A MelanieM Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

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 out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’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, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to 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.

I hate coming to the last of the released books in a series I love, especially this one.  Scoring Chances has really grabbed at my heart with the stories of competing teams in the ECHL, whether it’s been the  Jacksonville Sea Storm, Spartanburg Spitfires, and here finally the reviled Asheville Ravens, and the hockey players within those teams that love and fought hard on and off the ice.

What a group its been.  Closeted players, tormented coaches, goalies tossed away by their families and rich kids coming into their own and finding love and themselves on and off the ice.  Avon Gale has captured the essence of this game at its most basic while giving the readers great romance and yes, sexy men.

ECHL is a special place.  Easy Come Hard to Leave as the author has mentioned the East Coast Hockey League is called.  The players come into it not solely by draft, although those lucky enough to be drafted by the NHL are sent there first to learn the ropes and get seasoning.  No, hockey players can just show up and try out, no draft needed.    It lends itself to a special type of player and mentality.  And a camaraderie between the players off the ice after the games are over.  It’s an atmosphere where the pay is miniscule, the hours long, and the passion for the game hot.

We get that in these stories and from these men and couples.  Certainly so here from the man trying to rebuild one of the most hated teams in the ECHL.  That would be the Ashville Ravens. In Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale we finally get an inside look at the team we’ve only seen on the other side of the rink.  Usually its after they’ve tossed slurs at some of our favorite men or even committed crimes against them.   Now we get the flip side as Troy Callahan takes on the unenviable job of coach and rebuilding this team completely after the events of the last story.

Troy has given up the chance to coach in the NHL to rebuild the Ravens and all the reasons why fall out quickly.  Troy’s character is hockey tough, his personal pain still  driving him, and he’s easy to connect to.  So is the man arriving late to training, Shane North, a hockey player in the last year before retirement and looking to go out the right way.

Shane North, older, looking for one last year of hockey, played honorably, is a perfect person to represent a ECHL player.  Someone with years of playing behind them who still wants to play, that one more year.  Who continues to love the game.  He’s human, layered, and so personable that I just fell in love with him.   And his rickety car that barely made it to Ashville.

Between Shane and Troy, the chemistry is immediately hot, the dynamics perfect, and I love the way their relationship plays out  professionally and out of uniform.

There is still fallout from the scandal and NHL proceedings that entwine throughout the story.  The intrigue and suspense just adds to the overall depth and enjoyment.  But the real stars here remain the game and the romance.  The action on the ice, the plays, the excitement! You can almost imagine these teams and players are real.  That goes for the love and romance too.

I just adore this series and hope eventually to see another story release.  There are other players here that need their HEA and story told.   I’ll be waiting for it and them.

Until that happens, I’ll be content to reread this series as is.  Are you new to it?  I highly recommend each and every story but read them in the order they were written to understand the history of the teams, the players, and the Kelley Cup.  It’s a journey you won’t want to miss out on.

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  Again, another great cover that brands the series and the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Coach’s Challenge
ISBN139781635337662
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #5

Reviewer note: arcs purchased directly from Amazon for the entire series.

Scoring Chances Series – add to Goodreads here

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review:Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale

Standard

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

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published September 2nd 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Empty Net
ISBN 1634775856 (ISBN13: 9781634775854)
Edition Language English

Scoring Chances Series

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review: Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

With each new novel in the Scoring Chances series I’m finding myself saying “oh, this is now my favorite story and couple”.  Because this series just keeps getting better and better.

Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale switches the focus of the series over to the hapless Spartanburg Spitfires, previously mentioned as the worst team in the ECHL, the one you didn’t want to be traded to.  Now it’s undergoing a radical change with a new coach and assistant coach team brought in by it’s owner and GM Max to light a fire and shake things up.  What better way then to team two men to coach together that were featured in one of the most notorious hockey injuries in recent memory?

