I’m a fan of sports romances and hockey themed ones in particular. I read and enjoyed Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn’s Off the Ice and while I missed the second in the Hat Trick series, Goalie Interference, I got back into the game with Trade Deadline. It’s a well told story of a man ready for his career to take a new turn, and a chance for him to reconnect with an old friend.
Daniel Bellamy has realized his lifelong hockey dream and just won the Stanley Cup but after fourteen years playing for the same team, and with retirement starting to loom larger on the horizon, he decides that playing for a struggling team in his home city of Miami, where his parents still live, is the right choice for him now. And moving back puts him in contact with his childhood best friend, Micah Kelly. Micah is an animal care specialist who works at the local aquarium and he hasn’t forgotten Daniel, or their burgeoning teenage relationship that ended when Daniel went away to play hockey. As adults, they can rekindle that friendship, but can it also lead to something more?
There are a couple of things that I really like about this story that make it definitely worth putting on your to-read list. Firstly, I think it’s interesting how Daniel has to come to grips with going from working with a team that has been very successful and where’s he’s highly regarded, to a team that has mixed feelings about his arrival. This is especially true because it’s Daniel’s choice to move, and also because his dreams of helping the team don’t pan out the way he thought they would. Now don’t get me wrong – he’s not egotistical and he doesn’t think that he’s going to ‘save the team’ or have dreams of bringing them to a Stanley Cup. He’s more interested in mentoring them and sharing his skills. But it turns out to be a rougher ride than he expected, and as the hockey year goes on, he has to think about what’s going to come next.
Secondly, I really appreciate the mature way he and his ex-wife Tabby deal with their divorce. They have two children, and they had an amicable split and have stayed friends. She moves to Miami so that Daniel can continue to see the kids, and the hockey spouse lifestyle has never been an issue for their relationship. Because Daniel’s parents live in Miami and she knows Daniel only has a few years of hockey playing left, she makes it clear to Daniel that regardless of his choices after this year, she’ll stay with the kids in Miami, knowing that he plans to eventually retire there anyway. Daniel’s relationship with his kids is strong, and it’s really nice to see a divorced couple that get along so well. She also knows that Daniel is bisexual, and encourages his relationship with Micah.
Thirdly, the romance is a sweet slow burn of friends moving on to lovers. Daniel’s last sexual partner was his wife, and he’s never had a relationship with a man before. Micah is a really nice, friendly person and his crush on Daniel never really abated (and he’s followed Daniel’s hockey career). Daniel is so happy to see his old friend at one of his early season games and I really enjoyed how they so easily pick up their friendship and eventually reveal their attraction to each other, leading to some sexy scenes that include nervous but eager first time sexual experiences. Micah is not some young twentysomething guy though. He has a career he loves and a home that he’s not going to leave, something Daniel has to consider as they grow closer. There’s no big misunderstanding or jealous ex or manufactured drama. There’s just two guys figuring out if, and then how, they can get their happy ending.
It wouldn’t be a hockey romance without hockey, so there are plenty of on-ice scenes, locker room tension, and friendships and conflict with teammates old and new. Micah’s job is one you don’t see often and there’s a good amount of time spent at the aquarium too. Trade Deadline is an enjoyable romance that doesn’t shy away from honest discussions and emotional highs and lows, and the happy ending the stronger for it.
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I'm a biochemist and a married mother of two. Reading has been my hobby since grade school, and I've been a fan of the romance genre since I was a teenager. Sharing my love of good books by writing reviews is a recent passion of mine, but one which is richly rewarding.
|Review Date:||October 2, 2020|
|Book Type:||Contemporary Romance|
|Review Tags:||Hat Trick series | hockey romance | Male/Male romance | Queer romance | Sports Romance|
Wow. We felt totally different about this one! This one didn’t work for me on any level.
Earlier in the year, after getting blown away by Heated Rivalry and then reading Rachel Reid’s other books, I decided to give some other hockey romances a try, even though I’m not really a fan of sports books.
I picked the first in this series Off the Ice and the first in a series written by Avon Gale alone, Breakaway. I quite enjoyed Off the Ice but enjoyed Breakaway much more. It’s a romance between a very young, socially awkward player and an older player from a rival team who is reaching the end of his career, and is set in some kind of feeder league.
