Cover Image: Common Goal

Common Goal

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Member Reviews

This book was a great addition to the serious. Deeply likable characters, good dialogue, and a man who is discovering his identity, and who and what he wants in his life. Sexy and affirming and just charming overall
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The burn was slow, but it was so good. The teacher-student is becoming one of my favourite tropes, and this one was interesting because it was the younger one who was more experienced, helping Eric navigate both his bisexuality and getting back into the dating world after his divorce. The roadblock they had to overcome felt realistic and understandable, and the writing hit the mark for me. It was cute but not cheesy, and both the steamy scenes and the game-time scenes felt real and natural. Rachel Reid’s been on my list for awhile now because I like romance and I like hockey, but this was my first of hers. The previous books in the series are definitely getting moved to the top of my list!
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Do you continue to pick up books in the Game Changers series because you want Ilya cameos? Because hi, it me.

“<i>Ilya Rozanov wants to hang out with you tonight? At a gar bar?</i>“
“<b>Apparently.</b>”
“<i>That guy is so weird.</i>“

Just kidding. I’m also here for the hockey and the romance. And surprising no one, in a series of hockey romances, we had both here.

<i>Dating a much younger man would pretty much make him a walking midlife crisis, and Eric really didn’t want that kind of attention. He couldn’t stomach the idea of being a recently divorced man rebounding with a pretty young thing. And then there was the fact that Kyle was a man.</i>

This was definitely the strongest in this series post, and pre, HEATED RIVALRY, and I’m so relieved about that. The dynamic of this couple, the age gap and the fact that it’s the older man needing guidance as he explores his hitherto unexplored attraction to men, was so sweet without ever getting into book one levels of sucrose. I think what really helped this romance for me was that I believed in the friendship that was the foundation for what later bloomed. And, honestly, the first kiss? Heart eyes. Pure heart eyes. This is actually one of those romances where I was less into the hot and heavy scenes and more into the burgeoning affection between the leads. 

“<i>Not that I’m not happy for Scott, but I’ve been thinking about my own wedding, I guess.</i>”
“<b>You can remember back that far?</b>“
“<i>Shut it.</i>”
“<b>I forget. Was Holly a war bride? Was she your nurse after the Germans shot you?</b>“
“<i>All right, I’m going home.</i>“

As I’m forever saying, I’m a sucker for an ensemble, particularly when it’s a sports team ensemble. These players? I adore them. There were so many hilarious little moments and yes, as I teased above, Ilya was at the center of a lot of those funnies. Getting those moments with him, particularly when sharing page time with Hollander, and knowing we’re finally getting a sequel? I’m trying to cram my expectations into a small box but it’s hard, yo.

“<i>Who knew Rozanov had such a big heart?</i>“
“<b>I had a hunch. I think he might secretly be a big softy.</b>”
“<i>He does a damn good job of hiding it.</i>“

Back to COMMON GOAL, I want to mention how awesome it was to see dialogue about consent and expectations about intimacy between two men because even in m/m romances I don’t think that’s really talked about. Safety, protection? Sure. But feeling obligated to put out, or return the favour, especially if you aren’t comfortable or as enthusiastic as you might have been? We love to see that. Also the discourse around the validity of bisexuality even if you haven’t explored part of that spectrum? Fabulous.

<i>Toronto was a team of weirdos</i>. <– this quote isn’t included for any context, it just made me laugh

Overall, I had a really good time with this read and would definitely recommend fans of this series who may (or may not) have been a little less enthusiastic about book three, particularly in the wake of Ilya and Hollander, to give it a go. I was also about to suggest those missing hockey to dive face first into this to get your fix but hockey is, like, back now? But weird? In August? 2020 man, it keeps on keepin’ on.
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Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows how much I adore Rachel Reid's Game Changer series, especially the last two installments (Heated Rivalry and Tough Guy). It was like Christmas when Carina approved my Netgalley request for the fourth book, Common Goal; a gift that came just at the right time. Although, let's be honest, there is never a wrong time for sweet, sexy books about hockey players.  This age-gap romance was a delight, that sold me on a trope that I have struggled with before. 

Eric Bennett is the long-time goal-keeper for the New York Admirals, a legend in the game and a statistical outlier in terms of the length of his career. He's about to turn 41 - basically 100 in hockey years - and although everyone around him seems to think he can go on taking pucks to the ribs forever, he's ready to hang up his pads. He's just finalised an amicable divorce, bought himself a townhouse, designed with cool simplicity as a backdrop for his art collection, and started to acknowledge his bisexuality.  The rest of his life stretches out in front of him, terrifying, empty, full of potential, and lonely. 

