Role Model by Rachel Reid

He’d never expected to be so charmed by such an unrepentant goofball.

We’re back in the Game Changers universe and I’m still going all out of order on this series, I started with books 2 and 6 back-to-back (Heated Rivalry and The Long Game) and then jumped back to book 3 (Tough Guy). Most recently, I did a buddy read with a friend of mine for this one, Role Model, which is technically book 5 in the series. I do wonder what the experience would have been like if I went in order but I’ve been loving this series so much that it doesn’t really matter!

Given the order I happened to read them, I first met Troy Barrett in The Long Game and a lot of the timeline in that book overlaps with Role Model. My first impression of him was a decent guy who was troubled but was on the road to making changes. Then I went back and read Tough Guy, where Troy appears again but that book was set a few seasons earlier than this one and in that one Troy was a very different version of the character. He was (seemingly) not a good guy and was quite awful to Ryan Price in that book. It surprised me. In reading this book, I found it interesting to finally learn how he went from the awful guy in Tough Guy to the much nicer guy in The Long Game.

Of the books I’ve read so far, Shane and Ilya are still my #1 but Troy and Harris have claimed the #2 spot for now! Troy’s redemption arc was very well done. There were a lot of factors that went into why Troy chose to hide behind this asshole persona rather than out himself as a gay man – the biggest factors being his asshole father and the homophobia and toxic masculinity that’s so common throughout the NHL. But after Troy is traded for calling out his once best friend and teammate, Dallas Kent, over sexual abuse allegations made against him, he wants to try being a better person and maybe one day live his truth. His new team is the Ottowa Centaurs, the worst team in the league, which he isn’t thrilled about but getting to play with all-stars like Ilya Rozanov and Wyatt Hayes isn’t all bad. He thought he would hate it in Ottowa but his teammates and coach turned out to be a great group of guys. Then there’s the cute, cheery, and chatty social media manager Harris Drover. Troy is instantly drawn to Harris and starts finding any excuse to see him, even though he thinks Harris deserves someone far better than him. On paper, these men couldn’t be more different but you know what they say about how opposites attract.

First of all, what Troy did, calling out his ex-best friend and teammate on his gross behavior was admirable. It didn’t really earn him any favors as far as the league was concerned but he stood his ground and was determined to do what was right. I loved how his team/management supported him in this. One of the overarching themes of this series is challenging all the toxic behaviors that are common throughout professional hockey and I love that about these books. It’s hopeful and heartwarming and shows how things could be without being preachy.

I absolutely loved Troy and Harris together too. Harris was the definition of sunshine, his cheerfulness was infectious and it was no wonder Troy was so drawn to him. He was literally a light in Troy’s otherwise dark world. I think I would categorize this one as a slow burn. Troy was very much in the closet and dealt with a lot of internalized homophobia so as much as he wanted to make a move on Harris, it was a 1 step forward, 2 steps back situation. Harris, being the wonderful human being that he was, had so much patience with Troy and gave him the space he needed to figure things out while still being there to support him. Once they finally got together, though, it was equal parts tender and smoking hot! They were both so good for one another.

As I mentioned earlier, the timeline for this book and The Long Game was mostly the same so a lot of the scenes I knew from The Long Game in Ilya’s POV, I got to experience again from Troy’s POV which was fun. Plus we got loads of Ilya content in this one and I’ll never be sad about that! I love that guy so much. The ending of this book left me with tears in my eyes because it was such a powerful, moving, and beautiful way to wrap it all up. This whole series has just left my heart feeling so full, it’s quickly becoming an all-time favorite series for me! Next up, I’m finally going back to the beginning and will be reading Game Changer. Scott Hunter has appeared in all the books so far so I’m excited to go back and actually get his story. Stay tuned!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s