Men In Uniform: Playing With Fate (Admirals Hockey #1) by Ava Thorpe

Amazon Link

https://www.amazon.com/Playing-Fate-Admirals-Hockey-Book-ebook/dp/B06XVJTXKP/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1495596173&sr=1-1&keywords=admiral%27s+hockey

free on Kindle Unlimted!

Blurb
“My future’s been planned for me for as long as I can remember, but I’ve never felt this alive until I met you.”

“I shouldn’t want Carter, but I can’t get him out of my mind.”

Luke Bailey doesn’t have time for a boyfriend. Between dog-walking, law school applications, and trying to get his music career off the ground, love doesn’t stand a chance. Besides, his new customer’s straight as they come, right? So why can’t he stop thinking about Carter?

“I’ve never been with a guy. Why do I want Luke so bad?”

Carter Welling just needs a dog-walker. Big league hockey takes him away from home, and he can’t take Puck everywhere he goes. What he doesn’t need is a hot dog-walker who makes him think weird things about guys that he’s never felt before.

“Fate brought us together. Can I afford to take the risk?”

Something just keeps pulling them back together, though, and it’s not just the cuteness of Carter’s dog. When Luke’s dreams and Carter’s hockey career seem to be splitting them apart, can they admit that what they want—no, need—is each other?

Playing With Fate is a standalone gay romance novel with no cheating, no cliffhangers, and a HEA.

Review

This is a new author for me, which is always exciting! I love hockey and books about hockey players so… I think all in all this was a great intro for me to the author, though I wasn’t blown away.

We start with a guy who’s never had (or acknowledged to himself) an attraction to men who works as a professional hockey player. Suddenly he finds himself attracted to his dog walker and inexplicably they begin a friendship that deepens.

Over time our two MCs struggle with “Defining their relationship” and deciding whether or not to be “out”. There was a lot of time with our guys separated as Carter’s team was on the road, this was also a hurdle to their budding relationship. However, there is a LOT of really cute dog/cute guy interaction and that totally aided these guys in coming together.

On the one hand I felt like Carter’s introspection about “am I gay” was both not deep enough and at the same time it felt drawn out. He was quick to dive in and explore and didn’t seem as bewildered by this new attraction as I’d imagine someone would be. However, once involved he waffled – a lot – about what to do now that he was involved with a man. That seemed backward to me.

The smexy times were fairly low steam, and the focus on the MCs time together was definitely centered on developing their relationship. That felt very authentic to me, especially considering Carter’s newness to the whole situation.

Luke has some drama in his life and it gets some attention, but this was definitely more Carter’s story and I wish we’d spent more time with Luke and his music.

Overall this was an easy read, with a lot of great potential that met most of my expectations and will appeal to fans of dogs, hockey, GFY and low-steam romances.

3 of 5 stars

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Men In Uniform Month! Unsportsmanlike Conduct Audiobook by Angela S. Stone Narrated by Jack Raleigh

audiobookreview

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/Unsportsmanlike-Conduct-Audiobook/B071D6MCF6/ref=a_search_c4_1_1_srTtl?qid=1494448591&sr=1-1

Blurb

Hockey defines Owen Carter’s existence. He lives and breathes the sport. A man’s man, no one – not even his parents – knows the truth about his sexuality. When his teammates set him up, he resigns himself to the idea of a blonde bimbo.
The last thing the Owen expected to find was devastatingly sexy and intensely male cop Addison Krause. Addison’s everything Owen imagined in the perfect guy, but can he take his shot or will he let the best thing that ever happened to him walk away?

Review

I was attracted to this because I love hockey and it seemed cute and had some potential. I’d not heard the narrator before, but the sample seemed good enough and it wasn’t very long so…

Short stories are hard because you have to jump right in and give a background, current action and potentially an epilogue in only a few words. They need to be tight, focused and really geared toward portraying one (or a few) certain feelings/points/etc.

