Cover Image: Common Goal

Common Goal

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Member Reviews

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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Older hockey player Eric. Younger bartender/student Kyle. Eric has never been with a man. Kyle has sworn off older men. When they mutually decide that Kyle can tutor Eric to get him ready for the gay dating scene they tell themselves it’s just lessons. They can’t fall for each other because (take your pick) Eric is too old, Kyle is too young, Eric is to old.

I liked the story, even though I got tired of Eric angsting about his age. He was a good character and had so much to offer any man but he just couldn’t see it. Kyle (as a character) seemed the more mature of the two.

Well written book and people from the other books in the series paid visits too. Good hockey, slow-ish love story, and great characters made this a hit for me.

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Once again I just devoured this author’s writing. Each of her books have been different and each has just sucked me into the story and left me with a giant smile on my face. I loved Eric and Kyle. There was so much to love about this story going in - age gap, first times, bi-sexual awakening, and of course hockey. There was also such great humor, I found myself laughing out loud. Kyle was a hoot! Eric was such a sweetheart and I loved his dedication to his sport, and his teammates. I even found his misplaced worry of being too old for Kyle endearing. Kyle made me smile! He was such a flirt, and I loved his blooming relationship with Eric. At the same time, these two also drove me almost mad! Each of these men were champions in their own right at holding their feelings in and from each other. I really wanted to sit both these guys down and tell them to be the grownups they were, and have a discussion. All the beating around the bush, with neither man willing to tip their emotional hand first. Eric was so hung up on the age gap between him and Kyle. It put up a lot of roadblocks in their relationship progressing. As much as I wanted these two to talk out their feelings, I feel their relationship developed just the way it needed to for them. The chemistry between them was undeniably there, and holy hotness the sexy times were HOT!! If you’ve been following along in this series, we get to revisit with Kip and Scott quite a bit, along with some cameo appearances of Ilya and Shane. I loved Eric and Kyle’s story. I’m excited to see what this author has in store for us next. While I wait, I’m definitely going back for another re-read of Ilya and Shane!

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S L O W B U R N!! I previously read Tough Guy when it was released on Netgalley and I didn’t really care for it. Just recently (as in a few days ago!) I finished Heated Rivalry and LOVED it, so I gave this one a chance. I’m not even half way through and I’ve laughed out loud from the banter between Eric and Kyle. Eric is such a standup guy, early 40’s and wanting to dip his toe into the other side of the bisexual pond. As someone who identifies as bisexual, I appreciate how the author goes about explaining Eric’s sexuality. So far so good, and I know it’ll only get better from here!

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Common Goal was very readable, but perhaps suffered from having been read after a string of excellent books. While I read it quickly and enjoyed it while I read it, it hasn’t stayed with me. It also suffers a bit in comparison to Reid’s Heated Rivalry, a book that captured magic. Eric and Kyle’s story is much gentler, and there is nothing wrong with that. It’s a 3.5 star read.

Eric is recently divorced, getting ready for the end of his hockey career and thinking about exploring his attraction to men. Kyle is a grad student and a bartender at a gay bar frequented by Scott and Kip from Game Changer. They meet at Scott and Kip’s engagement party and gradually become friends, initially bonding over art and ignoring their attraction. The age gap between them bothers them both, but for different reasons. Kyle has a history of being attracted to older man and those relationships ending badly. Eric doesn’t want to take advantage of Kyle’s youth.

Eventually, Eric confesses to Kyle that he is bi, but has never dated or had sex with a man. He feels embarrassed by his lack of experience. Kyle volunteers to teach Eric how to pick up men and how to have sex with a man. Part of the joy is reading these two who very clearly have feelings for each other pretend they do not have feelings for each other while having sexy times. Reid definitely has a way with people being dumb about their feelings.

Eric and Kyle are lovely characters, essentially kind and caring. While there’s nothing wrong with Common Goal, it didn’t sparkle for me. It will be someone else’s catnip though.

I received this as an arc from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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I've become a fan of Rachel Reid thanks to this series, and Common Goal is the perfect addition. This book was sweet yet steamy, and had just the right amount of chemistry between the main characters, Eric and Kyle. They were adorable (and incredibly sexy!) together, but also on their own individually. Readers will enjoy getting to know both characters, and fans of the series will love the continuation of characters from previous books and subtle "Easter eggs" thrown in here and there. Might want to find a quiet place where you can read this alone and just enjoy all of the chemistry and the journey of two characters falling for one another.

