canadian · Contemporary · mental health · MM romance

REVIEW: Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

The Official Description: They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Just the facts: M/M sports romance, hockey, opposites attract

A good solid romance. A hockey player reunites with a friend from his youth… a friend who is his complete opposite. – Kinzie Things

My thoughts bit: Ryan Price is a fighter. He’s been signed to the Toronto Guardians and he’s one of the big guys who are always in the middle of the big brawls on the ice during the pro games. It’s taken its toll on his body, and his mind. Off the ice, Ryan is a mild-mannered, gentle soul. He is struggling with an anxiety disorder and his medication is affecting his sexual desire.

One night in a drug store, he runs into Fabian. They met when they were both teenagers and Ryan was staying with Fabian’s family when they were both teenagers. Fabian’s family was one hundred percent into hockey… well, except for Fabian.

The main relationship in this book is quite interesting. There’s a spark between Fabian and Ryan when they are young, but nothing comes of it. Now, all these years later there’s still an attraction but the two men move in very different worlds.

I really liked the way Reid wrote Fabian and Ryan so differently! They’re distinct and unique characters and I really enjoyed them. I really liked the way that their characters were revealed to me as they got to know each other. Ryan’s anxiety was evident from the beginning of the novel, but Reid took the time to reveal it slowly and carefully. I enjoyed that a lot. There’s a real demonstrated understanding of living with anxiety and the medication side-effects.

One of the things I liked most about Fabian was how comfortable he was in his own skin. He wore all kinds of clothing and jewelry, he enjoyed his body, he loved the attention of Ryan and was happy to reveal that. It was great to see a character breaking gender norms and being himself. I loved him!

This is a great romance… it’s got a good pace and I loved the main relationship!

Things You May Want To Know: Please be aware, I’m by no means an expert on what may or may not have the potential to disturb people. I simply list things that I think a reader might want to be aware of. In this book: (SPOILERS) Vivid

Readalikes: Other stories that are similar or give the same feel.

Links: Goodreads // The Author // The Publisher

I received an ARC of Tough Guy by Rachel Reid from Carina via NetGalley in exchange for an unbiased review.

ratings legend

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