Review: Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy00:00
Title: Us (Him #2)
Author: Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Genre: NA Romance, Hockey, M/M
Release Date: 8 March 2016
My rating: 4.5 Stars
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Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?
Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.
Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.
Or can they?
When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?
I loved the first book about Wes and Jamie (my review) and was excited to hear that there will be a sequel. It's rare that we see in romance how life goes on for our favourite couple after they get together and I'm very much interested in how couples make it work in the long (or shorter) term.
This book brilliantly shows us two young dudes, hockey players (Wes - an NHL super star in his rookie season and Jamie - a kids hockey coach). They love each other, they have the support of Jamie's family but life/professional obligations force them to keep their relationship in the closet. And they both understand the need to act this way but over time it all takes its toll.
I felt their struggles to make their relationship work were real and very convincingly presented. I liked how despite their love and the strong chemistry between them, there were moments of insecurity, confusion, the occasional quarral which all made their story not just a fairytale but real-life experience I found believabel and easy to relate to.
In short, I loved everything in the story. I liked how it explored some serious issues modern day couples face - the financial difference between Jamie and Wes was treated with care and understanding and it's an important element in any relationship and is often neglected in romance. There is also the routine, daily stuff that new couples need to work out, to find the right balance between their work commitments and family time.
Jamie and Wes were young sports guys and they just wanted to be normal, like the rest of the hockey guys they knew and didn't feel the need to be activists, though I appreciate the significance given to the issues of homophobia and hate speech Jamie had to deal with at his work place. I think the problem was handled well, sending the right message without being preachy.
IAs a whole the story had smooth flow to it, nothing felt pressured or forced, the conflcits when they came up were resolved in a manner that worked well for me. It was not all serious issues, there were smexy times and lots of fun banter (both between Jamie and Wes, and as a whole among all the characters). Blake was ridiculous but also fun and sweet and surprisingly good friend and I really, really want to read his story too.
Us is a sweet and loving NA sports romance mixed with some serious issues, treated with care and understanding. It's a worthy sequel to the first book and a refreshingly non-fetish, real contemporary sports mm romance (just a quick side note, Jamie is actually bisexual and I find the presentation of his sexuality as one of the best I've read.) I greatly recommend this series even if you are not a fan of sports or NA romances.