Cover Image: Tough Guy

Tough Guy

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date:

Member Reviews

This is the third book in the Game Changers series. This one was definitely not my cup of tea. The story centers on a hockey player and a musician with LGBT+ representation.
Was this review helpful?
This book is very different from Heated Rivalry, but not in a bad way (as my star rating might show 🙂 ). I think I fell in love with the book the moment when Fabian started ranting about pink jerseys. That was my “OMG I adore this character and he’s said like 2 lines” moment.

I liked Ryan when he appeared in Heated Rivalry, when, in the conversation with Ilya, we could see how Defenseman Ryan and Regular Ryan, and this was just shown more in Tough Guy. I loved the anxiety rep! It was so amazing, and Ryan being insecure about his private parts, and in general…It was just amazing to read a good anxiety rep.

What I loved about Fabian is that he is basically “Fuck gender roles” kind of guy, who loves make up, more femme clothes/is more femme in general and quite unapologetic about it. And he was utterly understanding about Ryan’s issues with sex, and with anxiety. Although his issues with hockey do affect his relationship with Ryan, it is understandable, because his family treatment of hockey players versus their son was…Problematic.

On the other hand, it is not like hockey is *good* for Ryan, not anymore. What he is playing is not making him happy, and almost leads him into addiction issues so it’s not like Fabian’s worries are baseless. But in the end, when they work out everything together? Amazing. Also, Ryan helping out at the camp that Ilya and Shane run? Amazing! As is his immediate refusal that he will not teach kids how to fight, and how Ilya understands that immediately.

Each of the book in the series is different and while this one might deal with more heavy topics (addiction, mental health,…) it is just as amazing as the previous two have been. ❤ ❤
Was this review helpful?
I'll be honest I was really shocked by just how much I enjoyed this book. I took forever to read my earc, but I'm glad I finally did. I loved both these characters a lot, and I really loved the side characters in this too.
Was this review helpful?
A great mix of my two favorite genres - hockey and musicians! Well-formed characters that knew each other when they were young and rekindled their friendship and turned it into something more. I hadn't read the first two in the series, but didn't feel like I was missing anything by just starting here. Would recommend as a great sports romance and a great LGBTQ+ book.
Was this review helpful?
Rachel Reid has done it again - two lonely souls meet and fall in love against their better judgment. With a burly silent type and a flamboyant creative get together, sparks fly and life choices are reevaluated. Rachel Reid's third installment in a series of interconnected hockey romances is scorching hot, full of action, and a delight to read.
Was this review helpful?
Tough Guy is the third book in the Game Changers serie by Rachel Reid. I really liked the story of Fabian and Ryan.
Was this review helpful?
*~~*ARC kindly provided from the publisher/author to me for an honest review *~~*

Full review to come

5 stars
Was this review helpful?
Rachel Reid has done it again with a lovely, steamy, heartwarming lgbtqia+ romance.  There were no limitations or stereotypes in play. And the representation of needs and mental disorders is extremely important.
Was this review helpful?
Loved this book! I especially love Ryan Price. While I do not have the same struggles with mental health that he does, I really felt like I identified with some of his issues. He was a character I could really connect with despite how vastly different our lives are. And Fabian is just generally wonderful. I love how much these two just blatantly admire and adore one another. While everything wasn’t perfect for them of course, their relationship is almost pure in how good it is for one another. Thankfully, that purity didn’t get in the way of some truly wonderful sexy times, making this an overall fantastic package of a novel. Highly recommend!
Was this review helpful?
I was meant to be reading Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile. That was the plan. But after reading 20-odd%, my brain wasn’t in the right head space while self-isolating. So, I needed something light and easy. Something that didn’t involve much brain-power, and then I remembered I requested this adult gay romance a while back from the publisher and went “I’ve read a bit of romance the past few weeks, let’s try you out!”

