Length: 87,000 word approx.
Placed on the injured reserve list until his broken arm heals, NHL defenseman Alex Dean is using the time off to be with his ailing grandfather and get a head start on the book he’s been commissioned to write. He doesn’t expect to get roped into a tutoring gig, especially not for cocky, smart-ass Mitch.
But Alex soon discovers that there’s more to Mitch than meets the eye...and he really likes what he sees. Only Alex doesn’t dare risk his NHL career by coming out, and a relationship between them would jeopardize Mitch’s chances with the organization too.
It looks impossible. Then again, the best things usually do...
“Good game against Colgate,” Alex said, pocketing his phone.
The mask slipped off Mitch’s face. “You were there?”
Alex shook his head. “Watched it on TV.”
Holy crap! An NHL player—Mitch’s hockey crush, no less—had watched his game. At a loss for words, Mitch stood there blinking at Alex like a putz.
“You’ve got impressive foot work,” Alex said.
Mitch continued to blink at him.
“You skated circles around Colgate and that goal in the third?” Alex smiled wide. “You broke Colgate’s end as if the defensemen were pylons. It was beautiful.”
“I—” Mitch cleared his throat. “Well, McCall passed me the puck at just the right time, so… I mean, I did figure skating for years and…” He had no idea what he was trying to say.
“Huh. I know a couple of guys who did some figure skating after their game slipped and it helped them rebound. It’s something I’ve been considering to improve my foot speed.” Alex leaned a shoulder against the wall and crossed his arms, but his cast got in the way so he ended up shoving one hand in his pocket and letting the casted one dangle. “Your training shows in your footwork. How else has it helped your game?”
In total disbelief that an NHL player was asking him for advice, Mitch said, “Figure skating is about using edges and your body to change direction on the ice. It’s about learning to cut a corner or to pivot the right way while maintaining your speed. It made me a better skater.”
God, the compliments were going to go to Mitch’s head.
“What made you decide to stick with hockey instead of figure skating?”
Mitch shrugged and told the truth. “I liked hockey better.”
“Could you do a triple axel in full hockey gear?” Alex asked, a teasing grin on his face.
Mitch had to laugh. “I’ve never tried.” But now he was itching to.
“No? What about a—” Alex held his index finger up and moved it in small circles, “—with the leg out in front?”
“A sit spin?” Mitch scratched his head. “I actually think that one might be harder than the triple axel in full hockey gear.”
They stood there smiling at each other for a moment, Alex’s eyes the color of the Green Mountains in summer. The man was too gorgeous for words and he was nice to boot. Mitch couldn’t help staring at Alex’s mouth, red and surprisingly soft in an otherwise rugged face.
Alex cleared his throat and edged around Mitch. “I’ve got to get back to my friend.”
“Wait, I—” The hallway was empty so Mitch plastered his sex smile back on his face, walked right into Alex’s personal space, and put a hand on Alex’s hip. “Why don’t you come over tonight and we’ll—”
Alex palmed Mitch’s shoulders and pushed him away. “Look, kid—”
“I’m not a kid.”
“Mitch.” Alex held him at arm’s length. “Whatever it is you’re trying to do here, it’s not going to happen. I don’t even know you.”
“What difference does that make?”
Alex dropped his arms. “I don’t jump into bed with people I don’t know. Hell, I don’t even jump into bed with people I do know.”
Alex wasn’t saying I’m not gay, but it did sound like he was saying I’m asexual or something similar, which left Mitch exactly nowhere.
Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.
One of the things I really like about books featuring a demisexual character is how any relationship that forms is slow building, and nothing can be rushed. It brings the idea of slow burn to a higher level, and lets the characters concentrate on friendship and the development of intimacy over a longer period of time. This is the case in On the Ice, and I love how Alex being demi helped Mitch’s character grow and become more aware. The pace of their relationship development is slow and steady, with more concentration on who they each are (especially who Mitch presents to others publicly) and less on the physical aspect…much to Mitch’s initial frustration.
Mitch is incredibly dedicated, and shows strength and commitment even when he’s being a bit flirty on the side. He’s fully devoted to making it on his own with no help—even if it is to his own detriment. Alex is easygoing and immediately likable. The fact that he’s demi throws a bit of a wrench in Mitch’s goal of hooking up with him, making Mitch more determined to find a way in. This is what leads to the relationship development I spoke of earlier, and results in a deeper connection between the two men.
The fact that their story is set against a hockey backdrop? That’s a bonus, even if them both being players at different levels does introduce challenges to their relationship. It was good to see the positive support of friends and teammates—their relationship has enough obstacles without adding in the usual negative issues that can arise with gay players in the uber-macho setting of both college and professional sports. Mitch’s best friend Cody was especially amazing, and I loved how strong and enduring their friendship was.
While the physical side of Mitch and Alex’s relationship is incredibly slow to emerge, once it does it is backed by that solid emotional connection which makes it feel more passionate and meaningful.
I loved this story, and it was a 4.5-star read for me. Mitch and Alex are wonderful characters, and I truly enjoyed being along for the ride as things between them evolved. On the Ice is listed as the first book in a series, and I’m really excited to see who will get the next story (Cody please?)…I’ll definitely be following along! On the Ice is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.
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