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Headstrong

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A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong? When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away. Ag A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong? When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away. Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated. Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy. I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips...


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A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong? When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away. Ag A straight guy gives gay hookup tips to a virgin. What could go wrong? When I first met Whit, I couldn’t get away from him fast enough. He’s a hockey player, and I hate everything to do with the sport that once broke my heart. But I can’t help feeling sorry for the guy. He’s newly out and desperate to meet someone, but his eagerness seems to scare potential hook-ups away. Agreeing to be his wingman should’ve been simple. Watching him flirt with other guys made things complicated. Whit challenges me in every aspect of my life, from my hatred of hockey to the new questions I’m asking myself. Like why a straight man suddenly can’t stop thinking about kissing another guy. I think the answer lies somewhere on Whit’s lips...

30 review for Headstrong

  1. 5 out of 5

    ~✡~Dαni(ela) ♥ ♂♂ love & semi-colons~✡~

    ~4.5~ I loved so many things about this book: - Two buff hockey players (one former, one current) getting it on (muscles and stamina, baby!) - Great chemistry, smoldering sexy times, plus virgin alert! (Rainn's first time with a man and Whit's first time period. It's not that Whit is saving himself; his runaway mouth just gets the best of him sometimes.) - A slow(ish) burn (Rainn isn't sure where he fits on the LGBQT spectrum but wants to explore with Whit and is never ashamed of having a boyfriend. ~4.5~ I loved so many things about this book: - Two buff hockey players (one former, one current) getting it on (muscles and stamina, baby!) - Great chemistry, smoldering sexy times, plus virgin alert! (Rainn's first time with a man and Whit's first time period. It's not that Whit is saving himself; his runaway mouth just gets the best of him sometimes.) - A slow(ish) burn (Rainn isn't sure where he fits on the LGBQT spectrum but wants to explore with Whit and is never ashamed of having a boyfriend.) - Fake wingman situation (Let's face it; Rainn always wanted Whit for himself.) - Well-sketched secondary characters (I loved Whit's close-knit, supportive family.) - No melodrama (The men do have a fairly major argument toward the end, but it was a necessary one, I think, and they both handled it like adults.) - HEA (read the bonus epilogue!) - Cow named Sidney (because Rainn is not farmer material) - Humor, banter, and all the feels (regret, anger, acceptance, love) Highly recommended; can be read as a standalone outside the Vino & Veritas series.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Anna *Bran. San. Stan*

    4.25 stars. What a cute and heart-warming MM love story! I love Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series and Bowen’s True North series is also fun so I was really excited for this one. It did not disappoint. For one thing, I found it refreshing that coming out was not a relationship obstacle here: Whit has recently come out and is comfortable with it. I cannot speak as to how realistic it is for someone (Rainn) in his late twenties realizing he his bi and I don’t really care (sorry?). Whit and Rainn were 4.25 stars. What a cute and heart-warming MM love story! I love Finley’s Fake Boyfriend series and Bowen’s True North series is also fun so I was really excited for this one. It did not disappoint. For one thing, I found it refreshing that coming out was not a relationship obstacle here: Whit has recently come out and is comfortable with it. I cannot speak as to how realistic it is for someone (Rainn) in his late twenties realizing he his bi and I don’t really care (sorry?). Whit and Rainn were just two adorable characters and I loved reading about their story that thankfully did not include any unnecessary drama. I’m left to wonder if the author gave Leighton Whitaker his nickname Whit solely for the purpose of making a joke: in the throes of passion, Rainn calls out “Fuck, Whit!” and it had me and Whit himself cracking up. A definite recommendation! Note: You do not have to read any of the True North books; Headstrong can absolutely be read as a standalone.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    NOW LIVE! Amazon US * Amazon UK I'm a big fan of Eden Finley but I think Rainn and Whit are officially the cutest couple that she's written. They were so adorable together, both trying to figure out their feelings and what they wanted and I loved it. I really enjoyed how Whit was the out proud gay hockey player and yet it was Rainn the straight, never before thought of a guy, bartender that made Whit more comfortable with himself and his sexuality. It was a fun twist I thought and it had me loving NOW LIVE! Amazon US * Amazon UK I'm a big fan of Eden Finley but I think Rainn and Whit are officially the cutest couple that she's written. They were so adorable together, both trying to figure out their feelings and what they wanted and I loved it. I really enjoyed how Whit was the out proud gay hockey player and yet it was Rainn the straight, never before thought of a guy, bartender that made Whit more comfortable with himself and his sexuality. It was a fun twist I thought and it had me loving the characters even harder. Especially at some very hot teachable moments that they had together. There was a good mix of the cute moments with the heated ones and they all had me captivated and made this a super fun read. I can't wait to read more of the Vino & Veritas series now and discover some new-to-me authors. ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Cadiva

    Another hit in the Vino and Veritas line from the expanded World of True North. I really loved this, it's essentially the grumpy one falling for the sunshine one with a sports romance twist coupled with a bisexual awakening narrative and it absolutely worked for me. Rainn was set to be an NHL superstar until a second injury proved career ending shortly after leaving college. Now, a few years later, he's working at V&V and has pushed all thoughts of his future into the deepest corners of his mind. T Another hit in the Vino and Veritas line from the expanded World of True North. I really loved this, it's essentially the grumpy one falling for the sunshine one with a sports romance twist coupled with a bisexual awakening narrative and it absolutely worked for me. Rainn was set to be an NHL superstar until a second injury proved career ending shortly after leaving college. Now, a few years later, he's working at V&V and has pushed all thoughts of his future into the deepest corners of his mind. That is until he finds himself getting tangled up in a friendship with newly out baby gay virgin college student Whit, who's studying hard so he can graduate and help with diversification at his family farm while playing ice hockey on the side. Reading this book was a delight, it's funny, has moments of introspection but also lots of celebration too and I felt wholly committed to seeing Rainn go through a dawning awareness that he was attracted to Whit. The way their relationship's physical development was tackled too really made sense to me, they explored together, there wasn't any straight on into full blown penetrative sex, it was a slow build up of intimacy and experimentation. This made it all the more emotionally connected and very charged! Tensions also arose organically too, there isn't a dramady moment just chucked in to give them a falling out crisis. What occurs makes perfect sense and, thankfully, there's no sulking, just a very quick realisation they need to talk and sort things out. Everything about it just worked for me and the Epilogue and Bonus Chapter (which you can get once the book is live via an email sign up) were fabulous! #ARC kindly received from the publishers Hearts Eyes Press in return for an honest and unbiased review