Since this is a short story about a closeted hockey player, as expected the main focus is his personal journey and decision to come out. It’s also about falling in love and it’s also about being true to yourself. That’s just too many things for THIS story to accomplish.

I didn’t get a good feeling of connection between our MCs and their weekend relationship moved from zero to Forever way too fast without giving me something to believe in. There are some hot smexy times and some “deep” discussions and then we’re transported to several months later.

I think the author would have benefited from focusing on only one of these major points and delivering on it than painting so wide a canvas.

Unfortunately the narrator, Jack Raleigh made this a very distracted listen because he kept switching his accent for Addison around and I couldn’t tell if he was German, French, Russian or a Vampire.

All in all I was glad this was short, thought it was an okay story with too much to tell in too little time and the narration was interesting if not actually good.

(2.75 rounded to) 3 of 5 stars

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The Game Change Audiobook by Kay Simone Narrated by Greg Tremblay

audiobookreview

Audible Link

http://www.audible.com/pd/Romance/The-Game-Changer-Audiobook/B06XNSN897

Blurb

A straight quarterback. A gay physical therapist. Love is out of bounds…Right?
Malcolm Rodgers loses everything in one week.
The quarterback is benched with an injury the same week his fiancée breaks off their engagement. Lost, hurting, and stuck on the sidelines, Malcolm must spend his days in physical therapy with the one person who refuses to let him get back in the game: cocky Vance Coberly.
Vance is out and proud in the macho world of pro football. As the top physical therapist in his field, flirting with football players is strictly out of bounds.
But the rules of play all change when Vance meets Malcolm.
Malcolm can’t deny what he feels for Vance – but Vance won’t be someone’s one-time fling. Can a Hail Mary gesture save the deepest love Malcolm has ever felt?
Fantasy football takes on a whole new meaning in this 100,000 word steamy out-for-you football romance, complete with lots of heat and a happily ever after ending.

Review
This is the first book I’ve read by this author – I’ve attempted others but haven’t made it all the way to the end. I’m not sure that I’d have finished this if I hadn’t been listening to the amazing Greg Tremblay – but I was glad I did.

The first half of the book is wonderful. I was LOVING it!

Malcolm is a bit of an enigma, and such a great person. Good, kind, a little naïve. Wonderful. Vance is just a bit more worldly, more jaded, more snarky – but still – nice and kind.

I love the slow burn between them, the silly drinking games and the patient wait for sex.
Even though this is a fairly low steam book, the connection is there and I really felt their chemistry.

However, after the first half of the book – things go sideways. The relationship moves from gentle exploration and love and passion to a Big Misunderstanding and hiding and anger and stubbornness. It was amazingly frustrating and I didn’t understand how two people whose number one commitment is “Honesty” could go on so long with this “issue” between them.

In any case, they muddle through that issue and we get a lovely HEA. (If you read the e book and are willing to sign up for her newsletter the author will send you a “bonus chapter” that adds some steam to this low steam story. Alas, not in audio format.)

As always, Greg made this story for me, and he was the main reason I picked up the audio. I love how he brings a story to life and I thought he gave full characters to even secondary or minor characters. His narration really made me stick it out and I give his narration 5 of 5 stars.
As for the story, I’d give 4.5 stars for Part 1 and 2.5 stars to part 2 – average of 3 of 5 stars.

For both narration and story – 4 of 5 stars – I’d still recommend it – but be warned ☺

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Fair Catch (Players of LA #2) by Leigh Carman

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/fair-catch-by-leigh-carman-8296-b

Blurb

Two men.

One night of passion.

They never expected to see each other again.

They were wrong.

Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.

Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.

*The Players of LA Series are standalones, but characters from each book to appear in subsequent novels. It is recommended to read in order to maximize the reading experience*

Review

(Book 1 reviewed here:  https://openskyebookreviews.com/match-point-by-leigh-carman/)

There were parts of this story that I really liked. I loved the Parkour, the Yoga, and for awhile I was thinking that Archer would be learning a new “sport” or vice versa and our MCs would have some interesting conversations and activities surrounding that. But… those things were almost just teasers, and they really didn’t have much to do with the main story.

