Tough Guy by Rachel Reid

They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

*Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review…also ages ago*

This book is very different from Heated Rivalry, but not in a bad way (as my star rating might show 🙂 ). I think I fell in love with the book the moment when Fabian started ranting about pink jerseys. That was my “OMG I adore this character and he’s said like 2 lines” moment.

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

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

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

Each of the book in the series is different and while this one might deal with more heavy topics (addiction, mental health,…) it is just as amazing as the previous two have been. ❤ ❤

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