  5. 5 out of 5

    ✰ Bianca ✰ BJ's Book Blog ✰

    Rainn + Whit 26 year old Rainn used to be a famous college Hockey player here in Burlington. But after one too many surgeries no NHL team wanted anything to do with him. His dream died. And his life kinda did too. He’s now working at Vino & Veritas in both the bookstore and the bar. Enter Whit. He’s four years younger and currently the star on the local Hockey team. But it's not his dream to be a hockey pro. He can't wait to be done with college to go work on the family farm with his brother. He's Rainn + Whit 26 year old Rainn used to be a famous college Hockey player here in Burlington. But after one too many surgeries no NHL team wanted anything to do with him. His dream died. And his life kinda did too. He’s now working at Vino & Veritas in both the bookstore and the bar. Enter Whit. He’s four years younger and currently the star on the local Hockey team. But it's not his dream to be a hockey pro. He can't wait to be done with college to go work on the family farm with his brother. He's very new in the gay world and ready to get laid for the first time. And he's also very attracted to straight Rainn. Who appoints himself as his wingman, so that the poor boy can finally lose his V-card. It doesn’t take long for the straight guy to have some weird feelings for the gay guy. LOL! LET THE FUN TIMES BEGIN! ☺ ══════════════════ Adorable! So funny and cute and colleg-y and hockey-y and farm-y. I loved reading this. Poor Whit is trying so hard to start his best gay life. And Rain is trying to help. But of course we know it’s all in vain, because we know they’ll fall for each other. Just adorable. I loved watching them trying to not be attracted to each other. So funny and cute and ugh… I just adored those two. Of course it’s not all cute and sparky and sexy. They both – but especially Rainn – have a lot of stuff to figure out still. Future. Job. Dreams. Hopes. Love. Adorable Romance! Great supporting cast too - the family, friends et cetera. Like I always say when it comes to books in the Ture North Wolrd: I could read these kinds of books every day for the rest of eternity! And I also wouldn't mind seeing this whole world on Netflix one day! Can't wait to get more Vermont soon! HEADSTRONG was such an adorable + funny hockey-y + farm-y + bar-y M/M romance!!! I loved reading it! Run to your nearest amazon for your own Whit & Rainn- they'll be sold out in no time! 💜 💜

  6. 5 out of 5

    ItaPixie

    Headstrong was a very enjoyable read and I devoured it. Rainn Richardson is a bartender at Vino and a bookstore clerk at Veritas, he doesn’t have a plan for the future, because a bad injury destroyed his dream of becoming an NHL player. He despises everything hockey related, so when he meets Leighton Whitaker, a hockey player for the Moo U team, he tries to stay away from him but it isn’t too easy. A night Rainn sees Whit at the bar trying to flirt with some guys with poor results, and he accep Headstrong was a very enjoyable read and I devoured it. Rainn Richardson is a bartender at Vino and a bookstore clerk at Veritas, he doesn’t have a plan for the future, because a bad injury destroyed his dream of becoming an NHL player. He despises everything hockey related, so when he meets Leighton Whitaker, a hockey player for the Moo U team, he tries to stay away from him but it isn’t too easy. A night Rainn sees Whit at the bar trying to flirt with some guys with poor results, and he accepts to help him to lose his virginity becoming his wingman. But soon enough Whit’s crush on Rainn and Rainn jealousy puts a break to the plan. Will their story end with a heartbreak or an happily ever after? I really liked the main characters, at the beginning it seems like they are too different to even be friends. Rainn is grumpy and pessimistic and Whit is lively and bubbly, they are destined to stay away from each other but I liked to see how Whit little by little gets through Rainn hostility conquering his friendship first and something more later. I’m so glad that Whit crushing on a straight man doesn’t end with a heartbreak. I absolutely liked how they explore sex for the first time together, they were hot and funny to read. My favourite character is Whit, his resolve, he is sure of what he wants to do in his life, even if he is still pretty young he knows what his future looks like and he somehow menage to also shake Rainn out of his torpor. I think the author did a good job with this plot, I appreciated how Rainn doesn’t take the novelty of being bisexual as a big epiphany but his change is more like a path. The epilogue was so cute I wished there was more to read about these characters. Copy kindly provided by the Publisher/Author.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Halle Reads

    Whit is too adorable for words 😍💕 loved this book & couple. Such a quick and easy read and that little CU cameo was just all kinds of special.

  8. 5 out of 5

    ❧A Bookish Berkeley Girl❧

    Be My Wingman 4.5 Stars. - This was a truly sweet hockey romance. I ADORED this read!I loved the unfolding of this love story. It for me is one I wouldn’t mind reading over and over again. The story in itself isn’t fresh, but the was]y it told, sort of is. I adored it. And, I loved when they first met. It was ADORDokable. I would have loved for a tighter ending. But, I won’t lie, i]the ending was still cute. I love that these books are in the same settings, but, they are true stand alone book(s). E Be My Wingman 4.5 Stars. - This was a truly sweet hockey romance. I ADORED this read!I loved the unfolding of this love story. It for me is one I wouldn’t mind reading over and over again. The story in itself isn’t fresh, but the was]y it told, sort of is. I adored it. And, I loved when they first met. It was ADORDokable. I would have loved for a tighter ending. But, I won’t lie, i]the ending was still cute. I love that these books are in the same settings, but, they are true stand alone book(s). Each story has its own charm. My ratings so far✨🍃 Book 1 = 3 Stars⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book 2 =5 Stars ⭐️ ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Book 3 =4 1/2 Stars.⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

  9. 5 out of 5

    haletostilinski

    Lovely story from Eden Finley, set in the CU universe - we even see Beck and Jacobs for a hot second near the end. I don't know when I'll be able to get to write a review of this, but hopefully soon. Full RTC.... ~*~ I really enjoyed this one. Rainn is a 26 year old who, 4 years prior, had all his dreams taken away from him because of injury. He was a hockey star and NHL bound, but not one, but two tears to his ACL made teams to weary of signing him, and that was that. For the apst 4 years Rainn has Lovely story from Eden Finley, set in the CU universe - we even see Beck and Jacobs for a hot second near the end. I don't know when I'll be able to get to write a review of this, but hopefully soon. Full RTC.... ~*~ I really enjoyed this one. Rainn is a 26 year old who, 4 years prior, had all his dreams taken away from him because of injury. He was a hockey star and NHL bound, but not one, but two tears to his ACL made teams to weary of signing him, and that was that. For the apst 4 years Rainn has been heartbroken over it, and angry and bitter. In present day he works at Vino & Veritas, a bookstore with a queer friendly bar next door, owned by the same guy. When he meets Whit, it's in the bookstore, and there's something between them right away, although for Rainn he doesn't think much of it because he believes he's straight. And when he learns that Whit is on the local university hockey team, he doesn't want to see him again because he has such an aversion to all things hockey now. But soon he can't help but strike up a friendship with Whit when he comes to the V & V bar and Whit is hopelessly trying to find someone to have his first time with, after having come out somewhat recently as gay, and is failing over and over again. Eventually they strike up a "deal" of sorts in which Rainn will be Whit's straight wingman to help him get laid for the first time. But the more time that goes by, the more they just end up spending time together and hanging out every weekend, and Whit realizes that he isn't built for casual and also may have a totally big crush on Rainn. And eventually Rainn starts to have feelings too. I liked their chemistry and their romance progressed in a believable and interesting way. By the time they got to being together as more than friends, I felt the connection, the romance, the feelings between them. The problems that they later faced also felt natural and believable as well. These two complimented each other well. Whit's light and happiness to Rainn's surliness but grounded nature. Definitely a win for me, and also can definitely be read as a standalone. I haven't read the first two books in this series and I didn't miss one thing. The previous couples/MC's barely even showed up in this one. So if you're interesting in just reading this one, like I was, then definitely go for it. I definitely recommend this, two thumbs up from me!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Bookgasms Book Blog

