Rating: 4.5 stars.
So how does a person, who failed his sports exam in 6th grade PE class, realize that a novel focused on ice hockey is an absolute win? When said novel makes him WISHED he played and loves the sport!
My knowledge of ice hockey wouldn't impress anyone older than the age of three. But that's okay, it's not necessarily required for Heart in Hand. If anything, ice hockey is really the setting for a love story between two of the National Hockey League's (NHL) biggest rising stars: Darryl Colton (Canadian) and Aleksey (Alex) Kuznetzov (Russian). Both NHL stars play on American teams.
Darryl is a pragmatic guy who is strictly by-the-rules. Yet for some reason, Alex manages to get under his skin. Alex's 6th grader enthusiasm (Darryl's wording, not mine) and open heart begins to slowly make Darryl come to conclusions that could not only jeopardize his NHL career, but his personal life as well.
As for Alex's character, I think it's safe to say that most people would absolutely love him! He's a big guy who's never afraid to crack a joke, laugh at himself, lend a helping hand (to both people and stray kittens!), and...okay, you get the point, right? He is adorbz x 1000. And I think it's for this reason that when shit hits the fan (because that ALWAYS happens with these sports star M/M fiction), the BIG FALLOUT occurs, and the STRUGGLE afterwards, you can't help but bust the big, fat ugly tears!
I think my biggest complaint for Heart in Hand was the amount of time that Darryl and Alex are apart after the fallout and big misunderstanding (probably 25-30% of the book). I wanted more Darryl x Alex, and I almost couldn't forgive Darryl even until the end.
But yeah, he redeemed himself. Just barely, but I give him props for what he chose to do.
So once again: you don't have to be a hockey fan to enjoy this read. Are there some hockey info that are strewn throughout the book? Yes. But either a quick Google search or simply ignoring that detail doesn't affect the overall enjoyment for me. Because I wasn't looking for a sports novel when I started this. I was looking for a love story, and that's exactly what I got. I just never imagined that there was so much love out there: among fans, friends, family, teammates, and lovers.