There's a whole lot for lovers of MM romance to like about Him. There sure is a lot to drool over -- plenty of mouthwatering descriptions of these two hockey hunks and the blistering hot sex they engage in together -- but there's much more to it than that.
Before I start listing them, a quick reset is in order. Jamie Canning and Ryan "Wes" Wesley lived on opposite sides of the country, but they were inseparable besties during the six summers they attended an exclusive hockey camp in Lake Placid as teenagers, a long-distance friendship they kept up between summers. At least they did until something happened between them the day before camp ended the summer before they headed off to college. For the next four years, Jamie cannot figure out why Wes completely cut off all contact between them. The book starts with their paths crossing again at the end of their senior year in college when their respective hockey teams both make it to the Frozen Four for the national championship, their last college hurrah before each starts his career with different NHL teams. In the summers since high school, Jamie has been coaching at the same hockey camp they attended together as teens, so in an effort to reconnect and get his best friend back, he encourages Wes to call the camp's director and coach there for the summer as well. The bulk of the book covers what happens in the six weeks of camp and a little beyond that.
Okay, now for the short list:
- The friendship depicted between these two is so natural and realistic that it's almost palpable, both before and after they discover the sexual attraction between them is more than just one-sided. This foundation made the relationship that develops between them even more appealing for me as the reader.
- The tone and language the authors use for Jamie and Wes, both aloud and in their heads, is completely believable for a couple of 22-year-old jocks. The alternating point of view (POV) used throughout is seamlessly edited and very easy to follow, and the internal dialogue each has is just perfect for their characters. There's a lot of humor, both during their interactions and while they're in their own heads. It's all of this that made them feel real to me.
- Though it easily could have been written to be one, this is not a gay-for-you (GFY) pairing. Don't get me wrong, I love a good GFY story, but as a gay man, there's a chunk of me that just doesn't buy it as something that happens all that often in real life, so I like it even more when a character discovers something about their sexuality that's more than just a reaction to a single person. Here, Wes is gay, but Jamie discovers and quickly comes to terms with the fact that he's bisexual, and the authors handle this process beautifully. Jamie's internal conversation when he figures it out made me chuckle: "I'm attracted to women, no doubt about it. I'm also attracted to men, apparently. Wonderful. Complicated fellow, my dick." Jamie sharing this revelation with Wes, though, is so perfectly done that it could not have been written any more in-character if they had held the proverbial pen to write it themselves:
[From Wes's POV] "Are you sure you want to do this?" I gnaw on the inside of my cheek. "You've kinda been running hot and cold on me all day."
He nods. "Needed to get some things straight in my head."
I snort at his choice of words. "Straight, huh?" I offer a pointed look at his very noticeable hard-on.
His mouth twitches. "My dick and I reached an understanding."
"Yeah? And what's that?" I ask curiously.
He shrugs. "We both like you."
F*** yeah, indeed!
As with any good romance, there's always something working to drive the main characters apart. In this case, it's time and prior commitments; summer must end. But these two authors know their characters so well that they've written the angst and reactions perfectly for them. And the resolution more than just works, it's just right.
So what didn't I like about the book? Nothing really. I hate to keep using the word "perfect," but I can't think of anything I wish had been different. So if the shoe fits, I guess.
Since reading the book, I've discovered that a sequel is in the works, and it looks to be a direct sequel instead of having new main characters in the same storyline. So now I'm nervous that they'll ruin it. But I guess I'll wait and see... I'll definitely be reading it, because these two authors know their characters, and they would truly be idiots to screw it up.
This is definitely one of the best MM romances of 2015. Can I say it again? F*** yeah!