    This book was 100% my favorite brand of catnip. AHHHH! It was so good! I got so lost in it – my heart flipping and fluttering and aching for Rainn and Whit to get out of their own way and fall in love with each other already! Their chemistry was the perfect blend of heartfelt, sparky, and playfully flirty. I am powerless against that particular combination, and Headstrong was no exception. These two were so much fun to read. I adored Whit in a way that I don’t even think I can put into words. He This book was 100% my favorite brand of catnip. AHHHH! It was so good! I got so lost in it – my heart flipping and fluttering and aching for Rainn and Whit to get out of their own way and fall in love with each other already! Their chemistry was the perfect blend of heartfelt, sparky, and playfully flirty. I am powerless against that particular combination, and Headstrong was no exception. These two were so much fun to read. I adored Whit in a way that I don’t even think I can put into words. He was so perfectly lovable. So wonderfully awkward. So refreshingly earnest while also being self-aware enough to know when he was being a little extra. He was witty and smart – both intellectually and emotionally. I just freaking loved him so much, I don’t know what to do with all these feelings. I also adored Rainn. I mean, if there’s one thing consistent about me, it’s that I cannot resist a grumpy hero with a heart of gold. Watching Rainn brought to his knees by his devotion to Whit? Priceless. Addictive. So freaking satisfying. I love the care he took with Whit. I loved the grace and dignity with which he handled his own awakening. I just, really really loved him. So much. So, the two together? Ungh. I literally could not get enough of them. They were adorable and sexy (so, so sexy). They made me smile so big. They made my pulse race and my tummy flutter and my heart do that delicious bubbly thing that feels so much like falling in love. I am ridiculously picky about M/M books, but for me? This was perfection. I’m new to Eden Finley’s writing, but I think it’s safe to say that I want so much more where this came from. Headstrong had me by the heart from the adorably awkward meet-cute to the adorably hilarious epilogue, and every emotionally charged minute in between. I wish I could go back and read it again for the first time. ~ Shelly, 5 Stars

  11. 4 out of 5

    Angelika

    #new adult #M/M #dual-pov #standalone-in-a-series Even though Headstrong is the 3rd in Vino and Veritas (inclusive bookstore/wine bar) series (setting in the True North world), it can be read as a stand-alone. ✔ enjoyable, easy to read book ✔ a coming-of-age, finally-finding-your-path, friends-to-lovers story ✔ started off as a slow burn but picked up towards the middle ✔ an openly gay, but a virgin, sunshine farmer-to-be & a straight, pessimist bartender ✔ funny rambling and witty banter ✔ #new adult #M/M #dual-pov #standalone-in-a-series Even though Headstrong is the 3rd in Vino and Veritas (inclusive bookstore/wine bar) series (setting in the True North world), it can be read as a stand-alone. ✔ enjoyable, easy to read book ✔ a coming-of-age, finally-finding-your-path, friends-to-lovers story ✔ started off as a slow burn but picked up towards the middle ✔ an openly gay, but a virgin, sunshine farmer-to-be & a straight, pessimist bartender ✔ funny rambling and witty banter ✔ awkward dates ✔ accidental cuddling ✔ sweet and passionate kisses ✔ just the right amount of angst ✚ an adorable baby bull as a pet & that Shipley Cider which tastes like sex :O ✘ I wanted a bit more affection (yeah, I'm this insatiable) ✘ For me, it was surprising how quickly Rainn's sexuality was resolved One of my favorite LOL moments: “... I’ll help you in your quest to lose your virginity.” Whit blinks at me. Then I replay my words in my head. “By finding you a guy. Not personally. Geez.” “Damn. Still straight, then?” He smirks. “Last time I checked.” “Need a hand checking again? Because I volunteer as tribute.” ❤ Rainn Richardson (26) & Leighton Whitaker (22) ➤ Burlington (Vermont, USA)

  12. 4 out of 5

    .Lili.

    ⚫ Bisexual awakening ⚫ First times ⚫ Friends to lovers ⚫ Hurt/Comfort/Healing ⚫ Opposites attract ⚫ Chemistry ⚫ Wonderful epilogue Headstrong by Eden Finley was precisely what I was in the mood for; a heartwarming love story. Whit's loveable awkward personality and Rainn's gruff demeanor pulled me in from the first page. Highly recommend it. 5 Stars ⚫ Bisexual awakening ⚫ First times ⚫ Friends to lovers ⚫ Hurt/Comfort/Healing ⚫ Opposites attract ⚫ Chemistry ⚫ Wonderful epilogue Headstrong by Eden Finley was precisely what I was in the mood for; a heartwarming love story. Whit's loveable awkward personality and Rainn's gruff demeanor pulled me in from the first page. Highly recommend it. 5 Stars

  13. 5 out of 5

    Shannon

    One of my favorite tropes in the m/m genre is bi-awakening, also commonly known as gay for you. I love the thought of a person finding love with someone they never expected, no matter the gender. Headstrong has now been added to my favorite books in this genre, I loved it so much! Whit and Riann strike a deal for Rainn to be Whit’s wingman, in his quest to lose his virginity. And that my friends, is how the fun began. And when I say this book was fun, I mean it! Not to say it was all laughs and l One of my favorite tropes in the m/m genre is bi-awakening, also commonly known as gay for you. I love the thought of a person finding love with someone they never expected, no matter the gender. Headstrong has now been added to my favorite books in this genre, I loved it so much! Whit and Riann strike a deal for Rainn to be Whit’s wingman, in his quest to lose his virginity. And that my friends, is how the fun began. And when I say this book was fun, I mean it! Not to say it was all laughs and light-heartedness, because Rainn was dealing with something big, as he came to terms with his feelings for Whit. I really liked how well balanced this story was, between Whit and his antics, Rainn and his questioning, and the relationship that was building between them. Whit is the most precious, sweetest, and downright delightful character I’ve read in a long time, I adored him! He is absolutely darling. I loved that he knew what he wanted and just went for it. Whit’s the sunshine to Rainn’s grumpy. I really enjoyed Rainn’s journey throughout the book, he came a long way from the person he was in the beginning of the story. I loved the dynamic between White and Rainn, the back and forth and the easy banter. I loved how willing Riann was to help Whit with his mission. And I loved how Whit was able to help Rainn get out of his own head. These two together, pretty close to perfection! Headstrong is an utterly charming and addictive read. It’s one I’m sure I’ll be finding my way back to again, and again. If Whit doesn’t steal your heart I dare say you don’t have one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Claudia Fosca Stahl

    I really loved Headstrong. It’s the third book in the Vino and Veritas series but it sort of unofficially intersects with the Moo U hockey series. It is a wonderful book and a great addition to Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. I think the premise of this book is pure gold. Whit—a recently out gay hockey player—is determined to lose his virginity before graduating from college, so he goes to Vino and Veritas to get some action. There he finds Rainn, the straight bartender and ex Moo U hockey su I really loved Headstrong. It’s the third book in the Vino and Veritas series but it sort of unofficially intersects with the Moo U hockey series. It is a wonderful book and a great addition to Sarina Bowen’s World of True North. I think the premise of this book is pure gold. Whit—a recently out gay hockey player—is determined to lose his virginity before graduating from college, so he goes to Vino and Veritas to get some action. There he finds Rainn, the straight bartender and ex Moo U hockey superstar who reluctantly agrees to help him. The problem is that Whit develops an inconvenient crush for Rainn, and Rainn starts having feelings for Whit that make him question his identity. Whit is adorable. He’s hilarious and sweet and he just can’t stop talking. He’s an excellent hockey player and a farmer at heart. He is charming in his own way, and a bit clueless. He’s really, really irresistible. Rainn is a grump with a heart of gold. He was a college hockey superstar with NHL dreams that got squashed by a career ending injury. He hasn’t recovered from the devastating loss, so he now hates everything hockey related and is just going through the motions. I really enjoyed watching them become friends. It’s so entertaining. Whit’s awkward charm starts to weaken Rainn’s walls until they become friends. But as Whit’s attraction to Rainn starts to become an issue, Rainn starts to develop feelings for him that go beyond friendship, and that realization makes Rainn start to consider the possibility that he’s not as straight as he always thought he was. I really liked the progression of their relationship. It doesn’t feel rushed or forced, it flows naturally. It’s like a double journey of self discovery. And I loved the fact that it’s lighthearted and filled with humor, but there’s also depth to the conflict they are both facing. And the chemistry between them is explosive. There’s longing, anticipation and so much steam. It’s really an outstanding story and very well done. Headstrong is a standalone and can be read without any prior knowledge of either the World of True North or the Vino and Veritas series. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys MM romance. It is a delight.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Good grief I loved this book. It's just catnip. An absolute joy. I loved reading Rainn discovering who he is and Whit's own adventures into losing his virginity--with the straight guy. So. Much. Fun. Good grief I loved this book. It's just catnip. An absolute joy. I loved reading Rainn discovering who he is and Whit's own adventures into losing his virginity--with the straight guy. So. Much. Fun.

  16. 4 out of 5

    maggieandteddy

    First time reading a book by this author. I've enjoyed the Vermont True North world. I really do feel like I'm been to Vermont after reading Sarina Bowen's books. This book is no different. I loved this opposites attract m/m romance. Rainn is about 4 years older than Whit. Rainn is a little on the gruff, but soft on the inside kind of guy. He was a form college hockey star who was injured and quit the sport. Whit is happy good luck, looks at the bright side. He has a supportive family. He grew u First time reading a book by this author. I've enjoyed the Vermont True North world. I really do feel like I'm been to Vermont after reading Sarina Bowen's books. This book is no different. I loved this opposites attract m/m romance. Rainn is about 4 years older than Whit. Rainn is a little on the gruff, but soft on the inside kind of guy. He was a form college hockey star who was injured and quit the sport. Whit is happy good luck, looks at the bright side. He has a supportive family. He grew up on a dairy farm.. He still lives at home while he finishes up his las semester of college. Rainn works at Vino & Veritas- in the bookstore side. He needs to get more work time to earn enough to repair his old car-or get a new one. Rainn and Whit meet when Rainn stars working at the bar side of V&V. I love the build up in their friendship. Rainn grows more and more attracted Whit. And I do too. Whit is such a cutie. He talks. A lot. And his funny, Rainn appreciates that. Rainn has only been with women. He never thought of himself as gay or bi. Whit looks up to Rainn, but I think that Whit is the one that has a direction in his life. He knows what he wants to do. Rainn feels bad about himself and never wants to think about his lost hockey career opportunity. 4.5 stars. This can be a standalone! Rainn's family was glossed over a little. Whit's family is very supportive of him. There was a little slow down in the middle, but I really wanted to read how they would make it work. Or would they? Did they each get what they want? I especially liked how Rainn took active steps and grew in confidence. Whit didn't judge but he encouraged Rainn.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Kandace Denys (bookish_kayy)

    A gay guy walks into a bar.... Ok, so I don’t know the punchline, but what I do know is that this book is seriously good. You know I never joke about a good book. This one hit all the points for me, and I’m already picturing my reread. It’s going to be soon, just in case you were wondering. I adore this universe, and the characters bring me such a home feeling that I can’t help but fall in love with them all.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Carol (bookish_notes)