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3.5 stars rounded up (for now)

Eric is a goalie who’s turning 41 and on the verge of retiring. He’s divorced and he’s now attracted to men. (I didn’t think that realization was explored or explained very well.) Kyle is 25. He’s a part time student and part time bartender. He had a bad experience with an older man. Even though he’s attracted to older men, he doesn’t want to be.

I don’t mind the “age difference” trope at all. What I’m not a fan of is the “I’m too old/young for you so I shouldn’t want you” version of that trope. We got that from BOTH MC’s in this story.

While I didn’t necessarily like their thoughts about whether or not they should be attracted, I liked these 2 MC’s a lot. I prefer a low-angst story and this fit the bill. I could simultaneously understand and reject their reasons for thinking they weren’t right for each other.

This was Eric’s first time with a guy but not much was really made of this other than Kyle offering to - and then - “showing him the ropes.” It seemed all very matter-of-fact. Eric didn’t express much nervousness or question himself like you might expect. A plus, I must say, is I thought the sex scenes were extremely hot.

I could see the ending and resolution of Kyle’s job situation coming but felt the end was a bit rushed. I’d like to have gotten more dialog and seen it happen rather than being told of Eric’s retirement plans and the outcome.

I’m rounding up to 4 stars for now since, emotionally, it was a satisfying read.

*Copy provided in exchange for an honest review*

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Another delightful installment in Rachel Reid’s gay hockey series. I’ve been binging on queer romances lately and Reid is definitely one of the best writers in the genre: compelling characters, solid prose, and believable mix of telling happy queer stories while also acknowledging the challenges of being not-straight in a macho culture.

This one has major mutual pining and friends with benefits, and I absolutely adore how much Kyle and Eric care for each other - even when the other doesn’t realize it.

My main complaint, which may just speak to me as a reader: the sex sometimes overtook the plot. While Reid does a good job of making each intimate encounter add character development, it started to feel a little out of balance. Of course, I adored the demisexual representation in Tough Guy, so it may just be personal preference.

Similarly, the mutual pining was delightful at first but became super frustrating as both men spent so much time caught up in their own heads, repeatedly telling themselves why a real relationship wouldn’t work. And then telling each other that it wouldn’t work. I wish they’d resolved that conflict sooner.

Overall an enjoyable book, and it was great to see cameos from the rest of the series, but not my favorite of Reid’s work.

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Common Goal is the fourth book in Rachel Reid's Game Changers, Series, but it can easily be read as a stand-alone; and as my first introduction to the series and author I enjoyed it. Although it was a little slow paced for my taste. I still found it very engaging, and there were plenty of sexy moments not to mention it was fairly light too, which I really liked, and all the characters were great especially the main two Kyle and Eric. Furthermore, I really enjoyed the fact it was an age gap romance from an M/M perspective.

Would recommend, and I'll certainly be looking at reading the earlier books in this series.

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*3.5 Stars. This book was a lot of fun. The characters were well written, and I loved how healthy the relationship was. They made sure to constantly emphasize how important consent was, and I loved it. They weren't pushy, and no one tried to convince anyone else to have sex. I do have mixed feelings about the age difference between the characters, however, especially since that was a major part of the plot. I understand that it's different once you're both adults, but an almost 20 year gab isn't "minor." All I could think the entire time was that one was in college before the other was even born. Aside from that, I can't say I've ever read a more understanding and loving relationship before. I will definitely pick up more books by this author in the future.

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Rachel Reid writes great hockey romances and has crafted a stellar cast of characters associated with her fictional New York Admirals team. If you haven't read any of the books in the series, I think this book can work as a stand-alone, but if you like M/M sports romance, you will definitely want to dive into the Game Changers series!

In this latest installment, star goalie Eric Bennett is nearing 41 and seriously pondering retirement. Recently divorced, living in a stunning NYC penthouse designed to highlight his art collection, committed to his yoga practice and clean eating, silver fox Eric is "efficient in all things - efficient, disciplined and practiced." But Eric is a fish out of water with his bisexuality and has absolutely no chance in moving beyond the theoretical in the complex gay dating world.

