Cover Image: Common Goal

Common Goal

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Member Reviews

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Sarah – ☆☆☆☆
4.5 stars

I love Rachel Reid’s hockey romances and I really love a friends-with-benefits storyline. This book offers both – and I fell hard for both Eric and Kyle.

At the end of his NHL career, Eric has been in the background of this series for a while. I love the contrast between his reputation on the ice and his vulnerability off the ice. The uncertainty he faces on the verge of retirement feels real and very raw. The age gap works between him and the younger Kyle because in many ways, Kyle has so much more life experience. The two men balance each other and they take care of each other.

This is a high heat read – with a little bit of kink. For a hockey romance, there’s not a whole lot of bling or flash – though Eric’s house is pure property porn – and the connection between Kyle and Eric builds quietly. Rachel Reid writes great romance and this one gave me all the good feels.

Erica – ☆☆☆☆
Common Goal is the fourth installment in the Game Changers series. While it could most definitely be read as a standalone with little to no confusion, there are cameos and continuing interactions with past narrators, as well as the introduction to the two narrators in this novel during past installments. I don't believe there would be more of an emotional impact in reading the series versus this as a standalone when it comes to this couple in question.

Hockey. Bisexual. Age-gap. Slight BDSM bedroom sports.

Goalie Eric is newly divorced. Lonely, despite the camaraderie of an entire team having his back, because as the goalie he sets himself apart, but mostly because he's one of the oldest members of the team, one who doesn't drink and is a vegetarian, along with one who doesn't have a string of flings to add to the locker room banter. Mostly, it's Eric himself who creates this divide, failing to see how badly his teammates want to interact with him.

We previously met Kyle, the friend and bartender coworker who has an unrequited crush on Kip. He's still nursing a broken heart because Kip is madly in love with Scott, while trying to ignore his feeling in favor of a close platonic relationship.

On the relationship front, both Eric and Kyle have hang-ups on what the other represents. Kyle is into older men but has been burnt badly because of it, while Eric thinks himself an octogenarian and Kyle a child.

Age was the focus, but this portion was a major con for me, aside from the teammates’ jokes that had me busting a gut. Eric is stuck on his age, which became annoying for this 42 year-old to read, how I am ancient and decrepit and should just crawl into a grave and wait for the Grim Reaper to claim me.

All said in jest on my part, but it did get annoying coming from Eric's nonstop inner monologue about his ancientness. I understood it from a professional athlete standpoint, and the jokes made at his expense were really funny, as well as simply said because they were actually calling Eric out, not because they felt he was old. I understand this was a hang-up for Eric, but it was like beating a dead horse then dragging it through hundreds of pages. A handful of times, we'd get the picture. After that, it just became overkill and slightly insulting to anyone older than 40 reading the novel, borrowing some of Eric's self-loathing over his age.

The team camaraderie was most excellent, especially how Eric's teammates tried so hard to include him in everything. I experienced a ton of feels during those moments. The warm and fuzzy and the humorous, especially from Ilya. The fact that after all this time, I immediately read Ilya with an accent added to the humorous bent. Ilya, now he's a fan favorite, every cameo turning into a scene-stealer.

The intellectual and art outside interests connected Eric and Kyle, bridging the gap in their ages until it wasn't a big deal for this reader, as well as when they were in each other's orbit. I understood why Kyle was seen younger than he was. Almost 26, the fact that he was still in college made him appear more 17-21 than half a decade older. Then there was Eric, who behaved and hated himself as if he were on death's door, when he was still in his prime. These issues made the age-gap wider than it truly was.

The romance was overshadowed by the angst dealing with the age-gap, especially since it was obvious how Kyle emotionally distanced himself from Eric the entire time due to his past trauma with an older man. This took the warmness out of the romance, detaching their connection for the sake of angst, removing the feels for me.

Bi-discovery, that was insanely hot and silly and awkward and endearing. Kyle acted older in this regard, while Eric was sexually stunted after twenty years of marriage to a woman he wasn't feeling a spark toward. Thankfully, the ex wasn't shown as a villain or in a bad light. But it was most definitely authentically and realistically written.

I will say, it was a struggle for me, because the role reversal was at odds with their personalities. I am a sucker for power-exchange, and I understand all the facets of it, but there were a few personality traits missing from their everyday lives to extend into the bedroom for the believably factor. This isn't in regards to Eric.