Kyle is at a crossroads too. He's working on his MA in ancient art and archaeology, but he's not sure what he wants to do in the long term. He has all the components of a great life: a job he loves at local gay bar, the Kingfisher; a swish flat paid for by his parents; great friends. But something significant is missing. He originally came to New York at 18 nursing a bruised heart, and many years and many hook-ups later he still hasn't found the confidence to accept and give love again. Now he's in his later 20s and beginning to think something fundamental is broken.

Eric and Kyle meet at the Kingfisher through their mutual friend Scott Hunter, the star hockey player and hero from Game Changer, the first book in the series.  Scott's public romance with Kip Grady (Kyle's best friend and long-time crush) transformed the professional hockey world's attitude towards LGBTQ+ players. He's one of the reasons that Eric has started to think about coming out himself.  At first our protagonists are wary of one another. Eric is absolutely Kyle's type - older man, serious, thoughtful, a little bashful - but he's still wearing his wedding ring, and Kyle wants nothing to do with that.  Kyle is equally Eric's type, but he seems terribly young and experienced. Eric has never acted on his attraction to men and the whole idea is daunting.  Surely he'd be better of starting out with someone his own age, who is a little bit less vibrant?  They have great chemistry though, and a lot in common. Kyle suggests a no-strings attached friends-with-benefits solution - they will enjoy each other's company and Kyle will teach Eric about sex with men in a non-judgmental, safe way. What could be the harm in that, right?

Common Goal does a great job of exploring the psychological dynamics and power dimensions of the age-gap trope.  While their physical and intellectual compatibility is undeniable, Eric and Kyle both acknowledge the challenge of being together in the long term: how it will look to other people; their differences in life experience; what the 12 years between them will feel like in the future.  I dropped a star from my rating because the angsting got a little repetitive by the end, and the resolution felt rushed in the context of the overall pace.  But the way they slowly and tentatively allow themselves to imagine their HEA is frankly adorable, especially because Eric is such a naive and reticent man. Rachel Reid's trademark style is plain and straightforward, with sharp dialogue, and as in previous books a lot of character and plot-work happens in and through the sex scenes. This is something I love, and particularly in this case because the scenes are also damn hot. Heated Rivalry levels of hot. 

Characters and reference points from other books in the series are woven throughout in organic and careful ways. Common Goal returns us to the leads of Game Changer, and not only Scott and Kip but other team mates too. It also features a couple of delicious cameos from everyone's favourite, Ilya Rozanov, including a tantalising glimpse of him with long-term lover Shane Hollander. Ryan Price and his boyfriend Fabian Salah get a shout-out too. It feels like coming home to hockey's queer family, and the series remains a stand-out favourite.
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I’ve read the other books in this series and this one didn’t disappoint. I really enjoyed it and look forward to continuing to read more from this author. Thank you to netgalley for the ARC.
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this books was so steamy and sweet. The two main characters were actually perfect for each other. A great addition to the series!
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In this 4th Game Changer’s romance, Veteran goaltender Eric Bennett is divorced, facing the end of his career, and ready to make changes in his life—like finally acknowledging that he’s bisexual. The last spurred by a strong attraction to Kyle, a younger man he met through Scott and Kip (Game Changer). Kyle is gun-shy of relationships with older men and coming off a big crush on Kip, but Eric is everything he’s drawn to. They are exactly what the other needs if they could just get past their fears and talk. I genuinely appreciate the way Reid spins her relationships throughout this series allowing for discovery, growth, and real lasting love. Oh, and of course, Ilya!!! Looking forward to more in the series!
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I really loved this latest installment in Rachel Reid’s “Game Changers” series. This one features Eric, a 41 year old goalie who is coming to terms with his bisexuality, and Kyle, a 25 year old student/bartender in love with his best friend Kip (from book one of the series). I love bisexual rep in books and I loved Eric to bits. He is wonderful, and he and Kyle have great chemistry together.

