Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy

Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle KennedyHim by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #1
Published by Author on July 28, 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 360
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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.

Though I mostly avoid “new adult” like the plague, I saw a string of friends really love Him, and Morgan said I had to read because shiiiiip. So obviously there was nothing for me to do but pick it up when it went on sale. Actually reading it took me a while, but omg everyone was so right. Fluffy m/m delighfulness with an adorable friends to lovers ship.

Friends to lovers isn’t my favorite trope, but Jamie and Wes totally got me in the feels. Wes has had a major crush on Jamie since they were teens at hockey camp and Wes was still a bit in denial about his sexuality. After a certain incident, Wes freaks out and stops talking to Jamie…until they meet again four years later at a hockey championship.

Jamie has always thought he was straight, so his feelings for Wes blindside him. One thing I love endlessly about Him is that Jamie never once panics about being into another man; he’s surprised and stunned, but he’s not upset. Jamie and his family are awesome, and it’s just not this huge scary thing for him to realize he’s actually bisexual (rep actually stated on the page!). Often, this realization is milked for drama, but it’s really understated here and I love that.

Wes and Jamie have off-the-charts chemistry, and there’s lots of sex. Their voices really worked for me, and they generally were pretty easy to tell apart. The focus is very much on them and their connection with little outside drama. Jamie has a great plot arc with regards to what he wants to do with his life (professional hockey or coaching) and the bumps in their relationship feel realistic and are handled without melodrama.

I zoomed through Him, and I very much recommend it for romance fans. Fair warning though that there is some offensive language, which I tolerated because it fits the setting and is always for a reason, but obvs not my favorite thing, so beware.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 

Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle KennedyUs by Sarina Bowen, Elle Kennedy
Series: Him #2
Published by Author on March 8, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 328
Format: eBook
Source: Publisher
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible
two-half-stars

Can your favorite hockey players finish their first season together undefeated?

Five months in, NHL forward Ryan Wesley is having a record-breaking rookie season. He’s living his dream of playing pro hockey and coming home every night to the man he loves—Jamie Canning, his longtime best friend turned boyfriend. There’s just one problem: the most important relationship of his life is one he needs to keep hidden, or else face a media storm that will eclipse his success on the ice.

Jamie loves Wes. He really, truly does. But hiding sucks. It’s not the life Jamie envisioned for himself, and the strain of keeping their secret is taking its toll. It doesn’t help that his new job isn’t going as smoothly as he’d hoped, but he knows he can power through it as long as he has Wes. At least apartment 10B is their retreat, where they can always be themselves.

Or can they?

When Wes’s nosiest teammate moves in upstairs, the threads of their carefully woven lie begin to unravel. With the outside world determined to take its best shot at them, can Wes and Jamie develop major-league relationship skills on the fly?

Us works on a lot of levels but works less effectively on other levels. How much you enjoy this book is going to depend on what you wanted out of it. Us does a great job as a novel about the difficulties in making a relationship work in the long haul past the honeymoon phase, but if you were here for romance it’s deeply frustrating.

You guys all know that I was here for the romance, because hello have you met me. Ryan and Jamie aren’t a top ship of all time, but book one was shippy and had great chemistry. I debated about whether or not to read Us; I mean, there’s a reason that generally romance series are companion novels each about a different couple, rather than a saga about one pair. Though it’s realistic and well done, I wanted a novel much happier than Us is.

Jamie and Ryan struggle a lot as a couple during Ryan’s first season, in which he’s trying to keep his sexuality under wraps, so he can be known for his skills and not being THE gay hockey player. Jamie’s supportive, but, over time, it wears on him to be a secret, especially when one of Ryan’s teammates (Blake, who is both obnoxious and oddly charming) moves into the same building and stops by unexpectedly a bunch, requiring Jamie to pretend to live in the guest room. Jamie also chafes at the fact that he can’t contribute financially to the household the way Jamie can and the fact that Ryan’s always gone and never does any chores. On top of that, Jamie feels like he’s not doing as well in his new coaching job as he’s hoped. All these things kick off a bout of depression and communication problems.

Ryan’s never really unhappy in the relationship exactly. He’s wanted Jamie for so long that he doesn’t question that, but Jamie’s distance kickstarts his old insecurities. Because of his hateful parents, Ryan doesn’t expect love, and he immediately assumes Jamie’s going to leave him. He’s too scared to ask Jamie about it and trigger his fears. The end result is that they end up spending most of the book not communicating, which, if they had, would have made everything so much easier. It’s totally realistic to what couples deal with all the time, but it’s sad and frustrating.

I’d have liked more humor and happiness in this novel. I like seeing couples work through their problems and come out stronger, but the tone was a bit too dark for what I want out of a romance. I think this is a good novel, but if you just want more cuteness you’ll need to evaluate if Us will give you what you want.

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

One response to “Series Review: Him by Sarina Bowen & Elle Kennedy”

  1. I’ve heard wonderful things about this series! I didnt realize Us was so depressing though, I’m glad I know that beforehand. Great reviews!
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