    I have really mixed feelings about this one. It’s interesting because I wasn’t going to read Eden Finley again after being very....shall we say disappointed...with the Fake Boyfriends series, but I decided on giving this book a chance. It wasn’t bad? Like, everything I had a problem with from the characters kinda worked itself out in the end? But it took WAY too long to resolve and these issues came across as super biphobic and acephobic and weren’t addressed immediately. And of course if you’ve I have really mixed feelings about this one. It’s interesting because I wasn’t going to read Eden Finley again after being very....shall we say disappointed...with the Fake Boyfriends series, but I decided on giving this book a chance. It wasn’t bad? Like, everything I had a problem with from the characters kinda worked itself out in the end? But it took WAY too long to resolve and these issues came across as super biphobic and acephobic and weren’t addressed immediately. And of course if you’ve been following my reviews for the Vino & Veritas series, I still had a LOT of issues with continuity between the books. But I think I found out the source of the problem as to why there’s been so many continuity and inconsistencies between the books, which I’ll address later in this review. Trigger warnings include biphobia and acephobia. This book starts with Rainn Richardson. 26-year-old ex-hockey player who was destined for the big leagues with the NHL. But due to injuries that kept him from his dream, he’s now a bookstore worker and as a bartender in Burlington, Vermont. He hates hockey now and also thinks he’s very, very straight. This is, until a Moo U hockey player walks into his life. Whit is a senior at the local college, a college known to folks as Moo U. He’s a local with a farming family he’s really close with. He’s newly out and proudly gay, and really, really set on losing his virginity before his 22nd birthday that’s only weeks away. Off the bat, I was not a fan of the GFY aspect of this book? I just don’t like reading GFY books and I naively thought this was a concept left to m/m books past. Along the way, Rainn believes himself to just be falling in love with his new friend who has somehow wormed into his life, and the GFY bit is aggressively GFY and comes across as extremely biphobic. It’s just ironic coming off of reading Garrett Leigh’s book in this series, because that book is extremely bi positive! It’s also weird how this book is like, ~doesn’t queer places that are all-inclusive mean straight people too??~ And that sentiment comes up TWICE and it really weirds me out? Like, can we stop making it about the straight people when the bookstore and wine bar are supposed to be queer safe spaces? This book also takes great lengths to point out Rainn doesn’t want to say the wrong thing to queer folks while working at V&V, so he reads all he can from gay romances but it makes me wonder if it’s just m/m or if he reads other queer romance books. It’s not like this series has said anything about including trans or non-binary characters in an ~18 book series, so. How inclusive are we talking here. I’ll say Rainn comes to embracing being bi later in the book, but it definitely feels like a too little, too late for the story after all the stuff the reader has to endure before the character gets that revelation. Personally, I think the character comes across as maybe demisexual towards Whit? But that’s not what happens here. Yes, Rainn works at an all-inclusive bookstore and wine bar, and this story makes it a point to show Rainn being open and reading queer books, but there was a lot of gross moments along the way that will turn readers off from finishing or even starting this book. Then there’s the virgin aspect of this story and it’s a messy one. Whit is so set on having sex by the time he’s 22 and both him and Rainn both agree multiple times throughout the start of this book that it’s just ~so ridiculous~ he’s never kissed anyone or has never had sex before and Whit is 21. This seems extremely acephobic to me? This does get a TALK and does get addressed later in the book about societal expectations and all that, and everyone gets to do things at their own pace, but again. It comes too late into the book and I know readers would feel better DNF’ing this book long before this gets addressed. I know I would’ve. OTHER THAN ALL THAT...the book does have its funny moments between the characters where the jokes are just really funny. The penguin jokes are just *chef’s kiss* However, I do wish there was more hockey than it just being a thing in the background. I wonder too if Whit shows up in the Moo U books at all but all of those books seem to be all straight m/f so I don’t know if I want to read all those books to find out whether he shows up or not. We’ve now had two books about the wine bar in this V&V series and there’s really not enough mention of the bookstore side of things for me. WHICH LEADS ME TO...you guessed it. The continuity, or lack thereof. I mean, it’s embarrassing at this point how inconsistent these books are, and in this case, the timeline. Rainn is regularly mentioned in Heartscape as a bartender, and had a brief mention of being a bookseller in Featherbed. BUT. The events of Heartscape happen sometime in the fall through Christmas? We know the events of Headstrong happen after the New Year (because counting seven weeks back from Whit’s birthday in March/April is after the New Year) and Tanner and Jax are already together in this book. BUT GUESS WHAT. Apparently Rainn doesn’t have his bartending job until THIS book? The events in the beginning don’t fit the timeline at all. I mean, what the hell. As far as I can tell, there’s also no mention of the upcoming characters in book 4 by Eliot Grayson in any of the first 3 books??? So are we setting up future characters or no? But the book by L.A. Witt gets introduced in this one. The MCs for L.A. Witt’s book show up here as a married singer at the wine bar and an ex-NHL player who stops by the wine bar in the epilogue. The most baffling thing really is that there’s a MC (Gabe) in Eliot Grayson’s book that shares the name of the MC’s brother (Gabriel) in Garrett Leigh’s book and that brother also has a yoga connection?? I know they’re not the same character since Gabriel in Heartscape is with Eve and is so not who someone would describe as a twink. I think I found out why there’s so many embarrassing inconsistencies between the books and it’s because there’s really no one overseeing the books to the detail they should be? And like? It’s not even ON any of the authors because someone needs to have a freaking series bible and doing some heavy coordination to make these books work. And that’s not happening. I saw that on Sarina Bowen’s blog that there’s someone overseeing the outlines of the books and helping provide insight to help them along, but nobody is READING all the manuscripts and providing the necessary inputs to make them cohesive before publication? Like, these ARCs are going out barely one month from publication for review and I just don’t think anyone’s really anticipating doing the major changes needed to tie these books together. I’ll get off my soapbox, but I am disappointed that so many World of True North books are coming out at the same time and these authors are writing books and not getting the attention from the team like they should be getting to make these series lines the BEST they can be. This seems like a half ass attempt to throw as many books out on Kindle Unlimited as possible in an extremely short amount of time (3 book series line out of 4 are starting on KU??) and nobody is giving these authors the due diligence they deserve. I mean, even the link for the additional story at the end doesn’t spell Rainn’s name correctly?? How embarrassing. OKAY, OKAY. I’M DONE. While this book has major problems connecting with the other books in this series, this apparently has a few shoutouts and Easter eggs for the author’s CU Hockey series. I guess I am kind of interested in that series now?? This book even has a very, very brief mention of a character from the True North books (specifically, Heartland). But you know what? It’s more than what other books have been doing so that was kind of cool. There were some other hockey names thrown around and I’m actually not sure if they show up in other books, but I got tired hunting down the connections. I liked this book well enough by the end. At least from a standalone perspective? I ultimately found Rainn and Whit likeable after all the problematic issues got addressed. But it was just a long, LONG road to get there. I did like this more than the previous books by the author I read, so that’s a plus I guess. There’s a lot more sex than I was expecting, which I wasn’t a huge fan of, since I wish there was more hockey playtime and just, you know, HOCKEY in the books but it’s more of a background thing here unfortunately (even though there are a lot of hockey terms that you’re just expected to know for some reason). Whit is in his senior year and it’s all just a mention that the season is over? No playoffs or titles or just, you know, the feeling that hockey is over for him now? I know the farm is his life but that was weird. I’m going to be continuing the series on KU instead of doing ARCs for review since there’s going to be quite a few books? In Vino & Veritas, there’s going to be 18 and all within 6 months if Goodreads is anything to go by at the moment, and I just want to read at my own pace. I don’t think this expanded shared world works with these World of True North books. It’s too messy with what feels like too little oversight, and it’s already undoing me a bit after reading these first 3 back-to-back. ***Thanks to the Heart Eyes Press for approving me for this ARC for review***

  19. 4 out of 5

    Marley Valentine

    Coming in strong with the witty banter and sarcasm, Headstrong is another brilliant addition to Eden Finley’s ever growing and addictive book catalogue. Whit and Rainn’s story has all the ingredients for a perfect love story. Headstrong is heat, humour and heart at its finest, and I absolutely loved it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Amy Dickinson

    Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Psssttt...I have a secret. Thus far, there have been three books released into the romancelandia wild for Vino & Veritas in the World of True North. And of the three newest books, my favorite to date is Eden Finley’s Headstrong. There are a couple of reasons for my love of this book. For one, I am a sucker for a grumpy hero, one who lives with a little cloud above his head. And I’m also a sucker for a sunshiny hero who brightens the life of the grumpy hero. What happens Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Psssttt...I have a secret. Thus far, there have been three books released into the romancelandia wild for Vino & Veritas in the World of True North. And of the three newest books, my favorite to date is Eden Finley’s Headstrong. There are a couple of reasons for my love of this book. For one, I am a sucker for a grumpy hero, one who lives with a little cloud above his head. And I’m also a sucker for a sunshiny hero who brightens the life of the grumpy hero. What happens is...as the seriousness of the story progresses, the sunshine of one hero creates moments of hilarity and ease in contrast to the tension of their love affair. This happens over and over again in Finley’s Headstrong. Secondly, I’m intrigued with the choices of Finley to take a “straight” hero and challenge his “straightness” as we find with Rainn, the $exy bartender of Vino & Veritas. What this does is open a discussion about attraction and $exuality. While one might roll their eyes at Finley’s suggestion that a man who identifies as gay could end up with a formerly heterosexually-identified male, it allows the reader to consider the spectrum of attraction, the idea that a person can be connected to another person regardless of one’s $exual identification. I love the slipperiness of this idea in Headstrong. Even more, beyond discussions about $exuality, Finley highlights the challenges behind future dreams. With Whit, we see a man whose dream is being fulfilled, even though there is the potential for a different dream. With Rainn, we find a man who has lost his dream to injury, and he’s allowed himself to wallow in the loss of the dream instead of reimagining a new one. There is a message here about the need for flexibility and acceptance that feels necessary for our world. As we learn to live in a post-pandemic world, it feels right to remember that we can find new dreams even if our old dreams were derailed. Headstrong asks you to consider this. Eden Finley’s Headstrong will steam your glasses and challenge your mind. It will make you laugh, and it might bring you to tears. But in the end, the journey of its pages will lead you to consider where you are at in your own life. Are you living your dreams or are you stuck waiting for your dreams to come to you?

