Him and Us by Sarina Bowen and Elle Kennedy

Him book coverThese two mm books comprise the Him series and although they are both standalones, once you read Him, you’ll want to read Us to see how the whole story ends. Or okay, let’s be real—we know how it ends, but what sort of problems will they face and how will they deal with them?

Both books star Ryan Wesley (Wes) and Jamie Canning, two men who were best friends throughout their teen years. In Him, we learn that they spent summers at a hockey camp. But Wes held a secret during those years—he already knew he was gay and had a massive crush on Jamie. An incident when they were 18 stretched their relationship and Wes pulled away from Jamie, thinking that Jamie was as straight as could be. Jamie never knew what the problem was and they both missed each other, but didn’t have contact through college. When they reconnect at the same hockey camp just after college, Wes knows he’s never stopped wanting Jamie, even though Jamie’s oblivious—and still clearly straight, to Wes’s mind.

Us book coverBut the lines aren’t clear for Jamie, after all, as he discovers when he and Wes get assigned to the same room. He soon finds himself confusingly attracted to Wes, and comes to the realization that he’s bi. This is nice because there aren’t a whole lot of bi characters out there—often it’s more, “oh, I’m discovering I’m gay after all these years,” which is fine but not always realistic. Also, bi people are sometimes treated as deviant by both the gay and straight sets (even the open-minded ones) so it’s good to see them normalized.

Wes is NHL-bound and focused on that. As much as he loves Jamie, he doesn’t think Jamie will stick around for the long haul. Also, he doesn’t want his love life to get in the way of his career, especially as if it got out, it would make him the first openly gay man in the NHL. Still, that fling brings us loads of sexytimes. Bowen and Kennedy can really write those steamy scenes, full of emotion. Both Jamie and Wes are well-developed and deep characters and there’s definitely more to the book than the sex.

So, what starts off as a temporary summer fling turns into something deeper in Him, which is fine for an HFN, which is how it felt to me. But it’s still not entirely clear how—or if—that will turn into an HEA. Us clarifies that.

Us takes us to Canada, where Wes’s NHL career is starting. Jamie lands a job coaching hockey to teens up there, foregoing the minors for a coaching career. He ends up living with Wes and although everything is great in the apartment, outside it’s hard on both of them because they have to pretend to be just buddies. The stress manifests differently in both of them yet results, basically, in lots of self-doubt and bad communication. Add in Blake, Wes’s annoying teammate who lives upstairs and inserts himself into their lives, which cuts into their together time.

So things are rough. Eventually something jumps in to add even more strain to their relationship, and they get outed. They love each other, but it becomes clear that relationships can be hard. Fortunately, they figure this out and how to work through it all, and we’re left with a definitive HEA with Us.

Plus, we’ve become well-acquainted with Blake, who’s already got his own book. He was definitely annoying in the beginning but grows on you a little (if not a lot).

Anyway, I recommend them if you like hot books with hot men—even if it’s your first mm, you’ll probably like them. Both have loads of good reviews and Him was a RITA winner, after all, so lots of people think they’re great.