Kyle acted mature only in the bedroom or during art discussions with Eric, yet silly and childish for large portions of the novel, where Kyle and Kip took on distinctly teenager-ish, effeminate personalities, yet acted like grown men at other times. The flip-flop of personalities traits was a struggle for me, a struggle to grasp who these men truly were and what was an act. I understand that they are young, but it came across as more high school than college graduates on the cusp of the paths they'd take for the rest of their lives.

All in all, the series as a whole has been beyond entertaining, the gamut of emotions. I most certainly recommend Common Goal, the Game Changers series, and Rachel Reid to fans of the MM romance genre, particularly the sports subgenre.

Ruthie – ☆☆☆☆
This is the fourth book in the series – it also ties in with book one, where Kyle worked with Kip in the bar, and Eric was a friend and teammate of Scott. That said, you could read it as a standalone and still enjoy it for sure.

Eric is nearing the end of his hockey career. He is thinking about the future and how his life will be. He loves art and has been collecting it and filling his large house with it for years. When he finds that Kyle also loves art, he has to accept that there is more to the 'young' man than he had given him credit. Whilst Eric is worrying about being too old and too new at realising his interest in Kyle, he really would like to examine his attraction and learn about how to pursue a man. Kyle is unexpectedly reluctant, as there is clearly a connection between them. We learn why eventually – these two guys really need to speak more and rely on their internal voice less!

I enjoyed catching up with other characters from previous books and chuckling at the fun they bring to this story. I found the pace and the relationship did work in the context of these two guys – and look forward to seeing them in future installments.

Veronica – ☆☆☆☆
Eric is 41-years-old and playing what will be his last year of professional hockey. Recently divorced, he is a pretty reserved kind of a guy, he doesn’t drink, is into clean eating and taking care of his body, and he loves art. So his best mate steers him in the direction of 25-year-old Kyle, a bartender who is studying art history, thinking they could be friends.

Eric and Kyle are attracted to each other but in the beginning, different assumptions, including Kyle’s assumption that Eric is married and straight. When Eric confirms he is bisexual, Kyle offers to help Eric get out in the dating scene, but it is clear that the only person Eric is interested in is Kyle.

These two are off-the-charts hot in bed and Kyle takes the lead, broadening Eric’s horizons. Their age difference isn’t even a consideration when they are burning up the sheets. The problems arise when they leave the bedroom and their brains get in the way. The thing is, when they stop thinking so much out of the bedroom, they have a great time together. And I had a great time right along with them but I could understand, at least initially, Eric’s concerns.

I’m not a fan of romances with large age-gaps but I have to say, I was won over by this story. Their age-gap is a big deal for Eric and it stands in the way of him finding happiness with a guy that is clearly perfect for him. That is when I realised the age-gap just doesn’t matter, their happiness is more important.

I adored reading Common Goal and I feel like this story has opened me up to reading a whole new sub-genre of romance novels I would usually avoid. Just thinking about this story now is making me smile. Common Goal gets four happy stars from me.
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I will be forever grateful a friend recommended this author’s stories to me. They are quite simply perfect!! No unnecessary drama. Just heartfelt explorations of love & sexuality. 

Eric & Kyle are beautifully written characters who made me laugh, cry and squirm. Their banter, their connection & their chemistry were very genuine. Fantastic supporting characters made this a really rich read. I would describe this authors work as a hug in a book. I always finish with a big smile on my face. Definitely recommend this story.
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Kyle and Eric are such perfect romance characters. Dealing with an unrequited crush, a new chapter in an athlete's life and a recognition of ones true self. I loved checking in with old characters and all the side characters that make these stories so very real with a multitude of fleshed out people that a reader can feel like they know. I hope there are more books in the Game Changer series. I don’t think there could ever be enough.
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I received an ARC of this book to read through NetGalley. All opinions are my own. Common Goal by Rachel Reid is the fourth book in her hockey series Game Changers. It is a MM romance and can be read as a stand-alone, characters from the other books in the series appear, but there is no sense of having missed something. Goalie Eric Bennett is 41 years old and feeling that this will be his last season. His marriage ended a couple of years ago, and he’s re-thinking his sexuality because of his attraction to graduate student/ bartender Kyle Swift who’s close friends with the fiancé of a team member. He’s concerned that Kyle, at age 26, is much too young for him, but there is no one else who attracts him the way Kyle does. Kyle thinks Eric is everything he wants in a lover, but he’s been burned before and the mixed signals he’s getting from Eric have him on edge. This is a slow burn friends to lovers story, so slow burn that at one point I wanted to shout kiss him already but managed to contain myself. I enjoyed the story and do recommend reading it. Steam Level: Medium. Publishing Date: September 21, 2020. #CommonGoal #RachelReid #CarinaPress #HarlequinRomance #NetGalley #MMRomance #HockeyRomance #ContemporaryRomance #Bookstagram #Bookstagrammer
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Common goal by Rachel Reid. This is a standalone book in the series. M/M romance. Older man/Younger guy. Very slow start. Very slow burn. Not the best for me compared to the other books. But it's always good to see the other characters pop in. There are a lot of Heat as expected. That at least made it a bit better.

ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley. The opinions here are all mine.
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I was sent this book as an advanced copy by the publisher via NetGalley for reviewing purposes, but all opinions are my own.
Common Goal follows Eric Bennett, a veteran goaltender for the New York Admirals, as he develops a friends-with-benefits arrangement with much-younger, graduate student Kyle. As time goes on, their relashionship starts getting more and more complicated as they develop real feelings for each other.
Heated Rivalry was a M/M romance that I read and loved back in January of this year and so, I've been reading the other books in this series. And while none of the ones I've read where as good as the second one, they are really enjoyable reads. And this one was exactly that.
I didn't love the characters, but I did enjoy their relashionship. The smut was great. It was a really quick read. And while I probably won't re-read it, I did apreciate my time reading this.
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Recommend; For readers that enjoy MM sport romances and age gaps. 

Blurb: Eric Bennett has always put hockey first. But after his divorce he's wondering if maybe it's time to explore his hidden desires. The best person to do that with is the much younger man, Kyle. He's a friend of a friend and he's out-and-proud; he can definitely ease Eric into his self-discovery. But when these two men get closer both will have to decide if this is just a friends with benefits or arrangment or this is the real deal. 

Opinion: This is a slow burn romance as these characters get comfortable with each other. Honestly I am a big fan of Rachel Reid but I felt that this one didn't grab my attention as much as her other novels. It seemed to drag on in certain aspects and I was ready to get on with the romance! You cannot argue that these two men have a connection but there was a lot of tension over the age gap between them. I really didn't like how they handled their issues. I just wish people would communicate more then letting things fester. 
Overall it was a so-so romance!

I received an advanced copy from netgalley for an honesty review.
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Thank you to Netgalley and the Publisher for a copy of Common Goal!

I am SO excited about this book!
It was romantic, it was really really sexy and it was so funny!
I had the banter I love, I had pining... Honestly, Rachel Reid gave me all I needed in this one. 
Absolute fantastic fourth installment in the series and I am BEYOND happy that Kyle finally found someone. Also Eric of course. Both incredibly precious. 

If you are wondering whether or not you should read this book: The answer is yes. Read it. Read 1-3 beforehand. Swoon. Squirm. Salivate. YOU DESERVE IT.
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Really well written and honest book. I loved how the sex scenes actively pushed the plot forward in a way that so many don't. The emotion and the way both main characters had revelations and discoveries that they had to interrogate later was wonderful and masterful. Overall an excellent book, I appreciated the references to previous books and loved the interplay between sport and student.
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As much as me and my scattered brain can say "I couldn't put this book down," I couldn't put this book down. I was just so in love with Eric and Kyle's story and so invested in their happiness right from the beginning.

This is the fourth book in a series and while I haven't read any of the prior books, I didn't feel lost in this story at all. So, I can definitely say it can be read as a standalone. Though, of course I wanna go back and read all the books cause I need to know more about the other couples. Of course!

Eric is older and on the verge of retiring from hockey. Kyle is young and still in school and so vibrant. Eric has always been bi, but since he spent most of his time on the NHL married, he never felt the need to explore this or to announce it. Now, fresh from a divorce and at a turning point in his life, he's ready to make a change. He's ready to see what's out there. But, also, he's kinda scared cause it's a whole different world for him. This is where Kyle comes in. He's young and playful and basically volunteers to teach Eric anything he might need to know about being with a man.

