3 stars adult - 18+ Angst Level Book Closeted Contemporary Gay GFY/OFY Heat Index Hockey m/m Men In Uniform Mid level angst Mild/low level heat Monthly Theme Morgan Novel 140 pgs + (80K + words) Part of a Series Purchased Sports Standalone Virgin

Men In Uniform: Playing With Fate (Admirals Hockey #1) by Ava Thorpe

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“My future’s been planned for me for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never felt this alive until I met you.”

“I shouldn’t want Carter, but I can’t get him out of my mind.”

Luke Bailey doesn’t have time for a boyfriend. Between dog-walking, law school applications, and trying to get his music career off the ground, love doesn’t stand a chance. Besides, his new customer’s straight as they come, right? So why can’t he stop thinking about Carter?

“I’ve never been with a guy. Why do I want Luke so bad?”

Carter Welling just needs a dog-walker. Big league hockey takes him away from home, and he can’t take Puck everywhere he goes. What he doesn’t need is a hot dog-walker who makes him think weird things about guys that he’s never felt before.

“Fate brought us together. Can I afford to take the risk?”

Something just keeps pulling them back together, though, and it’s not just the cuteness of Carter’s dog. When Luke’s dreams and Carter’s hockey career seem to be splitting them apart, can they admit that what they want—no, need—is each other?

Playing With Fate is a standalone gay romance novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a HEA.


This is a new author for me, which is always exciting! I love hockey and books about hockey players so… I think all in all this was a great intro for me to the author, though I wasn’t blown away.

We start with a guy who’s never had (or acknowledged to himself) an attraction to men who works as a professional hockey player. Suddenly he finds himself attracted to his dog walker and inexplicably they begin a friendship that deepens.

Over time our two MCs struggle with “Defining their relationship” and deciding whether or not to be “out”. There was a lot of time with our guys separated as Carter’s team was on the road, this was also a hurdle to their budding relationship. However, there is a LOT of really cute dog/cute guy interaction and that totally aided these guys in coming together.

On the one hand I felt like Carter’s introspection about “am I gay” was both not deep enough and at the same time it felt drawn out. He was quick to dive in and explore and didn’t seem as bewildered by this new attraction as I’d imagine someone would be. However, once involved he waffled – a lot – about what to do now that he was involved with a man. That seemed backward to me.

The smexy times were fairly low steam, and the focus on the MCs time together was definitely centered on developing their relationship. That felt very authentic to me, especially considering Carter’s newness to the whole situation.

Luke has some drama in his life and it gets some attention, but this was definitely more Carter’s story and I wish we’d spent more time with Luke and his music.

Overall this was an easy read, with a lot of great potential that met most of my expectations and will appeal to fans of dogs, hockey, GFY and low-steam romances.

3 of 5 stars


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