Thanks so much for inviting me to do a guest post on Queer Books Unbound! It’s an honour. This is an excerpt from Heated Rivalry, which is the second book in my Game Changers m/m hockey romance series from Carina Press.
Heated Rivalry is a slow burn romance between NHL superstar rivals, and it takes place over seven years. Ilya Rozanov is the star centre for Boston, and Shane Hollander is the star centre for Montreal. They have a very famous rivalry that is loved by fans and closely analyzed by the hockey media. They have also been secretly hooking up since the summer before their rookie seasons.
This excerpt takes place during the afterparty of the NHL Awards in Las Vegas, at the end of Shane and Ilya’s rookie seasons. Shane has just won the Rookie of the Year award, beating Ilya, and has decided he needs a break from the party. He has also noticed that Ilya didn’t seem to be at the party, and imagines that he is sulking somewhere. Telling himself he doesn’t care where Ilya is, Shane goes to the roof of the hotel to check out the view of the Strip and enjoy some alone time. Ilya ruins this plan.
Shane didn’t see him, at first. All black in his tuxedo, with his head bent down over the railing, Rozanov blended right into the darkness. Then he raised his head and let out a white cloud of smoke.
“It’s not worth jumping over,” Shane said, moving to stand just behind him.
Rozanov turned. He didn’t even seem surprised to see Shane. He took another long drag of his cigarette then said in a tight voice, “Is the party over, then?”
“No. I just needed some air.”
Rozanov exhaled. The smoke swirled around his face and then floated up into the desert sky. “Such an exciting night for you.”
Rozanov rolled his eyes. “I guess.”
“It could have gone to either one of us.”
“It went to you.”
“Yeah, well, you know. Who knows how they decide these things?” Shane wasn’t sure why he was even saying this stuff. He didn’t need to apologize for anything. He’d earned that fucking trophy. “So you’re just sulking up here all night, then? It bothers you that much that I won?”
Rozanov took another drag and turned back to the view. He said something that Shane couldn’t hear.
“What was that?” Shane asked, moving to stand beside him against the rail.
“Not everything is about you, Hollander.” He didn’t look at Shane at all when he said it. His voice hadn’t been angry. He just sounded…tired. And sad.
Shane studied his profile. His own anger left him, and he found himself caring about Ilya Rozanov, which was an odd sensation. “So what is it then?”
Rozanov dropped the butt of his cigarette on the ground and stamped it out. He laughed a little, without any humor at all. “What do you want, Hollander?”
“Nothing. I just wanted some air. To see the view.”
“Well,” Rozanov said, sweeping a hand through the air in front of them, “here is view.”
Shane’s eyes turned toward the blanket of city lights that sprawled beneath them, but they quickly found their way back to Rozanov’s face. He saw the clench in Rozanov’s jaw, and the hardness of his eyes.
“I go back to Russia. In three days.”
They were both silent for a long time. Shane wasn’t sure if Rozanov had more to tell him or not. He decided not to push. It wasn’t like they were friends.
“I should get back,” Shane said, after several minutes of gazing down at the city. “My parents might still be at the party.”
“Your parents,” Rozanov said. “Right.”
“I guess…I guess I’ll see you next season.”
Shane stuck out his hand. Rozanov looked at it. Then he turned his head left and right, looking all around them.
A split second later, Shane found himself pushed back from the railing, against a wall. Rozanov’s mouth was pressed hard against his, and his hands gripped his arms roughly, fingers digging into his biceps.
Shane felt panicked. This was super fucking dangerous. And stupid. And confusing. And…
Shane kissed him back, just as angrily. Because fuck this guy for doing shit like this. Hiding away all night on a fucking rooftop, smoking a goddamned cigarette in the dark like the worst cliché of a brooding heartthrob. Making Shane feel bad for winning an award that he completely fucking deserved. And then, on a whim, pressing Shane against a wall and kissing him like he would die without Shane’s mouth on his. Kissing him until Shane’s senses were full of hard muscle pressed against him and the taste of cigarette and the slick heat of Rozanov’s tongue in his mouth.
What the fuck.
Shane grabbed Rozanov’s lapels and shoved him back. They couldn’t do this here. At all.
Shane looked frantically around them. There was no one. But, Jesus, there could have been.
Rozanov leaned in to kiss Shane again, and Shane dodged him.
“No,” he said. “No way. Not here. What’s wrong with you?”
Rozanov gave him that crooked grin that did absurd things to Shane’s stomach.
“We can’t,” Shane said. He meant it, but it hurt to say. “I have to go. You should go to bed, Rozanov.”
The smile disappeared.
“See you next season,” Rozanov said. Then he turned and walked toward the elevators.
Shane waited a few minutes so they wouldn’t have to ride down together.
Next season. Next season would be different. He was going to end this stupid thing between them and focus on his game.
Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.
Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.
Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.
As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…
Rachel Reid is the pen name of Rachelle Goguen. She chose it because it is much easier to say, spell and remember than Rachelle Goguen!
Rachel writes cute, romantic smut, mostly about hockey players.
Rachelle co-hosts a comic book podcast called Living Between Wednesdays.
Rachel/Rachelle lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has always lived there, and it’s looking like she probably always will. She has two boring degrees and two interesting kids.
Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Bisexual Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Carina Press Tag: Enemies to Lovers Tag: Guest Post Tag: Long Distance Tag: Part of a series Tag: Slow Burn Tag: Sports Game Changer Heated Rivalry Rachel Reid