I loved watching Eric's tentativeness, and Kyle's assertiveness as they explored this relationship. I loved watching them form a bond by their shared interests beyond the bedroom. I just loved them together so freaking much!! There is a bit of missed communication because neither thinks there's any way they could be what the other would want but, I'm so happy that even if they took a bit of time to get there, they did make to their HEA. 

Now, I'm ready to jump back into all the prior books in this series!!
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Thank you NetGalley for the Arc! 

Yes yes yes!!!  one of my favorite romance authors of all time. I am not a hockey fan in real life but whenever I read a book by Rachel Reid I am hockey's number one fan.

The romance amazing just like I expected it would be I was not let down and I have no regrets.
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5 Stars☆☆☆☆☆
I was hooked almost from page one as I love Ms. Reid's hockey romances and her latest in the series was amazing! This is book 4 and even though it can be read as a stand-alone, I urge you to read the whole series as the players do pop in and out of the books. Common Goal has been my favorite hands down.

My only pet peeve was making Eric, the veteran goalie sound like a geriatric at the ripe old age of 40! I know that is old by the sports standard but based on his description he is fit and gorgeous. Maybe calling him the old man made me feel ancient, LOL. Eric is divorced and deciding it's time to fully explore his true sexuality as he is deeply attracted to a cute bartender in his twenties. Kyle finds older men his catnip and Eric not only pushes all the right buttons but has a profound interest in art which makes him irresistible to Kyle. They share a passion for paintings and try to navigate around the intense feelings they can't deny.

Eric is just so darn likable, even with all of his idiosyncrasies. He is a sweet man that has never let his guard down which is probably why he is such an outstanding goalie. Eric has not lived life to the fullest and has never been driven in a pursuit of a satisfying personal life. Becoming friends with Kyle has him in a glorious tailspin.

Klye just exudes life and at 25 is full of vigor and wonder. Eric is simply captivated by him. Klye has a secret he shares with Eric that has haunted him since he was 18. He feels his shameful past will always be a weight to bare. Kyle is so much more than the mistake he made but it continues to undermine his self confidence. Eric truly cares for Kyle, but can he see past the 15 year age gap and realize what they have can never be replicated? This is a love story filled with miscommunications, self-doubt and ultimately discovery of what really matters. I absolutely urge you to read this romantic book filled with passion and promises. Happy Reading! Special thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with this copy for my reading pleasure.
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I thought this story was very cute. While age gap stories aren't usually my favorite, I didn't mind this one. I would have liked it better if I wasn't constantly reminded that there WAS an age gap. With all of Rachel Reid's books, the steam and romance was great, she does a great job writing scenes that are intimate. I also really enjoyed seeing more of Scott and Kip, and the few scenes with Ilya made me smile. Overall, I found this one to be really cute.
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I swear these books keep getting better and better and steamier and steamier with each storyline.  Being true to yourself seems to be an amazing theme in Ms. Reid's stories and sometimes it can be both painful and extremely freeing. Eric has many changes coming in his life and he is trying to navigate them all but sometimes you need a little help living and learning a new truth. Kyle has had his heart broken more times than you'd imagine considering his age and by people he should have been able to trust to not hurt him, but still, he tries to see the beauty in life and when it seems like Eric is floundering a little, Kyle's natural instinct is to try to help, despite the danger to his own heart. Sometimes the most steamy scenes, and the most beautiful love, comes from some most innocent actions. Some of our old friends make appearances in this story and now I have a few "new" characters that I want to know a whole lot more about. Looking forward to our next hockey romance.
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✨Q: how soon do you write reviews after you’ve finished a book?

🌿 I take notes as I read & usually write the review a week or so later.

I’ve seen so much buzz surrounding Rachel Reid’s enemies to lovers Heated Rivalry that when I had the opportunity to request her latest release I snapped that puppy up.

Common Goal is an age gap romance between an NHL goalie who wants to explore his long-held but never acted upon attraction to men & a younger bartender whose heart is currently preoccupied with having big feelings for a soon-to-be married man.

