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.
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.
“There’s pretty much nothing better than waking up every morning and kissing your best friend.”
I highly recommend this book and the entire series!
5 of 5 stars
GRL 2016 author!