Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M hockey romance from the writing team of RJ Scott and VL Locey. BACK CHECK is the second book in their new Boston Rebels series. You can catch my review for TOP SHELF, the first book, though this one is fine read as a a standalone.
Drop down to catch an excerpt, my review and enter for a chance to win a $10 GC or some backlist books.
About the book:
Meeting Joachim could save his daughter’s life, but it may well cost Isaac his heart.
It’s been one hell of a year for Joachim Löfgren. After a long summer in rehab, he’s been moved to a new town, one far away from the warm Florida sun he so adores, to bolster a struggling Boston defense since the departure of their beloved team captain. He hadn’t even unpacked his skates properly when fate lands another blow, and he’s told that he is dad to a gravely ill child he never knew existed. It’s an easy decision for the burly defenseman to help and he opens up his new home to his child and her guardian Isaac. He’s instantly enchanted with the preschooler as well as her uncle and decides that his life will only be complete if his daughter is part of it. Filing for custody is the only option he feels he has, but this throws his budding relationship with Isaac into utter chaos. The two men soon find themselves on opposite sides of the courtroom as they both fight for the life they feel is best for Sophia.
Despite grieving for the loss of his sister, Isaac doesn’t hesitate to take on the responsibility for his newborn niece Sophia, creating a brand new family of two built on love and laughter. He has a steady income painting pet portraits during the day, but it’s the subversive and satirical cartoons he draws at night that silence his thoughts in the dark. They don’t have much as a family, but he is Sophia’s dad now, and nothing and no one will ever come between them. When a routine pediatric checkup shows that Sophia is ill, it forces Isaac to confront every one of his fears. Finding a matching donor is her only hope, and Isaac begins the journey to find Sophia’s mysterious father. There are no names or dates in his sister’s battered journal, and all Isaac knows is that he’s looking for a hockey player who was nothing more than a one-night stand. Little does he know that finding Joachim could destroy everything.
How about a yummy taste?
“Hey, guys, did you see this story coming out of Fort Lauderdale?”
Everyone looked at me.
“I didn’t do it,” I quickly said as I lifted my hands up innocently. “I was here in Boston.”
“No, it’s nothing bad like you’re used to,” Austin blurted out. Xander swatted him upside the head. The boy’s eyes bugged out, and his soft cheeks turned scarlet. “Oh! No, I didn’t mean you did bad stuff! Being drunk isn’t bad. Well, it kind of is bad when you run off the road and hit a mailbox. It’s not bad in a bad way. It’s, uhm… well, it’s just an addiction right, and you’re not drinking anymore so it’s all okay. No, well, okay in that you’ve stopped drinking and are now—”
“It’s okay, Rowe, I know what you meant, and it’s fine. I did some pretty fucked up things when I was under the influence of alcohol.”
Austin wilted a bit. “Okay, thanks. I didn’t mean to imply that addictions are bad. I mean they are! No, not bad like bad but—”
“It’s okay, kid. Just move onto the news story.” I chuckled. Moral lobbed a chunk of apple at Austin. He ducked it and the glob smacked Kyle in the cheek.
“Right, yeah, so there’s this guy down in Florida who’s looking for a bone marrow donor for his daughter. He showed up at a preseason hockey game to search for some mysterious fan called ‘Hockey Guy’ which the dead mother named as the possible father.”
“Shit, so the guy is raising his daughter alone?” Moral asked, the sad news slowing his inhalation of muffins for a moment.
“Wait…” He placed his muffin on its plate. “If he’s the father then why is he looking for the father?”
“He’s the baby’s uncle but has been raising her as her father. It’s all super sad and everyone in the league is signing up to see if they’re a match for the little girl with leukemia. Look at her.” He showed us all an image of an adorable little girl of perhaps three and her daddy/uncle who was also cute as hell. “We should sign up.”
Isaac is in his middle 20s, living in Tampa and raising his deceased sister’s daughter as his own. He could never get his sis to reveal the name of her baby daddy, though he tried. And when she died in birth, well, Isaac took full custody and did his very best. Problem is his little sweetheart, Sophie, is gravely ill with leukemia, and Isaac is not a donor match. And, he has no remaining family to test and see if they could help with a bone marrow transplant to save poor Sophie. Scouring his sister’s old journals, Isaac gets a hint that Sophie’s dad is potentially a hockey fan, so he gets a babysitter and makes a spectacle of himself outside of the arena, hoping to catch some viral buzz and raise awareness of Sophie’s plight. Record numbers of strangers go and get tested as a result, and though Isaac had tried to keep his hope in check, he’s astounded that a match is found. Unfortunately, it’s also Sophie’s biological dad, and he’s a pro hockey player now playing for the Boston Rebels.
Joachim Löfgren is a disgraced professional hockey player newly traded to Boston from Tampa Bay now that he’s out of his fourth stint in rehab. He’s long since spent his signing and endorsement money, though he still makes a good bit of coin as a defensemen. He isn’t sure if he’ll get along with his teammates, but they seem like genuinely nice guys and he’s got few friends. So, he’s pretty stunned to learn that his blood isn’t just a match to helps save a young girl with leukemia–he’s her daddy. Week’s out of rehab, this kind of shock is nearly enough to send Joachim searching for some alcohol, but this time he’s determined not to mess up his life again–or that of his apparent daughter.
The Boston Rebels want to play this as a heart-wrenching story of amazing triumph, but Joachim and Isaac are both wary. It’s not a good look that a pro player didn’t even know he fathered a baby–too drunk to even remember having relations with the mom. Still, Joachim has a nice house and he wants, begs, Isaac to stay with him, so he can get to know his daughter. Having lost his parents recently, Joachim is desperate for a familial connection, and he’s definitely attracted to Isaac. Though his AA sponsor reminds him it’s best not to jump into a relationship while still managing his recovery.
Isaac is terrified Joachim won’t help, then, he’s afraid of how much help he is giving. And well, he’s also afreaid of how attracted he is to Sophie’s bio father, which is how he thinks of Joachim because Isaac is her daddy–no matter the paternity. It seems like it could be a good situation, if Isaac and Joachim do fall for one another, but neither man is expecting a lasting connection. Isaac is planning a full return to Tampa with Sophie once the treatments are done, with visitation for Joachim if he wants, while Joachim wants full custody with Isaac released to regularly-scheduled-pre-baby life. Their diametrically-opposed goals do not become apparent to one another until pretty late in the story, once they have both grown significantly close, and Sophie has begun to bond with Joachim.
I liked this one. It had good, squirmy tension, with the family issues that both men are dealing with. Their mutual love of Sophie, and budding attraction for each other, keeps the story moving ever forward, and it was fun to see these relationships grow. The loneliness is palpable, as is the drama of Sophie’s worsening health condition. There isn’t a lot of hockey in the book, mostly just how the schedule was impacted for Joachim–and, well, how he goes bananas when the fit hits the shan between him and Isaac. Still, there was a great team dynamic here, and I loved how the Rebels all supported Joachim, Sophie and Isaac. When Isaac and Joachim do make it to sexytown, it felt pretty authentic, as they’d been house-sharing for going on two months and had a strong rapport.
Expect a superbly happy ending, and a slow-burn, pseudo-enemies-to-lovers romance.
Click on this Giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 gift card or 2 backlist books from the authors.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!
About the Authors:
RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.
When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.
Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!