However, under that powderkeg of a idea and storyline, lies a layered duo and a terrific plot. Misha Samarin, the demonized player (unfairly) in this scenario has since then logged many years both as a NHL player and minor league coach.  He’s earned this spot and respect.  The many dimensions to his personalities that will be plumbed during this story, not only through his interactions with Max and their shared accident and growing romance, but also through a player in the Spitfire team with a shared background.  I really connected with Misha and adored this man utterly.   He’s complex, intelligent, and amazing.  Then Gale pairs him with Max, who’s career as a player was finished by their shared accident on ice while Misha’s continued.  Max has had to rebuild and retool, his goals, his life…and the result is unexpectedly optimistic and charming.  While others might be bitter, Max is forward thinking and positive in his outlook, something that astonishes the Russian, who doesn’t expect forgiveness.

The dynamics and the chemistry between Max and Misha is electrifying.  For that alone, buy this book.  Then comes the hockey and this sad sack bunch that becomes a real cohesive hockey team under the guidance and leadership of these two men. It feels real, and authentic, and wow, do you start to cheer for them all.  Trust me, you’ll be picturing these games in your head and screaming and cheering them on…go Spitfires go.  Even that smarmy Belsy of a GM turns out to have layers….

Then there’s s Isaac Drake, goalie of the Spitfires.  He will win your heart too.  Just a complex character (ok he’s a goalie) and he is getting his own story too.  So worthy of it.

But I can’t help that it’s the Russians that continue to capture my heart.   Here it’s Mikhail ‘Misha’ Samarin who takes the honors.  With that haunted past, reserved manner, intelligence, and yes, humor, I’m addicted to him.  It doesn’t take long,  It didn’t for Max.  And it won’t for anyone picking up this story.

Love contemporary romance?  Whether you love hockey or not, this one is for you. Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale is well written, beautifully plotted, full of amazing characters and with a sexy, hot romance and great action on ice to boot.  Grab this and the entire series up for a reading experience guaranteed to stay with you!

Cover art: Aaron Anderson.  What that cover might surprise some people, those who love hockey know that the coaches wear suits as do the players coming into the area.  They look sharp and that suit projects the right powerful image i would expect of Misha Samarin.  excellent all around.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Published May 9th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Power Play
ISBN 163477244X (ISBN13: 9781634772440)
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #3
setting South Carolina (United States)

Scoring Chances Series

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review :Save of the Game (Scoring Chances #2) by Avon Gale

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

After last season’s heartbreaking loss to his hockey team’s archrival, Jacksonville Sea Storm goalie Riley Hunter is ready to let go of the past and focus on a winning season. His new roommate, Ethan Kennedy, is a loud New Yorker with a passion for social justice that matches his role as the team’s enforcer. The quieter Riley is attracted to Ethan and has no idea what to do about it.

Ethan has no hesitations. As fearless as his position demands, he rushes into things without much thought for the consequences.Though they eventually warm to their passionate new bond, it doesn’t come without complications. While trying to financially help Ethan, Riley must hide his family’s wealth so as not to hurt Ethan’s immense pride. For their relationship to work, Ethan will need to learn when to keep the gloves on and let someone help him—and Riley will have to learn it’s okay to let someone past his defenses.

As much as I love baseball, hockey and hockey players have slowly become my new boys of summer.  The NHL’s “Hockey for Everyone” campaign during Pride month just further solidified that position.  And we have some outstanding LGBT hockey romances to read and fall in love with, including Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series.

Save of the Game by Avon Gale is the second story in that series (one I had somehow overlooked and now catching up on).  And it’s another winner of a romance, contributing to the series and universe the author is building for this series and just an overall giangatic pleasure to read.

Picking up with the ECHL teams involved with a fierce rivalry and loss from last season (book one Breakaway), Save of the Game picks up with the aftermath with goalie Riley Hunter and his new roommate and teammate, Ethan Kennedy.  Riley is one we started to get to know in Breakaway.  There he was still a bit of an enigma.  But here, we get the man and it’s everything I was hoping for.  Complex, quirky as goalies are, unexpected, and compelling in his strange upbringing.  I liked him to begin with and then fell in love the more the layers pulled back to reveal the heart of this man.

Where Riley is all quiet and  interior walls, Ethan is all loud, prickly, and defensive in other ways.  His barriers are obvious, his emotions thrown out there but as a man he’s as irresistible as Riley.Maybe it’s because Gale has written this man with a heart as big as the team he loves so fiercely.  Given their diverse personalities, the march towards a  relationship is as quirky, loud, funny, painful, and just plain amazing as they are.

