Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way.
He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby.
Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.
Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?
Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him.
Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?
I’ve been waiting for Stan’s story ever since being introduced to the goalie in the Harrisburg Railers series. With his staunch Russian soul and broken English, Stan quickly won my heart and those of a multitude of readers. We wanted his story and his HEA. Now we have it in Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey. Should have known it would be a heartbreaker.
Turns out Stan has a secret love that went badly and ex shows up as a player brought up from their farm team to join the line. All the heartache and betrayal made fresh daily. I love that Scott and Locey finally give us a window into this complicated man who misses his family, his mother and sister back in Russia, that he’s been creating a home for in Harrisburg. Given his pov, we see his relative isolation (courtesy of his language barrier), his love for his team, and the crushing pain Erik’s handling of their affair has dealt him. It is a visceral hurt for us all, due in part to the authors vivid and emotional descriptions that bring us deeply into Stan’s life.
Erik’s perspective also become’s a necessary part of their story. We need to see what drove his decision, his interaction with his son, everything in order to connect with the man that hurt Stan. Twining the two shared men’s stories strengthens our hopes and resolve to see them together. You can see how clearly Erik needs not only Stan but the rest of the team for support, emotional and otherwise.
I loved watching the team meld together. Locey is such an excellent sports writer. Her scenes of the team together visually on ice, lining up as a team, mentally or figuratively, work to bring this novel alive. So too the characters as breathing hockey players. I
One element I very much appreciated was the development of the mother’s character. There is no lop-sided villainess here but an individual not prepared to be a mother. This is a thoughtful portrayal, realistic and believable. I enjoy the hockey scenes as much as the romance….almost….lol.
There is a wonderful epilogue and a setup for the next story. Honestly, this is one of my favorite series, full of complex men, with each relationship far different from the next. I couldn’t recommend it more. That includes Poke Check.
Cover Design: Meredith Russell . Not my favorite cover. Neither is my idea of the characters. I mean have you seen Alex Ovechkin, the great 8, or any other of the Russian players?No match, not even close to the all American looking guy on the cover.
Kindle Edition, 178 pages
Published February 11th 2018 by Love Lane Books Ltd
SeriesHarrisburg Railers #4
Book #1 – Changing Lines
Book #2 – First Season
Book #3 – Deep Edge