Enter Kyle, 22, unattached bartender / art student and unabashedly fond of men like Eric ... tall, lean ... mature.

"If Kyle had one weakness - and he didn't; he had many - it was confident, attractive older men. Also, confident, attractive younger men. Also, men."

Reid utilizes one of my favorite themes - teacher / student in the gay arts. Eric thinks Kyle "looked absolutely stunning, like a fallen angel who was only on this planet to teach mortals how to fuck" and once Eric finally decides to take up Kyle's offer, what ensues is a lot of incredibly sensual, steamy, sticky adventures as Kyle allows Eric to relinquish control and gladly shares his extensive sexual expertise and enthusiasm. The heat rating is way off the charts - enjoy!

Since the main focus of the plot is (a) getting Eric to explore his bisexuality and then (b) will he or won't be go all-in on a relationship with Kyle, there is a lot of repetition as each man ponders their relationship for numerous scenes. But on the whole, this was a rather small niggle and I would definitely recommend this book (and all the other books in the series). 4.5 stars.

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If I’m being perfectly honest, this was probably a 4-4.5 star read for me, but it’s getting rounded up because I enjoyed it more than most 4 star reads, and also: Ilya Rosanov. This couldn’t be less than 5 stars with his cameos.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up.

What’s this story about? Eric Bennett’s a veteran netminder on the cusp of retirement, still doing well on the ice, but ready for a change. Or, well, trying to be ready for a change. He’s also somewhat recently divorced (amicably!) and very recently considering allowing himself to finally acknowledge his bisexuality and maybe do something about it. Enter Kyle, a mid-twenties bartender and grad student who’s hockey-adjacent now that his best friend is marrying the Captain of Bennett’s team, the New York Admirals. What's the problem? Well, there's a fifteen year age gap that feels like an elephant in the room.

This books is part of a series, but you absolutely do not need to read these in any particular order. Feel free to pick up this book first, though, I’m biased and have to mention that Ilya Rosanov is the absolute best character ever, so I’d personally recommend starting with Heated Rivalry so that you can more appreciate his little cameos in this book. That’s what I did. Read this series out of order, I mean.

I’d been on the fence about whether I wanted to pick up another book in the Game Changers series after starting with Heated Rivalry – not because I had any doubt that Rachel Reid could write some amazing stories, but just because, after reading Heated Rivalry and falling head over heals for the relationship between Ilya and Shane… I just didn’t think any book could live up to it. And, to be honest, this didn’t. Heated Rivalry will always be one of my absolute favorite books ever, though, so honestly it’s foolish to go into a new book expecting it to be just as good as an all-time favorite. Still, this book very much did not disappoint. This was a super solid read, with great, well-developed characters, and a few fantastic cameos by Ilya himself. I enjoyed every minute of reading it, and will absolutely be picking up other books in the series, now that I know I have nothing to be worried about.

But enough about the series overall. Let’s break down the book itself.

What did this story do well? This was a super solid, well-rounded story. Rachel Reid has a knack for developing characters that feel real, and have their own distinct voice throughout a book (or, really, throughout a series). The way she delivers information about the character – about their background, their hopes and dreams, etc. – works, and it works well. The romance is fully believable, the plot makes sense, and follows a familiar arc without being too overly predictable. The relationships between characters (including friends/teammates/side characters, not just the main relationship!) feel real and authentic, and some of the jokes from the teammates brought me some good laughs. And Kyle and Eric’s texts to each other? AMAZING. I’m usually not that into that sort of thing in a book, but this one definitely won me over.

Also, I want to take a moment to highlight one thing I absolutely loved about this book, and that’s the nondramatic, subtle but firm affirmations of important life lessons. The book quietly affirms how one’s sexuality is perfectly valid no matter what their sexual experiences may have been (or not been), and also affirms the importance of consent. It’s not in-your-face at all, but it’s some good, solid, quiet affirmation of important messages everyone should hear often and internalize.

Also also: Ilya Rosanov. Seriously. Do I need to say more?

