Tough Road to FINDING HOME–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released YA story with a touch of M/M romance from Garrett Leigh. FINDING HOME is a touching tale of a troubled teen boy trying to protect himself and his younger, deaf, sister once they fall into the foster care system. I’ve really liked MISFITS, WHAT REMAINS, HOUSE OF CARDS, and JUNKYARD HEART, so I was eager to read this one.

<a href="https://vsreads.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/finding-home.jpg”>About the book:
How do you find a home when your heart is in ashes?
With their mum dead and their father on remand for her murder, Leo Hendry and his little sister, Lila, have nothing in the world but each other. Broken and burned, they’re thrust into the foster care system. Leo shields Lila from the fake families and forced affection, until the Poulton household is the only place left to go.

Charlie de Sousa is used to other kids passing through the Poulton home, but there’s never been anyone like his new foster brother. Leo’s physical injuries are plain to see, but it’s the pain in his eyes that draws Charlie in the most.

Day by day, they grow closer, but the darkness inside Leo consumes him. He rejects his foster parents, and when Charlie gets into trouble, Leo’s attempt to protect him turns violent. When Leo loses control, no one can reach him—except Charlie. He desperately needs a family—a home—and only Charlie can show him the way.

My Review:
This is a contemporary YA story with a hint of M/M romance set in England.

Leo and Lila Hendry were unwilling witnesses to their mother’s murder, and barely survived the fire their abusive father set to their home. At fifteen, Leo’s had a rough life, and his outbursts of temper are causing problems with their foster placements. Getting sent to the Poulton’s home is a last-ditch effort to re-home them together.

Charlie de Sousa has lived with the Poulton’s since he was a toddler. He’s fifteen and out-gay, always struggling to fit in in school. Though the youngest kid in this foster home, Charlie was formally adopted years ago. Still, his parents know how soothing a personality Charlie has, and they hope he can help Leo mellow out. Lila is shy and skittish, but Leo is openly hostile to Charlie’s dad. Something Charlie can’t understand. Both his parents are the most generous and loving people he’s ever known. His mom suffers some hearing loss and all the kids can sign, which helps Lila fit right in–and unsettles Leo.

The more time Charlie spends around Leo, the more he recognizes the signs of PTSD–night terrors and irrational hatred of certain men. He does become a buffer, of sorts, sometimes coming into Leo’s room to lay a comforting hand on him when the nightmares are too fierce. Also, there’s an attraction. Charlie definitely thinks Leo is cute, but he’d never force himself on another boy–he has no idea that Leo feels the same. An unplanned moment of intimacy leads Charlie to make a terrible decision that nearly gets Leo arrested. Just when it looked like Leo had gotten the better of his temper issues, too.

There’s a whole lot to this story that I haven’t mentioned. It’s dark and troubled; the kids all have tough backstories and we get a front-row seat to Leo’s tragic family. The love he feels in the Poulton’s home is enough to draw Leo into therapy for his anger issues, and seems to be the home he’d always dreamed of. I loved the ending of this story, and how fantastically this foster family operates. Charlie and Leo do have a wee bit of passion for Charlie and Leo, but it’s age appropriate and a small part of the narrative. The bigger part is coping with one’s self, and finding a way past tragedy. Charlie’s such a giving kid, and his eagerness to make Leo and Lila welcomed shined through. Expect some pretty graphic scenes–including drinking, fighting and some drug use. It all felt very realistic, and bittersweet. I loved it, honestly.

Interested? You can find FINDING HOME on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.

Otherwise you can find her on her website, twitter or Facebook.

Coming Soon! THE TATTERED GLOVES Book Blast & Excerpt

Hi there! I’m really excited to share an excerpt of a new contemporary YA novel coming soon from JL Berg. THE TATTERED GLOVES features an abuse survivor starting over.

ttg-amazonAbout the book:
Head down.
Don’t look up.
Never make eye contact.