The main conflict is their age difference, and I actually wouldn’t have minded the way it was drawn out if it had resolved without the ~ drama at the end- this was a case where less would have been more and it would have felt much more authentic and less rushed and forced. That’s the only reason this isn’t a five star book - it’s another great book in a great series.
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I am seriously loving all things from the Game Changers series! Yummy hockey player sexual exploration with an age gap. *sigh*

We first met Kyle and Eric Bennett in Game Changer (book 1 in the series). Kyle was the flirty bartender who became friends/hit on Kip. Eric or "Benny" was the goalie on Scott's NHL team and close friend. Now we're back in New York with the Admirals team (about 2-1/2 years after Scott epic on-ice coming out)

Eric "Benny" Bennett at 41, is a seasoned goalie staring down the barrel of retirement. Because, in hockey 41 is ancient, even for a goalie. Eric has done absolutely everything to try to keep his body in pristine condition- he's a vegetarian, he does intensive yoga every day, he doesn't drink- you name it, Eric is all over that mess. But his calm and controlled life was recently dealt an upheaval when his wife of many (many) years decided the flame was gone. He is about 1 year out from his divorce and he's realizing how lonely his life has become. Also, now that he's been exposed more so to Scott Hunter's out and fabulous lifestyle and he is no longer coupled- he can start to explore the entirely un-experienced aspect of his bisexuality. Problem is, he has no idea how to get back into the dating game, and even less so of how to do that with a man.

Kyle has the unfortunate discomfort of being helplessly in infatuation (lust/crush/love- pick your poison) with one of his best friends. Also, that man (Kip) just so happens to be madly in love with his fiance, the NHL superstar Scott Hunter and has not only a very manly fairytale romance going on but only has eyes for Scott. Kyle has been hurt badly in the past and just his luck his heart has, yet again, chosen a horrible love situation for him.

Kyle and Eric are thrown together in multiple situations and their mutual attraction and appreciation for each other's company contribute to Kyle agreeing to show Eric the male-relationship and bedroom ropes as it were. Their chemistry is really very good and I enjoyed the slight power D/s play they had going. Kyle really was the yang to Eric's yin.

I was a bit frustrated with the continuous internal hedging on what the other might want. I am not a fan of the lack of communication plot tension troupe. Although, I will admit, here it was believable. Kyle had very real relationship issues with dating an older man. Eric felt the 15 year age gap was too much for Kyle plus he just didn't know how relationships with men worked or how to really communicate with Kyle. But, the chemistry was undeniable and they did work it out in the end... even if it did take longer than I wanted. I do wish we could have seen more of them dating and working out after they DTR (defining the relationship) happened.

All in all, I really enjoyed the book. There were some great cameos (yum, Ilya). And, in case you were worried, even though this is a bit of a sex practice book, the romance aspect of it is still very nicely at a slow burn pace. Definitely recommend this series and cannot wait for more.

*ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
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Cuteness overload
Although "Common Goal" is part of a series of gay NHL stories by Rachel Reid it can totally be read as a stand-alone - and it should be read if you like a bit of age-gap romances, cuteness, sexy hockey players and snarky conversations. 
In the story you get to meet Kyle (25) and Eric (40/1) who know each other because of common friends. While Kyle is an art grad student, Eric is the star goalie of the New York Admirals hockey team who is recently divorced and is currently figuring out his sexuality. Kyle is supporting him in this venture - in every way possible. 
It's a cute, sexy, plausible enough and well-written story, so you can't put your book down until the very last page. Meaning also: the development of the relationship between Kyle and Eric as well as the (possible) HEA take their time and as the eReader pages ticked by I was afraid there might not be a HEA at the end waiting for the reader. So, it had me on edge and I might have lost some nerves over it! 
My one big point of critique is that there are some scenes, conversations and thoughts that I would have loved to read in more detail (e.g. the day spend hiking, the weeks after the hiking); sometimes the leaps in time were too big and could have been filled with more detail and information about the characters' thoughts and feelings. It would have added to the character development, although the characters are lovely and well-rounded, lovable and credible in every way. Especially Eric found his way into my heart. 

It's not a story we haven't read before but it has its own moments which similar stories don't have and it is so well-written and warm that it doesn't matter to read just another age-gap-story with two perfect MCs (Seriously, who wouldn't?). I had fun reading it, I enjoyed every page of it and so, I can only recommend it.
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”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.”

This book was wonderful!!! I absolutely loved the dynamic between Eric and Kyle. It was low angst, playful, endearing, and so much fun to read. I would rank this book right underneath Heated Rivalry, because let’s be real, no one can beat Shane and Ilya. Speaking of those two, I adored all the scenes we got with them (mostly my boy Ilya who’s the most loveable jerk ever) in addition to the amount of Scott and Kip we got!! This book really made me appreciate those two a lot more. 

