Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4.5 stars
Type: Novel in a Series
Received from Publisher
Blurb: 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: I’ve loved every minute of this series. I’m a huge fan of hockey and this genre so it is basically tailor made for me. What I also love are that these books are very character driven. You feel all the emotions they’re going through right along with them. The hockey and humor are just a huge bonus for me.
In the last book we were introduced to Isaac the goalie with a sketchy past. There was a run in with the other MC Laurant aka Saint in the previous book as well. Laurant is the son of the evil coach of the Ravens. Their story is one of enemies to lovers. Isaac is loud and proud. Totally unapologetic for who he is and loves hockey. He’s found a home with the Spitfires. He has a roof over his head and people who care about him. Then he learns who the new back up goalie is to be. It’s Laurant the guy he has trouble with from a rival team in the playoffs the year before. There’s tension at first but Isaac is the captain and doesn’t want bad blood to ruin his team dynamic. He also sees what a mess Laurant is once he gets past all the ugly things he says. Isaac makes Laurant try harder. Even gives him a nickname, Saint. Saint doesn’t just have a bad attitude however. His entire life he’s been subjected to physical and emotional abuse. Normal and loved isn’t something Saint has ever known.
There are a few heavy subjects covered in this book. The abuse is never on page but it doesn’t need to be to have an impact. You see it in everything Laurant does. He has no idea how to handle situations that make him uncomfortable and everything makes him uncomfortable. Laurant has never known kindness or friendship. Affection. Basically Isaac has to gain his trust and help him learn how to navigate life without blowing up at everyone. This part of the book is tragic but also healing. Laurant has also never had a lover. He hasn’t ever wanted anyone to touch him. The sexual awakening between them also seemed like a healing experience where Laurant learns to feel something good and let someone in. It was so lovely to read about. More than just sex. It was also an emotional awakening which just made it that much more beautiful. Laurant also gains a support system by way of the hockey team that helps him move on and gain the courage be free of his father once and for all. The bulimia didn’t play a huge role in the book. It was more of a coping mechanism of Laurant to have some kind of control over his anxieties but it is present.
Even with all that going on I didn’t think this book felt too heavy. There’s lots of sweet and funny moments to give the book balance. I loved the playful flirty banter between Laurant and Isaac. Even when it’s strained it was so so good and so them. I loved Hux in this one! So be prepared to cheer, laugh and maybe cry. The love story was excellent which made the sex scenes much more sexy IMO. I’m looking forward to the next one. Xavier from the Ravens had some page time in this one so I’m hoping he and his mess of a team are next up in the series.