  21. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueleen ♡

    Oh man did I enjoy my first foray into the Vino and Veritas series and by extension the True North series by Sarina Bowen. Vino and Veritas is a combination bookstore and wine bar and it just so happens to be where ex college hockey star Rainn Richardson is working nowadays. Rainn had dreams, big ones, which unfortunately blew up in his face after a career ending injury. Now Rainn spends his days working to make ends meet and absolutely, positively, not making any plans for the future. According Oh man did I enjoy my first foray into the Vino and Veritas series and by extension the True North series by Sarina Bowen. Vino and Veritas is a combination bookstore and wine bar and it just so happens to be where ex college hockey star Rainn Richardson is working nowadays. Rainn had dreams, big ones, which unfortunately blew up in his face after a career ending injury. Now Rainn spends his days working to make ends meet and absolutely, positively, not making any plans for the future. According to Rainn making plans just leads to disappointment and he's had enough for ten lifetimes. If I had to sum up Rainns life at the beginning of the book I would say he was basically just existing rather than living. Enter Whit. My lord that boy is precious. He's the current hockey star at Rainns old college and he's also freshly out of his closet doors. He also has some big plans for himself, but ironically none of his include hockey. Whit plans to take over working at his families dairy farm once he graduates with his degree in a few months. As a family man, it's all Whit has ever wanted...well except for one thing: to lose his pesky virginity. Or you know do anything with another man at all. If only Whit could stop word vomiting all over every man who approaches him in the bar when he finally ventures out to try and work on his hookup plans. Like I said before, precious. "He's like a train wreck. I don't want to see it, but I can't look away." As the bartender Rainn is privy to all of Whit's inevitable failures in procuring a man to hookup for the night. In a rare display of something Rainn agrees to be Whit's wingman, even though he himself identifies as straight and has no idea about gay hookups besides what he's witnessed in the bar. It was actually quite humorous seeing the two of them meeting up at the bar week after week and then only going home with each other. How Rainn didn't clue in sooner to Whit's crush I'll never know. However, what he did clue into pretty early on is what an amazing person Whit is and how much he is coming to value his friendship. "Your first love is supposed to be your first heartbreak. That's the way life works. He's not supposed to be the perfect guy-- the one who was made to be yours." Friendships leading to love is definitely the cornerstone for a great HEA and this book absolutely provided one. It wasn't easy, both of these boys could be described by the title of this book to a T, but it was a great ride watching them get there. It included the banter Finley is known for in many of her books and even a cameo from some CU boys! I highly recommend this one for fans of her writing. ** A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest and unbiased review **

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Bookaholic

    Whit is a senior at Moo U, a hockey player, and he came out to his friends and family a few months ago. Now he's looking to find someone to help burn up his sheets only problem is he doesn't know how to flirt, like at all. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry over his situation because the more desperate he became the worse he was at meeting someone. Rainn works at the Vino & Veritas bookstore and occasionally bartends at the Wine Bar part of V&V. He enjoys working at the all inclusive Wine Bar, Whit is a senior at Moo U, a hockey player, and he came out to his friends and family a few months ago. Now he's looking to find someone to help burn up his sheets only problem is he doesn't know how to flirt, like at all. I didn't know whether to laugh or cry over his situation because the more desperate he became the worse he was at meeting someone. Rainn works at the Vino & Veritas bookstore and occasionally bartends at the Wine Bar part of V&V. He enjoys working at the all inclusive Wine Bar, even if he is straight..hey all inclusive means all inclusive, right? What he doesn't like is hockey players but for some reason when he sees Whit striking out over and over he agrees to be his wingman. I really enjoyed the way Whit and Rainn became friends while Rainn was trying to help Whit find someone he thought he'd be happy with. What I enjoyed even more was watching Rainn discover his feelings towards Whit and come to terms with a lot of things that were going on in his life....this book is titled HEADSTRONG for a reason. This story had a lot going on and all questions were answered by the end of the book. I would recommend reading the additional epilogue from the author because it was great! This was my first read by Eden Finley but I am looking forward to reading more of her work. If you enjoy MM Romances, Gay For You Romances, or Friends-to-Lovers Romances I would recommend this book to you. Happy Reading!!! Read an Excerpt here: http://bit.ly/NBReviewH1 **I have voluntarily reviewed an Advanced Readers Copy of this book for my Blog, Nadine's Obsessed with Books** You can find me here:  https://linktr.ee/NadineBookaholic

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sabrina

    There was so much to love about this book. The humor alone was the best. So this book follows Whit and Rainn. Whit is recently out of the closet and is determined to explore his sexuality. The only problem is he is basically a terrible flirt who can't stop talking and ends up scaring any potential hook ups away. Lucky for him his new friend Rainn, the bartender at Vino & Veritas, decides to help him out. Sure, he's straight but watching Whit clumsily navigate his way to meet someone has Rainn de There was so much to love about this book. The humor alone was the best. So this book follows Whit and Rainn. Whit is recently out of the closet and is determined to explore his sexuality. The only problem is he is basically a terrible flirt who can't stop talking and ends up scaring any potential hook ups away. Lucky for him his new friend Rainn, the bartender at Vino & Veritas, decides to help him out. Sure, he's straight but watching Whit clumsily navigate his way to meet someone has Rainn deciding maybe he can help him out. What Rainn doesn't expect is for the genuine friendship to spark between them...or the sudden attraction he feels for Whit. And even though Whit has Rainn's help to meet someone new, he immediately realizes that he can't meet anyone when he is currently crushing on his wingman. Their story was a hoot. Whit is an absolute dork and a delight and genuinely funny. And Rainn is this grouchy guy who finds himself charmed by Whit and realizing that he could actually be falling for Whit the more time they spend together. The story has a lot to offer. Like Whit trying to find someone he can be himself with and balance his hockey life at Moo U and his work life at the farm with his family. Meanwhile, Rainn used to play hockey at Moo U and planned on going pro until he injured his knee. His heart was broken after losing his future and he falls into this hole of being alone and becomes a bit of a pessimist. But meeting Whit changes things for him. He realizes he wasn't happy before and he struggles to figure out who he is and what he wants to do. Overall, loved this book. Like I said the humor was top notch, the characters were great, and the story as a whole had me turning page by page until I got to the end. I couldn't put it down. Loving this series so far and I can't wait for more! I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Cassandra Martin

    4.5 Stars! This book packed such an emotion punch! Not only do we have one virgin hero, but two! These characters brought a lot of emotion, and humor to this books. Whit’s dry humor was a favorite part of the book for me. There was so much self discovery for both Whit and Rainn. It was easy to fall in love with these characters and cheer them on to their HEA. This is book 3 in the Vinos and Veritas series, but for any hockey loving sports romance readers, this one hits strong with that too.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Sarah~ Book Obsession Confessions

    4.5 Stars So, I loved the premise of a gay virgin and a “straight” guy having feelings for each other. For me, it’s the ultimate in romantic fantasy becomes reality for the character. The ultimate romance/love story. Whit is adorable in all his awkwardness. I love his word vomits and fumbling. Especially cute because he’s a hot hockey player/farmer. Rainn is sarcastic and a bit stand offish. He’s lost his dreams and is kind of just going through the motions of living. The two begin an unexpected fri 4.5 Stars So, I loved the premise of a gay virgin and a “straight” guy having feelings for each other. For me, it’s the ultimate in romantic fantasy becomes reality for the character. The ultimate romance/love story. Whit is adorable in all his awkwardness. I love his word vomits and fumbling. Especially cute because he’s a hot hockey player/farmer. Rainn is sarcastic and a bit stand offish. He’s lost his dreams and is kind of just going through the motions of living. The two begin an unexpected friendship that is so fun. I adore them both! It’s a sweet, sexy and original romance. Loved it!!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Miriah