The main story was about being in the closet and being victimized by an awful ex.

I really felt that Toby was way too trusting and accepted Archer and his closet far too easily considering how poorly he was treated by Austin, the ex. If your whole life was spent in hiding by a malicious ex, I think the LAST thing you’d do is sign up to be someone’s secret. It is different abuse, but being constantly denied by someone professing to love you is abuse of it’s own.

The relationship path was so full of angst, that by the time we’d had not one or two but three or four “kiss and make up” scenes, I was getting pretty over it and none of it made me think highly of either MC.

There were just too many threads in this story that didn’t get enough attention and some gaping holes that left me feeling like the story wasn’t as complete as it could have been. I’d have loved a few less “reunion scenes” and some more time developing any of the many interests Toby had or finding out more about Archer – his past, his family, anything.

Toby was a genius, yoga guy, victim, parkour enthusiast and had a (very nosy) best friend/neighbor. His interactions with his ex were hideous and he continued to do things that involved him and just plain didn’t make sense. I didn’t really connect all that well with him.

As far as the relationship between Toby and Archer – besides sex and make up sex – I didn’t see them interact or bond in any meaningful way. Both of them ran hot then cold and it was incredibly frustrating.

While I loved the whole “coming out to the world” as a concept, it felt sort of anti-climactic by that point. The violence with the ex overshadowed anything and was immensely unsatisfying as far as resolutions go.

I really enjoyed book 1 and will definitely look into book 2 – especially if it ends up being with Leo and Viktor and HOCKEY! – but this didn’t work so well for me.

As always, I recommend looking at other reviews – other people enjoyed this a lot – so I do think it has an audience. It just wasn’t for me.

The writing was fine and it had a lot of potential, so I’m going to give it a 2.75 (rounded to 3) of 5 stars for effort and leave it at that.

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Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) Audiobook by Avon Gale Narrated by Scott Smith

audiobookreview

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/empty-net-by-avon-gale-8162-b

Blurb

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and 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, 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, and 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 Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating).

Review

(Book Reviewed Here Previously)
There’s a little teaser story that Avon Published called : Overtime you can get for free off her site (https://www.avongalewrites.com/) that is sort of a prequel to this story. You don’t need to read it, but it gives a little bit of foreshadowing to this story.

Technically you don’t have to have read any of the other books but… well… you’d miss SO MUCH and… those books are awesome so… just go read them and then come back to this 😉

Of course, after book three, we all want to see Drake find his HEA. And, he does. But with Laurent? Here’s an anti-hero if you ever saw one. He’s a total d-bag to Drake and his team, he never talks, doesn’t seem to care about anything and he’s a big jerk. Until one day Drake sees him in a different light and then it’s like a switch is flipped and suddenly it all makes sense.

Without giving away too much – from the blurb we can tell that Laurent has some “issues” and they’re pretty big. Only someone as relatively self-assured as Drake has a chance at cracking this guy open.

It was lovely to see more of Max and Misha. GAH! I love those two so much! Misha as the father figure seriously tugs at every one of my heartstrings.

There’s a lot of hockey in this book, maybe a bit less sex… not sure, but it didn’t stand out as it had in the others as much. Probably because of all the feels surrounding Laurent and his pain.

Avon is just one of those authors that hits all my buttons. Her dry sense of humor tickles my funny bone and when I read her books my husband has to tell me “no giggling” as I read in bed! (He’s kidding ☺ ) Despite the common theme of hockey and being gay in a very masculine sport she manages to come up with something new in each story and a way to make her characters even more interesting/funny/sweet/inspiring…

I really think that the relationship between Drake and Misha was almost as touching as the one Drake finds with Laurent and I was – of course – so satisfied by the way Laurent dealt with his own father.

This is another winner and highly recommended to fans of the series, the author, the sport, mm romance and laughter.

