hockey

Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5) by Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

   Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances Book 5)  by Avon Gale  4.5 Stars!

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.

Review

This is a charming romance where likes attract and the likes are sarcastic, competitive, gruff, grumpy, witty, loving, argumentative, stubborn hockey heroes with explosive chemistry.

We have two grown up men who fall in love and lust with each other and a great sports story about turning around an awful team and taking homophobia and sexism on.

There is never a lack of communication or trust as Shane and Troy move from lust to love.

They are wonderful for each other and all kinds of little details make this romance a charmer and light hearted.

This is one of the best consistently great series I have read in a long time.

The wider circle of people we are already know gets just enough screen time and we get some wonderful new cast members.

I love River and Ben and I have been hunting around to see if they already have their own romance because I need to read it now! Matty is due a love story and Alani better get her some. I suggest a female hockey player that joins one of the teams, please.

So good!

 

 

Empty Net (Scoring Chances Book 4) Avon Gale 4.5 Star Review!

Review:

Empty Net - Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

 

Review

This is by far the darkest book of the series so far but this love story really shows off what an amazing storyteller Avon Gale is.

 

She takes the villain from the last book in the series Laurents and pairs him with the beloved scrappy Drake in an truely stellar enemies to lovers romance with a healing journey for all.

 

This book delves into the darkness of what happens when someone is exposed to systematic abuse and what it means to love someone enough to stand by as they heal.

Laurents is awful for a reason. However, he chooses to become aware and change and risk loving someone. He gets therapy. I can’t tell you how much I celebrate when a character gets professionial help in a book showing others the way. He works at his recovery from an eating disorder and self care from his abusive childhood and young adulthood.

 

His demisexuality is gently explored. He becomes his better self and a wonderful partner for Issac. I love the dating scenes.

 

Issac is so much a great emotionally brave character and sexy as hell (Lauren is broodingly hot). Issac just shines and finding romantic love and the love of an adopted father makes him even more compelling.

 

He falls in love but doesn’t try to solve Laurents problems. He is a partner.

 

I really adored their romance as always the hockey and the secondary characters and the pondering for friendship.

 

The books ends with a happily ever after that includes doing the right things for yourself as well as others.

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Save of the Game (Scoring Chances, #2) by Avon Gale 4 Star Review

Review:

Save of the Game - Avon Gale

After last season’s heartbreaking loss to his hockey team’s archrival, Jacksonville Sea Storm goalie Riley Hunter is ready to let go of the past and focus on a winning season. His roommate, Ethan Kennedy, is a loud New Yorker with a passion for social justice that matches his role as the team’s enforcer. The quieter Riley is attracted to Ethan and has no idea what to do about it.

 

Ethan has no hesitations. As fearless as his position demands, he rushes into things without much thought for the consequences. Though they eventually warm to their passionate new bond, it doesn’t come without complications. For their relationship to work, Ethan will need to learn when to keep the gloves on and let someone help him—and Riley will have to learn it’s okay to let someone past his defenses.

 

Review

 

What a wonderful friends to lovers romance with two bisexual heroes!

 

I love all the little details of this book. I don’t want to give them away. Its sweet and sexy.

Riley is great. I would have loved more details with his family but we get enough. Ethan’s family is wonderful.

 

All the hockey is great. I need to go get some Gulls tickets (my local hockey team which I love)

 

Roommate romances are wonderful and and here we get low angst and lots of couple time. The relationship here is well developed, engaging and everything I want.

 

I really liked how Ethan finds his best self (this is outside of Riley).

 

Sigh. So good!

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Breakaway (Scoring Chances, #1) by Avon Gale 4 Star Review

Review:

Breakaway - Avon Gale

A Scoring Chances Novel

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He’s put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

 

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

 

Review

 

I can tell Avon Gale will be taking all my money. This is a great sports romance set in minor league hockey in the South. 