What could be better? Honestly, I’m having a pretty hard time thinking of anything this book could’ve done better, of naming anything I thought was lacking. There really wasn’t anything lacking. The story was complete, the characters fleshed out, the editing superb… I just, at the end of the day, wasn’t quite as into Eric and Kyle as a couple, as I’ve been with couples in some of my all time favorites. It’s nothing they or Rachel Reid did wrong. They’re just… not my type. They’re both great characters, who feel real, and I totally get why they’re into each other, but… I don’t know. I just wasn’t particularly won over by either of them. That made the sexy scenes a bit “meh” for me, as well. Again: well done scenes! Some of the better I’ve read, for sure. But I just can’t get super into them without being super into one of the characters.

It’s not you, Common Goal, it’s me. Others will love you, I promise.

Recommended for fans of light angst, mm, age gap romances, and/or well-done stories about exploring sexuality. Also: people who enjoy the whole let-me-casually-teach-you-about-sex-even-though-we’re-both-worried-this-will-turn-into-more trope. Also: hockey fans. Also also: literally everyone. Honestly, I can’t think of anyone I’d specifically not recommend this for. Though, that said, some potential trigger warnings: this book discusses (not in detail) an unhealthy relationship from one character’s past (not the relationship between the two main characters!), where there was definitely a predatory older man taking advantage of the then-eighteen-year-old character. It’s brought up as part of the character’s past, but it’s not a constant focal point or anything. And, for what it’s worth, it’s handled very well.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC from NetGalley, but this in no way affected my rating or my honest opinions shared above.

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Of course I love these hockey boys and the boys they fall for! Eric is a bit of a silver fox, ready to retire from hockey, super healthy, and divorced. He's never dated a guy but he's interested, especially in the cute younger bartender, Kyle. And at the start, Kyle is hung up on someone else.

What starts as super casual leads to these two denying the reality of the real feelings they are developing, and the possibility of more. I wanted to SHAKE THEM. So stubborn. Eric is sweet, and kinda shy, Kyle does bring the fun out in him but he's also sincere and kind. And the only thing standing in their way is themselves.

Then of course we get to check in with other characters from previous books. Scott and Kip are SO adorable, I love them. This made me want to reread their story. And Ilya cracks me right up, I actually highlighted his moments. But Eric and Kyle do get a happy ending, and they so deserved it. And I'm just left excitedly hoping for more future hockey boy on boy love.

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Common Goal by Rachel Reid is the fourth book in the Game Changers series. Eric Bennett is starting to feel his 41 years and 18 seasons in the NHL. He is still feeling the loneliness a year out from his divorce and is getting ready to announce his retirement. As a goalie he's always been in complete control but when Kyle is thrown into his life all that well honed control gets tossed out the window. Kyle is living his life as a grad student and bartender. He meets Eric through friends and their shared love of art brings them closer. Kyle and Eric reach an agreement that Kyle will help him explore his newly accepted bisexuality, but they will keep it casual. They manage to keep things physical for a while but as their chemistry leads to feelings will they be able to make a relationship work when both are so fearful of the future.

Eric Bennett was an absolute sweetheart. He quickly cares for Kyle both as a friend and a lover. He struggles with both the age gap between them and that he's unworthy of him and would only hold him back for life. Every time Kyle leaves without staying the night your heart breaks right along with Eric's. Kyle is also a very likable character. He's confident and caring but hesitant with his heart. He has a bad history when it comes to falling for older men which has left him guarded. They both struggle with insecurities when the friends-with benefits arrangement seems to be evolving into more. Kyle's outgoing, fun and flirty personality brought out a lighter side to Eric. I loved seeing him let go and come alive with and under Kyle. When he finally let his feelings be known, and they were able to overcome the past together Kyle and Eric made my heart so happy.

This book had a weird combination of slow burn and steamy hot. The physical aspect was steamy and passionate from the start but their acceptance of their feelings was slow and meaningful. I was so close to give this 5 stars but Eric being so hung up on the age difference between him and Kyle was frustrating. This tends to happen in age gap romance but it was the main point of "conflict" between them.

Common Goal is a sweet sexy age difference romance that leaves you falling in love with the characters and cheering for their HEA. The whole Game Changer series in general, is a must-read for MM hockey romance fans .

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