Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
When opposites attract, it’s not just the team that’s in for a shake-up.
When a stipulation in his father’s will throws Mark back into a family that disowned him, he has only two things on his mind; buying his way out of contractual obligations and running in the opposite direction as fast as he can. When neither option pans out, he finds he is now a one third owner of the struggling Arizona Raptors hockey team, and that is just about the worst thing he could have happened to him. Not only does he hate hockey, but the Raptors are a bottom-of-the-league team, rife with jealousies and anger in a locker room that only knows self-pity. How is he supposed to help turn things around when the only way to start fixing things is to form an alliance with the estranged siblings he’d run from fifteen years earlier?
Then there’s Rowen Carmichael, a stubborn, opinionated, irritating man with superiority issues and questionable taste in music. Butting heads with Rowen, who he’d never even wanted to hire in the first place, is one thing, but there is no way in hell that he will allow the growing attraction to the new coach become anything more. Until with everything on the line, he has to make decisions that will change his life forever.
After years of collegiate coaching, Rowen is given an offer that he simply can’t refuse, although perhaps he should. When he’s presented with the chance to take one of the worst teams in the league and mold them into a future cup contender, the challenge is just too alluring to pass up. He leaves his beloved Ontario behind and moves west to the arid city of Tucson where he is faced with a broken team, shoddy management, and players overflowing with resentment and bigotry.
Never in his twenty years of hockey has he ever seen such a raging dumpster fire of an organization. Yet there’s something about this team and this city that compels him to roll up his sleeves and start dismantling. He has his eye on a new associate coach that’s bound to makes waves, and several key players who should be sent packing. Now all he has to do is convince the new owners of the team that his choices are for the best. If only Mark Westman-Reid, one of three siblings who now own the Raptors, wasn’t so damned rock-headed, so damned snooty, and so damned appealing his job might be a bit easier.
The new series by RJ Scott and VL Locey picks up after the graduation of senior Ryker Madsen and his draft into the hated Arizona Raptors (Owatonna U series). You have to have read both the Harrisburg Railers series and the Owatonna U series to know exactly how loathsome this team is in just about every way. That’s the starting point and the road to redemption that Coast to Coast begins on.
It’s a huge thing to make the fans and readers like this team that we have frankly despised for so long and still do with some of the hateful players deeply embedded within the team. And now Ryker is there, the last place we and him want him to be. Yikes!
So how to dig the team out of the well of negative emotions the authors have dug for them? As the blurb says, it starts with a shake-up. In ownership and management and coaching. All around. The death of the team owner and his will reunites an estranged family with the son and brother that left years ago. Mark Westman-Reid’s presence is needed to help run the team, and that means staying in Arizona and leaving his business and life in NYC behind. The last thing he wants to do. And he clashes with the man his father hired. Rowen Carmichael,, there to turn the club around and given a certain carte blanche that irritates the sons that inherited the team and that, in his opinion, clearly don’t understand the game.
The strong personalities are set from the beginning. It’s a great opposites attract storyline that has it’s sexy, charismatic men snarling at it each from the beginning. And that’s so hot. The men push, pull, dance around, until the heat just explodes. The relationship dynamics just work.
Other threads includes the fractured family with revelations of its own. Some of the issues here were especially deep and involved some very serious elements, I thought perhaps some of the family secrets were either dealt with too quickly or smoothed over, but perhaps it was the length of the book. There was so much going on here, not just with Mark’s family but with the hugge elements on the team too.
That would be the defenseman,Aarni, who horrifically injured Ryker’s stepdad, the devil’s own thug on skates that has to be dealt with. Rowen has a great group of young players we meet while still managing with the sour leftovers of a team at it’s lowest. Here once more we get the writers best when telegraphing the inner workings of the locker room, skate practice, or the hesitate fumblings of a team trying to come together.
The last part of the story brings it all thundering together in a painful, thoughtful, and complicated ending that points the way to a more hopeful future for the Raptors and this couple. A definite surprise for all the longtime fans.And now I can’t wait for the next in the series. I would definitely recommend reading the first two series for all that added knowledge of the characters you will be meeting and the situations talked about in the stories. Plus look at all the great novels you will be reading. Win win.
Cover art:Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Kindle Edition, 199 pages
Published September 29th 2019 by Love Lane Books Ltd
SeriesArizona Raptors #1