A MelanieM Review: Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Hockey superstar Joey Luciano has always been good at being whatever people needed him to be. The fans want a good-looking fast-living party boy? Enter ‘the Looch,’ Joey’s carefully created public persona. But the cracks in his mask are starting to show, and he’s begun to lose touch with who he really is. It’s going to take someone who’s been there from the very beginning, to help him find his way home.

Coach Liam O’Reilly always had a very clear picture of what his life should look like. Falling in love with the infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and endlessly fascinating boy next door was not part of the plan. But when Liam’s carefully constructed life fell apart one Christmas Eve, Joey Luciano was there to pick up the pieces. Now Liam can’t stop wanting him.

The passion blazing between them on the ice and behind closed doors could leave both of them badly burned. But through the smoke, Liam can see glimpses of a future brighter than any he’d imagined, a future worth risking his career and reputation for, if only he is brave enough to reach for it.

But Joey’s got a secret he’s keeping from everyone. If it gets out, it could be the end of everything.

I really enjoyed the Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp.  It has so many elements I love in a contemporary romance, starting off with hockey players and hockey coaches in love combinations.  Or just a hockey element.  That always draws me in.  Wasp also has another aspect to this series and story I adore.  Large families that support the main characters!

Families easily identifiable by location (Boston), ethnicities (Irish and Italian), long association (neighbors), and even intertwined relationships.  This extended main cast is a huge factor in connecting the reader to the character of Joey Luciano (the Italian family) and Liam O’Reilly (the Irish one),  In a totally current and hilarious format, we often see the family members communicating with each other via group text.  It’s never overdone, totally funny, and very realistic.  It’s has the feel of family and truth.  And it brought these people and their lives right into my heart.

Joey, “the Looch” Luciano, is a 25 year old  with a lot of issues. On the outside, he’s let this “Looch” character he’s created take over his life (brash, outgoing to the  extreme that it seems like he’s hogging the media and outshining his teammates.  No one is happy with him, including himself.  On the inside it’s worse.  Wasp has created Joey as a insecure person, low self esteem to the point that he seeks approval from every source and everyone without asking himself why he needs it so.  This is an enormous issue, obviously.  Not his only one. On top of this Joey is dealing with the fact that he has loved Liam since he can remember, a love that he has never looked at what that meant.  Why?  Because he shrinks from being called gay or even bisexual.  Which imo is totally misused here with regards to Joey.

Joey is someone who has lacked self examination for most of his life and it’s not until he gets involved with Liam that he smacks into some hard realities for himself.  At about 51 percent, we get these musing from Joey…

“What did people see when they looked at him? Could they tell he was having sex with a guy? Probably not. He looked as normal as Paul and Robbie. And he wasn’t gay gay. If anything he was bisexual like Liam.”

There are so many flags in those sentences that show exactly how messed up Joey is over not only his sexuality but homosexuality in general.  Being gay isn’t “normal”?  He also has issues with femme versus masc. And as is worked out down the story, Joey really doesn’t enjoy sex with women, so no, not bisexual.  Yes, some of this flags get addressed, not as many as I wished but a lot.

There are so many broken layers to Joey, it’s just one right after enough. Panic attacks, health issues, and more that need to be seriously addressed. Are all given the depth of attention I would wish or deserve? Perhaps not but they aren’t blown off either. Believable, authentic cracks in this man.  Kudos to A.E. Wasp for creating such a character.

Liam is a strong character, older by 10 years than Joey.  I liked him and their relationship but honestly wondered if the author was going to use their hot, and admittedly kinky sex life as a bandaid for all of Joey’s deep problems.  Thankfully, the  answer is no.  Wasp let me wonder about that, while I enjoyed Joey and LIam working out their relationship and then gave me everything I hoped for in the ending of this story. That included my Washington Caps winning the Stanley Cup this year!  And therapy for Joey.  Win win.

The humor here had me cackling!  Whether it’s Knock Knock jokes or Liam’s younger brother Patrick trying to get Liam to switch out his posh furniture for a huge leather sectional that all the young hockey players can come over and watch TV on saying”

“It’s the traditional furnishings of our people!”

Well, this book and dialogue crackles with fun, the knowledge of what it is like to be young, in love, or a hockey player, or to just do dumb things.  And all of the above.

Yes, plenty of angst too.

If I also have a complaint, its the actual lack of hockey.

We get headlines, sports feeds,  but  little actual ice time.  These men are passionate about ice and hockey.  So where is the time on the ice?  Where is the sense of team?

We get little of that except towards the very end in the important game.  I wish so badly we had had lots more of that action throughout the story.  Then we could understand why Joey and Liam’s actions carried the weight of the love of ice behind them that they did.  I felt that was missing because we never really saw Joey on ice for the majority of the book.  We were told about it but never actually “felt” it through the character. And I felt that was a mistake.

But did I love this story?  Yes I did.  I thought the author did a tremendous job with the characters, actualizing a man on the brink of a life change for himself and letting us travel some of the journey with him.  Scary, messy, not totally complete, a work in progress as they say.  I think Joey would agree with that and be happy.  So would Liam and the rest of the two families.

I definitely look for more in this series.  I recommend this one for all lovers of contemporary romance and hockey and even a little love of spanking!

 

Cover art: Ana Phoenix.  Nice cover but doesn’t quite get the age difference.