There are wonderful other characters here.  The teammates that will become important players in other stories or already have been, the families of both men  who  are vibrant characters in their own right.  No one here is someone you will easily forget.  Trust me on that.  Everyone makes an indelible impression on you.  On and off the ice.

Oh, but when they get on the ice!  The action here is incredible, the pace as fast as you would expect, the games and flow is actually thrilling.  Avon Gale can write hockey!

If I could buy a crazy Jacksonville Sea Storm jersey I would.  I’m that nuts about this team.  Even their rivals.  There is something about the ECHL (Easy Come Hard to  Leave as the East Coast Hockey League is known as ) that pulls you in and makes you a rabid fan.  Avon Gale is one.  She’s made me one too.   This great series will go a long way to making you one as well and picking up the phone to see where your own ECHL team may be.

If you aren’t familiar yet with either Avon Gale or any of her hockey stories, here is a series to start with.  I highly recommend them.  Including Save of the Game, which I love.  But start with Breakaway and work your way through.  I have listed them all below!  Enjoy!

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson,  I love these covers.  Perfect for the characters and do a great job branding the series.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

book, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner
Original Title Save of the Game
ISBN 1627980474 (ISBN13: 9781627980470)
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #2
setting Jacksonville, Florida (United States)
New York State (United States)
Florida (United States)

Scoring Chances Series

Breakaway

Save of the Game

Power Play

Overtime

Empty Net

Coach’s Challenge

A MelanieM Review:Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) by Avon Gale

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He’s put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.

Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

June was Pride Month and the NHL and all of its teams celebrated too with a month long event “Hockey is for Everyone”.  Rainbow events and merchandise appeared at NHL arena and hockey players showed up at Pride parades.  It was outstanding!  And they were the only sport to do it.

Hockey players and LGBT romance is also a great combination and this blog made a list of recommendation, to be found here.  As part of my summer reading I’m working my way through those novels I hadn’t gotten to yet.  Including this one.

Don’t know how I missed it because I love Avon Gale and Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) is both a great hockey novel which demonstrates a love and knowledge of the sport but a terrific romance, often laugh out loud, sexy and fun.

In the author’s notes, Gale mentions several autobiographies read in preparation for writing this (and other) stories.  I’m on the hunt for them now.  Because I truly believe hockey players are a unique sort of human, especially goalies.  Here Avon Gale brings in her love of the game, her depth of understanding of what it takes to play the sport, not just at the top but coming up from the ranks, if you ever do,  The lifestyle, the long hours and low pay, small attendance, and years of never being called up.  Of settling.  Here in Breakaway, it feels so authentic and human, and believable.

Especially when you are contrasting a young “talent”, drafted by an NHL team, whose time spent in the minor leagues will be brief…if he remains injury and screwup free, with a older veteran of the ice who is looking at retirement and a career played in the ECHL.    The differences are stark, and not just because they play on opposing teams.  That divide happens mostly on the ice for these players.  No, its experience, attitude, outlook, and even something called hope.

Jared Shore and Lane Courtnall couldn’t be more different but the life that this author enfuses into them through their scenes and their conversations made me connect so throughly to them both.  Lane, who is soooo different, that he defies description, often had me laughing out loud, especially in Jared’s reaction to him or whatever Lane was saying or doing.  The two of them together was comedic spice and sex and rowdy delight.  From chuckling to guffawing and sighing over their relationship, these two beautifully created characters have my heart.

It ends on a great upswing note, as both men are starting out on another path for them both.  I’m hoping to see them again somewhere in this series and get caught up in the next stage in their lives.

If you love hockey, the men who play it, and romance, here is a story not to be missed.  I highly recommend it.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson, this is a great cover containing an important element of the storyline.  I just love it.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 240 pages
Published November 27th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title Breakaway
ISBN139781634764865
Edition Language English
Series Scoring Chances #1
setting Florida (United States)

Literary Awards Bisexual Book Award Nominee for Romance (2015)

An Ali Audiobook Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances# 5) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)

Standard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
This was a really fun and entertaining read. It was a lighter installment than the last two books in the series and it was nice to get back to the easy flow of the first books. Troy and Shane are a bit older and their relationship is different in that it’s a coach/player dynamic. Fortunately the way it was done didn’t leave any creepy power imbalance vibes. Shane was older and close to retiring so he seemed like an equal to Troy. They were both also snarky and funny and I think I laughed out loud more in this book than any of the others. 