Eric Bennett, aforementioned goalie, is 40, divorced, & immediately captivated by Kyle Swift, bartender. But Kyle Swift sees the wedding ring Eric hasn’t taken off yet & is fully aware of how being attracted to older men has never worked out for him & decides to stay away.

It turns into a “we’ll go to a bar together & I’ll be your wingman” situation for a little while but luckily for us, Eric & Kyle can’t resist their attraction for one another & kissing commences.

Common Goal is super steamy & that made me 😄. What else did I love? How Eric & Kyle have compatible interests & actually talk about them.

But they also miss a couple of communication opportunities that always seem so easy to me (TELL HIM, the oversharer in me inwardly screams. My life philosophy = better to make someone feel awkward w/ oversharing rather than seem emotionally unavailable 🤣🤣.)

My biggest squabble with Common Goal however is that the resolution feels really rushed.

This was a 3.5⭐️ read for me. There are some things about the plot that I didn’t jump up & down for but I’m really excited to dive into Rachel Reid’s catalog. What I liked about her writing I really liked.

Common Goal is out 09/21. Thanks to Netgalley & Carina Press for the complimentary ARC. All opinions provided are my own.
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My reading order of this series so far looks like I'm playing a game of hop scotch; I didn't read Book #1, LOVED Book #2, skipped Book #3 and decided to head right on to this. When I requested for this, I had hopes that since I kept to my "trend" this would go the same way as Book #2 even though the premise for both books are like day and night. 

In a way, I got the same experience in terms of the quality of the writing which was great. I have come to really enjoy the way this author writes and the depth of characters she creates. She makes you feel strongly for her characters(whether negatively/positively) and that is something I always admire about in a writer. 

Kyle was a sweetheart and full of life while Eric was practical and meticulous but somehow, you could still feel the enormous chemistry these two men had on the page. The secondary characters were also fun to read about; especially the quips from Eric's teammates which had me rolling. It also didn't hurt that my faves from Book #2 (Ilya and Shane) appeared for some scenes: with Ilya being his same annoyingly blunt self and Shane being his opposite. Lol!

However, as you can see from my rating, it wasn't all smooth sailing. What didn't quite work out for me here was the way the story panned out. I knew that due to Eric's inexperience and his "arrangement" with Kyle to teach him some few "tricks", their road to an HEA would not be an easy one. What I did not expect it to be, was both guys thinking they knew what the other person was thinking rather than just speaking to each other. It was like Oprah giving out prizes on her show while shouting: "You get an assumption!", "You get an assumption!", "EVERYBODY GETS AN ASSUMPTIOOONNN!!!"

I mean, I usually don't mind these communication issues if they are cleared up before majority of the story passes but this went on forever and when I say forever, I mean FOREVER. It got to a point I was so frustrated and kept thinking: "Why you gotta do this to me Rachel Reid? I thought we were cool?"

As a result of these two men not talking and taking their sweet, sweet time excavating their respective heads out of their butts, we had almost zero on-page time with them as a couple before the Epilogue. It wasn't what I was hoping for which was a bummer. 

So yeah, it was not a bad book but if the story had not been hijacked by the "Olympics of Assumptions", it would definitely have been an easy 5-star book especially with how potent the chemistry was between these two men. But Alas! This wasn't meant to be!
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Another steamy story in the Game Changers series did not disappoint! This is a friends-with-benefits romance and characters from other books in the series do come back!
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This is book 4 in the Game Changer series. It can be read as a standalone, but is preferred to be read in the series order as we have couples and secondary characters featuring from the previous books in the series.

"𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒕𝒉𝒊𝒏𝒌 𝒇𝒂𝒍𝒍𝒊𝒏𝒈 𝒊𝒏 𝒍𝒐𝒗𝒆 𝒊𝒔𝒏’𝒕 𝒘𝒐𝒓𝒕𝒉 𝒕𝒉𝒆 𝒓𝒊𝒔𝒌?”

Eric Bennett is nearing retirement in his hockey career. He also is nearing forty one and newly divorced. 
He's still coming to terms with his loneliness post divorce and is in a bit of a slump recently. When his teammate invites him to attend his engagement party, he knows he can’t refuse.

“𝑰’𝒎 𝒔𝒐 𝒈𝒍𝒂𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖’𝒓𝒆 𝒊𝒏 𝒎𝒚 𝒍𝒊𝒇𝒆. 𝑰’𝒎 𝒔𝒐𝒓𝒓𝒚 𝒊𝒕 𝒘𝒂𝒔𝒏’𝒕 𝒔𝒐𝒐𝒏𝒆𝒓.”

