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: Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)

Standard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
power-play-audioA 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.
When I read this the first time I enjoyed it but it was my least favorite book in the series.  I had a hard time connecting with Misha.  Since then I’ve read the next book in the series, Empty Net, and Misha played an important role in it.  I loved him in that book and I think it had a positive influence on me and made this re-read a good thing.  That combined with the fact that I was listening to it on audio made everything stand out more and I was completely invested in Max and Misha’s love story this time around.
 I think this author does hockey stories better than any other author I’ve read in the hockey romance genre. She knows her game and her love for it comes through. If you’re not a fan the details aren’t overwhelming but if you are a fan there are all kinds of comments about teams/players etc that will make you smile. You know you’re reading something by a true fan. I loved the part of the story about the team and their journey from underdogs to a winning team. Those scenes were great. I especially love the game scenes on audio and I say this in every review, but it’s like listening to a hockey game on the radio.  I love them and I find myself totally rooting for our guy’s teams.
This was narrated by Scott R. Smith (as is the rest of the series).  He has an odd cadence to the way he speaks but once I get used to it each book I end up enjoying it.  He does well on different voices and you never get confused as to which character is speaking.  I enjoyed the narration a lot and I think it enhances the story.
Cover by Aaron Anderson:  I really like the cover.  It’s simple but striking at the suited figure is appropriate since this book focuses on the coaches not the players.
Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Listening Length: 6 hours and 22 minutes
Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published October 11th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published May 9th 2016)
Original TitlePower Play
ASINB01M0DX4KX
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesScoring Chances #3 settingSouth Carolina (United States)

An Alisa Audiobook Review: Breakaway (Scoring Chances #1) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)

Standard
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

breakaway-audiobookDrafted 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.

This was a re-read for me and I have to say I enjoyed it just as much the second time around.  The story follows socially awkward Lane as he starts his professional hockey career and experiences life away from home for the first time.  Lane and Jared meet on the ice and then have what they think is going to be a one night stand.  As it turns out they really like each other and the relationship ends up turning into something more.  The story is partially about them falling in love but it is also about Lane learning to accept who he is and find his way as an adult.  It’s also about Jared learning not only about falling in love with a person again, but also falling in love with the game again.
There are a lot of things I love about this book.  Firstly it’s written really well.  It has engaging characters with well done dialogue.  There are some funny scenes and some smexy ones.  All are done equally well.  I also enjoy that there is no real angst or drama.  It’s two adults who fall for each other, communicate in a mature manner and slowly build a relationship.  My biggest joy in this book is this author actually knows hockey and her love of the game jumps out of every scene where they’re on the ice or in the locker room.  Her writing is such that if you do not know or like hockey it will still all make sense and you won’t be over burdened with facts.  But if you are a hockey fan you will catch a bunch of inside jokes and you’ll really appreciate the passion that goes into the game scenes.  I really enjoyed the romance between these two but the part that brought tears to my eyes was certain events that happen to Jared as he plays.
The audiobook was narrated by Scott R. Smith and he did a good job with the story.  Each of the voices was unique and I never had a problem telling who was talking.  I really enjoyed the game scenes on audio.  It was like listening to the games on the radio when I was a kid and on my phone app now.  I’d find myself all caught up as if it was a real game going one.  I enjoyed the audio as much as I did reading it when it first came out.

Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson.I love the cover.  I think it’s gorgeous and it is a perfect representation of the story.  One of my favorite covers of the year last year.

Sales Links
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, 8 pages, 7 hrs 33 mins
Published August 9th 2016 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 27th 2015)
Original TitleBreakaway
ASINB01JVN8BIY
Edition LanguageEnglishSeriesScoring Chances #1 settingFlorida (United States)

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

Standard
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
 
Save of the GameEthan and Riley find themselves as roommates, team mates and… boyfriends?
 
While Riley may have just discovered his interest in the same sex after a good look at Ethan, Ethan is still pretty clueless about the phenomenal change of perception he has undergone in Riley’s eyes. But a bit of good natured snooping in a sub folder leaves Ethan confused and a drunken haze later sees him lock lips with Riley. But is this kiss one of those never to be talked about moments or just the first of many.
 
People who are thinking of reading this book should probably know that this is part of a series. I say this because I haven’t read the first part and I really didn’t think that me not having read the first book, would be a problem since the books followed different characters.
 
While having not read the first book didn’t lessen my enjoyment of it, it definitely would have brought a reduction in the number of head scratching moments. This book is pretty entrenched in the world of its predecessor. Like there are characters who have already been introduced and they come into this book with no introductions whatsoever so I had to take some time to figure out who was who but leaving that aside the book was awesome.
 
Ethan is the enforcer of his team, he is the tough looking guy with his tattooed exterior hiding a guy who loves just as ferociously as he fights. For Ethan family is priority. His family is who he fights and lives for. This also translates to his team who he loves but while Ethan fights for everyone no one has ever fought for him, no has ever fought his fights as their own. So he is used to fighting his own battles and looking after himself.
 
Riley is the product of absentee parents. Hockey is his life but there is a distinct lack of passion in his life. But when Ethan enters his life, Riley’s entire view on life undergoes a sea change. Riley is the level headed goalie, who never lets anyone score on him. He was the rock in their relationship while Ethan was the drama queen (not really but if you are comparing with Riley then definitely).
 
Riley and Ethan together are golden. All the issues that they had they solved in a really understanding way. As such personally their relationship just worked on so many levels, there was chemistry, there was understanding and I really liked the way they communicated. As such I guess the thing that had me convinced about these two was the way they overcame the obstacles to their relationship and just the way they handled life together be it family members, team members or just day to day living.
 
This book had that rare combo of excellent side characters. I loved the guys on the team by the end of the book they were like just another family to me, but anyone reading the first book would be familiar with them, especially Jared and Lane who keep popping up in cameo roles. But Ethan’s family really took the cake, I loved them so much his mother and sisters were just so family, like those really annoying characters you can’t live without who are a constant presence in your life and make life worth living. Also I loved the character of Benett Halley the guy who replaces Lane in the Jacksonville Sea Storm. He was just irritating enough to always be on the horizon but also contained enough to not be a complete asshole. I actually really liked his character maybe because usually such characters in books are irredeemable assholes but he surprisingly wasn’t.
 
Also this book has hockey in it. I don’t know why but I have come to love Hockey reading MM Romances, I am not a hockey fan but reading books featuring hockey has really got me trying to figure out the game. As such if you want to read this book you don’t need any working knowledge of Hockey, but it definitely added another dimension to the book.
 
This book is written as a slice of life fiction so the pace of things remains the same from the beginning to the end but it does tell a story in a fascinating way and ends it on a satisfying note, leaving you wanting more. I loved the book for its simplicity and its characters and the story, told in a very engaging and realistic way. Overall this book has me convinced to read the first book as well as the next one in this series.
 
Cover by Aaron Anderson. I liked the cover for the book but it is way too dramatic than the story what with the raging sea and the thundering storm but I guess the imagery is to accurately depict the “Sea Storm”.
Sales Links:    Dreamspinner eBook | Amazon | ARe | Kobo
Book Details:
ebook, 200 pages
Published January 29th 2016 by Dreamspinner
ISBN 1627980474 (ISBN13: 9781627980470)
Edition LanguageEnglishSeries Scoring Chances: