Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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: An m/m book about hockey players is a must read for me. Yes I love the sport but I don’t think you need to know much about it to follow along in this book. The author does a great job of making it meaty for hockey lovers like myself but approachable if you know nothing about it. For those of you who do love it there’s a good amount of time on the ice in this one. Lane and Jared are the focus though and boy were they fun to read about. I loved this book. I smiled, laughed out loud and swooned. The guys were so damn sexy together.
Lane is a rookie who has been drafted by an NHL team. He doesn’t get to go right to the big time however. He’s on the farm team’s farm team so to speak. That’s where all the talent is assessed and developed for the big time. There are levels to work your way up to. Lane is Canadian and in the states alone for the first time in his life. He’s a good hockey player with great potential. He’s also totally and utterly socially awkward. Lane just doesn’t pick up on the normal cues or witty banter most people give back forth all day. He’s always in his own head. His character was so much fun. What made it even more fun was reading about Jared’s reaction to Lane. Lane has to be frustrating but also very unique. Jared is also very attracted to the younger man. So despite a fight on the ice for a first meeting, Lane is NOT a fighter, the sparks fly right away. The story gets a little more complex because Lane feels a bit of shame for being attracted to men based on the reaction of his mom after he’s caught kissing a boy. Lane knows how he feels but he’s hesitant to give into it because he doesn’t want to get punched, again, or rejected by Jared. Jared sees this and knows he shouldn’t react to Lane’s attraction but he just can’t seem to help himself. What follows is some very educating and open exploration of sex and love between the hockey rivals.
I think what I like most about this book is you get the amazing relationship between two characters I freaking loved, while also getting many other story lines that kept my full attention. The story flips back and forth between Lane’s and Jared’s POVs. Both men have very different acceptance issues with their parents. Both men are in new territory with the relationship thing. Both men love the game of hockey. And sex! They’re very open with their sexuality and it just works for them. Their back and forth is SO much fun to read about. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at some of it. Lane and his obliviousness one minute and saying things he shouldn’t the next. Then poor Jared trying to navigate his way through it. I just love them together. Jared is amazingly sexy. You know how characters blush but are also hot and bothered at the same time? I found myself feeling this throughout the entire book when Jared focused in on Lane. It’s damn sexy. He’s strong and funny and kind. My kind of man!
The secondary characters were a lot of fun. Lane and his best friend were a joy to read about. Almost as much fun as Jared. There’s something about this book that leaves me feeling warm and fuzzy but also on a book high. I liked how the league at this level wasn’t full of homophobes. No manufactured angst or psychos causing problems. The focus was the characters finding love and playing hockey. Growing as people and moving on to the next phases of their lives. Getting past their demons together to find their happiness.
This is my second book I’ve really enjoyed by this author. There’s a real depth to her characters that draws me in. I of course ran to see if there would be more books coming out in this series and yes there will be! Four more! I was so so happy to hear it and it sounds like Riley the even tempered goalie is next up for love. If you like quirky lovable characters you’ll adore these guys. I totally recommend picking this one up!