They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?
Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.
Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.
Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.
I was in a bit of a reading slump so I picked up this book *knowing* it was going to be good enough to break through – and it did!
I keep seeing reviews comparing Tough Guy to the previous book in this series, Heated Rivalry. I feel like Heated Rivalry was a lot more high energy, enemies to lovers banter, secret relationship thrills, while Tough Guy has some more difficult hurdles to overcome and moves at a place that’s slower and just sadder. They’re both really great books, but they are very *different* books – which I think is a great thing. Authors shouldn’t be pigeonholed into writing the same book over and over, or even the same tone of books, and why readers seem to expect/want that is beyond me. Kudos to Rachel Reid for writing a series that is a continuous surprise.
Ryan reminds me a little bit of Ares from Pippa Grant’s books – big tought giants who could sqaush you like a big, but inside they’re filled with marshmallow fluff and concerns about not accidentally squashing someone. This is apparently my type now, haha. He struggles with anxiety and not liking the role into which he’s cast in his career, and he really struggles throughout this book. Even the relationship between Ryan and Fabian is as much about the struggle to stay together and make it work as it is about initially getting together, which I feel is something I see less of in romance than that heavy focus on the tension and build-up leading up to FINALLY getting together.
Fabian is lovely and amazing, and I adore his passion for music and makeup. He brings a much-needed pop of color to Ryan’s life, and I love how they contrast and compliment one another.
Tough Guy is the third book in the Game Changers series, and can be read as a stand alone. Ilya from the second book, Heated Rivalry makes a few appearances, and there are some mentions of Scott from book one, Game Changer, so there are some light spoilers for the first books in the series.
An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for review. All opinions are unbiased and my own.