, and some of the issues I had might be because I simply don’t know any different.