Sunday, August 2, 2015

Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy Review

Hey Readers, Ethan here on this Sunday afternoon with yet another review for you guys. I'm so pumped to share my thoughts on this novel with you all. On the chopping block this time? Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy! Before we get to my thoughts, here's a bit about the novel and out authors:

They don’t play for the same team. Or do they?

Jamie Canning has never been able to figure out how he lost his closest friend. Four years ago, his tattooed, wise-cracking, rule-breaking roommate cut him off without an explanation. So what if things got a little weird on the last night of hockey camp the summer they were eighteen? It was just a little drunken foolishness. Nobody died.

Ryan Wesley’s biggest regret is coaxing his very straight friend into a bet that pushed the boundaries of their relationship. Now, with their college teams set to face off at the national championship, he’ll finally get a chance to apologize. But all it takes is one look at his longtime crush, and the ache is stronger than ever.

Jamie has waited a long time for answers, but walks away with only more questions—can one night of sex ruin a friendship? If not, how about six more weeks of it? When Wesley turns up to coach alongside Jamie for one more hot summer at camp, Jamie has a few things to discover about his old friend...and a big one to learn about himself.

Warning: contains sexual situations, skinnydipping, shenanigans in an SUV and proof that coming out to your family on social media is a dicey proposition.


Sarina Bowen

Sarina Bowen writes steamy, angsty contemporary romance from Vermont's Green Mountains. (Her ancestors began logging and farming Vermont during the 18th century. These were rugged, outdoor types without benefit of a laptop or a good latte. It boggles the mind.)

Sarina enjoys skiing, skating and good food. She lives in Windsor County, Vermont, with her family, eight chickens and too much ski gear and hockey equipment.


Elle Kennedy

A New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, Elle Kennedy grew up in the suburbs of Toronto, Ontario, and holds a B.A. in English from York University. From an early age, she knew she wanted to be a writer, and actively began pursuing that dream when she was a teenager.

Elle writes romantic suspense and erotic contemporary romance for various publishers. She loves strong heroines and sexy alpha heroes, and just enough heat and danger to keep things interesting!

Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Website

My Thoughts:

If you guys come around these parts often, you know that I am a huge fan of Sarina Bowen. I only recently discovered her Ivy Years series, at the suggestion of a friend, and devoured them all. It quickly became my favorite New Adult contemporary series. I can't get enough. When I heart Sarina was teaming up with Elle Kennedy, I didn't know what to expect. Having never read from Kennedy, I wasn't familiar with her work or her style, but I knew that if Sarina was involved, it'd be a hit for me either way.

I can definitely say without hesitation that this collaboration did not disappoint!

The plot to Him was a little different than I am used to reading. In Him, we follow the stories of Jamie and Ryan, both renowned college hockey athletes with huge futures ahead of them with a past full of secrets. They grew up as summer best friends, until one night changed that forever. Flashing forward several years into the future, our MCs meet again. Much more matured and with a new outlook on life, their friendship continues right where they left off, but can Jamie and Ryan remain just friends? It was an interesting take to read another store of an openly gay character and then a character who wasn't sure what exactly he identified as. It was an interesting journey for me as a reader. As I've noted before, this generally isn't my genre of choice so I was intrigued. The story was gripping from the very beginning and kept me going until the very end.

The characters in Him were great. I've already said a bit about Jamie and Ryan (and I will more later), but the side characters in this story were just as well written. Everything from their parents, to coaches, to employers added to the depth of this remarkable story in the perfect way. No character was unnecessary and nobody bogged down the plot in a way I found to be uninteresting. This is something I have come to expect from Bowen, I am glad that Kennedy fashions her characters in this way as well.

I will go ahead and say that this was probably one of the steamiest m/m reads I have read. Some of the scenes were written a bit awkwardly. I'm not sure if it was on purpose, but either way I did a little skimming during these scenes as there were many. Many. While well written, after the third or fourth scene I found myself more excited about the resolution to the plot and not their love live, but I'll get to that in a bit. Just a fair warning though, if you aren't comfortable reading sex scenes, particularly of the m/m nature, this is not the story for you. Just a heads up.

My favorite part about Him was the setting. I don't claim to know much about hockey. In fact, aside from Miracle and then Sarina Bowen's Ivy Years series, I don't know much at all. I had no idea Lake Placid, New York played such a major role in the hockey world. The way that Kennedy and Bowen set up the city was incredible and definitely somewhere I found myself Googling on more than one occasion. The 'small town' feel in such an important area really helped to set the tone for the story while giving Jamie and Ryan a 'safe space' of their own for the summer.

This story, as you can imagine, dealt with some pretty hard-hitting themes. I think another part of what makes Him special is that, while it is an m/m romance novel, it really deals with many more things on a deeper level. Acceptance, growing up, making mistakes, taking responsibility, finding yourself, family, education, etc. I could go on and on, but at the time of me finishing the story, my first thought wasn't 'romance and happy ending', it was more an uplifting story about finding your true place in the world and doing what makes you happy. As a recent college graduate myself, I really found myself relating to some of the perils of Jamie and Ryan.

While Him didn't quite hold the spark for me that Bowen's Understatement of the Year did, I still considered it to be a well-written novel worthy of praise. As someone who doesn't often read in this sub-genre, it was a change of pace and a unique spin on the genre. That being said, I am granting Him a well-deserved 4-star review. I am anxious to read any future collaborations from these two ladies and will be well on the lookout for more in this literary world.

Highly recommended for fans of New Adult romance and the m/m genres. Be sure to add this to your TBR today!


Alright readers, that's all I have for you on the topic of Him by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy. If this sounds like the novel for you, I highly recommend that you add it to your TBR! Read it already? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. Until next time, Happy Reading!