A MelanieM Review:The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Six years ago, an ultimatum forced Dan Greyson to make a choice that cost him everything he loved most. One of those things? His boyfriend, hockey player Ashton Yager. Now that they’ve crossed paths again, Dan isn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Ash’s reappearance in his life is just the catalyst Dan needs to escape the rut he’s fallen into…and win back Ash’s trust and love.

Ashton Yager, once burned and now a little bit shy, didn’t mean to publicly come out as bisexual. But now that he has, he’s got to deal with the consequences, including the fact that it might’ve cost him his NHL contract. With his job on the line, he needs to keep his head down, work hard, and play the best hockey of his life. Rekindling things with Dan? That’s not exactly keeping a low profile. It’s also never going to happen, not after Dan walked away once without an explanation.

When a hurricane forces Ash to seek shelter out-of-state, he and Dan find themselves in the same B&B, where old feelings resurface. But with everything Ash has on the line, does he dare play with fire again?

This story had so many things going for it before I even started it.  It’s a second chance at love novel, one of my favorite tropes, it happens to be from a series about a hockey team and LGBT hockey players, so score!  That’s always high on my list!  And then there’s the author Amy Aislin who I have followed for a while and and always enjoyed her stories.  So I anticipated a good time and heartwarming romance and the author delivered that and more.

The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin slides into events that happen shortly after the ending of the first book in the series,  On The Ice.  While you don’t have to read that first because the exposition here helps to fill in all the gaps you will miss out by excluding that tale, reading it first gives you a firmer foundation for all the characters and a real sense of who these people are by letting you into the dynamics in the interlocking relationships you are diving into here.

The first story features Dan Greyson’s brother, Mitch, and Alex Dean, best friend and fellow hockey teammate to Ashton Yager, one of the other main characters in this book  So you begin to see how tight the threads to each couple are from story to story.  Yes, they make important appearances as you would expect.

The format here is both that the story is told from two points of view as well as in flashbacks.  We get present day Dan and Ash, and then back to their past bright first relationship and the future they thought they had together.  If you read the first story and from Dan’s pov, you are aware of what broke them apart.  But Ashton doesn’t so his ignorance and, in part, seeing the trainwreck that we know is coming is part of the heartbreak of this story.

How it all gets put back together is the charm, the hope, and the true joy here.

I liked that the author didn’t make any of it easy.  Years of pain, hurt, and poor decisions can’t be put aside overnight and they aren’t.  Both men  work to regain trust and a relationship even as major events happen in each others lives.

I really sank myself into the lives of these hockey players, the outreach program they were running for LGBT youth in Tampa, and the stress of even thinking about coming out to your team and the NHL, the possibility of what it could do to your career.  Again, I thought the author handled it realistically and authentically.

I loved the first two stories and can’t wait to see who’s next, although I have an inkling.  Hockey romances are such an addition for me and this series is just another reason why I love them so.

Cover art is pretty typical, has some hockey elements and a half naked torso.  Wish it was more specific to the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 280 pages
Expected publication: May 7th 2019
ASINB07QN1FNJ3
Edition Language English
Series Stick Side #2

Stick Side Series:

On the Ice

The Nature of the Game

Join Us for the Blog Tour for The Nature of the Game (Stick Side #2) by Amy Aislin (interview, Excerpts, and Giveaway)

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The Nature of the Game by Amy Aislin

Series: Stick Side #2

**PLEASE NOTE: Book 1 in the Stick Side series, ON THE ICE, will be on mega sale at only 99¢ May 6 – 13!

Get it now: https://amzn.to/2Vd1Bbr

Publisher: self-published

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 7, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 87,000 words / 330 pages

Subgenre: m/m contemporary romance

Tropes: second chances

Warnings: N/A

Order now:

https://amzn.to/2LhMdWt

https://amyaislin.com/books/the-nature-of-the-game/

Book synopsis:

Six years ago, an ultimatum forced Dan Greyson to make a choice that cost him everything he loved most. One of those things? His boyfriend, hockey player Ashton Yager. Now that they’ve crossed paths again, Dan isn’t about to let the opportunity slip away. Ash’s reappearance in his life is just the catalyst Dan needs to escape the rut he’s fallen into…and win back Ash’s trust and love.

Ashton Yager, once burned and now a little bit shy, didn’t mean to publicly come out as bisexual. But now that he has, he’s got to deal with the consequences, including the fact that it might’ve cost him his NHL contract. With his job on the line, he needs to keep his head down, work hard, and play the best hockey of his life. Rekindling things with Dan? That’s not exactly keeping a low profile. It’s also never going to happen, not after Dan walked away once without an explanation.

When a hurricane forces Ash to seek shelter out-of-state, he and Dan find themselves in the same B&B, where old feelings resurface. But with everything Ash has on the line, does he dare play with fire again?

About Amy Aislin: Amy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night. Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario.  

 

Connect with Amy:

Website: https://amyaislin.com/  

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/amyaislin/  

Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/amyaislin

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/amy-aislin  

Twitter: https://twitter.com/amy_aislin

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amy.aislin   

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AmyAislinAuthor   

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/ddvWFv  

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

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16693566.Amy_Aislin   

Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/amyaislin     

QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/amy-aislin/   

LoveRomanceReads: https://www.loveromancereads.com/amyaislin.html   

Short Teaser :

“Of all the B&Bs in all the towns in all the world,” Ash drawled, stepping into the room, “we both booked this one.”

