Monday, August 17, 2015

Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

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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, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.

It's been some time since I’ve read a good m/m story that made me feel all warm and fuzzy. Him was my welcome back to the genre that did just that!

We start off with Wes, a powerhouse star on his college hockey team who’s headed to the pros. He’s made a habit of one-night stands, refusing to get emotionally involved with anyone because no one deserves a place in his mind other than Jamie, his best friend from hockey camp. But because things went awry after one drunken dare, Wes cut off all contact with him and has spent the past four years trying not thinking of him. That comes to an end when both Wes and Jamie’s teams are in the college tournament. Suddenly Wes has to man up and face the friend he walked away from. This isn’t going to be easy and even harder to leave again.

Jamie is hesitant about seeing Wes again. After all these years he’d like answers as to why he ended their friendship. Seeing Wes again brings up fond memories of their summers at camp playing hockey and being regular teenage knuckleheads. So what if that one dare was a bit weird? Jamie’s more concerned about why that was the last night they were friends.

Wes coming back to camp to coach alongside him is move towards fixing things. His feelings for Jamie will not derail their reconnection as friends again. Although Jamie forgives him, they're re-establishing trust and before they know it, they’re back to their easy-going friendship.

What I loved about Him is how nicely their changing relationship developed over the course of the book. Wes tries hard to keep his feelings in check, always so worried about scaring off Jamie. You wouldn't think that a big, tough guy joker like Wes would feel so vulnerable and afraid about having his heart broken, too. Jamie for his part notices how he begins to see Wes differently. I think Jamie’s growing awareness about his own feelings and sexuality, and the confusion that comes as a result, are handled very well here. The tension is often dissolved by some well-timed humor – one of my favourite moments being a reference to Sex and the City. But what got me, and hopefully will get you too, are the quiet, private moments that are so tender. A soft kiss on the neck, a quick peck on the cheek - those are swoon-worthy moments in any romantic situation.

If you love m/m romances or if you’ve never read one, Him is a good one to start with. The other reason I enjoyed this so much is that it didn’t carry a lot of angst. I don’t mind reading angsty novels (believe me, I've read my fair share) but in this case it was nice not to have that distraction as the story evolved from friends to lovers. The growing intimacy is some of the sweetest that I've read. Oh and just wait until you meet Jamie’s family – they’re crazy awesome!

Him is funny, engaging and heartfelt; I certainly hope that Bowen and Kennedy write more of these together. Believe me, you'll love these boys! 

~ Bel


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