Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Rating: 4 stars
Received from Publisher
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 that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’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, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not 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: I love this series! Of course I’m a big fan of hockey so that helps. This book brings us back to the most hated team in the ECHL, the Asheville Ravens. The Ravens have played the villains in previous books so there is quite a bit of history mixed up in this one. Lots of cameos from previous characters. Mainly those who were affected most by the previous coach of the Ravens. Like all the other books in this series it features a new couple. The dynamic in this one is coach and player. Normally this wouldn’t be my thing but for this couple it worked. They’re close in age and there’s no coercion needed to get these two together. It’s like a switch flips when they’re together. They’re smoking hot together!
Troy is taking over as coach after the last coach is fired for being a totally evil and disgusting human being in a previous book. Being the most hated team in the league creates problems. Troy is determined to get the team back on track and earn respect back the right way. One of his new players is Shane. Shane thinks this will his last year in hockey. Accepting this isn’t an easy thing but what can he do? He knows of the teams history but the damage done to the players by the last coach is obvious. Shane didn’t plan to get too invested in making friends but he can’t help himself. The moral is so low. He finds himself stepping up more. Shane isn’t out to the public yet. Troy the coach is. The two clash right away. Which seems to get them off. Creating some off the charts sexual tension. Sleeping with your players is definitely frowned upon. Despite all that they can’t seem to keep from hooking up. Neither man has ever been in love before so finding it with each other proves to be another emotional hurdle for them to overcome.
I LOVED the back and forth between Troy and Shane. Troy is shockingly blunt at times but Shane handles him brilliantly. There is a ton of dirty talk in this one. I like how they challenged each other at every turn. It was like foreplay for Troy and Shane and highly entertaining for me. At first I didn’t know if I’d love this couple but I absolutely did. They’re bristly but lovable. Coach’s Challenge seemed to have a healing vibe for the characters. Both for the ones featured in this book and those from previous books. If you’re a fan of Avon Gale or this series I’m sure you’ll love it. If you haven’t read her previous books I highly recommend them. I wouldn’t start with this one however because there is so much history involved with the Raven’s team. I recommend reading the entire series!