    This was wonderful. Fluffy, but not too sweet, mostly fantastic communication between the two mains, and a gentle humour. Overall, this was a very warm book. There’s so many tropes I love in this book, including bisexual awakening and hockey players. I loved both Rainn and Whit, with the warm chemistry that started with friendship keeping my attention the entire story. I especially loved the humour at the beginning of the book when Rainn and Whit were first meeting and getting to know each other This was wonderful. Fluffy, but not too sweet, mostly fantastic communication between the two mains, and a gentle humour. Overall, this was a very warm book. There’s so many tropes I love in this book, including bisexual awakening and hockey players. I loved both Rainn and Whit, with the warm chemistry that started with friendship keeping my attention the entire story. I especially loved the humour at the beginning of the book when Rainn and Whit were first meeting and getting to know each other. I normally prefer more steam than is present here, but it made sense and fit right in with the story, so I have no complaints. Everything was very well paced. Rainn did such a good job handling all the changes in his life, with enough introspection that I wasn’t wondering how he was feeling about suddenly being bisexual. I especially loved the scene with Whit and Ian at the bar. That felt like the most delicious fan service. Yet again though, that 80% drama knocks off a star for me. While this isn’t the stereotypical breakup here, there is a distinct lack of communication that didn’t fit the characters’ personalities. Overall though, Eden Finley is pretty much always a win for me.

  27. 4 out of 5

    WycEd Reader

    Check out our full post for HEADSTRONG on Wicked Reads, which includes an excerpt. Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team Erica – ☆☆☆☆ HEADSTRONG is the third installment in the Vino & Veritas series. I can attest that it can be read as a standalone with little to no confusion, as that's exactly what I did. However, I am intrigued enough to seek out the others in the series next. Rainn is stumbling through life with no direction since his Plan A fell through and he had no backup plan to cushion t Check out our full post for HEADSTRONG on Wicked Reads, which includes an excerpt. Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team Erica – ☆☆☆☆ HEADSTRONG is the third installment in the Vino & Veritas series. I can attest that it can be read as a standalone with little to no confusion, as that's exactly what I did. However, I am intrigued enough to seek out the others in the series next. Rainn is stumbling through life with no direction since his Plan A fell through and he had no backup plan to cushion the blow. Working at Vino & Veritas, living in a cramped apartment that eats up all of his earnings, and saying goodbye to a rust bucket that drains whatever funds were leftover. Rainn is lost. Grumpy and gruff, Rainn has closed himself off to everyone from his past, friends and family alike, because to see them only brings up the ghost of his fallen dreams. Juxtaposed to Rainn, Whit knows exactly what he wants out of life, understanding and accepting that his future is set in stone, finding comfort and love in the familiarity. Easy-going, sweet. Innocent. Focused on family, farming, education, and hockey, Whit placed romance on the backburner. Now approaching graduation and his 22nd birthday, Whit feels as if being this innocent is a mark of immaturity and childhood, wishing to grow up in all ways. An unlikely friendship sparks into an undeniable connection, crossing sexual boundaries. With a slow-burn, friends-to-lovers vibe, low on angst and drama. Rainn and Whit bring the best out in one another. HEADSTRONG was a delightful afternoon read, a quick escape for a few hours to cast a hopeful brighter outlook on life. Ruthie – ☆☆☆☆ This is the third book in a series of stories written by a collection of talented authors and set in Sarina Bowen’s True North world. (I am actually four books into the series – so do look at my upcoming reviews, as I am really enjoying the connections, and yet the variety of styles offered by the different writers). I am a big sports romance fan, so this was doubly enjoyable for me! Rainn works in Vino & Veritas – initially selling books, and then also in the wine bar. We know very little about him, but as his past is revealed, we get to understand why the man is quiet, considered, and alone. I absolutely loved how meeting Whit completely changes his life, one little step at a time, but the impact overall is immense. Whit is at college studying alongside playing hockey, alongside working on the family farm. He is dedicated to the farm and family above all things, and whilst he loves the freedom from early chores that hockey gives him, his future is at the farm. He is such an adorable character, one can imagine him from the very beginning, bright, enthusiastic, open, and now, decidedly out about his sexuality to his team. He is ready to start his journey and thinks college is where he will get the experiences he craves. When Rainn and Whit meet, and as they get to know each other, it is impossible not to want them to have a happy ending – even if for Rainn that would be going against all he had thought about himself. The connection between them is strong, even if Whit represents all that Rainn lost, and his background is so different. They both have some growing and learning to do, and somehow, they get to do it together. Such a gentle, lovely book, with a lot of positive emotions overcoming the negative thoughts which besiege Raine at times. Whit's family are fabulous too, at being welcoming, understanding, and supportive. Hugely enjoyable read, thank you! Reviewers received a free copy of this book to read and review for Wicked Reads.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Gabi

    5 delightful stars! Man, I love Eden Finley's books so much. Add in a hockey player, a farm and sexual discovery? What's not to love? Told with double POVs this story follows Whit (22yrs) and Rainn (26 yrs) and how a straight guy and an oblivious hockey player fall in love. Amazingly written and with good editing (a few mistakes near the end, but nothing horrible) this is the book not to miss in the Vino & Veritas series. Rainn is stuck in his life. He made a plan — hockey and the NHL — but it d 5 delightful stars! Man, I love Eden Finley's books so much. Add in a hockey player, a farm and sexual discovery? What's not to love? Told with double POVs this story follows Whit (22yrs) and Rainn (26 yrs) and how a straight guy and an oblivious hockey player fall in love. Amazingly written and with good editing (a few mistakes near the end, but nothing horrible) this is the book not to miss in the Vino & Veritas series. Rainn is stuck in his life. He made a plan — hockey and the NHL — but it didn't work out and now he doesn't really know what to do. He doesn't even know if he wants to do anything. He works in the bookstore and he works in the wine bar and he goes about his life without doing much else. But while Rainn is the grumpiest and is still struggling with losing his dream, he has the biggest caring heart when it comes to Whit. Annoying, kind of lost when it comes to men, eager and super talkative Whit. And even though Rainn mostly wanted to roll his eyes he was always there for Whit. Whit reminded me of an overactive puppy with all his eagerness. Whit is living what Rainn misses: hockey. But hockey isn't what Whit is, Whit is a farm boy through and through. And also a virgin — the never been kissed type of virgin. Can you blame him, though? He just came out of the closet! But he is going to fix that. He is going to meet a guy and have sex. Or maybe he will develop a crush on the straight bartender, spend all his free time with said bartender and kind of forget that he should be finding a guy to have sex. Same thing really. God, I loved both of them so much. Whit's initial crush and Rainn out of nowhere protectiveness were so fun to read. And so sweet. I loved their friendship, how they both valued so much each other and how they really didn't want to lose it. And then they got together. And that was even more perfect. Whit gives Rainn so much of what he was missing in his friendship and then love. And Rainn gives Whit something he never had: a place where he can be himself and where he knows he is safe doing it. Those two together are the definition of meant to be. Whit's family was wholesome. A very common theme in MM books is the horrible family. But that doesn't happened here (and now that I'm thinking about it, that doesn't happens in most of Finley's stories). Whit's family is close and present for each other and, while Rainn and his family are a little broken, they still have love for each other. The fight that happens in the usual mark of 80% is there, but it didn't bother me (of course, I would have preferred if they had just talked it through, but that's not always possible). The thing is, the title of the book is spot on: headstrong. These men are stubborn as hell and the time apart they get is necessary, you know? They both — but especially Rainn — need to come to terms with some truths and that happens in the form of the time apart. I loved how, after they had some time, they talked about it and it was very obvious for both of them where their priorities lay: with each other. The epilogue was really cute, to see Rainn so over his fear of making plans, especially the forever kind, warmed my heart. And seeing Beck and Jacobs left me with a smile so big in my face. If you like Finley's work you will love this one, for sure. It was easy going, funny but still serious where it needed to be. If you haven't read her work yet but the blurb caught your attention go ahead and enjoy this beautiful book. It's even better than it sounds! Cheating: (view spoiler)[No. (hide spoiler)] Love triangle: (view spoiler)[No. (hide spoiler)] Strong homophobia: (view spoiler)[No. (hide spoiler)] Triggers: (view spoiler)[Past sport injury. (hide spoiler)] HEA: (view spoiler)[Yessss. (hide spoiler)]