Ice hockey player Ryan Price has recently moved to Toronto Guardians to play their enforcer, but he struggles with self-esteem issues and anxiety. But he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expected was to bump into Fabian Salah, a blast from the past who has sworn never to date an ice hockey player. They shouldn’t have a strong attraction, but it’s there… But can these two, who seem completely incompatible, make it work?

I wasn’t sure what I was getting into with this, but I was surprised how easy I fell into reading these two characters: a gentle giant put into an uncomfortable position at work due to his size and a confident, femme who worries his new boyfriend’s job is going to hurt him beyond repair. 

This is a slow burn of a read, a second-chance/the one that got away romance, which does tackle the issue on mental health. I read this very quickly, but I saw that this is a slow burn of a romance. I know there are readers who prefer the previous book in this series, Heated Rivalry, as that was more intensity with its chemistry and romance aspects. 

This isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea of a romance. This felt soft and gentle with a tiny hint of angst in it, and while that’s ok for me, I know some of you want hot, burning passion from the first page. This might not be the book for you. 

It was a nice, fluffy gay romance read. A beach read of a romance. I had fun with these characters and I can very easily see myself reading the other books in this series. Now, to read Heated Rivalry or wait till the fourth book in series, Common Goal, comes out at the end of the year?
Was this review helpful?
I really enjoyed this book. I will admit that I loved book 2 so much that it was hard to avoid comparing Fabian and Ryan's story to the consistent tension-filled relationship of Shane and Ilya.

 Fabian and Ryan were acquaintances when they were younger but Fabian wasn't solidly out of the closet then. They bumped into each other in Toronto and they reconnect. They are supportive of each other as they have history together. Fabian is a musician trying to launch his career and Ryan is struggling with his waning love for the sport that has been a focal point in his life for so long.

I liked them as they were sweet and low on angst. It featured two guys trying to find their way in the world as well as finding love. The writing remains engaging and the characters are likable. I think this story would have struck more of a chord if it came before Ilya and Shane. They were just too much of an act to follow.
Was this review helpful?
A wonderful addition to an already heart-stopping series, Tough Guy follows Ryan Price, an NHL enforcer who suffers from debilitating anxiety and body-issues, and the young Fabian, an up and coming singing star. I have loved this series ever since the first book so I was excited to be provided an ARC of the third book. Ryan and Fabian are both sympathetic in their own ways, and I loved how passionate the author is about hockey! The romance is slow and steamy and don't worry! There is definitely a happily ever after but with enough angst throughout to make you really want it!

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest opinion.
Was this review helpful?
3.5 Stars

I became aware of this series on Instagram from a friend’s recommendation and I knew I wanted to try it, even if I’m starting out of order.  I quickly fell in love with the characters.  TOUGH GUY is really about a vulnerable guy that will simply make you fall in love with him.

Ryan is a hockey star but his position in every team he’s ever played is the tough one that gets in the fights.  That’s what he’s there for, that’s what the coach expects and the fans want.  But he hates being that guy.  So much so that he’s been dealing with severe anxiety from it.  He’s traded to a new team and moves to Toronto.  He’s not outspoken about the fact that he’s gay but he’s also not in the closet.  As much as it’s acceptable for some hockey stars now to be out and proud, he feels like he wouldn’t be accepted the same because he’s not into the manly looking guys.  And he quickly finds the perfect guy for him after finding an apartment in the LGBTQ Village of the city.  Turns out to be his high school crush!

Ryan has such a big and tough exterior that he can easily intimidate anyone, but I loved seeing his soft interior.  Even easily broken.  I think Ms. Reid did such a great job at dealing with mental illness and anxiety in this book and how it can affect someone.  That was one of my favorite things about this book.  Plus the chemistry between Ryan and aspiring musician Fabian was undeniable as well.  I really loved them together.

Because of the personal circumstances of our characters in this book I would say the chemistry is more understated instead of explosive, the relationship had to go at a slower pace and in the end maybe there wasn’t a lot of conflict.  For those reasons I think I gave this book the rating I did.