Those were the words I lived by growing up, the words that protected me in an unsafe home. But words are only letters and eventually even they couldn’t keep his hands off me.
Hoping to leave behind the shattered life of my past, I find myself in a boring, small town, with an aunt I’ve never met and at a school I loathe.
But soon I learn, not everything in this world is as black and white as I’ve determined. Sometimes those we are so quick to judge often need a second, third or even fourth time to make a first impression.
And often, there are friendships and even love waiting just around the corner, if we are brave enough to take the first step.
Am I brave? Or will I hide behind these tattered gloves of mine forever?

How about a little taste?

Head down.

Don’t look up.

Never make eye contact.

These were the rules I’d learned to live by while growing up in a house where men frequented but did not stay. When I was very little, I’d always assumed my mother had a lot of friends. Big, strong, manly friends who protected us since I didn’t have a daddy.

How naive I had been.

The men who had visited only wanted one thing, and my mother was happy to give it — for a price.

She’d never made any desperate attempts to shadow this particular part of her life or protect me from it.

The most I’d gotten was a flippant warning when I started showing signs of puberty.

“Willow, you might want to keep out of sight more now,” she’d said.

Thanks, Mom.

And then, when I’d garnered more than a glance or two, she’d say, “Stay in your room at night. Don’t come out.”

But, even with all the rules and warnings, I couldn’t keep them all away.

I couldn’t keep him away.

He’d managed to snuff out every bit of me in a matter of minutes.

Whatever remnants of innocence I’d had from my childhood was gone like a puff of smoke.

But, in our darkest hours, sometimes, even the weak could find the light.

I did, and this… this was my story.

Interested? Find out more about THE TATTERED GLOVES on Goodreads, and pre-order it in advance of its January 24th release on iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play.

About the Author:
J.L. Berg is the USA Today bestselling author of the Ready Series, The Walls Duet, and the Lost & Found Duet. She is a California native living in the beautiful state of historic Virginia. Married to her high school sweetheart, they have two beautiful girls that drive them batty on a daily basis. When she’s not writing, you will find her with her nose stuck in a romance novel, in a yoga studio or devouring anything chocolate. J.L. Berg is represented by Jill Marsal of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, LLC.

Connect with J.L. Berg on her website, twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Goodreads or on her newsletter.
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Coming Out On Top–VOLLEY BALLS Review & Giveaway!

banner-blogtour-volley-ball-by-tara-lainHi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M/M sports menage romance out today from Tara Lain. VOLLEY BALLS is the first book in her new series, and absolutely steams–but also has some real heart, too.

Catch the excerpt below and be sure to enter the giveaway too!

volleyballs400x600About the Book:
A double dose of alpha male might be better than one. Tara Lain’s popular novella, Volley Balls, is now expanded and revised.
Despite just getting out of an abusive relationship with an asshole alpha, David Underwood’s wandering glance lands on two hot members of the Australian volleyball team on Laguna Beach and gets him harassed again. Still, when the delicious Gareth Marshall proves his interest by coming out to his team, David succumbs to his attraction. But Gareth’s volleyball partner, Edge, who’s equally hot, makes the lovers’ lives miserable.

For Gareth, a lifetime of hiding his orientation—and his attraction—from his best friend, Edge, as well as everyone else around him, adds up to hurt and frustration. David’s the first man to ever compete with Edge for Gareth’s passion. But Edge has secrets of his own, and David’s ex-lover will never be happy without David under his fist. With everything stacked against him, can a gay Laguna man find happiness with an alpha male–or two?

How about a little taste?

David buried his head in Gareth’s broad chest and, much to his disgust, started to cry. The feelings didn’t even make sense. Anger, jealousy, lust, and—yes, fear. At the heart of it all. He started to shake. Gareth pulled him tighter, but it wouldn’t stop. Phil’s angry face stared at him. Screamed at him. His fist descended—again and again. Pain and anger and shame. “Oh God!”

“What, love?” Gareth kissed his hair.

“I was so afraid.”

“Nothing to fear, love.”