5 of 5 stars

Audio

(The teaser is a free audio you can find here: https://www.avongalewrites.com/freebie/) It’s narrated by Scott Smith, too.

What makes the teaser fun, is part of what makes this audio so much fun- Misha! They are probably two of my all time favorite MCs – Max and Misha. Though I love Lane and Jared a ton, too… hard to choose!

In any case, we’ve met Drake before and he’s got a fairly decent Southern accent. I’m not sure what I was expecting for Laurent, maybe someone with more of a French accent – but as he tells everyone repeatedly, he’s American, so he has a flat American accent.

Laurent’s father has a vague French accent and it’s pretty good.

I guess Scott is growing on me. I love this series so much that I’ve listened to the entire thing over and over despite the fact that I’m not really enthralled with the narrator. He tries hard with the accents, but he places weird emphasis on words sometimes that makes it seems like he doesn’t understand what he’s saying. But… he is otherwise easy to listen to and for that I’m grateful.

I have come to ADORE his version of Misha and we get a lot of Misha in this story. (When Misha and Drake argue with one another and Misha gets all riled up – MAN did I love that!) Max is also wonderful and he’s there a bunch, too.

I think this is a great way to experience this, the continuity is nice – having the same narrator for the entire series – and it’s a fantastic story. Highly Recommended!
4.5 of 5 stars for the Audio

Overall 4.75 (rounded to 5 ) of 5 stars

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The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews

33009275Blurb

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

This new version has been extensively rewritten, updated, and expanded into a new adult romance with explict on-page sex.

Review

I did not read the original version, but I have to wonder if it wasn’t a bit more appropriate for this story.

Alex is a 20 year old (virgin!) Olympic figure skater who is so focused on winning he has no time for anything else and no social filter thus no real friends and definitely no boyfriends (or even hookups!). He’s on his fourth coach in 6 years and has moved to Toronto to work with her where he meets Matt, another of her pupils?, a pairs skater.

Alex notices Matt but finds him “boring” but that’s unimportant anyway as all he focuses on is win, win, win.

Matt isn’t a very well developed character, and though he has some potential interesting things about him (his Italian blue collar family, being in the closet, an injury situation) he doesn’t translate as a overly “interesting” and I can kinda see Alex’s point.

But… they do cross paths and eventually end up as boyfriends.

**

What worked for me: I liked Alex as a character. I think he rang very authentic. The kind of drive it takes to make it the Olympics requires a certain personality type that isn’t going to just give up – ever!

I thought his being a virgin and how that got handled was both sweet and sexy (there were parts I didn’t like that I’ll get to) but that definitely added some much needed heart to this very self-centered, driven character.

I thought the background info on training and the figure skating circuit was pretty interesting. I kinda wanted there to be a bit more drama surrounding the gay v straight skaters – especially if that’s a real thing!

I loved the secondary characters – the other skaters, the coach, the parents – and thought they added a lot to this story.

What didn’t work for me: I didn’t feel a connection between Matt and Alex. They spent too much time apart and the time together either fighting or “making out” – ahem – or more. When Alex “flipped” and saw Matt in a new light it didn’t feel authentic and it felt more like a virgin wanting experience than a boy falling in love.

Matt – as a character – needed to be developed more. Maybe if we’d seen things from his POV I’d have felt more connected to him. He had so much potential – his family, his finances, his injury situation… but he just read as pretty flat to me.

What really didn’t work for me was the “dirty talk”. This felt tacked on to give this YA story an adult spin and it didn’t feel authentic at all. It didn’t match the tone of the rest of the story and made me a little uncomfortable.

I’m guessing the YA version is less “sexy” but I’m wondering if that’s more appropriate.

In any case. Keira is a gifted writer and I was captivated by the story and didn’t ever feel like I wanted to stop reading. I NEEDED to know how it ended and was moderately pleased by the HFN ending. Maybe if we’d seen these guys down the road… I’m not sure. With something like competitive sports that only happen every four years… wow – you just have to be kind of crazy to keep going don’t you?