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 462 pages
Published September 21st 2018
ASINB07HL6TTW9
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHot Off the Ice #5

 

Book Blast with Reviews – Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp (excerpt)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title:  Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5)

Author: A. E. Wasp

Publisher:  Self-Published

Cover Artist: Ana Phoenix

Genre/s:  Contemporary Gay Romance

Heat Rating:  3.5 flames

Length:  100,000 words/432 pages

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

This is a story about losing the path and finding yourself.

It contains kissing, yelling, spanking, and carb-loaded family interventions. 

Blurb

Hockey superstar Joey Luciano has always been good at being whatever people needed him to be. The fans want a good-looking fast-living party boy? Enter ‘the Looch,’ Joey’s carefully created public persona. But the cracks in his mask are starting to show, and he’s begun to lose touch with who he really is. It’s going to take someone who’s been there from the very beginning, to help him find his way home.

Coach Liam O’Reilly always had a very clear picture of what his life should look like. Falling in love with the infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and endlessly fascinating boy next door was not part of the plan. But when Liam’s carefully constructed life fell apart one Christmas Eve, Joey Luciano was there to pick up the pieces. Now Liam can’t stop wanting him.

The passion blazing between them on the ice and behind closed doors could leave both of them badly burned. But through the smoke, Liam can see glimpses of a future brighter than any he’d imagined, a future worth risking his career and reputation for, if only he is brave enough to reach for it.

But Joey’s got a secret he’s keeping from everyone. If it gets out, it could be the end of everything.

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

“Hey,” Joey said, looking up from his phone as Liam fell into the bathroom. “Took you long enough. I’ve been in this fucking bathroom for ten minutes. It’s not that nice. One of those for me?”

“Fucking hell,” Liam said.

Those were the first words he’d spoken to Joey since Christmas Day. Jerk. Stupid gorgeous jerk.

”Okay, then.” Joey reached for one of the shot glasses and downed it, coughing a little from the tequila burn. He’d been expecting whiskey. “Tequila?” Bad things happened when they drank tequila.

Liam nodded and poured the other shot down his throat.

“Gina?”

“Who else?”

Who else but his big sister would do that? Of course, he’d known they were planning on trapping him in the bathroom. He’d also known Liam would do what they wanted, too. The O’Reilly-Luciano double-team had a ninety-five percent success rate.

He’d gone along with it because someplace, not even that deep inside, he desperately wanted to see Liam again. To see if Liam would still have the same effect on him as he had since puberty. Joey licked the last drop of alcohol off his lips, feeling a tingle of lust when Liam dropped his gaze to Joey’s mouth. Yeah. Still, the same effect. Stupid, good-looking smug bastard.

Liam set his glass on the counter with a thud, and then closed the distance between them, forcing Joey to look up to meet his eyes. Sometimes Joey really hated being four inches shorter than him.

“Nice outfit,” Liam said taking in the remains of Joey’s hastily-constructed pirate costume; red and black striped nylon pants ending in a ragged cuff just below the knee, black patent-leather Doc Martin boots, and a wide gold sash tied around his waist. He’d lost his shirt somewhere in the club. The way Liam couldn’t tear his eyes away from Joey’s tattoos made the loss of the two hundred dollar shirt totally worth it.

Liam picked up the end of the sash, sliding the silky material through his fingers. “How come every time I see you, you’re wearing some kind of costume?” Last time they’d met, Joey had been dressed as Santa.

Liam, of course, was his normal GQ self in dark trousers, a white dress shirt, and one of his vast collection of purple ties. The perfect simplicity of his clothes making everyone else look like they were trying too hard.

“How come every time I see you, you’re overdressed?” Joey asked.

Liam ran his hand through his thick red hair. “At least I’m not wandering around half-naked, letting everybody and their brother get their eyes all over me.”

Joey’s jaw dropped. “Excuse me?”

Liam scowled. “It’s a snake pit out there. I got groped half a dozen times walking here.”

Joey leaned back against the water-splattered sink counter. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Your point is?”

Liam stepped close enough that their thighs brushed. Dropping his hand heavily on Joey’s shoulder, he watched transfixed as his thumb traced the curve of Joey’s collarbone. “My point is, that maybe I don’t like the idea of you getting pawed at by a room full of drunks and puck bunnies.”

Joey knocked Liam’s hand away. He had to be fucking kidding. “Tough shit.” Joey pushed himself upright, poking Liam in the center of his (distractingly firm) chest, hard enough to make him take a step backward. “You got no right to tell me what to do or not to do.”

About the Author

After time spent raising children, earning several college degrees, and traveling the world with the U.S. State Department, she is returning to her first love – writing.

A dreamer and an idealist, Amy writes about people finding connection in a world that can seem lonely and magic in a world that can seem all too mundane. She invites readers into her characters’ lives and worlds when they are their most vulnerable, their most human, living with the same hopes and fears we all have. An avid traveler who has lived in big cities and small towns in four different continents, Amy has found that time and distance are no barriers to love. She invites her readers to reach out and share how her characters have touched their lives or how the found families they have gathered around them have shaped their worlds.

Born on Long Island, NY, Amy has lived in Los Angeles, London, and Bangkok. She currently lives in a town suspiciously like Red Deer, Colorado.


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