Both heroes are wonderful, socially awkward young Lane and assertive Jared. I love the circle of friends and adoration of hockey, 

Lane and Jared are at very different points in their lives. Addressing this factor makes the age difference trope really work. How this conflict is resolved is lovely. No false angsts.

A wonderful romance I will read again and again. I went out and bought and read the whole series.

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Bartender, PI by Ethan Stone Review

   Bartender, P.I. by Ethan Stone 2.5 Stars! 

When hockey star Linc Carpenter is banned from playing his beloved sport, he starts over slinging drinks in Tampa. He’s inept as a bartender, so when the opportunity arises to train as a private

investigator he takes it. He’s not very good at that either, but he still manages to get hired to follow fashion mogul Quentin Faulkner.
Linc’s incompetence is a hindrance, but Brady Williams, Faulkner’s studly bodyguard, may prove to be his undoing. Brady is drawn to Linc, despite his bungling, and that stupidity may be just what’s needed to solve the case and save their lives.

Review

This is a ridiculous book. It is slap stick funny.

The opening scene is crass and the hero isn’t too bring.

And yet… lol …it was a silly, shallow, quick read that I enjoyed.

The heroes are just so good natured.

Pipe Dreams (Brooklyn Bruisers, #3) by Sarina Bowen Review

     Pipe Dreams by Sarina Bowen   3 Stars! 

 

Review

This is a good book. I don’t think Sarina Bowen can write a bad book.

What I don’t love about this book is all me. I hate flashbacks. This is a second chance romance and we get flashbacks to the hero and heroines previous relationship. Those flashbacks are also emotionially painful as the hero hurts the heroine with his choices.

Also, I just never get over the dumb choice the hero makes and end of resenting Bowen for not telling me right away like she did this to me. See, she is a good writer, I totally care and am involved I am just …gah.

Because I never get over what he did and why he did, I can’t be all in for the romance. And don’t get me wrong Mike is wonderful. He is all in and great. I just side eye him the whole time.

The heroine was a fierce and grumpy in the other books and that is explained here and soften but I kind of liked her mean. lol

Enjoyable but not a reread for me.

So, I am super excited for Nate’s romance! Love me a nerd!

The Fifteenth Minute (The Ivy Years, #5) by Sarina Bowen Review

4 Stars!

Freshman Lianne Challice is known to millions of fans as Princess Vindi. But sometimes a silver screen sorceress just wants to hang up her wand, tell her manager to shove it, and become a normal college student. Too bad that’s harder than it looks.

She’s never lived a normal life. She hasn’t been to school since kindergarten. And getting close to anyone is just too risky — the last boy she kissed sold the story to a British tabloid.

But she can’t resist trying to get close to Daniel “DJ” Trevi, the hot, broody guy who spins tunes for hockey games in the arena. Something’s haunting his dark eyes, and she needs to know more.

DJ’s genius is for expressing the mood of the crowd with a ten second song snippet. With just a click and a fade, he can spread hope, pathos or elation among six thousand screaming fans.

Too bad his college career is about to experience the same quick fade-out as one of his songs. He can’t get close to Lianne, and he can’t tell her why. And the fact that she seems to like him at all? Incredible.

 

Review

Oh, this is just lovely. And then in Bowen style, there is the zing of hard issues just under the surface.

We get a great New Adult romance mixed in with one of us is famous. The hero has every reason to stay away from the heroine but can’t.

The romance that unfolds between them is so good and right and hot.

A must read!

PS I love the fact that he is not super tall.

The Understatement of the Year (Ivy Years #3) by Sarina Bowen Review

Review:

The Understatement of the Year - Sarina Bowen

Five years ago, Michael Graham betrayed the only person who ever really knew him. Since then, he’s made an art of hiding his sexual orientation from everyone. Including himself.

So it’s a shock when his past strolls right into the Harkness College locker room, sporting a bag of hockey gear and the same slow smile that had always rendered Graham defenseless. For Graham, there is only one possible reaction: total, debilitating panic. With one loose word, the team’s new left wing could destroy Graham’s life as he knows it.

