What happened in high school stayed in high school. Until now.
Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexuality from everyone. Including himself.
So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.
John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.
And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.
Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.
Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.
I'm always interested when an author kind of changes it up in a series. And yes, I'm talking about the fact that the two main characters are men. It's a risk, but one I like very much.
I really do love books, where the outside world is kind of against the characters getting together, but they overcome the adversary anyway. Though of course the journey isn't that easy. Michael and John used to be best friends and then some. Two teens kind of experimenting, though it definitely meant much more. Until one time the big bad world came crashing in and that was it. They haven't seen each other since and both gone their own way. While John accepted who he was and even came out with it, Michael hid it so far inside that he's mostly filled with self hatred. Which is kind of tragic.
Now these two guys are playing hockey together. Michael is terrified that John would expose his secret, but honestly that is not even remotely on his mind. John is too busy dodging reporters, and having to convince the rest of the team that he's just a regular guy who likes to play hockey. It isn't easy for anyone in the team, they get a lot of backlash from other teams and even friends.
So while John is just trying to survive college and hockey, Michael just crawls deeper in his cave. Drinking becomes his solace, because that's the only way he can forget about John for a while. Five years might have passed, but for Michael it feels like yesterday. He feels guilty for what happened, and is so afraid of the consequences of his true feelings that it's crippling. It was hard to watch how Michael turned himself into his own biggest enemy.
I kind of liked John more, because his fear didn't stop him from taking chances. Ever since what happened five years ago, his life hasn't been easy, but he also hasn't stop living. He is true to himself and faces advesary head on. While Michael is stuck in the denial phase, if he ignores it then he won't have to deal with it. Which kind of worked until John came back. Faced with the guy he hurt, but also still loved, he needed to learn to come out of his shell. It was hard to see him struggle with it, and so very frustrating, though I liked how in the end it all flowed so naturally.
The Understatement Of The Year was an amazing book, with two real main characters. The emotional struggle in this book was pretty heavy, while the sexy times were a bit less. Honestly for me it could have been more explicit, like in the other books. Though this gives it a sweeter feeling. Michael's personal struggle for me could have been more resolved a little earlier in the book, because I would liked to have seen the aftermath of it all as that is now not mentioned. If you're a sport romance fan, hockey was now way more present in the story and overall very well written. The Ivy Years series is definitely one I recommend.
The Ivy Years - Reading order and purchase links
She is the author of The Ivy Years, an award-winning series set amid the hockey team at an elite Connecticut college.
Also, the Gravity series.
Sarina enjoys skiing, espresso drinks and the occasional margarita. She lives with her family, eight chickens and more ski gear and hockey equipment than seems necessary.