Both the friendships and the romance were really strong in this book. Eric’s friendship with Scott was so precious and heartwarming and I love how supportive they were of each other. I enjoyed the conflicted friendship Kyle had with Kip and how it developed over time. I also just really appreciated the Admiral’s hockey team and how protective and supportive they were of their teammates!!! I like seeing how Rachel writes these team dynamics, especially when they’re dealing with protecting minorities and stepping up to stop any kind of harassment.  

I’m so excited to see where the next books in this series take us, and to finally get another Shane and Ilya book in the future, because everyone needs more of them in their life.
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4 Stars!

This one had a lot of my pet peeves.  So it's a testament to the author and her writing capabilities that I liked this one as much as I did.  

I found the back and forth (internally) very frustrating (pet peeve #1).  A simple conversation would've solved a lot.  As a result, there was really no on page time for these two as a couple (pet peeve #2).

I am also not a super big fan of the whole "let me help you get some experience" plot.  We all know how that goes.    

Despite that, I really liked Benny and Kyle.  I liked the supporting characters.  There was good banter and dialogue.  And I'm always a fan of the sexual exploration.  

So while this particluar story-line was not my favorite, the author remains a favorite and despite my complaints I did enjoy this one!
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This is the second book in the Game Changers series. Although there are some links between the various books, with previous (and future) characters popping up, these are really standalone stories. This time there was quite a bit about the couple from the first book, but having not read it, I didn't really know much about them.
Kyle and Eric have quite a sweet relationship. They are doing their best to not get involved. Kyle knows that he hasn't got the best track record when it comes to relationships with older me and is doing his best to avoid men like Eric. Eric can't help but feel that fifteen years is too big an age gap and that he shouldn't be interested in Kyle. It doesn't help that he's also coming to terms with the fact that he plans to retire from hockey and this will be his last season.
The more time that Kyle and Eric spend together, the clearer it becomes that they really are perfect together. I don't really want to give the wrong idea here. When I say that they are sweet together, this still has plenty of heat and sex. It's just that the two characters are quite sweet with one another as they fall in love, even though they are trying their hardest not to fall for each other, it's clear that it's a lost cause and that they cannot resist. I enjoyed this latest instalment in the Game Changers series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book through NetGalley. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
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Another great addition to the Game Changers series. Reading book 1 will give you more background for the story but it’s not necessary.
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Highly enjoy this series, and this book. Great UST in the beginning and I really enjoyed Kyle’s personality coupled with Eric’s. 

Thank you Carina Press and NetGalley for the ARC!
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I love how Rachel Reid can take an oh so common trope and then give it a refreshing update to make it feel like you're reading something totally new.

Here it's a "fear over the age gap" between the two men making both wary and unwilling to admit feelings are developing. 

And, in spite of the fact that a lack of communication is usually one of my most hated plot tension points, here it was absolutely believable.

We've met both main characters before. Eric is the goalie for book one's Scott Hunter and Kyle is Scott's fiance Kip's friend and workmate.

Both have very real reasons for why the 15 year age gap between them is a stumbling block. 

This is also, bizarrely considering just how hot and steamy it gets, a slow burn romance. 

But it completely works. Eric is facing retirement and, a year on from his divorce, has been thinking about exploring his bisexuality. 

Kyle has been badly hurt by an older, married man, and the fall out from that is still smarting seven years later.

What I loved most about this book was the powerful juxtaposition between the two men in bed - where Kyle lets loose on all his control needs and Eric is a willing participant - and in their daily lives which are very much an equal exchange of stimulation conversation between adults with so much in common.

It's funny seeing from the outside what everyone else knows, that they are a perfect partnership if only they can get over themselves.

Rachel Reid skilfully weaves the tensions right past the annoying 75% plot point 😉 and almost to the very end before bringing things to a very satisfying conclusion.
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I received an e-ARC of this book from Netgalley and Harlequin. 

I've read and enjoyed the first three books in this series so I was excited to continue with this book. And I was happy to see more of both guys in this book as they were each best friends with the two guys from Game Changers, book one in the series. 

Crushes feature heavily in this book. Kyle has a crush on Kip (from book one), who is madly in love with his fiance and off limits. Eric is immediately intrigued by Kyle and it develops into a crush pretty soon. Then as Kyle gets to know Eric, he gets a crush back. But Eric is way older and feels like he's not good for Kyle so he doesn't tell him how he feels. Kyle's been hurt by an older guy before so he's not going to put himself out there with Eric. 

