Series: Owatonna U Hockey 01
Author: RJ Scott & VL Locey
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
Length: Novel (196 pages)
Publisher: Love Lane Books Ltd. (18 Sept 2018)
Heat Level: Low
Heart Rating: 💖💖💖💖💖 4.5 Hearts
Blurb: Ryker is hockey royalty, Jacob is a poor country boy. Can two vastly different people find common ground and become the men they want to be?
Ryker comes from a long line of championship-winning hockey players. Playing college hockey to develop his game is his only focus, and nothing will stand in the way of him working to become the best player. He has no room for relationships, people who point out his flaws, or anyone who calls him on his dreams. He certainly has no place for love, and meeting Jacob is nothing but a useful distraction on the side. After all trying to get his Owatonna Eagles teammate into bed is less work and more play. When tragedy rocks his family, his charmed life crumbles, and the only person he can turn to is the same one who claims to hate him.
Jacob Benson has only known hard work and stifling conservative values his whole life. Born and raised in the small rural community of Eden Crossing, Minnesota, he’s the only son of a hard-working but struggling dairy farming family. Jacob is using his skills in hockey to finance his way to an agricultural science degree. These four years at Owatonna U. will probably be the only time he has to enjoy life, gain acceptance about his sexuality, and live openly before his inevitable return to the farm. Running into a pretty rich boy like Ryker Madsen is putting a damper on his enjoyment of life away from home. Ryker’s flip, conceited, carefree attitude grates on Jacob’s every nerve. So why, if Ryker is everything he dislikes, does he want nothing more than to explore the sinful dreams that his annoying teammate stars in every night?
Review: Ryker has been a long awaited book for me. I adore the authors, VL Locey and RJ Scott, and I especially adore their hockey romances that they write together. I could go on for a long time about how much I love their style of writing and how their characters develop and grow, both outside of their book and within the book where those characters become MCs.
The MCs of this book is, obviously, the titular Ryker Madsen who comes from NHL royalty with his father and maternal grandfather and it turns out she is something of a hockey player himself. Moving to Owatonna University brings him into orbit with fellow hockey player and team mate, Jacob Benson. Jacob is Ryker’s opposite in many ways, but most especially because he comes from a farming family who work hard to keep their legacy going, as well as pushing Jacob to pursue his dreams.
Ryker is the first book is the author’s ice-hockey centred series Owatonna U Hockey, which is a spin off from their Harrisburg Railers series (which is completely awesome and once more I could go on all day about how much I love that series). That being said, I would recommend to either read Harrisburg Railers series before going here, or at least read book 1 (Changing Lines), which is the story of Ryker’s dad, Jared, and soon to be stepdad Tennant and where we first meet Ryker. The event involving Ten which has Ryker worried for both his father and Ten, happens in book 7 (Neutral Zone). So if you’ve not read the series, I would recommend reading at least books 1 and 7 – but for the sports romance fans you are missing out if you don’t read the entire Harrisburg Railers series…
Oops! I better get back to Owatonna U!
Ryker and Jacob’s story is really wonderful. This is about two young men that know what they want to do with their lives (ice hockey and ultimately NHL) but things change and they grow up, so while their ultimate goal doesn’t change these guys grow up. They also grow up and as they become adults they learn about love and being together and support and sacrifice. Ryker manages to piss Jacob off and this is where Ryker begins to shed his identity as Jared Madsen’s son and becomes his own man as he navigates his feelings towards Jacob.
This is a good base for a new series. The romance between Ryker and Jacob is nice, they are both strong characters but they also live with some very relatable insecurities relating to their schoolwork, their family and their sexuality. The book starts with the world of the Railers, which it has to because Ryker needs to break away from that persona we gained of him earlier and become his own man, which is how we end up with this wonderful little spin off detached from Railers. I’ve learnt a lot about hockey and NHL and now college hockey from these books! We are also introduced to a number of players (including Scott and Benoit, aka Ben) which has me looking forward to the next books in the series.