Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire – if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.
Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the sociology department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least, not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.
But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk his heart when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.
Any hockey romance is an autoread or listen for me. I just can’t help myself, especially so one by author Avon Gale. So I was really looking forward to listening to the new audiobook, Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn as narrated by Kirt Graves.
The first in a new series, I’m hoping it follows others in the Atlanta Venom team because several come across just as layered and interested as Tristan. Tristan actually is my favorite character here, thoughtful, big hearted, intelligent, and sexy. What’s not to love? In comparison, professor Sebastian, who is older, comes off as judgmental, temperamental, and not as easy to connect with. Oh, yes, and he’s a bit of a Dom. Not that he’s not believable, Sebastian is, its just that he’s not so easy to like at first.
It’s lust at first sight, the liking comes later. For both the characters and the reader. At least for me.
As always, the hockey element is amazing. From the interplay on ice to the team dynamics, the game comes live and the love for all aspects of hockey is something that you can just feel as an active ingredient in this wonderful story. It’s the foundation, framework, and spice that adds energy to everything that happens here.
The characters are so solid that even the supporting secondary cast feel just as noteworthy as Tristan and Sebastian. You want to know more about each and every person you come in contact with and hope that new stories that arrive happen to bring these people further under the microscope.
I loved the romance, as stressful and argumentative as it got at times. The authors made it, well, if not easy, then each characters perspective accessible. Together the men are hot and sexy, the D/s was something they were exploring together as Tristan was new to the idea of a submissive role. The heat factor here? Off the charts.
Kirt Graves handled all of the roles and voices beautifully, no matter the gender. It was easy to differentiate each character, and he made the story flow quickly. I will definitely seek out more stories narrated by him.
Now I can’t wait for the next in the series. Doesn’t matter whether it is the eBook or audiobook version. I may want both.
In the meantime, I highly recommend this audiobook version for all lovers of contemporary romance with a hockey base.
Cover art is perfect. Love the bench and the player with his skates.
Sales Links: Audible
Listening Length: 7 hours and 53 minutes
Audible Audio, 8 pages
Published May 15th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published October 30th 2017)
SeriesHat Trick #1
CharactersTristan Holt, Sebastian Cruz, Ryu Mori, Trevor Morley, Daniel Bellamy settingAtlanta, Georgia (United States)