If you are a prospective reader who doesn't want spoilers but wants to know whether to read this, I'd suggest reading up to chapter 6. At the time of this review, there are 8 chapters available, but I guarantee that readers will be happier if they stop after #6.
I was initially unsure whether to review this story or series. Upon catching up to the latest chapter, I was filled with such rage and frustration that I thought any review I wrote would not be of much use to anyone. I try never to write unconstructive reviews, and so it seemed I would not be reviewing this work despite all the time I spent reading it.
What changed my mind was a recent review by Jim S in which he wrote "given that another reviewer [...] gives it a good review, I feel compelled to offer a contrasting viewpoint". Having read the reviews for the rest of The Defenceman series, I also feel compelled to share my thoughts given that my reaction seems to have been vastly different from everyone else. Or perhaps all the previous reviewers had the same thoughts as me and were more reluctant to give a non-perfect review. Either way, on to the review.
This series follows a fairly common formula: boy goes to school, boy optionally plays a sport, boy hooks up with babes, drama ensues, etc. The biggest difference, however, is a single characteristic of the main character. Mike Stewart is modest. Sounds normal and fine if it's described in this way, doesn't it? What's not normal or fine, however, and genuinely made it hard for me to follow Mike's antics, were the extents of his modesty.
Throughout the entire series, Mike never allows for the possibility that any skill, knowledge, or action on his part had any influence in any positive event. Hockey goals and plays are all luck, heroic actions and saving damsels in distress are nothing more than what anyone else would do, and his self-deprecation around women would make Hugh Grant groan in embarrassment. As if this were not enough for a college freshman with dead parents, he is so opposed to the idea of taking credit for anything he has accomplished that, during an extended LSD-induced hallucination in Dman2, he literally takes a taxi and a plane to another continent, goes to a sex slave auction to rescue kidnapped royalty, grudgingly allows himself to be taken into witness protection to avoid retaliation from the auctioneers, and prevents the bombing of a park in a major city, all to avoid being thanked for all the damsels in distress that he had previously rescued.
Despite this, the series is a nice read. There's lots going on, with action scenes, some sex scenes, modeling, more hockey than any other story on the site, and school projects. Mike works with machine-like efficiency to pack all of these things into each day, and after a while it's just impressive that he hasn't cracked under all the pressure. I felt a strong need to check my own calendar repeatedly while reading this to see if I was missing any appointments. The plot points mostly follow a sensical ordering and evolve in a logical fashion.
I say mostly here because this is the reason why I have given the plot and appeal such low ratings compared to usual. In the first installment (no British/Canadian spellings here!) of the series, Mike has his first harem with the twins and his lab partner. After spending a weekend together with all of them and his lab partner's horny younger sister, they all are persuaded, I guess by the younger sister?, to break up with him. It's a bit weird and left a bad taste in my mouth after reading it; the premise seems to have been that the younger sister wanted to have sex with Mike, he turned her down because he is literally The World's Most Stubborn Man, and then she turned everyone else against him after only knowing them for about a week. Okay, sure. I figured this was an attempt at a bluedragon-style breakup and proceeded further, thinking that there would be a Stanley Cup or something waiting for Mike further on.
Unfortunately, this has not happened yet. After a very long time of Mike being single, which was a bit fun since it kept me guessing who was going to be next, Mike finally gets to his second harem. And here's where my low rating comes in. After 6+ story-months of being happily together, the girls here also decide to break up with him. Moreover, it happens in a way that makes absolutely zero sense based on the characters and their knowledge of the main character. I'll break it down a bit further.
* Elizabeth: Despite knowing that NOBODY does anything to/for Mike without his permission, including witnessing it firsthand with the fucking Queen of motherfucking England, Elizabeth decides to sell his sexual services to a girl that she's just met. What. She then leaves because she doesn't want to apologize even though she's previously shown that she'll make changes to her lifestyle when she quits smoking right after meeting him.
* Willow: Mike's second-longest crush after Emma Watson, Willow is Mike's oldest friend and his only friend from before he went to college. She repeatedly tells him that she wants to be with him forever, she was actually a virgin when they reconnected because she wanted him to be her first, and she quite literally got her big musical break writing a song inspired by her feelings for him. She leaves because...?
* Asuka: Even though she's been with Mike the longest of the three, she supposedly owes him multiple life-debts that she, a native of Japan, is honor-bound to fulfill, and it was hinted that she liked Mike for a long time before she finally got together with him, Asuka decides to leave because the other girls leave.
At this point, I'll readily admit that I checked out and skimmed the rest of the chapter just to be done with it. The author, at the end of the eighth chapter, writes, "I'm sure a lot of you won't like the direction I took it and I wasn't sure about it either, hence the long time to get a chapter completed." I can confirm that I did not enjoy the direction that was taken. Breakups in a story are fine, sometimes even great, but only when they make sense. The heavy-handedness of this one is the sole reason for my low scores on plot and appeal in this review.
Characters in this story are extremely plentiful. I sometimes wondered whether the author chose to use celebrities to avoid having to remember as many minor characters. Either way, the characters and most of their interactions are interesting and entertaining. I won't say that every character is as deep as an ocean, but many of them seemed lifelike enough, and I enjoyed all of them, even when they were being dicks and trying to punch Mikey in the face.
Sex in this series starts off very explicit and moderately frequent, peaks at very explicit and very frequent soon after, and then plummets to nonexistent for a long time. There are occasional sexytimes after the first part, but most of them happen offpage. I think this was a good choice by the author as it prevented the sex from becoming repetitive and boring, as has happened in other stories. I would say that Dman2 should probably have been Minimal Sex and Dman3 would be somewhere between Minimal and Some due to the vast majority of it not being described in any detail.
Technically, this series badly needs an editor. Grammar mistakes and typos abound, and there are many, many cases where characters are referred to by the wrong name. It's definitely readable, but sometimes a sentence will need to be read a few times to figure out what that one typo was actually supposed to be.
If I were going to do an overall summary, I would probably break it down into the three parts:
* Dman1: Read it, but prepare yourself for some bullshit as described above
* Dman2: Read it. I'm not sure at exactly what point in this part the main character started his Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas-esque hallucinations, but it's a great and hilarious ride.
* Dman3: Read part of it. At present, I really can't recommend reading past the 6th chapter. Everything up to that, and even the 7th chapter, are Cold Creek's best work in the series. The characters feel the most real, Mike's admiration of hockey players shines through, and the side characters all get brought back for more fun. But most likely it will be difficult to stop after the intense 7th chapter, and then you'll end up where I am.
To conclude, I really did enjoy the vast majority of this series, but my final impression was tarnished by incongruencies within the portrayals of some of characters. This is not a complete or finished story, so I'm still hoping that something happens which will make me rewrite this entire review at some point in the future.