I think fans of the author will like this, fans of figure skating as well, and fans of high-maintenance characters will get a kick out of Alex.

 

3.5 of 5 stars

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Amazon link

https://www.amazon.com/Next-Competitor-Figure-Skating-Romance-ebook/dp/B01N5BX708/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1481738013&sr=1-1&keywords=the+next+competitor+keira

Catching Heir by Julia Talbot

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents
https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/catching-heir-by-julia-talbot-7737-b

 

32631798Blurb

Is he in love with an old hotel—or its new owner?

Professional snowboarder Cullen Patrick is successful and kinda famous. So when he inherits an old Colorado hotel from an unknown relative, he really should leave well enough alone.

Matt Nathanson has been managing the Treeline Estates since college. He loved the elderly former owner, and he stands to inherit the place if no one claims it in the next week. Of course, Cullen shows up, and Matt thinks it’s time to move on. He doesn’t want to like Cullen, no matter how engaging the guy is, or how hunky.

Cullen has grand ideas for the Treeline, but he doesn’t want to implement them without Matt, and he’s not sure he’s ready to give up snowboarding. Can Matt convince Cullen that putting down roots is worth it… and maybe catch his heir at the same time? 

Review

There are a few things you have to like to enjoy this book:

  • The author’s writing style. If you’re not familiar – take a peek – because it’s more stream of consciousness than other writers. Lots of one word sentences. Impressions rather than full blown ideas. Emotions rather than complex narratives. I really like it and think it works well in her shifter novels because those are based on an animal mind set that doesn’t “think” in the same way humans do.
  • Learning about how to run a hotel.
  • Learning snow boarding lingo.
  • No sex (fade to black)

I liked the opposites attract but found a lot of the dialog didn’t work for me. It was a bit too disjointed and “young” and I have no idea if it was accurate or not but it still felt a bit much on a 30 year old.

For two people who were so passionate about one another having it be fade to black was disconcerting as well. I know Dreamspun desires doesn’t require that so I’m not sure I agree with the author’s choice to go that way.

I like the author’s work with shifter novels but this wasn’t my favorite. It was fun, but not great. Really sweet ending though.

2.75 (rounded to 3) of 5 stars

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Checking It Twice (The Carlisles #3) by Meg Harding

release day review

Dreamspinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/checking-it-twice-by-meg-harding-7813-b

32798036Blurb

Closeted professional hockey player Eric Belanger is falling hard for an out-and-proud male model. He’s unable to resist Dorian’s charm and pushing personal boundaries he never thought he’d cross. But Dorian is the kind of guy who deserves someone who isn’t afraid to be himself. Eric’s fears about what coming out will do to his career clash with the future he hopes to build with Dorian. He knows he’ll eventually have to make a choice.

Dorian Carlisle knows better than to date a man who wants to keep him a secret, but there’s something about Eric he can’t ignore. So he’ll take the risk, and it’ll be all right, because this isn’t a forever romance. He’s happy to live in the moment. But somehow, at some point, feelings sneak up on him and he’s not okay anymore. At a breaking point, Dorian must also make a decision. Their time together will either be the start of something wonderful or nothing more than a happy memory.

Review

Eric is a an adorkable hockey player who meets Dorian doing promo work for an advertiser. He’s in the closet and barely had any sexual experience but knows he wants to try something with Dorian. He figures that Dorian, more than many others he might run into, has very little motivation to try to “ruin him” or out him for being gay and is therefore not only hot, but maybe safe, too?

Dorian knows it’s a bad idea to hook up with someone as closeted as Eric but he can’t help but be attracted. Once they start seeing each other, he finds he’s as attracted to what’s inside of Eric as what’s on the outside.

**

I really liked the way Dorian handles Eric’s sexual inexperience (and Eric, too for that matter). It felt both respectful and bossy and realistic, too. (Not everybody is perfect in bed together the first time they touch!)

