Thank you to Eden Finley, Sarina Bowen and the team at the World of True North for the advance reader copy of Headstrong, the third standalone in the Vino & Veritas series.
Finally a little dose of hockey romance to the Vino & Veritas series and it’s in an installment that has a straight man questioning his sexuality.
Check out the Goodreads synopsis…
A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong?
When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart.
But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away.
Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated.
Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy.
I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips…”
Check out my more detailed thoughts below…
- Characters: Rainn Richardson works at Vino & Veritas on both the book store and the wine bar sides. Don’t you dare bring up hockey around Rainn, he was a star player at Moo U just a few years ago. A dastardly injury forced a second surgery on his torn ACL and brought forth the end of his hockey career. He had been drafted into the NHL by the Buffalo Sabers, but that was ripped away from him. He dropped out of university, where he was studying Sports management as he wanted nothing to do with hockey anymore. He had no plan B, so now he is working at Vino & Veritas and is living his life in a state of pause. Until Leighton Whitaker enters his story. The newly out hockey player goes to Moo U and studies agriculture. He and his brother plan to take over his family’s dairy farm once his father retires. Whit as someone newly out doesn’t have much romantic experience. He sets the goal for himself to lose his virginity before he graduates from Moo U. He tries out some dating apps and blind dating but nothing is working. He is able to convince Rainn to be his wingman and that sets off the events of this story.
- Setting: The story is set in Burlington, Vermont. That is where Vino & Veritas is located and where Rainn is living. Whit lives on his family farm, he is super family-oriented, and he is even building his own home on his family’s land. There are many scenes where the nature of the small town comes into play. It’s how Whit recognized Rainn in their initial meeting and it is how a lot of side characters in this story know each other.
- Pacing: This story is friends to lovers in the truest sense. The story was paced in a way that made me love the supportive friendship the boys formed first. Once it started to become more, Rainn also had to go through his own personal journey of figuring out his sexuality. He had never been attracted to a man before and he naturally must figure himself out.
- Romance: Whit has an immediate attraction to Rainn, they have an awkward kind of meet-cute in the book store. Feeling that chemistry Whit can’t help but flirt with Rainn. Rainn turns him down as he is straight. As Whit puts it this causes his “little baby gay heart [to] shatter.” When Rainn pivots to helping Whit find someone to be intimate with he cannot help but act jealous when he sees Whit hitting it off with someone else. Their friendship only grows with time, soon Whit is spending as many Saturday and Sunday nights as he can with Rainn. Rainn even goes as far as to go watch Whit play hockey, something he never thought he would do. But that is the thing these boys bring out in each other and they have a love story worth fighting for, despite every personal barrier in their way.
Headstrong receives four out of five stars.
You can pick up the story below…
Thank you again to Eden, Sarina, and the team at TWOTN for the review opportunity. Thank you for reading and supporting my blog!