Book Reviews

You, Again (Elmwood Stories 1) by Lane Hayes

Genre Gay / Bisexual / Contemporary / Athletes/Coaches / Romance
Reviewed by Bob-O-Link on 10-October-2023

Book Blurb

The hometown hockey hero and his best friend’s brother…

Hockey is in my blood. I learned to skate before I learned how to ride a bike. I’ve been on a wild ride, playing at the highest level for some of the biggest and best teams in the league. But now it’s over, and I’m not sure what to do with myself.

So I'm going home to Elmwood.

But I’ll tell you what I’m not gonna do—I’m not going to coach my buddy’s junior hockey league. No chance. I don’t know how to deal with kids, and besides, the other coach—who happens to be my best friend’s brother—hates me. With reason.

That may be old news, yet something tells me we’re going to have to deal with the past.

And that's almost as scary as coaching teens.

No, I don’t hate Vinnie, but he drives me nuts.

He’s cocky, goofy, selfish, and yeah…after all these years, I’m still attracted to him. But I’m a responsible adult now. I run my family’s business, and with the help of my ex, I’ve made Elmwood Diner into a New England institution.

So maybe my life isn't particularly exciting at the moment, and maybe Vinnie isn’t the worst. Nonetheless, I have no desire to rekindle a friendship with the hockey hero who no doubt will be on the first flight out of town the second he gets bored or gets a better offer.

And I’m not coaching with him. No way.


I can’t believe I’m doing this again.

Book Review

‘You, Again’ is a novel which falls into several categories. The principal characters have known each other since they were young boys, but have been apart for some time as one of them, Vinnie, pursued a professional hockey career – from which he has just retired in his thirties. But even sport non-initiates will find this book’s “techniques” quite an easy read. And, while as in much popular gay lit, on the menu there are more than sufficient elements of sexual fumble/tumble, the writing rises to quality – as reminiscences smoothly meld into our principals’ current times.


Vinnie had been friends with two brothers – Ronnie, a widower with a seven-year-old daughter, and his brother Nolan, two years younger and openly gay. The latter had quite a crush on Vinnie, before Vinnie was off to a professional sports career, and remembers him as having deceptively angelic looks though he was, in fact, “a rakish, crude, unpolished barbarian… who just happened to have a godlike bod.” Between Vinnie and Nolan there seems to be the continuation of an underlying conflict, as well, perhaps, also a failed crush. And Vinnie isn’t very good at apologies! But Vinnie, full of nostalgia, still has hope to reconnect with these friends.


Attempting to make good new memories. Vinnie agrees to jointly coach a boys’ hockey team with Nolan – hopefully as a vehicle for patching things up, a way to peace.


‘You, Again’ paints a realistic picture of a modern, rural Vermont small town – a mix of tradition surviving in today’s world. Familiarity, friendship, classic country features all still abound. The principals are all fully presented, including Ronnie’s precocious seven-year-old daughter and, to a lesser degree, interesting secondary people. Their interactions support the plot’s fluidity.


The kids’ hockey team is moderately awful, lacking individual drives to become any good. Of course, as young boys, they are sufficiently taken with Vinnie’s professional fame as to become inspired, effecting a more successful effort. That is balanced by Vinnie, a man without patience for mediocrity, but allowing his affection for those boys to reasonably modify his impatience.


Eventually Nolan and Vinnie begin communicating more honestly. Recalling their teen sex episode, they can now discuss it. Nolan: “… but like I told you, it was one time. Coming home hasn’t made you bi or gay or –” Vinnie: “No. It’s always been there. The gay part. I usually have other means to distract myself from . . . you know…” Logan: “Queer thoughts?”


Clarity requires recognition that ‘You, Again’ isn’t just a fast meet ‘em, fuck ‘em story. The people are genuine, and their issues are recognizable. The pace and plot points are believable and fully captured my interest so that the reading pace is just right! Accidental happenstance becomes their deliberate interactions.


The novel is an absolutely wonderful read. The people are real and pulled me into their story. How wonderful to witness a renewed romance. And I rooted for the hockey kids, investing their new efforts to succeed. Vinnie’s intense consideration of “coming out” will hit home for so many readers who are gay or know someone gay.


‘You, Again’ is all-in wonderful. The characters change, growing into bigger and better people. Their problems seem real, recognizable and will evoke your sympathetic interest. The sex is as good as the favorite characters deserve, including the consummate “par for the course” reversal of coital positions – with its appropriate discovery of new joy! And, no surprise, dear readers: if you crave sentiment and love, and (unlike me) are able to read through joyful tears, your wish has come true.




DISCLAIMER: Books reviewed on this site were usually provided at no cost by the publisher or author. This book has been provided by the author via GRRT for the purpose of a review.


Additional Information

Format ebook
Length Novel, 220 pages
Heat Level
Publication Date 08-September-2023
Price $4.99 ebook
Buy Link