“Phil. Oh God. He said he wanted to kill me. I think he would have if Edge hadn’t come.” He burrowed into Gareth’s arms.

“We’re here now, love. Nothing more to fear. You took care of that bastard. He won’t bother you again.”

Edge’s deep voice came from behind him. “If he comes near you, I’ll kill the asshole.”

David sucked in breath and turned in Gareth’s arms. He saw Gareth shake his head, warning Edge. “David took care of him, Edge. He got the police and had him thrown in jail.”

David wiped at his eyes. “Thank you, Gareth. I know I said I could take care of myself, but I lied. I’ve been alone so long. I only got involved with Phil because I was lonely and wanted someone to care about me. Instead, he hit me and abused me. I’m so grateful to Edge for saving me today. I’m so grateful to both of you for not being the kind of man that Phil is. So grateful.” The tears ran down his cheeks again and dripped off his chin.

Edge stepped closer and tipped up David’s chin with his finger. He did something David hardly ever saw him do. He smiled. “I know I’m a big Neanderthal with no fucking manners, but sometimes that’s a handy kind of guy to have around.” Funny how David hadn’t noticed those dimples in Edge’s cheeks before. Like you could sharpen pencils in them.

David stepped forward and wrapped his arms around Edge in a huge hug. “Thank you. I’m so glad you were there. I’m so grateful.”

Edge chuckled, and the vibration zipped straight to David’s cock. Down, boy.

Another pair of strong arms wrapped around him from behind and made it a group hug.

David giggled. “I’m the filling in an Aussie sandwich. If I’d known, it would have been my lifetime aspiration.”

My Review:
David Underwood just got out of an abusive relationship with a closeted gay man. He’s always fancied big athletic men, and he’s captivated by the sexy Australian volleyball players practicing on Laguna Beach. Of course, when he gets called out by one of the players with decidedly homophobic slurs, he skedaddles. Quick. David’s all about non-confrontation.

So, he’s rather upset when one of the volleyballers follows him to a bar. Sure, David’s blind date was going nowhere, but boring is better than beaten, right? Except Gareth isn’t like his outspoken mate, Edge. No, Gareth, though big and burly and sexy, is a closeted man himself. And, David’s not going down that path either. Well, not without Gareth considering coming out, anyway. Actually, Gareth is fed up with Edge and his father’s aggressive homophobia. He’s even made plans to transfer colleges to the LA area–his mother lives in San Diego and she’s a PFLAG-gal. She only wants Gareth happy. Meeting her reassures David that Gareth has a path to being true to himself.

And, meeting Edge after their game? Volcanic. Edge is panicked and freaks out when Gareth shuts down his slurs and comes out.

Thing is, Edge can’t comprehend how Gareth is gay. It’s a mystery to him, one he wants to untangle. And he does so by following Gareth and David around. Yeah, he’s a creeper. Good thing for David, actually. Because David’s ex is a real piece of work, and none-too-pleased to have been served with a restraining order. Connecting as protectors of David, Gareth and Edge soon realize that they have more than friendship between them–and somehow David’s able to link their desires into more than a brief tryst.

The menage was a little quick, but I did enjoy it. The book’s written from all three characters’ point-of-view, so we get a little deeper insight into Gareth and Edge, and their deeply homophobic upbringing. David’s acceptance of both of them is a balm for each. And, he’s a sweet guy. I guess I would have liked a little more development of the romance, because it seemed to wrap up really quickly. That said, it’s a mostly-fun read that has some dark moments.

Interested? You can find VOLLEY BALLS on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $15 GC to Amazon.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 23. Her best­selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.

She lives with her soul­mate husband and her soul­mate dog in Laguna Beach, California, a pretty seaside town where she sets a lot of her books. Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

You can find Tara at:

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Dangerous Love: GIRL ON THE BRINK–Review and Giveaway!

girl-on-the-brink-tour-bannerHi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary YA romance with a dark storyline from . GIRL ON THE BRINK deals honestly with domestic abuse for a teen girl experiencing her first relationship.