There's a lot of conflict that could have been cleared up by them talking to each other, but it also made sense that neither of them wanted to put themselves out on a limb to have the feelings conversation so I wasn't too bothered by it. Another critique is there wasn't as much chemistry between them as there has been in other books in the series (hard to beat Shane and Ilya from book 2), but they were very believable as friends. 

All in all, I enjoyed this book and I give it a solid 4 stars. I really like Rachel Reid's writing. There was one character that I feel like was set up to continue the series so I will be interested to see where it goes from here. 

*Review to be posted to my Instagram as well.*
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I adored this book. I have loved all of Rachel Reid's books and this one did not disappoint. 
Eric Bennett has been the goalie for the New York Admirals for years, and he's starting to feel that it's time for retirement. Kyle Swift is a bartender at a gay bar that Eric has started going to with his friends. When the two meet through mutual friends, they hit it off immediately. The only issue is: they have an age gap of about 15 years. They start a friends-with-benefits fling, but when sparks fly, will they be brave enough to admit their feelings?

I absolutely loved Eric and Kyle. I'm not always a fan of slow-burn romance, but their chemistry was through the roof and made it worth it. Their friendship was so solid and compelling. Also, the angst that came from the age-gap and from them denying their feelings really brought the emotion. 
I loved all of the cameos from other characters throughout the series, especially from Ilya. I also love how Rachel wrote the friendship between Eric, Scott, and Carter. They were so supportive of each other and weren't afraid to get emotional. 
All in all, this was a really fun, steamy book with great characters and great chemistry.
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If you love an age gap friends to lovers m/m romance, slow burn but with some sexy teaching moments, and great cameos (hello Ilya 💕), and of course hockey - you’ll love this book!

It’s a solid mm romance, with some great steam, and a couple that clicked.

It was sweet at times, sexy as well, and I think anyone loving this genre will enjoy it.

Common Goal was a love story between a seasoned hockey goalie on the brink of retirement, and a younger bartender/college student. The age gap was a hurdle that both characters struggled with at times. Also the first half of the book was a bit slower, it was more about figuring things out, getting to know each other, until the second half when it got SEXY.

The book was full of great friendships, Eric’s team especially was just wonderful, and I love what the author did with this series. Although I wasn’t drawn into this book as much as I hoped I would, overall the book and the couple were a solid addition to the series.

And I’m also not embarrassed to admit that Ilya scenes were my favorites, he is so in your face obnoxious and a know it all, and he’ll always be my favorite character in this series.
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Finally I can jump back into it with my favorite hockey players! Rachel Reid’s books have quietly been sneaking up on the list of the most engaging, well-written hockey m/m series on my shelves.

And this one did not let me down #blessed.

Let’s talk about Common Goal:

Eric Bennett is the superstar goalie of the New York Admirals who is steadily creeping up on retirement. Kyle Swift is a much younger bartender at a gay club nursing a crush on his good friend who is recently engaged to Eric’s teammate. They meet and Eric, who has never been with a man, decides to ask Kyle to “show him the ropes” before he goes out and starts dating for real. But they begin to see that despite their age difference, they sure as heck have a lot in common. Including their ever-growing feelings for the other. 

This book did slowburn right. Eric and Kyle, while absolutely fascinated with each other from the first meeting, took time to develop a rapport before the sex happened. And this made the chemistry build and build until their first time felt deserved and satisfying. And even after that, there was a steady build in the intensity of those feelings. Every scene with the two of them together made you believe that they were catching feelings for eachother, rather than just being told that it was happening. 

Kyle’s backstory is also fascinating and well done. His traumas do make the reader understand fully why he is wary of his attraction to older men, and when Eric is told, you understand why he is wary of jumping into anything with Kyle. It’s sad, but understandable that these two circle each other for much of the book without ever quite meeting in the middle.

I loved seeing Kip and Scott from the first book (though were they always that… gooey?) and of course, my man Ilya comes in like a hurricane in his cameos and provides delightful commentary on Eric’s situation. 

The writing was direct and easy to read, but still packed the heart necessary to make the romance aspects work.

I think my only real complaint is that the ending seemed a little rushed and anti-climactic. I would have liked a little bit more Eric and Kyle’s big conversation. 

But over all, this is a quick read that fits in perfectly with the quality and likability of the other two books in the series!

4/5
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