Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy
Series: Him, #2
Romance Sports Contemporary, MM, LGBT,
March 11, 2016
Rennie Road Books
Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “Love is friendship set on fire.”
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?
Us picks up about not long after the end of Him. Ryan Wesley and Jamie Canning are happily in love and starting their new lives in Toronto where Wes has achieved his dream of playing for a pro hockey team while Jamie is offered a job coaching hockey in a youth league. But it’s not all rainbows and snuggles. Though they both agreed to keep their relationship a secret from the public till after the hockey season is over, it didn’t seem that much of a hardship when they had the sanctuary of their home. When a nosy and noisy team mate of Wes’s moves in next door and infiltrates their lives, that promised bit of privacy is gone and tempers begin to flare. As Wes and Jamie start to drift apart, they wonder if they can withstand with the world is throwing at them.
Readers were utterly charmed by the first book in this series-Him. A deliciously sexy, bittersweet, and humorous friends to lovers contemporary that uses the bond of friendship and hockey to build an even deeper connection while dealing with family, friends, homosexuality, and the consequences of when their relationship is discovered.
I admit to being a little worried when I heard there was a sequel coming out. Sequels based off of a popular romance that ended on a definite happy note often run the risk of becoming a recap of previous events with a few minor changes or a loaded gun shooting manufactured drama at us left and right. Luckily, this sequel suffers from neither issue. Us is a continuation of Jamie’s and Wes’s love story; the next chapter in their lives. The same charm, humor, and delicious sexual heat saturates this story as Bowen and Kennedy use alternate POVs to pour Wes and Jamie’s hearts out. They deal with not only the everyday ins and out of their lives but also the fact that unlike most couples, they have to hide their relationship. This places undue stress on them. Add in the fact that Wes’s job takes him away for long periods of time, leaving Jamie feeling even more isolated than he already does, and it all adds up to further problems. Emotions run the gauntlet as Wes and Jamie feel the mounting pressure but find themselves unable to communicate effectively beyond the bedroom.
We might be awful communicators lately, but turning each other on has never been a problem for us.
Mild angst and drama begin to slowly fill the storyline as their relationship begins to show some cracks. Bowen and Kennedy do a fabulous job of painting a realistic picture of the issues this couple is experiencing. Wes is flourishing his rookie year on the hockey team and while he wants to tell the world that Jamie is his, he doesn’t want his relationship to overshadow the team. Jamie finds solace in his coaching job but a homophobic fellow employee only adds to his insecurity and increasing anger. These restrictions are isolating them with no social outlets to fall back on. There is no mingling of their friends for fear of what they will inadvertently reveal. Wes and Jamie truly love one another and it shows but they are still learning one another. Both choose to push aside their issues, using excuses to avoid dealing with the problems at hand until a serious event breaks through their barriers and forces them to confront all their anger and fears.
“I think he blames me for everything.”
Though Jamie and Wes are the heart of this story and I loved watching them learn to be a couple and fight for their love, I have to say that a new character, Blake, completely stole the show for me. I don’t think I have laughed so hard over an auxiliary character. His enthusiasm and friendly nature outweighs his obliviousness as he wiggles his way into Wes and Jamie’s lives like a lovable obnoxious puppy. Of course, he more than proves his loyalty and friendship when Wes and Jamie need help and Blake jumps in with no questions asked. Plus, his fear of sheep is adorably weird. Jamie’s parents and siblings are rocks in their corner and Wes’s teammates give him the support and continued friendship he feared he would lose once the season was over and he made his announcement.
“Swear to god, Wesley, sheep are the devil.”
The ending is a mixture of heartfelt sighs, a few tears, and some healthy laughter as Wes and Jamie discover that their coming out wasn’t the catastrophe they feared. They triumphed over one of the greatest obstacles in their relationship and we are once again left with the feeling that this couple has what it takes to go all the way.