Goal Lines and First Times (CU Hockey #3) ~ Eden Finley & Saxon James
Goal Lines and First Times is book 3 in the CU Hockey series by the fabulous writing duo Eden Finley and Saxon James. These authors just keep getting better; their writing style becoming more complex and refined.
Goal Lines and First Times is distinct from the first two books in the series in that the main characters are both unsure about their sexual identity. In book one, Power Plays and Straight A's, both Zach and Foster were comfortable with their identities. In book two, Face Offs and Cheap Shots Jacobs already had a feeling that he was gay; his biggest concern was that he was attracted to Beck! Beck was utterly unconcerned about any label; as far as he was concerned, he was a 'Tophersexual' (that still cracks me up). He was happy with that and did not feel a need to identify in any particular way.
Goal Lines and First Times is nuanced by Seth’s uncertainty about this sexual identity. For Seth's logical mind, a category is everything. One of the primary themes of the story is his frustrating search for the appropriate labels. Cohen's own journey of discovery begins most hilariously, and befitting his personality the approach he takes is much more relaxed. Cohen's more casual 'let the chips fall' attitude and his understanding of Seth's identity crisis are exactly what Seth needs.
Cohen was a really gorgeous character. From the previous books, I knew he would be fun, but his level of emotional maturity was actually quite a surprise. As much as I liked Seth, and I liked him A LOT, it was Cohen that stole my heart. His patience and understanding of what Seth was going through, how Seth's history and family situation had affected him, and his pure determination to put Seth first and do nothing that could possibly hurt him, was just beautiful to witness.
Goal Lines and First Times is narrated by the fabulous vocal duo Alexander Cendese (Cohen) and Iggy Toma (Seth). Alexander and Iggy work so well together to bring the the story to life. They both did an impressive job with their respective characters. Alexander's vocalisation of Cohen's total obliviousness was particularly entertaining. At the same time, Iggy captured Seth's raw vulnerability and anxiety over his behaviour (thanks to past relationships). I highly recommend the audio to take the story to the next level.
This book could be read as a standalone - maybe. But I'd really, really recommend reading the first two books first. Power Plays and Straight A’s is Foster and Zach's book, both of which play a large role in this story. Book one also introduces you to Seth and Jacobs, with small glimpses of Beck. Beck plays a significant role in Goal Lines and First Times, so it is extremely helpful to learn more about him (and Jacobs) in Face Offs and Cheap Shots. Additionally, in book two, we are introduced to Cohen and get to share his embarrassment in discovering, in the most groan-worthy way, that he's also not as straight as he thought!
Goal Lines and First Times brings all these characters together, and it's a much richer experience having that background knowledge. This entire series is a joy to read: remarkable characters, humour, heartfelt emotion without the heavy angst, romance – all the romance, and plenty of heat. So don't do yourself a disservice, and make sure you start this series at the beginning. You won't be sorry!