I enjoyed the humor and the easy way they came together. It’s nice to find romance books without all the angst and drama sometimes. My only complaint though was that these two were so snarky and teasing with each other that I didn’t feel a strong connection. I know that was their personalities but I wanted to see some sweet or loving or romantic declarations during their intimate times but we didn’t really get that. I new really felt a love match between them. A great friendship and some smexy times yes, but I wasn’t feeling the love even by the end.

This can be read as a standalone. There are some cameos by Isaac/Laurent and Misha/Max (which is always a treat) but this storyline works just fine on it’s own. We get to know a few other team mates a bit better and hopefully we’ll be seeing some of them getting their own books down the road. 
The audiobook was narrated by Scott R. Smith and I thought he did a nice job.  This series has used the same narrator throughout and I have to say I’m not a fan of that unless it’s the same characters.  When it’s different characters it makes me think “Oh that’s such as such from the previous book”.  So, the narrator’s voice and narration was fine but I would have enjoyed it more if it would have been someone else since these were two totally new (for the most part) characters.

If you’re a fan of the series I think you will enjoy this. If you are knew to this series, this one wasn’t my favorite, but it was still really enjoyable and I would recommend it.
The cover was done by Aaron Anderson and I love it.  I think the books for this series are some of the best in the genre.  They’re striking and they capture hockey perfectly.  
Audiobook Details:
6 hrs 50 mins
Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published December 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published June 26th 2017)
Original TitleCoach’s Challenge
ASINB078KKH2BY
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesScoring Chances #5

Piper’s Top Five NHL Defensemen and their release ‘​Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn ( tour and giveaway)

Standard

Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
Riptide Publishing
Cover art by

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it here at Riptide Publishing

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Piper Vaughn here today on her tour for Off the Ice.  Welcome, Piper!

Piper’s Top Five NHL Defensemen

Hi, all! Piper Vaughn, here! Thanks for having me today. In honor of Tristan Holt, who is one of the main characters in OFF THE ICE – and a defenseman for my and Avon Gale’s fictional hockey team, the Atlanta Venom – I’ve decided to talk a little bit about my five favorite NHL defensemen. If you’re an ice hockey fan and you haven’t heard of these guys, they’re all worth checking out! 😀

Colton Parayko, St. Louis Blues

If you’ve already read OFF THE ICE and saw the dedication, you won’t be surprised to see Colton Parayko as the first name on this list. Avon and I have been open about the fact that Parayko inspired our character, Tristan, and the plot for the book itself. In interviews Parayko comes across as a genuinely nice, bashful, and humble guy. He’s also an amazing defenseman! This is his third season with the Blues, and he’s known for being a playmaker and with every passing season, becoming a more offensive defenseman. He isn’t scoring a ton of goals himself, but he’s getting assists and helping his teammates score, which is crucial. This past off-season, he even signed an impressive 5-year contract extension with the Blues, proof of their faith in him and his developing skillset. I can only see him getting better from here! And his smile is to die for.

Jared Spurgeon, Minnesota Wild

I have a thing for height differences and short, feisty players, and Spurgeon, clocking in at 5’7” (or 5’9”, depending which site you look at) is the shortest d-man on this list. You won’t necessarily find him among the NHL’s top 25 defensemen, but in my opinion, he’s vastly underrated and he’s constantly proving that size isn’t indicative of skill. He’s not a high-scoring defenseman, but he’s consistently good and puts up some respectable numbers in terms of goals and assists. Beyond that, he’s good at creating plays that lead to offensive chances, even if he’s not notching assists on those goals. In other words, he’s helping his team score! I only expect his numbers to improve over the next few years.   

