Taking the Body by V.L. Locey (Watkins Glen Gladiators Book 4)

We head back to Watkins Glen where Gladiator Phil Greco and vintner Henri Gaudion are thrown together in Taking the Body.

From the blurb:

One’s from Flushing, New York, the other from Ambroise, France. Worlds, wit, and passions are about to collide!

Phil Greco is that player that every opponent and their fanbase hates but secretly wishes played for their team. Greck is a mouthy guy, high-spirited, and able to tweak nerves with relative ease. Having grown up with a large family he’d learned early that you had to fight for what you wanted. This is how a short, undrafted guy from Flushing made it as far as he had. It had taken no small amount of bull&*#*, grit, and plenty of wit. Generally that wit and grit was enough to get him on the top of the pileup but that’s not the case with Henri Gaudion, owner of Gaudion Winery. Ever since they’d met sparks have flown, and for the life of him, Phil cannot understand what it is about the suave, well-dressed, handsome French vintner that makes him so edgy. They have nothing in common aside from a love of Watkins Glen, so why does he keep finding himself so drawn to the lean man with the rapier wit? Sure, he was pretty, and did keep him on his toes, but Phil’s not the kind of fella to be drawn to such a fancy pants rich boy. How stupid would it be to think that a hoodlum like him could ever catch a man like Henri? Not that he wanted to catch the stuck-up winemaker…

Henri Gaudion has no time for shenanigans or those who engage in them, especially boorish braggarts on skates. Yes, he enjoys the game of hockey and having the Gladiators hockey team and the local gentry at his chalet overlooking Seneca Lake every Sunday for brunch, but that’s solely for keeping up appearances. Since the death of his father, he has devoted his life to ensuring the lands bequeathed to him produce the finest wines and champagne in the Finger Lakes district. Henri is a lonely, heartbroken man when the blinds are drawn and the erudite mask is dropped. He also has no room in his life for rowdy little men with bright smiles, cheeky winks, and heavily accented, fanciful tales about his large Italian family back in, of all places, Flushing. The pull that he’s feeling for Phil Greco must be some sort of glitch, or perhaps he’s been spending too much time in the tasting rooms. Whatever the reason, he is not about to let his attraction to Phil grow. It would be impossible for two such incompatible men to fall in love. Wouldn’t it?

Taking the Body is a low-angst, opposites attract queer hockey romance with a mouthy hockey player, a refined vintner, a whole lot of forced proximity, on-ice action, evenings spent sipping wine, a nosy butler, even nosier teammates, a large loving family, and a perfectly aged happy ending.

Heather's Review:

I love the obvious opposites attract quality of this story - it's in your face and out and proud,  the motormouth hockey player from Flushing who is obsessed with the other famous native daughter - Fran Dresher and her 90's hit The Nanny, and the steady, refined Frenchman who finds peace in formality and routine... in a steamy, sweet and often exciting forced proximity story with great supporting cast.

I did find it hard to stay in the story a bit, mostly because of some of the language choices.  I also found that as much as I loved watching Henri adapt to his houseguest and the chaos, that I wanted to see Phil making more of an effort... particularly with Henri's name and some of the singular behaviours that could have led to more of an even meeting..  I also wish we'd gotten an extended epilogue - it felt like they had more to share... maybe as a cameo in the future....

This book is definitely best read in order, but if you read it standalone you'll just want to go back and find out what's happened in the previous three stories...

Taking the Body is currently available in paperback and e-book formats and can be read as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.