Linemates by D K Dunn – Romance>Contemporary
Life is going pretty well for Derek LaVigne. He’s playing professional hockey in Los Angeles where hockey is barely on the radar, and this allows him to live in relative anonymity. Derek’s world is tilted on its axis when he’s traded to the Detroit Wheels. Not only is this one of the top teams in the National Hockey League, he’ll also be playing in a city that lives and breathes hockey. It sounds like a dream come true, but soon enough it becomes clear it isn’t.
The reason for Derek’s change of heart is Trevor Ladouceur. Five years ago Derek and Trevor were linemates on Team Canada at the World Junior Championship. They were inseparable both on and off the ice and became known as the Wonder Twins. After winning the gold medal, they slept together. Trevor was gone the next morning, and they haven’t spoken since. Now they’re together again, and the expectation is for the Wonder Twins to help Detroit win the Stanley Cup. Much to Derek’s dismay, he realizes he’s falling in love with Trevor all over again.
Derek and Trevor were two hockey players who played so well as juniors that their Team Canada won the Gold Medal at the World Junior Championship and they both went on to the NHL.
Of course, that night after they won the gold they slept together but in the morning when Derek awoke he was alone. Trevor’s gay panic and abandonment left a deeply wounded Derek. It’s now 5 years later. Derek is playing hockey in L.A. and has been able to explore his sexuality a bit because hockey isn’t really on anyone’s radar out there.
But he’s been traded to the league leading Detroit team where Trevor is playing (and dating the local weather girl). Detroit’s coach wants to “reunite the wonder twins” but in a city where hockey players are famous, how will Derek deal with finding his place on this much better team, resolve his issues with his old flame and still be true to himself?
D.K. Dunn has done a great job here. The story is compelling, the hockey details are spot on, the Michigan setting is exactly right (even down to a casual mention of Euchre) and the two guys seem realistic and both are sympathetically drawn. This is one of the best M/M sports centered books I’ve encountered.
However don’t go into this expecting anything too steamy. No one even gets laid in the first 15 chapters. This is a sweet tale of coming-out and redemption and of re-establishing a relationship that was ended prematurely. But don’t ever forget, this is also a hockey story. The MC’s may be athletes but with all the scrapes and bruises and brittle machismo attitudes that the sport is known for. Others have criticized this story for including misogyny and sexism and it IS there, but then among professional hockey players it seemed perfectly accurate to me.
Michael Pauley does the narration here and does a great job of voicing Derek from whose POV the story is told. He gets the attitude as well and the pacing during key sports scenes works really well.
*** Note: I received a copy of this audiobook for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest and impartial review ***