“𝒀𝒐𝒖 𝒔𝒂𝒗𝒆𝒅 𝒚𝒐𝒖𝒓 𝒃𝒆𝒔𝒕 𝒚𝒆𝒂𝒓𝒔 𝒇𝒐𝒓 𝒎𝒆, 𝒈𝒐𝒓𝒈𝒆𝒐𝒖𝒔.”

Kyle Swift is pursuing his masters in ancient art history from Columbia. He works part-time as a bartender at the Kingfisher to support his ambitions and pay the bills.
He also has a bit of a crush on Kip Grady. He knows nothing but heartbreak can come of it as the man is soon to be engaged but he can't help but dream.
When he spots the Admirals’ star goaltender leaning against the bar at the engagement party of Kip and his fiancé, he instantly knows that Eric Bennett is just his type. But the man is  probably straight and married. No need to get his hopes up right?

Eric has been aware of Kyle for sometime. He was inexplicably drawn to the  flirty bartender with his easy, seductive smiles and the most gorgeous winter blue eyes. He wasn't really attracted to other people, but this particular, cute bartender had definitely done a number on him.

What starts as a casual friends to benefits arrangement, of Eric discovering his sexuality, starts to get heated when feelings develop between them and come into play.
Will Eric give into his attraction to Kyle  and maybe give them a shot at something more or will their age gap between tear them apart first?

This book is my second favorite in this series after Heated Rivalry.
There was an instant attraction between Kyle and Eric and their chemistry was explosive in and out of the bedroom. I loved that we get to see snippets of characters from previous books. As in this series, the hockey playoffs are very authentic and beautiful written. Even as a non sports fan, the game scenes were compelling and interesting to read, and I could feel as if I was actually there witnessing it!

Overall, this was a sweet sports romance featuring an age gap, opposites attract and a very steamy late sexual awakening. A definite recommend, especially if you like sports romances.
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I'm totally going to be the buzzkill.

Facing the end of his career, goaltender Eric Bennett doesn't quite know what to do with his future. But he does know that he finally wants to explore the part of himself he's suppressed for too long - his attraction to men.

One man in particular catches his eye - younger bartender Kyle Swift. And the feeling's more than mutual!

So begins a flirtation that, with some time and patience, turns into Gay Sexing 101. Let me say - hot.

Kyle's an excellent teacher, and Eric's an oh-so-eager student.

Beyond the hot sex, the two men also find it easy to connect emotionally. They have a lot of similarities, despite the age gap.

And this is where the stumbling block hit for me - the age gap was such a thing.

I understood where Eric was coming from, but the constant and repetitive back-and-forth just took me out of the book.

It also emphasized how one-sided the relationship was - everything that happened or didn't happen was based on what Eric wanted, or the timeline Eric set. Though I liked Eric, I couldn't help but feel that a sweetheart like Kyle deserved better.

And while Eric did make a grand gesture right at the end, there wasn't enough page time for the two as a couple for me to really buy it or change my perception of their relationship.

Oh well, just not my jam. Your mileage may vary!
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Rachel Reid’s Game Changers series of hockey romances continues with Common Goal, the fourth book in the set and easily one of the best.  It’s a gorgeous May/December romance between a silver-fox goalie close to retirement, and a bartender sixteen years his junior; it’s tender, funny, emotional and hot as hell – and don’t be surprised if it makes an appearance on my Best of 2020 list.  I loved it.

New York Admirals Goalkeeper Eric Bennett is approaching his forty-first birthday and has reached the decision that this season will be his last.  He’s in good shape and still playing well, but the career of a professional athlete is tough on the body and Eric wants to quit while he’s ahead and walk away while he can still walk!  The trouble is that he doesn’t have much of an idea as to where he wants to go from here, and in addition to that, he’s struggling with being newly single following his divorce a year earlier from his wife of sixteen years, and with his sexual identity.  He’s always known he’s attracted to men as well as women but had chosen to ignore that side of himself; he’d been happily married and had no reason to think about it.  But now, with high-profile players like team captain Scott Hunter (Game Changer) openly out and proud and about to marry his fiancé, and other athletes being open about their sexuality, Eric is re-examining his choices. Facing a huge life change in terms of his career – and a lonely retirement – maybe it’s time to make another change and finally start to live as his truest self.  But he’s been out of the dating game for such a long time, he isn’t sure how to go about dating anyone, let alone dating a man for the first time.