Catch my review and enter below to win a $10 GC in the giveaway!

girl-brinkAbout the book:
The summer before senior year, 17-year-old Chloe starts an internship as a reporter at a local newspaper. While on assignment, she meets Kieran, a quirky aspiring actor. Chloe becomes smitten with Kieran’s charisma and his ability to soothe her soul, torn over her parents’ impending divorce. But as their bond deepens, Kieran becomes smothering and flies into terrifying rages. He confides in Chloe that he suffered a traumatic childhood, and Chloe is moved to help him. If only he could be healed, she thinks, their relationship would be perfect.

But her efforts backfire and Kieran becomes violent. Chloe breaks up with him, but Kieran pursues her relentlessly to make up. Chloe must make the heartrending choice between saving herself or saving Kieran, until Kieran’s mission of remorse turns into a quest for revenge.

Advance Praise:
“An engrossing tale of a dangerous teen romance.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Girl on the Brink is a must have for every high school and public library.” – Isabelle Kane, Wisconsin high school librarian

ABOUT TEEN DATING VIOLENCE
Abusive relationships are widespread, cutting across socioeconomic, racial and ethnic, religious and gender preference lines. One in three high school girls experience dating violence, while more than half of college-aged women reported experiencing controlling behavior in a relationship. Eighty-nine percent of female college students said they were unable to recognize the signs of an abusive relationship, and a third of teens involved in intimate partner violence ever told anyone about it.

For more information, please head to Break The Cycle.

My Review:
Soon-to-be high school senior Chloe is a girl who’s world is in flux. Her father recently moved out of their New Jersey home to live with his girlfriend in Manhattan. Her mother’s depressed, alternately taking anti-anxiety meds or alcohol to cope with her sudden heartbreak. Chloe’s brother is away at summer camp, as is her best friend. It’s a virtually empty home, and it’s unsettling. Even if her mom’s there, she’s withdrawn or asleep.

Chloe has an internship at her town’s weekly newspaper, and she meets Kieran while out doing an interview for the paper. He’s two years older and seems engaging and charming. He sympathizes about her family issues, confessing his own youthful trauma, and they bond quickly. Also, Kieran isn’t like other boys who seem to only want sex. He woos her with dates and conversation, shares his grand dreams to become an actor and makes Chloe feel wanted and loved at a time where she’s feeling lonely and abandoned by family.

Soon, however, Chloe begins to notice that Kieran is constantly shielding her from her friends, and he’s cajoling her into doing what he wants all the time. He’s attentive in a way that’s becoming problematic–stalking her physically or via phone calls at work. Whenever Chloe attempts to assert herself, or her independence he’s right there, convincing her how much he loves her, and how they really fit together emotionally. They are physical with each other, and Chloe believes Kieran’s “truth,” but it gets difficult to manage his mood swings. He’s erratic, and jealous, and gets angry quickly, followed by dramatic apologies and presents.

Each time Chloe recognizes that Kieran’s love for her is obsessive, he convinces her to make more and more sacrifices for his wishes. She has so few ties at this point, that his sabotage easily severs her flailing friendships. All along there’s been small instances of physical abuse, beginning with intimidation and escalating into pushes, shoves and one harrowing weekend where Kieran essentially keeps Chloe prisoner in her own home.

It’s then that Chloe finally reaches out. Her mother’s able to be responsive, and act as an advocate, though the problems haven’t ended. I liked the story, and felt like it was an important one to tell. Also, it’s written in an accessible way, seeing how slowly domestic violence can creep into a relationship. Chloe is a good student, and good kid. Her family is middle class, and her friends are normal. She’s an Everyday gal, who can’t comprehend the danger she’s in until she’s literally running for help.

