Enemies to Lovers: Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

GoodReads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35907068-poke-check

Blurb

One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.

Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way. He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby. Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.

Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?

Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him. Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?

 

Review

 I thought this was adorable!

Stan is one of my favorite characters – not just in this series – but in general! He’s so sweet, and funny, and sincere!

I kinda wanted Erik to have to work harder for Stan’s forgiveness but I think that’s just Stan, too.

There is a lot of internal dithering in this that probably doesn’t need to be there, but I appreciated the insight into Stan’s mind.

This was really funny as well as super sweet and the smexy times were great, too!

I wanted a bit more hockey and a bit less angst, but it was still a great addition to the series and is probably tied with first for me as my favorite so far!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Skater Boy (Hot off the Ice #4) by A.E. Wasp

Good Reads Link
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36602306-skater-boy?ac=1&from_search=true

Blurb

In a world that measures success in dollars, how do you put a price on happiness?

Love, marriage, and a baby carriage. It’s all Alex Staunton has ever wanted. Well, that and an Olympic medal for figure skating. The medal he got. The rest of it – not so much.

When his most recent poor decision comes to a door-slamming end, Alex moves into the house of his best friend, Thunder starting goalie, Sergei Pergov. But when tragedy strikes, giving Sergei custody of the twins he fathered confidentially, Alex’s problems take a backseat to the needs of two infants, and Alex vows to be the best fake-dad and house-husband he can be.

Sergei is dazzled by the way Alex makes managing all the craziness look as easy as doing a triple-axel. As their friendship grows even deeper, Sergei realizes he doesn’t want to imagine a life without Alex in it. Alex is the one who makes their house a home; his love makes them a family. How can Sergei make Alex understand he’s worth everything?

Skater Boy is a story about falling in love with your best friend. It contains discussions about baby poop, day drinking, girls’ night out, and the purchase of a mini-van.

 Review

This was both really sweet, kinda funny and a little annoying.

I loved Sergei and his relationship with Alex. They were both ridiculously oblivious and when they began to explore their “more than friends” feelings it was sweet and sexy. However, I had a hard time with how Alex turned into this obsessed little home maker and completely gave up any “self”. It didn’t seem to fit his character and though I could see him becoming “super dad” and being OTT about everything, I didn’t see him losing all touch with his profession.

In any case, I thought this was a great addition to the series and I really loved 80% of it 😉  There wasn’t much hockey in this…

If you’re a fan of the series you’ll want to give this a go – you don’t have to have read the others to enjoy this.

4 of 5 stars

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The Hockey Player’s Heart (Hockey Hearts #1) by Jeff Adams and Will Knauss

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-hockey-players-heart-by-jeff-adams-and-will-knauss-9211-b

Blurb

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.

Review

This was a nice friends to lovers romance. I wasn’t ever really capitivated by their chemistry and I wish we’d gotten more of a glimpse of the angst from childhood.

I felt that Aaron wasn’t reliably making sense given how obvious Caleb seems to be pursuing him.

It was easy to read and the writing was good.

3.5 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale Narrated by Scott Smith

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/coachs-challenge-by-avon-gale-8609-b

Blurb

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 out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’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, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to 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
(Book Reviewed here previously)

Avon Gale is one of my favorite authors – ever! She is very gifted at writing humor and romance – together – which isn’t easy. But – in addition- she really knows how to pull at your heartstrings, too. And then you’re laughing through tears which is an amazing feeling.

I love her hockey series best (so far). Her love of the sport is evident and it comes through in her writing. Since I’m such a fan, it’s hard not to compare one book to the other – though each book is very different. So, I distance myself from my fangirl-love and try to look at each story on it’s own merits.

So, if I’m not comparing this story to others in the series, and I’m looking at this as a book on its own – there is absolutely no question that it was EXCELLENT! There’s a lot of humor and the hockey is good. The general storyline is also solid.

My favorite aspect of this particular couple is their need to bicker with one another. It’s pretty hysterical – and then – all of a sudden – they’re having some really hot sex! The chemistry between these guys is phenomenal. (There is a particular scene where some tender things get expressed in the middle of fight – EPIC – so funny!)

I’ll only say that the lack of a character like Lane or Max is really the only thing that makes this “not my favorite in the series”. Neither of these guys is nerdish or terribly awkward and I ADORE those types of characters, so… But that’s about it. This is wonderful and everyone who loves this series MUST read it and yet it stands alone beautifully as well.

Audio

Scott Smith is definitely growing on me. There are still some nuances to his narrative that make me a little nuts – the way his sentences and emphasized doesn’t always match how I think they should flow – but his sense of humor and his ability to make unique voices is pretty good. I definitely can listen to his books over and over and that’s huge.

Overall 4.5 of 5 stars

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Audiobook: Cocky By: Sean Ashcroft Narrated by: Joel Leslie

audiobookreview

Audible Link
https://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Cocky-Audiobook/B076B74FBH/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1510273469&sr=1-1
Blurb

“I’m having a little trouble coming up with the right words here, so I’ll be blunt. I want you to pretend to date me.” 