Brent Burns, San Jose Sharks

Burnzie is easily one of the top defensemen in the NHL and well-known for his skills as much as his impressive beard and his toothless grin. Burns is the ultimate offensive defenseman. He scores a lot of goals and notches even more assists. He’s also a goof, and I love his sense of humor. I’m a Sharks fan mostly because of him. Plus, I’ll never forget how supportive and awesome he was with his former teammate, John Scott, during the All-Star Game a couple of years ago. It was, hands down, the most memorable all-star game I’ll ever watch, and Burns was a big part of that.

Ryan Suter, Minnesota Wild

When I think of Ryan Suter, one word that comes to mind is solid. If you know your hockey history, you’ll know Ryan Suter is the son of Bob Suter, who played as part of the “Miracle on Ice” team in the 1980 Olympic Games. Much like what I’ve read about his father, Suter loves hockey, his family, and is a humble and dedicated player. He’s a point-scorer, whether it’s goals or assists, and he’s a reliable offensive defenseman – evidenced by consistently solid numbers and his participation in the NHL’s All-Star Games three times in the last 5 seasons. He’s not a flashy player, but he’s definitely a difference maker, and I’ve liked him since I watched his episode of “Becoming Wild” a couple of seasons ago.

Zach Werenski, Columbus Blue Jackets

Werenski is the youngest d-man on this list. He’s only 20, but last year he led the NHL rookie defensemen in points. He made a huge impact on the Blue Jackets and was even nominated for the Calder Trophy, which goes to the rookie of the year. To no one’s surprise, last year’s winner was Auston Matthews, who is an incredible player, but it’s still impressive Werenski finished third in the voting! I love bb!players and seeing them do so well. He has an exciting future ahead of him, and I’m really looking forward to watching him develop.

And those are my top five, although it wasn’t easy to narrow it down. The league is filled with so many talented players, and I have a soft spot for defensemen and goalies… but the goalies I’ll save for another post. ;D

 In the Hat Trick series, love and hockey collide—and create enough heat to melt the ice. Join the players as they chase both the Stanley Cup and their own personal happily ever afters.

About Off the Ice

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 their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

Available now from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/off-the-ice

About Avon Gale

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal Midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert, and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Connect with Avon:

Website: www.avongalewrites.com

Blog: www.avongalewrites.com/category/blog/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/avongalewrites

Twitter: @avongalewrites

Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/avongalewrites/

Instagram: www.instagram.com/avongale/

 

About Piper Vaughn

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, sci-fi, she loves them all (and has an over-two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She’s an avid tea drinker, a hockey fanatic, a vintage typewriter collector, and loves to travel so much she has “wanderlust” tattooed on her ankle and dozens of countries on her bucket list. Recently, she discovered the world of nail art and realized she’s pretty handy with a paintbrush—as long as it’s a miniature one.

  • As a bisexual and Latinx person, Piper takes great pride in her heritage. She grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and strives to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. She currently resides in the suburbs of Chicago with her husband, son, and a cat that has Piper wrapped around her little paw. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life … even if it’s only in a book.

 

Connect with Piper:

Website: http://pipervaughn.com/

Blog: https://pipervaughn.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pipervaughn

Twitter: https://twitter.com/pipervaughn

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/pipervaughn7/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/piper.vaughn/

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104698982870458063898

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Off the Ice, one lucky winner will receive a Venom t-shirt in their size and Venom notebook! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on November 4, 2017. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

RIPTIDE TOUR Avon Gale on The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (A Tour Dates novel)

Standard

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (Tour Dates #1) by Avon Gale
Riptide Publishing
Cover by: Natasha Snow

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host the tour for The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (Tour Dates #1) by Avon Gale.  Check it out below and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

✒︎

About The Love Song of Sawyer Bell

 

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

 

 

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

 

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

 

Now available from Riptide Publishing

 

About Avon Gale

 

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal Midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert, and will never say no to candy.

