Rating: 5 stars out of 5
Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and 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, 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, and 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 Laurent—or their relationship—together.
Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating).
Ah, Belsy. The GM of the Spitfires is always looking for a wild way to promote his team. If its a bit lurid, so much the better. As fans and readers of this series know, each story builds upon the other. So Empty Net rests firmly on the foundation of the other stories about the Spitfires, their coaches, and their goalie, Isaac Drake. We were also afforded a small look at the hated Ravens, their despicable Coach, and his son the goalie Laurent St. Savoy. Enough to get a feeling that perhaps under all those poisonous words and actions of the Ravens goalie, something deeper lay waiting to be revealed.
As is Avon Gale’s way, the author manages to both focus on the individual, the couple, and the team. All at the same time, knowing that with hockey, you can’t separate the two, or in this case the three. Somehow, Avon Gale pulls off a Gordie Howe hat trick of a story. The author manages to take a character so wounded, so in pain and start to bring him a semblance of healing, love, and the ability to move forward. For another, Isaac Drake? More character growth and a depth in personality that’s amazing, to be able to rise and be a winner in aspects he might not have conceived of stories ago. And of course, there’s a fight. Perhaps, not the one you might expect. But exceedingly satisfying.
Gale’s characterizations are always exceptional, and Scoring Chances really raises the bar. In Isaac Drake and Laurent St. “Saint” Savoy, you have two young men damaged by their families, each taking a different path under that emotional and physical abuse. We have learned much about Drake’s in the past stories. So in this respect, we get a in depth look at what a father’s hatred can do to a son. I will mention that if you have a trigger for bulimia or eating disorders, that is an element that is part of Saint’s character and is examined closely here as is his past physical abuse.
His treatment of his son, how the self hatred manifests itself…it is all treated realistically as is getting Saint help. Your heart will ache for this character and all he’s been through. And the relationship as Saint learns social skills, not only as a boyfriend,but as a teammate and friend to other players? Golden moments indeed. I ended up cherishing this couple, the dialogs, all the scenes. Some tragic, some remarkable, and yes, some very funny.
All the other teammates are well accounted for as are the two coaches (who I loveO Samarin and Ashford. Gale never forgets the importance of the team, the place of the players within it, and the teams support of them both. It’s that rock solid foundation that allows them all to soar. And Gale to deliver this hat trick!
How I adore this story and series. A comfort read times 5. Yes I highly recommend them all. Read them in the order they were written for the best experience you could wish for. Another story coming up!
Cover art: Aaron Anderson. I love these covers, brands the series perfectly and works for each story.
Sales Links: Amazon