Faking a relationship with an injured hockey player had never been on Eliot’s to-do list, but when he’s sent by his editor to interview the newly-out hockey legend Danny Harper, he gets a little more than he bargained for. 

Eliot has been stuck writing a fashion and grooming column that no one reads since he started at Cocky—a men’s lifestyle magazine—a year ago. Desperate to prove himself, he takes the assignment to interview Harper, even though he couldn’t hold a hockey stick the right way up in an emergency. 

Danny turns out to be nothing like he expected—a lonely man who’s missed out on a lot by being in the closet, rather than the overconfident jock Eliot expects him to be. As much as he resists it, Eliot finds himself drawn to the other man. 

When Danny proposes they fake a relationship to improve his image, Eliot jumps at the chance—not only does he need the money, but his curiosity about Danny demands to be satisfied. 

With Danny struggling to get through the season on a busted knee and Eliot digging up the story that could make his own career, can the two of them bring themselves to admit their real feelings and find their happy ending? 

Cocky is a standalone gay romance with a HEA and no cliffhanger. It does, however, contain peppermint lip balm, platonic(ish) bed-sharing, explicit sex scenes, hockey-related injuries, and several five a.m. starts. 

Review

This was a very low angst, fairly high steam love story that followed a predictable story arc. Once you’ve given up the disbelief and accepted that the fake relationship is necessary, our two MCs fall in love over the span of the story in a reliable manner.

There wasn’t anything inspiring, but it was a nice story with some lovely feelz.
I don’t think I would have stuck with this book had it not been for the narration of Joel Leslie. He gave Elliot a fun accent and kept me giggling and wanting to see what he’d come up with next!

3 of 5 for the story

5 of 5 for the narration

4 of 5 overall

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First Season (Harrisburg Railers #2) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Amazon Link
https://www.amazon.com/First-Season-Harrisburg-Railers-Hockey-ebook/dp/B073HGLT5X/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1510867793&sr=1-3-fkmr0&keywords=rj+scott+vocey

Blurb

Layton Foxx works hard for what he’s achieved. The condo, the career, the chance to make his mark…it’s all down to the sacrifices he’s made. With tragedy in his past, he doesn’t want or need love. Then he meets Adler Lockhart, the extroverted, sexy winger for the Harrisburg Railers, and abruptly he can’t avoid love even if he wanted to.

Adler Lockhart has had everything handed to him his whole life. Cars, villas, cash, college tuition at the finest Ivy League schools. The only thing he doesn’t have is parents who care, or the love of a good man. Then Layton walks into his privileged life and shows him what real love can be like.

Layton wants success, Adler wants a family…how can love make both these things possible?

Review

This was hysterical! I loved Adler so much! I think this was even better than book 1 and I can’t wait for book 3!

If you love those quirky characters who can’t seem to filter their thoughts – this is totally for you. We get humor, hockey and smexy times! Perfect!

Highly Recommended!

4.5 of 5 stars

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Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

release day review

Riptide Presents

http://riptidepublishing.com/titles/off-the-ice

Blurb

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Review

This was a pretty sweet, very low angst May/December/OFY story of opposites attract.  It had some of the trademark snark that Avon is known for and a bit of the hot smexy times that she and Piper are so good at. 

While it had some funny points, for me, it lacked that strong comedic thread that I adore from Avon.  It had a fair amount of hockey –  although I don’t think you can have too much hockey!  I think the relationship developed in a way that felt natural and the sexual tension was sizzling!  (I loved the first confrontation in the professor’s office – yowza!)  I’m not a big fan of the whole power dynamic, vaguely D/s thing – it was mild – but I think the age difference and Tristan’s low self esteem would have been enough without it.  However that wasn’t a huge aspect. 

I really enjoyed this and, as far as this writing team goes, I think I enjoyed this one the most and I’m looking forward to more from the series.

 

This is highly recommended to fans of the author, fans of May/December relationships, fans  of hockey romance and fans of opposites attract.  

4 of 5 stars

 

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City Boy: Hot Off The Ice Book 1 by AE Wasp

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/City-Boy-Hot-Off-Book-ebook/dp/B07339WG93/ref=la_B01FHWWJ90_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1504219480&sr=1-1

Free on KU

Blurb

Follow the money or follow your heart? Either way, you lose.

When a blown tire leads directly to mind-blowing sex with a white knight named Dakota, pro-hockey player Bryce Lowery discovers he is most definitely gay.

Being with Dakota opens up a whole new world. Bryce can’t imagine life without him. But he refuses to be Bryce’s dirty little secret. If he wants to keep Dakota, he’s either going to have to come out publicly or retire and walk away from millions of dollars.

Bryce Lowery feels like the answer to all of Dakota’s prayers. But is Dakota willing to leave the only life he’s ever known only to be thrust into the spotlight as the boyfriend of the first out gay hockey player? Would their relationship even survive it?

He’ll lose Bryce if doesn’t because Bryce will leave eventually. No one would turn down millions of dollars for a nobody with nothing.