  29. 5 out of 5

    The Word Nerd Reviews Blog

    Headstrong is the third book in the Vino & Veritas series, a collection of books written by various talented authors, based on Sarina Bowen’s True North world. When I found out a few of my favourite authors would be contributing to this series, I eagerly applied for ARCs. Knowing the competition would be fierce, I was over the moon to find out I had been accepted for a number of titles in this series. I feel honoured to get a first look at these titles, and I’m loving every moment! Eden Finley is Headstrong is the third book in the Vino & Veritas series, a collection of books written by various talented authors, based on Sarina Bowen’s True North world. When I found out a few of my favourite authors would be contributing to this series, I eagerly applied for ARCs. Knowing the competition would be fierce, I was over the moon to find out I had been accepted for a number of titles in this series. I feel honoured to get a first look at these titles, and I’m loving every moment! Eden Finley is one of my favourite authors and this book is an excellent example of why. She is an excellent storyteller, but it is her characters that turn an enjoyable story into an addictive page turner. Headstrong centres around the characters of Rainn and Whit. Rainn is an employee of Vino & Veritas, first in the bookshop half, but he quickly moves into the bar section. Rainn is at a low point in his life, having had his potential hockey career unexpectedly end after serious injury. Disillusioned with anything hockey, and his life in general, he unprepared for his unlikely friendship with current college hockey star, Whit. Whit is described as adorable a number of times in the story, and honestly, it’s the best way to describe him. He is the ultimate sunshine character, the easy-going college hockey star who has no aspirations to go professional. He just wants to enjoy his time on the ice and then move on to taking over his parent’s farm with his elder brother. He is happy with everything in his life, well almost everything, he is determined to lose his V-card! His early attempts and fumbles to find someone to help him out with his little problem is a source of plenty of secondhand embarrassment, and more than a few laughs. It is his despair at his failed attempts that sends him into the somewhat helping hands of the straight bar tender, Rainn; of course, Whit’s seemingly unrequited crush on the man doesn’t hurt either. An, at first, tentative friendship forms between the pair, and Whit’s continued attempts to find a partner lead Rainn to wonder at his sudden possessiveness and question if he’s really as straight as he thought. Both Rainn and Whit are beautiful characters. I loved that once Rainn decided to follow his attraction, he didn’t really waver. Yes, he took it slowly, but that also seems like a natural response to a new situation. Once he realised that his feelings for Whit went beyond the platonic, he didn’t try to hide it. He was happy to show his attraction and affection in public. There was, essentially, no closet for Rainn, apart from a few little hiccups (which were also natural), he completely embraced his relationship with Whit. Headstrong is the ultimate feel good story. There is no real angst. The little bit of drama that is there is quickly resolved, and let’s face it, a story all rainbows and sunshine can be a bit boring! In this case, the drama highlighted the story at certain parts and gave it depth. It was also great that the majority of the angsty issues were due to external factors and were not the result of Rainn's doubts/anxieties over his and Whit’s same sex relationship. I can’t recommend Headstrong highly enough. It was light, very funny, and well-paced, with characters that you just can’t help but adore. Eden Finley has once again proven why she is one of my favourite authors. All my reviews can be found on my blog: The Word Nerd Reviews Follow Me: Facebook & Twitter

  30. 4 out of 5

    Lenore Kosinski

    https://celebrityreaders.com/2021/03/... I received a free copy through Heart Eyes Press in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. 4.5 stars — Well that was a whole heck of a lot of fun! And not just fun, but lots of depth too. I had heard great things going in, but honestly that just makes me wary that I’m going to be the one who doesn’t belong to the cool group. Fear not! I fell in love from basically the first moment Whit opened his mouth, and things just took lots of delightful tu https://celebrityreaders.com/2021/03/... I received a free copy through Heart Eyes Press in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion. 4.5 stars — Well that was a whole heck of a lot of fun! And not just fun, but lots of depth too. I had heard great things going in, but honestly that just makes me wary that I’m going to be the one who doesn’t belong to the cool group. Fear not! I fell in love from basically the first moment Whit opened his mouth, and things just took lots of delightful turns that worked for me. I’m not huge into Gay For You books. At least not old school ones. This is the kind of GFY I can get into — you know, where they might be the catalyst for figuring out their bisexuality, but the situation doesn’t have them violently rejecting being gay. It could easily have gone that way, but it really didn’t. At least it didn’t for me. I kind of loved seeing Rainn’s struggle with these confusing new feelings, and what all it meant. It wasn’t quite as delightful as Jamie in Him/Us, but it was seriously along those lines. He wasn’t rejecting the notion so much as trying to figure out what it meant for who he was as a person, and what he had always known about himself. I think everyone’s experience is unique, and this was just one of them. I loved the overarching message about not feeling pressure to put labels on things — to define them at your own pace. Now don’t get me wrong, Rainn was frustrating in quite a few other ways — that boy had hangups on his hangups. But I appreciated that while he was confused about these new sexuality developments, he wasn’t horrified or anything. Nope, he was too busy being horrified about the future and plans and going after happiness. It may have been frustrating, but I did feel for him. At first I thought it was kind of over the top, but as I got to know him, I could see underneath it all to his scars, and while I might not *get* it, I got it enough through his perspective. I can’t imagine what he went through. Whit was a fucking shining light in this book. He was ridiculously hilarious, and adorable, and loveable, and just…yeah, a new top book character for me. I appreciated that he was struggling with his own issues and fears, and he was far from perfect. It was interesting to watch how wary he became, but I got it. I think what I loved the most is that he didn’t dwell too much. He made decisions, he went for them, and he actively sought out happiness. The two of them together…damn, they were just fire. I loved seeing them develop those (sometimes confusing) crushes on one another, and the way they would banter and tease. I loved how their steamy chemistry was just so obvious and delightful. I loved that I could see how they TRUSTED one another, and how important that was. And I loved how they complemented one another. Whit pushed Rainn, and Rainn pulled Whit back at times (I was a goner for that birthday present). And even their fights made sense and were a natural progression of their relationship and their own individual growth. Lots of great background characters, Whit’s family was hilarious. And I appreciated seeing glimpses of a few other characters at V&V. So yeah. This book was a delight for me. I can definitely see this one getting on my reread list. And now I must prepare for book hangover.

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