Game Changers, Book #5
Heat Factor: It’s sexy but not as sexy as some of the other books in this series
Character Chemistry: I am charmed: grumpy loner falls for the the bubble of joy
Plot: It’s never too late to be brave enough to make good choices
Overall: I came for the Heated Rivalry postscripts, but I stayed for the sweetness
Troy is a bully to the hero of book 3 in this series, but he’s portrayed as the sidekick bully, not the leader bully (who is pretty terrible, one must acknowledge). So this here’s a redemption book, with the story beginning after Troy’s lost everything he cared about personally (just because that’s how life goes sometimes) and professionally (because he finally got fed up and took the first step to turning his life around).
That’s what I want to focus on because that’s possibly the thing I liked best about this book. Yes, Troy and Harris are totally adorable, what with Harris being full-time cinnamon roll material and Troy also figuring out how to cinnamon roll whenever he’s able to let go of his demons or his guilt or both. But I liked that Reid made Troy’s struggle a struggle. He called out a rapist and was punished for it, traded to the worst team in the league, to a city that very few people would ever call vibrant and exciting (sorry, Ottawa!), and he lost all his friends (who were also jerks) and has no prospects for new ones…because he’s been a real jerk to all the people who might have approved of him breaking ties with all his terrible friends.
His reasons for being a bully are not particularly surprising, right? His dad is a bully, and Troy is terrified of not having his dad’s love and approval, even though he knows that, simply by being himself, he will not have it. He’s been hiding, trying to protect himself, for years. This is the other part of this redemption arc I liked. Troy doesn’t suddenly realize that he’s been a jerk and then he’s just nice now. There are times when he really has a hard time doing the right thing (or being himself) because he’s absolutely terrified of losing anything more. It’s easy to say, “Well he’s got supportive friends now that he’s out of that toxic environment, so he should be able to make better choices more easily!” But his dad is still his dad, and getting fired for speaking truth to power is still getting fired. And also people on the internet are really mean.
Let’s be honest: Troy could definitely benefit from some professional counseling. But he does okay.
Harris initially suspects that Troy is everything he thought he would be – which is to say: a homophobic asshole, even if he did call out a rapist – even though Troy is super-dee-duper hot. But also Harris is the first person to think that maybe Troy is really struggling and to extend a hand, stabilizing Troy’s foundation a little bit. Don’t worry, there are also supportive moments from Wyatt Hayes (of book 3) and Ilya Rozanoff (which is why I read this book – can it be 2022 already? I need The Long Game), but also Troy was a jerk and he does need to earn people’s trust rather than having it handed to him.
Anyway, the romance was totally charming. But Reid did a great job making this redemption arc complex and worth thinking/reading about.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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