City Boy is a first time gay, fish out of water, May/December love story with a happy ending. It features snarky siblings, a dirty-talking farmer, lots of food, and big choices. (No poultry was harmed in the making of this book.)

Review

This was just plain fun! It was sweet, had some emotionally charged moments, great chemistry, somewhat believable situations and – most importantly – Hockey!

Well, a little hockey anyway.

I loved the exploration and the tender sides we get to see of both MCs.

Highly recommended and an author I’ll now be looking for!

5 of 5 stars

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Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers #1) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Changing-Lines-Harrisburg-Railers-Hockey-ebook/dp/B071WKKJC8/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1500583305&sr=8-2&keywords=harrisburg+railers

Blurb

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

The Rowe Brothers are famous hockey hotshots, but as the youngest of the trio, Tennant has always had to play against his brothers’ reputations. To get out of their shadows, and against their advice, he accepts a trade to the Harrisburg Railers, where he runs into Jared Madsen. Mads is an old family friend and his brother’s one-time teammate. Mads is Tennant’s new coach. And Mads is the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Jared Madsen’s hockey career was cut short by a fault in his heart, but coaching keeps him close to the game. When Ten is traded to the team, his carefully organized world is thrown into chaos. Nine years his junior and his best friend’s brother, he knows Ten is strictly off-limits, but as soon as he sees Ten’s moves, on and off the ice, he knows that his heart could get him into trouble again.

Review

This drew my attention since I’m currently jonsing for some hockey! I was also curious about these two authors as a writing duo. I’ve not really been a Vocey fan, and some of RJ Scott’s latest works haven’t really impressed me – but I love her earlier books.

I think – overall – that they’re a good team. I think the new subgenre is good for Scott and gives a new direction – away from ranching and crime fighting – for her considerable writing talents.

The premise of this story and it’s start are very promising. May/December, Coach/player, family friend, closeted professional athlete, single father… you name it – lots of sexual tension and the need to keep things on the DL. I think, however, that the end result of all these reasons to keep things quiet were too many for our MCs to overcome in a short story.

There were just so many hurdles and not enough time for them to be really overcome in a way that made sense.

I appreciated that they didn’t just jump into bed, but the “slow” was too slow and Jared came across way too “father figure” and not enough “lover”. He was bossy and I never felt his emotions other than lust.

Ten seemed- sometimes – ridiculously immature and I thought his family was both ridiculous ( his oldest brother) and wonderful (his sweet mother). I wasn’t sure why he was there, but the Russian goalie – Stan – was my favorite and I hope we get to see more of him!

The book kept my interest and I’ll definitely pick up more in this series, but this wasn’t my favorite hockey book of all time.

(The cover does NOT help this story !)

3 of 5 stars

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Men In Uniform: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/coachs-challenge-by-avon-gale-8609-b

Blurb

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 out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’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, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to 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

Avon Gale is one of my favorite authors – ever! She is very gifted at writing humor and romance – together – which isn’t easy. But – in addition- she really knows how to pull at your heartstrings, too. And then you’re laughing through tears which is an amazing feeling.

 

I love her hockey series best (so far). Her love of the sport is evident and it comes through in her writing.  Since I’m such a fan, it’s hard not to compare one book to the other – though each book is very different. So, I distance myself from my fangirl-love and try to look at each story on it’s own merits.

 

So, if I’m not comparing this story to others in the series, and I’m looking at this as a book on its own – there is absolutely no question that it was EXCELLENT! There’s a lot of humor and the hockey is good. The general storyline is also solid.

 

My favorite aspect of this particular couple is their need to bicker with one another. It’s pretty hysterical – and then – all of a sudden – they’re having some really hot sex! The chemistry between these guys is phenomenal. (There is a particular scene where some tender things get expressed in the middle of fight – EPIC – so funny!)

 

I’ll only say that the lack of a character like Lane or Max is really the only thing that makes this “not my favorite in the series”. Neither of these guys is nerdish or terribly awkward and I ADORE those types of characters, so… But that’s about it. This is wonderful and everyone who loves this series MUST read it and yet it stands alone beautifully as well.

 

4.5 of 5 stars

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Review by Dee

Another excellent addition to the Scoring Chances series!

Shane is a closeted player who is playing his last season with a team that has had a troubled past year, particularly with a homophobic coach. Troy is the new head coach trying to turn said team around. Shane does not make a good first impression with Troy (he’s late to the first practice), but despite that, there is an instant attraction between the two men. The book is humourous, (the team mates provide some comic relief, especially Evans), and the storyline is interesting and fun. There is light suspense and a bit of a twist –all which serve to make an excellent book. The banter and chemistry between Shane and Troy is great.

I liked that both MC’s were slightly older; mid 30’s (Shane) and mid 40’s (Troy). They both sounded like they were mature …for the most part … except when they decide to blow each other in public areas (not that I’m complaining, LOL!)

Any of the books can be read as a standalone and this is no exception – I loved it!

 4.5 of 5 stars

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