I thought they were well-written but haven’t felt the urge to pursue either series, probably because of the sports setting – other settings are always going to attract me more!
Try Taylor Fitzpatrick’s YOU COULD MAKE A LIFE, THROWN OFF THE ICE, and COMING IN FIRST PLACE. All of them are good, but, of the three, THROWN OFF THE ICE is, imho, the best—beautifully written and a true love story that spans years, but it also has an absolutely gutting ending (not an HEA).
I looked at Thrown off the Ice a little while ago but decided not to go for it as I can’t take that much angst at the moment and I definitely need a happy ending!
Do the other two books have a HEA?
COMING IN FIRST PLACE is an HFN because it’s the first book of (iirc) a planned trilogy. LIFE has an HEA.
Thanks, I think I’ll try one of them then.
Wendy, if you would like to continue to explore MM hockey romance, you should try Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. There are 2 follow-up books, Us and Epic (a short story) that follow the same couple. They are wonderful to read and even better to listen to. These two guys are just graduating from college and were friends years before at hockey camp. Now they renew their friendship and its funny and sexy and completely charming. This series is HUGELY popular!
Another MM hockey story that I love is Rebound by L.A. Witt. This is a May-September romance, both parties are coming out of destructive relationships, and they both have baggage because of that. The older man is a cop and is ex military, and the younger man is the hockey player.
In both books I also love the women in these men’s lives.
I loved Rebound as well – the audio version is excellent (I reviewed it at AG).
Him was, I think, the first hockey romance I ever listened to :)
These are favorites of mine, absolutely.
One more MM rec that isn’t a hockey story is A Reason to Believe by Diana Copland. It was published in 2012, and is also on audio. Its a paranormal mystery based loosely on the Jon-Benet Ramsey case. I’ve been part of an online MM readers group since before this book came out, and for many of us this is one we re-read frequently. We all seem to love it! I have given up hope – well, almost – for a sequel, but its a wonderful romance and a good mystery.
Thank you – I’ll look at them.
For non-hockey m/m romance, let me recommend two of my favorite books so far this year: Marley Valentine’s WITHOUT YOU (a beautiful exploration of loss, grief, and bi-awakening) and N.R. Walker’s Missing Pieces trilogy (PIECES OF ME, PIECES OF YOU, PIECES OF US) about what happens when one partner in a long-established m/m couple is involved in a terrible accident that leaves him with serious physical injuries and amnesia. Beautifully written.
I reviewed the audio version of the Valentine just last week at AudioGals; I recommended it, and the narrators are fantastic. I’ve yet to read the Walker, although I might wait until all the books are available in audio, as it’s one story split into three.
This will sound incredibly shallow (although I never claimed to be otherwise), but the only reason I originally tried the Valentine (a writer I was unfamiliar with) was because of the hot-tender cover. I’m glad that, after years of m/m covers featuring one guy gazing dreamily into the middle distance or two guys awkwardly photoshopped together, we’re getting some covers where you can tell the models were in the same studio the day the photograph was taken!
That’s very true. (And that’s not shallow – it’s appreciative;) ) I freely admit that my motivation for picking it up was because of the narrators :) I’m a very narrator-led listener; there are many books I probably wouldn’t have given a second look in print that I’ve picked up in audio because of the performers.
The bare-bones outline makes it sound extremely similar to Rachel Reid’s recent release, COMMON GOAL: divorced hockey player nearing retirement who knows he’s bisexual but has yet to have a relationship with a man. I suppose there are only so many plots in n m/m hockey romance, so the same themes and tropes are bound to be recycled. For those who have read both books, how do they compare/contrast?
IMO, this one isn’t a patch on Common Goal. For starters, this isn’t an age gap story, and in it,
It was a C/C+ for me in audio, and I suspect might have been lower in print.
Thank you for your input. I love both Rachel Reid’s and Taylor Fitzpatrick’s m/m hockey romances and I’m not sure I’m ready to add another author to the pantheon. Your comment makes me think this book might have too little angst for me.
Yeah, there’s basically no angst at all.
I just listened to the audio version of this one – It’s not my favourite of the series, but I thought it had a lot going for it, especially the mature way the two leads approach things – but I found the romance a bit flat overall. It felt more like a story of what comes after the HEA – which isn’t necessarily a bad thing as we don’t see many of those – but I’d hoped for a bit… more.