Part and parcel with Chloe’s situation is her embarrassment that she could be dating an abuser. She often wonders how she could have been foolish enough to fall for Kieran, but she also misses the way he made her feel cherished and loved. He’s two people in her mind: Sweet Kieran and Mean Kieran, which is a common experience for abuse victims. There’s a lot of honest self-reflection in the story, and guides the reader to understand the underpinning signs of abuse, and emotional manipulation. Chloe’s lucky that she was able to get help when she did, but she makes further (common) mistakes in how she shuts Kieran down. People wonder why women don’t report abuse, or why they allow their abusers to return–some of this complicated cycle is very plainly demonstrated in the book, and that’s a powerful object lesson for younger readers, in particular.

Interested? You can find GIRL ON THE BRINK on Goodreads, Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo.

***GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

christinahoagauthorheadshotAbout the Author
Christina Hoag is the author of Girl on the Brink, a romantic thriller for young adults (Fire and Ice YA/Melange Books, August 2016) and Skin of Tattoos, a literary thriller set in L.A.’s gang underworld (Martin Brown Publishing, September 2016). She is a former reporter for the Associated Press and Miami Herald and worked as a correspondent in Latin America writing for major media outlets including Time, Business Week, Financial Times, the Houston Chronicle and The New York Times. She is the co-author of Peace in the Hood: Working with Gang Members to End the Violence, a groundbreaking book on gang intervention (Turner Publishing, 2014). She resides in Los Angeles.

Catch up with Christina on her website, Goodreads, Twitter, and Facebook.

ef137-yabounktourbutton

Hearts Won in THE BOLD AND THE DOMINANT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary BDSM novel from the writing team of Shayla Black, Jenna Jacob, and Isabella LaPearl. THE BOLD AND THE DOMINANT is the third book in the Doms of Her Life series and should be read after ONE DOM TO LOVE and THE YOUNG AND THE SUBMISSIVE. I’m all caught up and ready for tomorrow’s release of THE EDGE OF DOMINANCE… Stay tuned for that book’s review next week!

bold-and-domAbout the book:
After spending weeks trying to reach Raine Kendall, Dominants Liam O’Neill and Macen Hammerman have finally broken past the walls to their submissive’s wounded heart. Before they can enjoy their newfound closeness, Liam’s past comes back to haunt him when his ex-wife drops in—with a secret that could tear his world apart. Forced to leave Raine in Hammer’s care, Liam is stuck on the outside, stewing in frustration and insecurity…and wondering if Raine no longer needs him or if Hammer alone completes her.

Always the pillar of strength, Hammer tries to help Liam while sheltering their woman. But Raine soon discovers the truth that threatens the trio’s chance of a happily-ever-after. Determined to hold them together, the two men cook up a scheme to uncover the ex’s secret. When an old nemesis returns and targets Raine, can Liam and Hammer come together to slay the danger and save the woman they both love?

My Review:
Liam, Hammer and Raine have finally completed their menage, which seems all to the good, except that Liam’s ex-wife, Gwyneth, has come to LA in search of Liam–with a bombshell baby she claims is his. Knowing he can’t trust her, he stows her away in safer quarters until he can verify the child’s paternity. He doesn’t want to freak Raine out, so Liam and Macen decide to keep Gwyneth and the potential Liam Jr a secret.

This builds real problems, because Raine is a very perceptive gal. Why is her new Dom gone so much, and why is he so snappish? She’s just spending time with Macen because he’s supposed to be there for her… Doesn’t Liam know she loves him too?

While they are struggling with the dynamics of the menage, Raine’s abusive father gets back in the mix. He wants more money from Macen to keep his mouth shut–over a trumped up years-old indecency charge. Though Macen refuses to pay, Gwyneth isn’t above a bit of scheming to make sure Raine isn’t around for Liam to love. Just when it seemed Raine, Macen and Liam got everything back in stride…the absolute worst happens, and it’s a countdown to save Raine from what looks to be certain death.

This one got dark, dark, dark. Readers should be advised of rape and domestic violence triggers. That said, it’s definitely a happy ending for all the characters, they just had to survive the typhoon first. I really enjoyed how the menage got stronger here, and how Raine took some time to think when she got upset, instead of run, as she had been doing previously. It’s a bit of a different sort of cliffhanger at the end of this one–bringing us back to a problem we’d thought solved two books ago, but that’s cool. I’m excited to see where it all goes in the fourth book.

