Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Tropes: hockey romance; sports romance; neighbors turned lovers; hockey star and hockey trainer; mm romance
Sarina Bowen’s The New Guy is a fantastic addition to her Brooklyn Bruisers stories. Her newest book is satisfying as her characters, Hudson and Gavin, navigate professional sports life under the shadow of secrets. Bowen takes her time in drawing Hudson and Gavin together even though their chemistry is combustible from the moment they meet at the bar made famous throughout Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers/Brooklyn Hockey series. She carefully weaves in our favorite Brooklyn guys while introducing us to Gavin and Hudson, reminding us why we love these series so much. Even more, if she has the margin to write them, The New Guy provides a launching pad for a new series with a different hockey franchise.
Through Gavin and Hudson’s stories, Bowen interrogates fear from the perspective of a widowed single father wanting something for himself while negotiating a new life in Brooklyn and a staid hockey player who has hidden his true self from the world, hoping to find a team who will keep him. This means The New Guy has Gavin and Hudson moving one step forward and three steps back for much of the book. While their attraction flies off the page, building any relationship between the two is fraught with lots of starts and stops. Bowen uses these spaces to develop more than their attraction as they learn about each other and themselves. She waxes poetic about facing and overcoming fears when she writes, “maybe there’s something holding you back, too. Maybe you’re dyslexic, or depressed or carrying around some burden I can’t see. Let me just tip you off that holding it in doesn’t make it go away. Please learn from my mistakes. The time and energy I’ve spent on my fear could have been put to better use…” Bowen reminds us that we stagnate if we don’t face our biggest challenges, and it becomes impossible to find an abundant life if we live in constant fear.
This truth, returning to past Brooklyn Bruisers players, and the sincerity, sweetness, and spiciness of Gavin and Hudson made for an engaging and entertaining read that made it impossible to put down.
In love and romance,