I was glad to see Dorian stand up for himself and not let Eric’s unwillingness to be out pull him back into the closet.   I’m not sure how Eric thought hanging out with Dorian “as a friend” wouldn’t look suspicious, but I was glad Dorian stood up for himself with Eric’s friends and hockey mates.  That, too, felt authentic. The push-pull of wanting Eric but hating it at the same time.

I still find the present tense style of writing to be really bulky and awkward and it’s definitely not my favorite as it pulls me out of the story time and again stumbling over phrases that just don’t sound right.

This was a lot better than book two, but I still like book one the most in this series.

I’m excited about Denver’s story but not sure if I’ll pick it up to read, mostly because I just don’t like that writing style – so much!

Fans of the series will be pleased with this (though it absolutely works as a stand-alone) as will fans of Hockey player romances.

4 of 5 stars

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Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) Audioboook by Avon Gale Narrated by Scott Smith

audiobookreview

Dreampsinner Presents

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/power-play-by-avon-gale-7791-b

o-power-playBlurb

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending guilt-ridden years for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime to forget, but also a sleazy GM determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets the team, Misha revisits his darkest days, which might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

 

Review

(Book reviewed here previously)

In the same universe as Jared, Lane, Ethan, Riley and Zoe we have two coaches this time, Max and Misha.

Max was injured years ago by Misha in the Stanley Cup playoffs in such a way that he can never play pro-Hockey again. Misha, as a result of his part in the injury, retires as well after that fateful game.

Now, a conniving team owner puts the two of them together as coaches, hoping to stir a media controversy to bring in fans to watch his struggling hockey team.

At first the two are leery of one another, but never fighting. Slowly, as the season moves on they begin to rely on the other as friends and then, bravely, Max hits on Misha and then all bets are off!

**

I cannot say enough good things about Avon Gale’s writing. She uses humor, fast-paced dialog, solid hockey knowledge and great timing to grab you right from the beginning and immerse you in her stories.

In this case we have Max who is so easy going it’s almost unbelievable. But that’s the perfect foil for Misha who worries over every little thing. I liken Avon’s writing to Max in that both are warm and inviting, clever and funny but straight forward, no B.S.

Misha, with his secrets and his past in Russia (Yeah, Max, the real Russia!) is the dark to Max’s light and the deep to Max’s sometimes superficial. Max is easy to love and great for morale. Misha has deep thinking and strategies and passion that binds people to him.

I really appreciated the fact that she gave us a new team (which means she had to develop an entire new set of characters- hard!) rather than continuing to add bi-sexual men to the team we knew – thus making it a bit more fantastical and incestuous. This way we get a whole new bunch of guys to learn about and love. The work was totally worth it!

I highlighted like a fiend in this book – Avon’s dialog is like that – so damn funny you want to remember it all!

I love how clueless Max is about geography and anything “adult”.

“Russians were sneaky. No wonder they won the Cold War. Wait… did they?”

“F**cking Polish prick!” “We don’t bully because people are from other—countries?” Max looked briefly at Misha, who nodded imperceptibly. He found Max’s complete lack of understanding about world geography both exasperating and endearing.”

This story had an underlying tone of seriousness to it – probably Misha’s doing – that I really appreciated. It made Isaac’s story and Misha’s so much more riveting and the story was richer for it.

I highly recommend this book and the entire series!

6 of 5 stars

Audio

Max is from Minnesota. I’m not sure what accent the narrator was going for but it does not sound good. Misha sounds – ok, pretty good in fact. My main problem with this narrator is that he has no differentiation in his speech pattern. Every sentence ends on an up swing. Everything is like “Hey, did you know they have PRESENTS in there?” Like it’s a positive, question. He doesn’t do romantic or high emotion well at all because it’s all the same intonation and pacing.

I love these books SO much, so I grit my teeth and bear it, but really, I don’t like this narrator and I wish there’d been someone else available for this series.