But one thing is for certain, I’m really curious to go back and read the previous books in the series and continue reading this author.  I have a feeling she can become a new favorite for me.
Was this review helpful?
I loved this book. A great hockey romance but with a huge dose of feels and romance. A fun read.p with lots of passion.
Was this review helpful?
Review: Ice hockey is one of the only sports that I really enjoy watching live, so I’m a big fan of books that surround the sport. Tough Guy is the third in the Game Changers series, all about hockey players who are LGBT+. I really enjoyed the first two books, and while I liked Tough Guy, it wasn’t my favorite of the three. However, I did really love hockey player Ryan Price. He’s a player that gets traded from team to team, and he’s mostly used for fights, because he’s so big. On the flip side, he’s a pretty soft-spoken and sensitive guy, who deals with anxiety and depression. Price falls for Fabian, someone from his past, and I liked that they had that background to start with. Fabian is a singer/violinist, working random jobs to pursue his passion. I loved Fabian’s friends, and how they readily accepted Ryan. They added a lot of the humor! I am definitely curious to see if there will be a fourth Game Changers novel…if so, I’ll be reading it!
Was this review helpful?
I don't have a ton to say about this story.  I liked it, but it didn't resonate with me like Heated Rivalry (one of my favorite books of 2019) did.  As usual, Reid crafts a story totally different from the story that proceeded it, and takes some well established norms about alpha hockey players and turns them on their head.  

Opposites attract when gentle giant Ryan - a reluctant enforcer for his NHL team, reconnects with musician Fabian Salah.  Ryan struggles with anxiety, and is doing his best to live a life true to the person he is and wants to be moving forward.  It's a daily struggle.  Fabian is living his best life, writing and performing, out and proud, with supportive friends who always have his back.  But his childhood left emotional scars that still haven't wholly healed, and running into Ryan - who once bunked with his family as a junior - brings back the good and bad of his childhood.  Both men are connected to their truest selves...but their journey's are very different, and the contrasts between these two are extreme.  These differences seem like obstacles to a relationship, but Reid quickly establishes that Ryan is the yin to Fabian's yang, and vice versa.  

I loved the chemistry between them, and my problems with this story have nothing to do with the writing.  After the steam level of Heated Rivalry, this one - with its gentle examination of Ryan's sex drive (or lack thereof) and the effect of his anxiety/depression on his sexual appetite - was perhaps too drastically different from its predecessor, and the effect is jarring.  I can't say that it doesn't work; only that I felt something of a letdown reading the story, and it's only because my expectations were so totally wrong about this couple.

Tough Guy is a tender examination of the healing power of love.  It's quiet and powerful, but lacks the sexy steam Reid fans have come to love.
Was this review helpful?
Each time I read a book in this series, I think I’ve found a new favorite couple. Tough Guy wasn’t an exception, but Ryan and Fabian didn’t quite squeak by my love of Shayne and Ilya in Heated Rivalry – mainly because that relationship was so much fun. If we were rating on the sweetness factor, Ryan and Fabian would win hands down between the two couples. Kind of a funny observation, especially given Ryan’s reputation on ice, but things aren’t always the way they seem.

Fabian and Ryan had a history. They knew each other when they were younger. In fact, Ryan lived with Fabian’s family when he was a young hockey player. Ryan wasn’t the first hockey player to live with Fabian’s family, but he was the first one that he didn’t want to keep his distance from. They learned a lot about each other during that time, but they kept it to themselves. Those early encounters made a lasting impression on both of them though.

They learned even more about each other when they met again and the attraction was definitely there. It amused Fabian’s friends since he was anything but a hockey fan. He was also not a fan of violence and that was a huge part of Ryan’s job on the ice. They each had to give a little in order to make things work out between them, or risk loosing what they had found or re-found.