Interested? You can find THE BOLD AND THE DOMINANT on Goodreads, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About the Authors:
Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than fifty novels. For over fifteen years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold well over a million copies and been published in a dozen languages.

Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past seven years.

Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her teenage daughter, and a very spoiled cat. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.

You can find Shayla on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Bestselling author Jenna Jacob paints a canvas of passion, romance, and humor as her Alpha men and the feisty women who love them unravel their souls and heal their scars to find their happily-ever-after kind of love. Heart-tugging, captivating, and steamy, Jenna’s books will surely leave you breathless and craving more.

A mom of four grown children, Jenna and her Alpha-Hunk husband live in Kansas. Jenna loves books, Harleys, music, and camping. Jenna’s zany sense of humor and lack of filter exemplify her motto: Live. Laugh. Love.

Meet the wild and wicked family in her sultry series: The Doms of Genesis. Or become spellbound by the searing love connection between Raine, Hammer, and Liam in her continuing saga: The Doms of Her Life (co-written with the amazing Shayla Black and Isabella La Pearl). Journey with couples struggling to resolve their pasts to discover unbridled love and devotion in Jenna’s new contemporary series: Passionate Hearts.

Find Jenna online on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Find Isabella on Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Finding Love Despite an EMPTY NET–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M hockey romance from Avon Gale. EMPTY NET is her fourth book in the Scoring Chances series, and really a fantastic read. It’s find to read on it’s own, but might be better enjoyed after reading POWER PLAY. I’ve enjoyed BREAKAWAY and SAVE OF THE GAME, so I couldn’t wait to continue this series.

Empty NetAbout the book:
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).

My Review:
I really enjoyed this tender and tumultuous M/M hockey romance. This is the fourth book in a series, and features the characters from Book Three, POWER PLAY, though the romance involves a separate couple.

Isaac Drake knows who he is: a professional hockey goalie who’s out-and-proud, even if he’d rather forget his rentboy days. He lives with his coaches, Misha Samarin and Max Ashford, who are an out-gay couple, and he hopes to find a man with whom to share some of his life. Isaac is not happy when he learns that Laurent St. Savoy has just been traded to their team. Laurent said some pretty hateful, homophobic slurs the last time he played the Spartanburg Spitfires, and there is no love lost between the staff, team–and Laurent.

Laurent is a man of many secrets. He’s young, and talented, but he’s mostly just glad to not be living with his abusive father any longer. He’s also attractive, and mean–as he’s been trained to be. His father, who was also his lifelong coach, rewarded cruelty in his players, and regularly beat or tortured Laurent if he was too good, or too bad, on the ice. Working with men who hate him is nothing new to Laurent, and he’d love to make amends to his Spitfires teammates, if he thought it would make a difference. Instead, he drowns in self-loathing and assuages his guilt by disordered eating behaviors.

Isaac isn’t happy with his teammates, who bully Laurent for suspected homophobia. His attitude toward Laurent changes when he learns that Laurent’s a victim of abuse. While Isaac’s parents did him wrong in many ways, he didn’t suffer abuse at their hands, and his compassion allows Laurent to make the first friend he’s had in his life. Laurent cannot believe that Isaac would show him any compassion, but soon this friendship is the best and brightest part of Laurent’s dark life. Preserving this relationship becomes paramount. He’s not even bothered that Isaac is gay, or finds him attractive; Laurent thinks he might find Isaac just as attractive. He’s never had a girlfriend, or a boyfriend; never felt worthy of being loved after years emotional abuse from his father, so attraction is a foreign concept to him. But he knows that Isaac is a good man, and Laurent feels safe with him. It’s easy to explore his sexuality, slowly, with a patient Isaac.

