Icebound Rivals (Arctic Titans of Northwood U) by Hayden Hall

So what if their hockey teams are rivals, and so what if it started as a bet. Grayson can think of nothing more than having Avery in his life, he has never felt happier. Can the relationship they built withstand starting as a lie if everything that came after is nothing but the truth?

From the Icebound Rivals blurb:

Grayson Reed is into me.

We are each other’s fiercest opponents in the rink. But now, Grayson’s eyes are stripping me down whenever we cross each other’s paths.

I don’t mind being the object of another guy’s desire, but I also refuse to jump into a stranger’s bed so quickly. It’s just that I’m not really dating material.

And of all the guys on Earth, Grayson Reed is the last person I would give a chance. But if there is one thing everyone knows about Gray, it’s that he is not a quitter.

The more I push him away, the more he tries to get closer. And as he struggles to win me over, I stumble into the very thing I swore I would avoid.


Our struggles on the ice are nothing compared to the conquest of each other. And when I find out about the dare that had brought us together, my trust is shattered. It will take a lot more courage to fix this mess than it took to win a date with me. And I just don’t know if this playboy is brave enough for a relationship or if his story ends with the conquest.

Icebound Rivals is the fourth novel in the Arctic Titans of Northwood U series. It features one demisexual winger, his playboy opponent, ice-melting heat, and heart-rendering sweetness. You can expect all the usual Arctic Titans shenanigans, a leap from youth to adulthood, and a rollercoaster of emotions. Icebound Rivals can be read on its own, but it's best enjoyed when read in order.

SNik's review:

Fourth in series (Arctic Titans of Northwood U), can be read as a standalone but might be more fun if read in order. Demisexual representation. Rivals to lovers. Slow burn. Dual POV. 

It doesn’t matter that it started out as a bet, Grayson is seriously wooing Avery, his on the ice hockey rival, and he won’t take no for an answer. Avery is confused at Grayson’s interest, but the constant bantering texts and romantic dates slowly allow Avery to open his heart and he does slowly allow himself to dream of forever. 

Whenever Avery and Grayson are on page together their relationship and the writing grows steadily more swoony and romantic. I appreciated the slow build, the lack of expectations, the happiness at just existing with each other. The expected angst was heart wrenching and both Avery and Grayson’s reactions were devastating, and relatable. Wish we could see them a few more years down the line because their commitment to each other was fantastic.

Angel's review:

Grayson and Avery are rivals on the ice, they've been competing against each other for a while and have yet to speak to one another. When Grayson's teammates challenge him to a bet and he loses, he's actually happy about it. Cause the bet gives him a chance to talk to the man who's been on his mind since the day he saw him.

I quite enjoyed this enemy to lovers romance book, I thought that trope was done really well! I don't know much about hockey but I did enjoy how it was written in this book. Yes, it was the main focal point of the story, but it wasn't too heavily focused on? If that makes sense. I enjoyed the buildup of the MC's relationship, I liked how they didn't go out right away, that Avery made Gray wait. And I absolutely loved that Gray kept coming up with ways to woo Avery, those moments were my favorite part!! I found them cute and creative, and the way Avery begrudgingly enjoyed being woo was so funny to me. He wanted to portray himself a certain way on the outside, but in the inside he's sentimental and loves Gray's antics, even when he says differently.

I found this book to be written well, there was mention of Avery possibly being Demi, but then wasn't really brought up after that. Which is okay! I just wanted to mention it. The scene with Spencer broke my heart, made me strongly dislike his character. The other side characters were great additions, I enjoyed how supportive Avery's teammates were of him. Sure they teased him, but overall they were happy for him, and liked seeing him happy.

Heather's Review:

I don't typically like a third act break-up, but Hayden Hall takes his character's groveling to a whole new level.  This rivals to lovers story is equal parts sweet, steamy and satisfying.  There's just enough hockey to be fun, some interesting friend interactions and a dash of new adult drama... cause they're in college...

While you could read it standalone, I think you'll enjoy the story more if you know some of the other players.

Reed Kaye's review: 

This is an easy story to fall in love with. Rivals on the ice and an undeniable attraction. Lovable characters.
I just love Avery. He is so busy trying to protect himself that he gets a label of uncaring and icy. Then Gray starts stalking him until he agrees to a date.
Gray felt an attraction to Avery but didn’t quite know how to face his teammates if he decided to ask a rival player for a date. Then he loses a bet and is challenged to get a date with Avery.
Their interactions and their turmoil made me feel the emotion and courage it took on both of their parts. I really enjoyed Gray’s imagination with the ways he used to get to Avery. This is a feel good story.

Jacqueleen the Reading Queen's review:

"𝐇𝐞 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐡𝐨𝐭, 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐀𝐯𝐞𝐫𝐲 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐧𝐬, 𝐢𝐧 𝐚 𝐟𝐮𝐜𝐤𝐞𝐝 𝐮𝐩, 𝐩𝐬𝐲𝐜𝐡𝐨 𝐰𝐚𝐲. 𝐇𝐞 𝐜𝐨𝐮𝐥𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮 𝐝𝐨𝐰𝐧 𝐭𝐨 𝐬𝐡𝐫𝐞𝐝𝐬. 𝐈 𝐡𝐚𝐝 𝐧𝐞𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐬𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐡𝐢𝐦 𝐬𝐦𝐢𝐥𝐞. 𝐍𝐨𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐜𝐞. 𝐀𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐨𝐬𝐞 𝐞𝐲𝐞𝐬. 𝐂𝐨𝐥𝐝 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐞𝐥."

I started this book already super intrigued by Avery from his previous small appearances in the series. I wanted to know more about the quiet man, especially because of how much Sawyer from Scoring the Keeper cared about him. Avery may be quiet, but his brain certainly isn't. He just chooses not to make his commentary aloud. I totally felt for him and his struggles. Struggling with your sexuality and also not truly having to words and/or capacity to talk out those feelings comfortably would be so tough. His character also read like someone who may be neurodivergent, which adds another layer to his challenges, for lack of a better term.

Gray was definitely the sunshine to Avery's perceived grumpiness. I didn't like him at first. Anyone who makes a bet with their friends that has the potential to be hurtful to another is a mean thing to do. As we got to know him, I began to understand him better and by the end of the book I really loved him as much as Avery. I have no doubts that he was absolutely devoted to his man and wanted nothing more than his happiness. He cheered every time he got Avery to smile and honestly, I did too. It was lovely seeing Avery come out of his shell a bit and be appreciated by someone besides his best friend.

"𝐎𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐢𝐥𝐥𝐢𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐨𝐟 𝐩𝐞𝐨𝐩𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐧𝐞𝐭, 𝐡𝐨𝐰 𝐰𝐚𝐬 𝐢𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐭 𝐈 𝐦𝐞𝐭 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐛𝐞𝐬𝐭 𝐨𝐧𝐞?"

I'm super excited that the next book is finally going to give us the story of besties Tyler and Sebastian. Those two are thick as thieves and we've been teased with them by Hayden long enough! I'm also crossing my fingers for a book with Cole, Gray's best friend. He was a good friend to Gray and I think he deserves his own HEA too.

Icebound Rivals is currently available as an e-book and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited Subscription