 

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

 

Connect with Avon:

Giveaway

To celebrate this release, one lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of The Love Song of Sawyer Bell! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 30, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

An Ali Release Day Review: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5) by Avon Gale

Standard
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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 out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’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, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to 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.
This was a really fun and entertaining read.  It was a lighter installment than the last two books in the series and it was nice to get back to the easy flow of the first books.  Troy and Shane are a bit older and their relationship is different in that it’s a coach/player dynamic.  Fortunately the way it was done didn’t leave any creepy power imbalance vibes.  Shane was older and close to retiring so he seemed like an equal to Troy.  They were both also snarky and funny and I think I laughed out loud more in this book than any of the others.  If you are a hockey fan you will really appreciate some of the remarks (& if not you’ll still be entertained).
I enjoyed the humor and the easy way they came together.  It’s nice to find romance books without all the angst and drama sometimes.  My only complaint though was that these two were so snarky and teasing with each other that I didn’t feel a strong connection.  I know that was their personalities but I wanted to see some sweet or loving or romantic declarations during their intimate times but we didn’t really get that.  I new really felt a love match between them.  A great friendship and some smexy times yes, but I wasn’t feeling the love even by the end.
This can be read as a standalone.  There are some cameos by Isaac/Laurent and Misha/Max (which is always a treat) but this storyline works just fine on it’s own.  We get to know a few other teammates a bit better and hopefully we’ll be seeing some of them getting their own books down the road. 
If you’re a fan of the series I think you will enjoy this.  If you are knew to this series, this one wasn’t my favorite, but it was still really enjoyable and I would recommend it.
Cover:  This cover was done by Aaron Anderson.  I loved this cover and I think that this series has some of the best covers in the genre.  They are artistically striking but they also really represent not only the plot of the books but of the sport itself.  Every one has been fresh and different but equally good.
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published June 26th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635337662
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesScoring Chances #5

A Lila Audiobook Review: Whiskey Business (States of Love) by Avon Gale and Kirt Graves (Narrator)

Standard

Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Ryder Waites will do anything to keep the tiny town of Gallows Grove, Kentucky, from vanishing off the map—even sell his family’s whiskey recipe to Bluegrass Bourbon in Lexington. Hopeful that the larger company can provide necessary improvements to the distillery, Ryder’s ultimate goal is to get Gallows Grove on the Bourbon Trail… and bring in much-needed tourism revenue. But to keep producing Hanged Man Bourbon in Gallows Grove, he’ll have to convince company liaison, unbearably stuffy and seriously hot Adam Keller, that he’s worth the investment.

Adam comes from an old-money family, but he’s determined to make his own way in the world. When he’s sent to Gallows Grove, he questions the life choices that led him to a rented room in a funeral home, in a town full of macabre-themed businesses. And he doesn’t know what to make of Ryder, the descendant of bootleggers who’s on a mission to save his strange town from extinction. When Adam and Ryder put aside their initial mistrust, the results are as smooth as good whiskey. But after Adam’s assignment ends, he’ll have to decide if small-town life and a future with Ryder is to his tastes.

Whiskey Business is a sweet, simple story of two men searching for their place within their families’ legacies. It has a bit of a supernatural feel, closer to magical realism than any paranormal tint. But overall, it only enhances the reading experience and adds to the town’s legend and unusual inhabitants. All the puns based on the Gallows Grove’s name and history give the story a comedic relief and sense of home.

Most times, I prefer one MC over the other, but in this case, Adam and Ryder are equally loving and interesting. There aren’t the traditional men portrait in most romances and perhaps that adds to their charms. Yes, their story follows a traditional trope, but they add their own spin.

All the secondary characters and the town itself play an important part in this story. It’s a novella with all the components of a well-written novel. There’s no angst or deep sadness, but the MCs longing for a legacy of their own without erasing their families’ achievements is a constant they both dealt with. And to make it all better, we get a very sweet HEA.

This is my first audiobook by Kirt Graves and I enjoyed the distinction he created between the main characters. The play of words he used to highlight the author’s words in this matter and how important the accents were to understand the differences between those living in different part of the state was excellent. The secondary characters were as well developed.

I’m not familiar with Aaron Anderson’s work, but this cover goes perfectly with the story and its simplicity.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner | iTunes | Audible

Audiobook Details:

Narrator: Kirt Graves
Length: 6 hours 14 minutes
Published: April 18, 2017 (Audio Edition) by Dreamspinner Press
ASIN: B06ZYDB6ZV
Edition Language: English