John Rikker is stuck being the new guy. Again. And it’s worse than usual, because the media has latched onto the story of the only “out” player in Division One hockey. As the satellite trucks line the sidewalk outside the rink, his new teammates are not amused.

And one player in particular looks sick every time he enters the room.

Rikker didn’t exactly expect a warm welcome from Graham. But the guy won’t even meet his eyes. From the looks of it, his former… best friend / boyfriend / whatever isn’t doing so well. He drinks too much and can’t focus during practice.

Either the two loneliest guys on the team will self destruct from all the new pressures in their lives, or they can navigate the pain to find a way back to one another. To say that it won’t be easy is the Understatement of the Year.

 

Review

I put off reading this entry into the Ivy Years series because I knew it would be heartbreaking in places. However, I also know it would be wonderful and I would get my HEA because this couple is grand in the later books.

 

The couple spends a lot of time apart and the internalized homophobia and external that each hero deals with hurts. The revealing of them as childhood sweethearts and the growth of each of them into men ready for this love story is amazing.

 

Well told, aching, and super hot. Yes, I wanted things to go faster but it couldn’t. I loved all the twists and turns to being in love in public. I would have loved a bit more couple time after all that work to make this book perfect but I get that in the rest of the series.

 

Such a great read!

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The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years Book 1) by Sarina Bowen 5 Star Review!

Review:

The Year We Fell Down (The Ivy Years) - Sarina Bowen

She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead.

Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league.
Also, he’s taken.

Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands.

They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard.

But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.

 

 

Review

 

Sarina Bowen writes great characters, wonderful plots and achey romance.

New adult with real stakes instead of crazy sauces is well done here.

The hero and the heroine become friends first, fall in love, and then it takes a while before they are an item.

The hero isn’t perfect in terms of his own level of self reflection and heroine is dealing with the major life change of her injury.

It is a really wonderful romance in a awesome setting.

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Rookie Move (Brooklyn Bruisers, #1) by Sarina Bowen Review

Review:

Rookie Move (A Brooklyn Bruisers Novel) - Sarina Bowen

In high school they were the perfect couple—until the day Georgia left Leo in the cold…
 
Hockey player Leo Trevi has spent the last six years trying to do two things: get over the girl who broke his heart, and succeed in the NHL. But on the first day he’s called up to the newly franchised Brooklyn Bruisers, Leo gets checked on both sides, first by the team’s coach—who has a long simmering grudge, and then by the Bruisers’ sexy, icy publicist—his former girlfriend Georgia Worthington.

Saying goodbye to Leo was one of the hardest things Georgia ever had to do—and saying hello again isn’t much easier. Georgia is determined to keep their relationship strictly professional, but when a press conference microphone catches Leo declaring his feelings for her, things get really personal, really fast….

 

Review

 

Sarina Bowen writes wonderful couples that I really like and wish the very best.

 

This is the first entry in her new pro hockey series and its good. The sexual tension is off the charts and the sheer like between the characters let alone the love is grand.

 

However, I did get impatient with the book a bit. This series is a spin off from the Ivy League Years (id you haven’t read these books, go now). So, I knew Leo’s and Georgia’s backstory and have an idea about each character coming into the book. I think without this knowledge I would have been happier.

 

As it was I was restless with wanting them to deal with what was between them and then frustrated that Georgia hadn’t been doing more (or at least we don’t get to see it when they were apart) and Leo doesn’t seem to own up to his own very odd behavior with the ladies in the years since they have been together. I wanted that contended with as a series fan. It wasn’t. I wanted to move to the being together faster.

 

There is extra drama with the heroine’s father was not really needed and couple time could have taken its place.

 

There is an amazing scene that is so tender and real towards the end of the book that I loved when Georgia sees Leo’s pain and he sees his own pain. More of that please. This is where I would have liked the book to build from and not come to an end.

 

So, the pacing was off in places but still such great characters and writing.

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