Grad student Kyle Swift is twenty-five and works as a bartender at The Kingfisher, a local gay bar that has grown in popularity since Scott Hunter started frequenting it.  Kyle came to New York following an experience with an older, married man that left him badly burned and continues to haunt him, even seven years later. After that, he vowed to steer clear of older men, but they do it for him in a way most younger men don’t – and although he’s noticed Eric the few times he’s been into the bar with Scott, Kyle reminds himself that while Eric is exactly his type, he’s also exactly the type of man he shouldn’t allow himself to fall for any more.

On the night of Scott and Kip’s engagement party, Kyle’s resolve is tested when Eric actually initiates a conversation with him.  The older man’s confidence is hard to resist, especially when it seems as though Eric might actually be flirting with him, and they chat for a while, discovering a mutual love of art and books and travel.  By the end of the evening, Kyle is cursing a universe that has thrown this gorgeous, perfect and completely off limits man into his path, and Eric is wondering just how much of a mid-life crisis stereotype he’s become by even contemplating dating a man so much younger than he is.

What follows is a sexy, slow-burn romance (with an emphasis on the ‘burn’ because – phew! *fans self*) which starts out as Kyle offering to teach Eric a few things in a safe, non-judgmental way about the world of dating (and having “sexy times” with) men, but which ends up becoming so much more than ‘just’ a physical relationship. In fact, it’s clear to the reader very early on that there’s no ‘just’ about it when it comes to these two; they’re a perfect match on every level - intellectually and physically - but although they’re generally honest with each other, they’re both struggling with baggage and preconceptions that make it difficult for them to open up about how they really feel.

Both characters are genuine, good people who are extremely likeable and very well-drawn, and the chemistry between them is electric.  Eric is – it seems to me – a pretty atypical sportsman hero; he’s got a degree in English from Harvard, he’s a connoisseur of fine art, and he’s well-travelled; I liked that he was so keen to fully embrace his bisexuality and really appreciated his quietly introspective manner and self-awareness.  He knows that what he’s really looking for is companionship and someone to share his life with; not that the hot sex he’s having with Kyle isn’t all sorts of amazing, but Eric has never been one for casual sex.  He wants more than that, but is concerned that his being so much older than Kyle is somehow unfair to him, thinking that Kyle really should be with someone closer to his own age.  He’s also worried on his own account – a recent divorcé dating a pretty young thing is going to make him look like the worst kind of dirty old man.

The age-gap isn’t so much of an issue for Kyle; he has a history of falling for the wrong men, usually older men who only see him as a fun time, and part of him thinks he’s not good enough for a sophisticated, cultured man like Eric.  His outgoing nature is the perfect counterpoint to Eric’s more cautious one, and the author does a great job of developing their relationship out of the bedroom – where they clearly have a lot in common and enjoy each other’s company as equals -  as well as in it – where Kyle takes the lead and Eric is only too happy to let him. But Kyle’s doubts are as difficult to overcome as Eric’s, and unless one of them can find the courage to risk laying his heart on the line, they might end up missing out on the best thing ever to happen to either of them.

If I have a complaint about Common Goal, it’s that perhaps the age-gap hand-wringing goes on a little too long, and the lack of communication that piled up was frustrating, but in the end, they were only minor irritants.  Reader favourites Ilya and Shane make cameo appearances – mostly Ilya who, of course, steals pretty much every scene he’s in, with his wicked sense of humour and arseholic-but-impossible-to-dislike personality - and we also get to see Scott and Kip finally tie the knot.  Rachel Reid’s writing is accomplished and direct, the dialogue is sharp, and the sex scenes, besides being superbly written, are integral to the character and relationship development rather than being there for the sake of it.  If you’re following the Game Changers series then you definitely won’t want to miss Common Goal; it’s warm and tender and charming (and, did I mention hella sexy?) and I finished it with a happy sigh and a fond smile on my face.  Definitely one for the DIK shelf.

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