One thing that’s interesting about this series is that each book runs somewhat parallel to the others from a time frame standpoint. There’s a fair amount of history in each one, but at some point in each, there’s a cross over. Not enough to make each one not stand on their own. It’s just an interesting perspective if you’re reading them in order.
Was this review helpful?
This third book in the Game Changers series is my favorite so far. I enjoyed the first two books in the series but finished both with mixed feelings. Rachel Reid does write some great characters, but the romance came up short for me in the first two books. This one gave me both with Ryan and Fabian in a friends to lovers romance that has plenty of feels. I really liked the outlandish Fabian. He's larger than life at times, and he's just such a fun character to read. Then we have Ryan, who is a gentle giant until he hits the ice and has to be the fighter, the Tough Guy. I absolutely loved Ryan. He's not without his problems, most of which stem from low self-esteem and anxiety, but he's just that much more lovable because of those things. He's one of those characters that tug at the heartstrings and make me want good things for them. This pair would seem incompatible on the surface, but they are just so good together. There is plenty of steam between Ryan and Fabian, maybe even a bit too much given how much page time is dedicated to that side of the relationship, but at the same time, it works for this couple. I was glad to see that the author dedicated some time to the actual building of this relationship, and I loved seeing Ryan slowly come out of his shell both in the romance and in his everyday life. I've liked all three couples in this series, but I have to say that Ryan and Fabian make up my favorite couple so far. This has been an entertaining series, and I like that we get to revisit some past characters while the book still works as a standalone. I'll be interested to see what Rachel Reid does next.
Was this review helpful?
t has been a while since I read a hockey romance and this one did not disappoint. Hockey playing hero Ryan suffers from anxiety and it was handled so well by the author. His love interest is Fabian and Fabian seems to present as gender non-conforming. All in all the story was sweet and sexy and was a great reintroduction to hockey romance for me. 

Grade: B
Was this review helpful?
Let me take a minute to bask in the complete warm fuzzies that this book has given me...

AHHHHHHHHH! So warm! So fuzzy! 

I loved this book! It's super cute and cuddly and sweet. Plus, I've never seen a better and more realistic depiction of anxiety in a book. 

Meet our "tough guy," Ryan. He is a hockey enforcer (fighter) recently traded to the NHL team in Toronto. Since playing hockey, he has been traded almost every year. He's intimidating to other hockey players and believes that he's only kept his status as an NHL player because he knows how to fight. But he's super lonely and anxious. 

"Ryan didn't expect to form any particular strong bonds to any of his teammates. Something about being naturally awkward, shy, clinically anxious, terrified of flying, and, oh yes, gay, didn't exactly make him a friend magnet in the ol' locker room. But he would try."

Then we meet Fabian, a professional musician with several albums to his name, who grew up in the shadow of hockey. His dad coached, his sister plays professionally, and his family would host teenage hockey players during hockey season. Fabian was a gay music nerd in the middle of all of this, ignored by his parents, and bullied by the hockey players his family housed. The only hockey player that he liked (and had a crush on) was Ryan. 

Fabian is working part-time at a local drug store when Ryan walks in to pick up his prescription renewal for his anxiety meds. The two reconnect and begin one of the sweetest, supportive, and loving romances. 

Ryan is a teddy bear cinnamon roll sweetheart and I want to hug him so much. My heart broke for him so many times throughout this book - I also have anxiety and felt like I was listening to my own thoughts several times throughout this book (Ryan rehearsing his food order, apologizing for things he doesn't need to, trying to find ways to take up the least amount of space and be the least amount of hassle, feeling uncomfortable and like you don't fit in social gatherings). Thankfully, Fabian was there to lift Ryan (and me) up and out of the dark thoughts weighing Ryan down with reassurance, understanding, patience, HUMOR, and love.

This is the first book I've read by Rachel Reid and I've already picked up and started to read the first book in this series. Her writing is deliciously funny and equally heartbreaking and poignant, and I can't wait to read more of her work. She's on a fast track to becoming a One-Click author for me. 

ARC received by publisher via NetGalley.
Was this review helpful?