The story is less about the romance, though it develops naturally and beautifully, and more about Laurent becoming a better human through interaction with Isaac, and regular therapist visits–suggested by Isaac. The team comes around and supports him, and his coaches are really standing behind him throughout. That said, Isaac is a blue-haired white knight, and Laurent is grateful for his intervention, even as he resents the need for it. I really enjoyed the adversarial dynamic they had going. And I loved how Isaac broke down their barriers in simple, but effective, ways. It seems that Laurent is demisexual, which means he’s only able to experience attraction to people with whom he forms an emotional bond. And–boy howdy!–do he and Isaac bond! It’s sweet and frustrating and sometimes really sexy. As I’m no expert on the array of sexualities, this seemed a reasonable fit for Laurent, who’s had little affection in his life. I swooned for Isaac petting Laurent’s hair like a cat–and that being so charged because Laurent was attuned to being touched only in malice and anger. The end is really sweet, with Laurent taking charge of his life for the first time. Isaac is a delicious hero. Yum.

Interested? You can find EMPTY NET on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a copy of POWER PLAY.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

You can find Avon on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or sign up for her newsletter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Get BREAKAWAY for a Steal!

Hi there! I’m so excited to share a review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M sports romance from Avon Gale. As you know I adored her hockey playing hunks in SAVE OF THE GAME and POWER PLAY so I went and picked up the first book in the series, BREAKAWAY. The fourth book, EMPTY NET, just released yesterday, and I’m nearly finished with it, as well. So, so good! I’m not even a hockey fan, and I adore these stories!

Breakaway (Scoring Chances, #1)About the book:
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.

My Review:
Lane is a young closeted gay man who’s on his own for the first time in his live. He’s moved from Canada to Jacksonville, Florida to play for the Sea Storm, a minor league hockey team in a place where people hardly understand the concept of ice. It’s a total culture shock, but Lane’s generally flummoxed. He’s got no filter, and is awkward to the point of /facepalm + Oh man!. He can’t help pissing off everyone in his vicinity with his unconscious lack of tact. In a last ditch attempt to win some favor, Lane, a superlative forward and primo scorer takes on the goon for a rival team, Jared Shore.

Jared isn’t sure what to make of young, virile, talented Lane. But he doesn’t kick the man out of bed. To be the only man that Lane’s ever been with? Seems like an empty net opportunity, but he’s also got to learn to tune out Lane’s odd chatter, at times. Lane’s ashamed of being gay, afraid that his parents will disown him–something he really struggles with even though he’s supporting himself now. Jared helps him to see that being an adult means coming clean with his fears and insecurities, and that helps Lane grow as a man and a player. It’s all good preparation for Lane when he gets The Call bringing him up to the big time, a few games in the NHL. Jared’s an amazing support and together they are able to deal with Lanes parents. I have to admit that was so much sweeter than I had expected. Poor Lane, he tortured himself for so long, and for no reason! I loved Lane, even when I wanted to smack him. He did crack me up with his completely outrageous conversations.

This is a very tender read, considering the guys are grown adult hockey players. I loved how the romance built a little at a time, as Lane and Jared are players on different teams and have lots of forced separations due to schedules. It made their brief trysts so much sweeter, and that was really fun to experience. Also fun? Lane and his new sexual experiences! I do love me a virgin, from time to time. I’m not a hockey fan at all, but this one put me in a smiling frame-of-mind and gave me warm feels despite all that ice.

Interested? You can find BREAKAWAY on Goodreads, and for a single DOLLAR on Dreamspinner Press through 9/4. Regularly priced on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and AllRomance.

SaveoftheGameFSPowerPlayfsSAVE OF THE GAME (Scoring Chances #2) is also on sale. Catch my review here, and pick it up for $2 on Dreamspinner Press.

POWER PLAY (Scoring Chances #3) is ALSO on sale. Catch my review here, and pick it up for $3 on Dreamspinner Press.

About the author:
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and when she’s not writing you can find her at the salon, making her clients look and feel fabulous. She never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

You can find Avon on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest or sign up for her newsletter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!