Dan blinked at him. Blinked again, cheeks pinking.

It was a good look for him. He resembled a little kid, sitting there cross-legged surrounded by toys.

“You’re staying here?”

“Yeah.” Ash sat across from him. “What are the chances, huh? What are you doing?”

“Building LEGO sets.”

“Why? And why these? What kind of interplanetary colony are you trying to build? And can I name it?”

Dan chuckled and slotted a couple of pieces together. “Sure. What would you call it?”

Ash contemplated the train station, the princess castle, the storm trooper, and the fighter jet. It made sense, in a way. The fighter jet would need a place to dock: the train station. And the castle needed guards: the storm trooper.

“Sparklepants Space Station.”

Long Teaser 1:

“You hate me, I get that. I’m sorry I made you uncomfortable back there.”

Ash scowled. “I don’t hate you.” He realized the scowl might say differently and smoothed out his features. Pleasant, yet distant. Too bad his eyebrows weren’t cooperating this time. “And you didn’t make me uncomfortable.” What he did do was make Ash relive a period of his life he thought he’d set aside. Gotten over. Earmarked as It was fun but it didn’t work out.

It annoyed him more than anything, mostly. Especially since, sometimes, usually in the middle of the night, Dan turned into the one that got away

“Sure you don’t,” Dan said, sarcasm dripping off his tongue. “Thank you for getting me out of the brunch. I needed to breathe. But…” His smile was so sad it might as well’ve been upside down. “This is all we need to see of each other. You don’t have to put up with me anymore.”

Ash’s arms fell to his sides, Dan’s words making him feel like he’d accidentally revealed that Santa Claus wasn’t real. “Your brother and my best friend are in a committed relationship. I’m pretty sure we’ll see each other again.”

“Don’t sound so thrilled by it.”

“What do you want me to say, Dan?” Figuring some honesty might not hurt, he said, “This isn’t easy for me.”

“And you think it’s easy for me?”

“You’re the one who walked!”

“I didn’t have a fucking choice!”

“You— What?”

“Oh, but you don’t want to hear about it.” Dan’s arms flailed, face a thunderstorm about to go off, body coiled to spring.

“Dan—”

“You know what the worst part is?” Quiet now, he closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “It’s not that you hate me. I hate myself enough for the both of us. It’s that everything I did was for nothing. I lost the two people who meant the most to me . . . for nothing.” The last two words were harshly whispered, and when Dan’s eyes opened—his light brown eyes that Ash had stared into so many times, that had stared back at him with love and friendship—they were soft and so full of regret that Ash found himself reaching for him. “Give this to Mitch, will you?” Dan handed Ash his milkshake and backed away. “I need to take a walk.”

Before Ash could utter a word, Dan was swallowed up by the crowd.

Exclusive Mini-interview with Amy Aislin for the Release Blitz:

How do you handle writer’s block?

I’m a panster, not a plotter, so I always start out writing a novel not knowing where it’s going to go, but also not fully knowing my characters either. I’ve found that when the writer’s block hits, it’s because I’m not yet fully acquainted with my characters. I don’t know them well enough. What do they really want, both internally and externally, and what’s preventing them from getting it? Once I have that nailed down, the story starts to develop much more smoothly.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

The Nature of the Game is my eighth published novel, which is how many books I’ve written. I’d say my favourite is On the Ice. Not only was it the easiest book for me to write—I was very intimately acquainted with the characters before I started writing—but it’s the book of my heart. It’s a slow-burn, friends to lovers story with a flirty college hockey player who meets his match in a demisexual NHL player. There’s a small part of me in most of my books, however certain facets of who I am are strongly reflected in both Mitch and Alex (the main characters in On the Ice), so it’s also a very personal book for me.

Do you have a favorite cover from one of your books?

My favourite cover from my books is the cover for As Big as the Sky, which was released in August 2017. My cover designer, Melody Pond, took my instructions and gave me back something that was a hundred times better than I’d imagined. The pink cover, flowers in the foreground, and house in the background perfectly set the mood of this low-angst, feel-good novella.

Secondary Characters: Why they are important to the story?

Secondary characters in my stories can be sources of conflict or sounding boards. In The Nature of the Game, my secondary characters take on both of these attributes. For example, one of the secondary characters in Dan’s life is a source of pain for him. By contrast, the secondary characters in Ash’s life are supportive, and help him talk through things he’s dealing with.

What’s your favorite scene from this book?

Well… [insert giggles]. My two lead characters are both bisexual men, however neither one has ever had sex with another man. My favourite scene in The Nature of the Game is one where they discover the joys (and trepidations) of anal sex. It’s quite a funny scene, if I do say so myself.

Release blitz/blog tour giveaway: Win a Stick Side prize pack, including signed paperbacks of books 1 and 2 in the series, as well as some Stick Side swag! Contest open internationally. Enter via Rafflecopter. Contest ends at 12:00am May 12.

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