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.
While I am not an actual sports fan, I love sports romances and Linemates proved to be a really good read for me. Dunn wastes no time in jumping right into the story by opening the book with Derek learning that he’s just been traded to Detroit. While playing for the Wheels is a childhood dream come true, the fact that he will be playing with Trevor makes the move a nightmare of epic proportions. Trevor. The one that got away. Or more appropriately, the one that ran away. Needless to say, Derek’s excitement for a dream realized is overshadowed by his anxiety over coming face-to-face with the only man to break his heart. What a way to begin a book!
As the story is told from Derek’s point of view, we get a front row seat to all the action both on and off the ice. I suspect hockey fans will eat this book up as Dunn does not shy away from the time on the ice and we get to feel Derek’s frustration as he works to find his place with his new team and his rhythm on the ice – especially as he is being given the cold shoulder by Trevor – as well as his elation when he finally finds it. Even though I know very little about hockey, I still found myself swept up in the game as Derek played. Just as powerful was what he was dealing with in his personal life and the grief that Trevor was causing him. Because I experienced everything from Derek’s point of view, it was hard to like Trevor. He runs so hot and cold with Derek that there were times I half-expected Derek to deck him. Hockey is a violent sport after all. Fortunately for Trevor, Derek is intent on proving his worth to the Wheels and sets out to be the consummate professional both on and off the ice. But being paired with Trevor on the ice and being assigned his roomie while on road trips makes it harder and harder to do.
While I felt badly for Trevor’s self-inflicted situation, I really disliked how he treated Derek. His paranoia over Derek revealing what happened between them five years earlier causes him to overstep more than once. Even though I felt as though Derek accepted too much of Trevor’s bad attitude, I was glad when he rejected his drunken advances. He’d been there, done that, and did not want a repeat performance. Despite Trevor’s antagonistic attitude throughout much of the book, the chain of events that culminate with Derek’s injury made Trevor’s change of heart believable. I saw it coming, so I wasn’t surprised by Trevor’s claims. There is a ton of sexual tension in the book, so when it is finally realized it makes for quite the steamy scene. I only wish the book hadn’t ended where it did, especially as there is no indication that there is a sequel in the works. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an abrupt ending, I just would have liked to see a bit more of what the future held for them. I definitely enjoyed Linemates and would love to read more about Derek and Trevor, or perhaps another of their teammates.