2 of 5 stars

Overall 4 of 5 stars for the Audio

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Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) Audiobook by Avon Gale Narrated by Scott Smith

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Dreamspinner Presents
http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=7362

51l0banwil-_sl300_Blurb

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 new 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. While trying to financially help Ethan, Riley must hide his family’s wealth so as not to hurt Ethan’s immense pride. 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

(Book reviewed here previously)

We met Riley and Kennedy in book one – Riley is sort of ambiguous when it comes to his sexuality and Kennedy identifies as straight. They end up rooming together when Kennedy has trouble finding a place to land and Riley likes having a roommate.

They end up becoming really good friends but Riley isn’t sure there might not be some underlying other… to their relationship.

One night things get … interesting… and Kennedy isn’t willing to let it lie. He confronts Riley about what’s between them and this starts their mutual exploration into a relationship beyond friendship.

**

Avon Gale recently told us on FaceBook that she’s gonna devote even more time to writing – THANK GOD! I think she’s amazingly gifted. Humor is – hands down- the hardest thing to communicate in writing and she EXCELS at it.

“Riley gave him the keys, and Ethan came back with some beer,
a piping hot pizza, laundry detergent, and fabric softener—something
Riley didn’t know about until he moved into his first apartment, because
he’d had to look up how to do laundry on the Internet.
They ate pizza, did their laundry, played Grand Theft Auto, and
watched hockey. Sometimes Riley looked over and caught Ethan
watching him, and vice versa. They both pretended not to notice. It was
clear, unspoken guy language that meant “If we don’t talk about it, it
didn’t happen.”

“Yeah. I mean, come on. This is a sport played by a bunch of guys
who hang around each other and compete all the time. You tell me you
don’t think sex gets mixed up with that, and I’ll make you talk to Lane
about feelings again.”

“How’s being gay going?” Lane asked him at one point, and Zoe
immediately lectured him about ignoring the existence of bisexuals.
Lane listened like a hockey player getting a lecture from his coach and
then turned back to Riley and said, “So?”
Zoe sighed. “This is when I don’t miss you.”

What I loved was that these boys were up front and honest right from the start – no hand wringing and wondering. It felt so authentic. They talked like men/boys and acted like men/boys and as a result the story just felt so natural and plausible. Even though it’s essentially a double GFY which – in theory – is like the storybook unicorn.

There are a lot of feels in this book too – and super hot smexy times – it pretty much has it all!

Of course we get to see more of Lane – who is my personal favorite character – maybe of all time (there are a couple others who rival with him but he’s up there) and we get to see all that sweaty hockey action, as well.

Another proof of a gifted writer (and storyteller) is that someone like me – a non sports person – READS the hockey stuff! And I understood it! Woot!

It can be hard to follow up a great book – sequels get a bad rap – but this absolutely does it’s job and keeps the awesomeness flowing! This is a great follow up to Breakaway – and since that was my all time favorite book of 2015 you know that means something!

I highly recommend this to fans of hockey, sweaty jocks, people with a sense of humor and anyone with more than two brain cells to rub together!

6 of 5 stars

Audio

Scott Smith is the narrator from book one and so if you’ve enjoyed book one, you have a fair idea of how his narration is for book two.  I enjoyed the fact that he attempted some sort of “New York” accent for Ethan and his family, though I’m not sure exactly which part of New York he’s supposed to be from.  His Riley is fairly robotic, which I believe is intentional based on the character.  These, by themselves, would be imperfections, but fine if it weren’t for the rest of his narration.  He tends to end every sentence on an upswing lilt like every sentence ends with an exclamation mark.  He doesn’t modulate his pacing for deep emotion and the humorous parts are done with the same inflection as the touching parts.

While I was absolutely able to listen to this in it’s entirety, it was definitely disappointing, especially since I love this series so very much.

All in all, if you enjoyed the narrator in book one, you will again, and if you didn’t care for him, you probably won’t here either.

3 of 5 stars

Overall

4 of 5 stars

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