Release date: October 5th
This was a true happy-read.
The entire book, I just felt all warm inside. Sure, there’s snark and banter. And there’s a heck of a lot of sexytimes. But mostly it’s just an altogether feel-good story of two guys falling in love. And I highly recommend it to anyone needing a pick-me-up.
Synopsis: Jacobs and Beck are hockey teammates and have always been rivals. Jacobs, attending Colchester University on a Hockey scholarship, despises Beck for his entitled and carefree way of never worrying about consequences. Beck is determined to enjoy himself during College. And one of his favourite pastimes is to get under Jacobs’ skin. They’re both determined to win the Team Captain title, but when its to be decided by a vote, their immature teammates decide to make it into a competition. Jacobs and Beck are all in, even when one of the challenges is a game of gay chicken. Only, neither Jacobs or Beck had expected kissing the other would be so damn hot.
So this is a delicious merge of tropes. Enemies-to-lovers. College sports romance. Gay/bi awakening. The rich and the poor.
As usual, Finley’s and Saxon’s books are dual POVs so you’re allowed into the heads of both Jacobs and Beck. And I’m amazed how the lady writers managed to make both Jacobs and Beck appear so imperfectly perfect. Jacobs has a gargantuan chip on his shoulder, yet he’s so likable, if a bit uptight. And Beck is indeed super irritating, but his heart is in the right place.
The story really takes off with the first of the challenges. And then, when Beck and Jacobs kiss… It’s epic. And while they both struggle with their own reactions to that kiss, the cause isn’t mainly because they liked kissing another dude. It’s their reaction to the person and not the sex that makes them confused and have them questioning themselves. And that’s so refreshing and hopeful. You can’t help but get all gooey over it.
And then, when the guys are forced together during their competition and during training, and start to realize that they’re actually attracted to each other, there are no major angsty moments over being gay. They sort of just jump right in and it’s awesome. Yes, the nakey is super-hot (thank you Finley and James!), but it’s more than that. Jacobs and Beck embrace their new reality and just go with it. Of course, they have their doubts, and it’s a long while until they dare admit there’s more than just chemistry between them.
But it wasn’t only the progression of the guys’ relationship that got to me. Their families also did me in, just in different ways. Jacobs’ big, welcoming family was awesome. I would so have liked a few more chapters about them. Beck’s family was trickier, but his sister was the best, and in the end the conflict with his dad was resolved in a great way without it feeling forced.
I’m actually a bit dumbfounded that I loved this book as much as I did. Because I generally like more drama to spice up my reads. And Face Offs & Cheap Shots is just so utterly sweet and wholesome (yes, I absolutely consider sweaty, hot shenanigans to be wholesome). But whatever the reason, Beck and Jacobs – Teddy and Topher – were the absolute cutest.
When I think about it, one of the main reasons this story made me so happy was probably the complete lack of homophobia. This was just a lovestory. And (almost) nobody had issues with it being two guys falling for each other. Granted, bigotry makes for great dramatics, and I usually like my protagonists to suffer a bit before their HEA. But this story just made me feel so bloody happy.
To think that this is the kind of world we could live in.