My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had low expectations going into Contract Season, as I had difficulty enjoying the first book in this series (Season’s Change). I was hoping for part two of Benji and Olly’s relationship because Nary didn’t give us much of that in the first book. And a major part of the book was dedicated to lots of hockey which, as someone who is completely clueless about every sport imaginable, kinda took me out of the story.

Anyway, I decided to give book two a try, and I am so glad I did.

I can’t express how much I loved the characters and the romance. If you’ve followed my reviews, you know that I am sucker for rock stars and will read just about any book with a musician MC. Sea is not a rock star but a country star. I grew up listening to country music (Johnny Cash, Charlie Pride, Willie Nelson, George Jones), I’m not much of a fan of contemporary country music. However, I found Sea utterly charming. I loved getting to know him: how he started as a small town, awkward teenager thrust into a life in front of cameras. How he managed his public persona and his private life. His sassiness, especially with his manager, and his stubbornness when it came to his music.

You would think the other MC, Brody, would have absolutely nothing in common with Sea. Brody is, of course, a hockey player, with a set life plan. Much different from Sea, who seems to go where the current takes him while struggling internally for his own life raft. Brody feels he needs to stay in the closet until he hits a certain milestone in his career and even a long-term boyfriend won’t derail him. Sea is in a similar situation; the country music industry, historically, isn’t queer-friendly, and he keeps his sexuality close to the vest in favor of advancing his career. Both are extremely career-driven.

The couple’s initial meeting starts off with major sparks and leads to some complicated feelings. They each process the aftermath of their encounter in different ways that are so authentic to their characters. Brody focuses on hockey; Sea writes a song.

One of my other favorite tropes, the fake relationship, features in Contract Season. After getting caught in a compromising position, the characters’ managers devise a plan to craft a fake relationship for the media and public. I love it when characters are fighting so hard not to fall for each other as they are forced to deal with their feelings head on.

The writing is amazing. Nary’s talent for conveying emotion and the struggles of the characters is phenomenal. Her words grabbed me from the first paragraph and made it difficult to put the book down.

I’m so glad I gave this author a second chance. Brody and Sea came through, making Contract Season far exceed my expectations.

***Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.***

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