Cover Reveal for WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a M/M contemporary romance from Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood. WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS features two old school friends reconnecting–and finding unexpected love amid a contentious lawsuit. The book drops 3/20.

About the book:
Cayo Suárez, who is gay, and Ben Roth, an admitted Oblivious Straight Guy, were roommates in law school, but two years after graduating, they have lost touch. After an accidental meeting, Cayo invites Ben to stay with him while Ben looks for his own apartment. There’s only one complication, but it’s a big one—Cayo has been in love with Ben since they met.

What begins as a heartwarming reunion of old friends heats up quickly, and Ben starts to wonder if he’s as straight as he always thought he was. Cayo and Ben reconnect in a most unexpected way, but their jobs complicate things. Cayo works for low-income people at Legal Assistance, and Ben works for the man.

When Ben and Cayo become involved in a controversial case, powerful people with a lot to lose seize control of the situation. They want to bend the case’s outcome to their own nefarious ends, and they’ll destroy anyone who tries to stand up to them. Will Cayo and Ben find a way to save Ben’s career, and their budding relationship, before it’s too late?

What He Really Needs is an action-packed book full of warmth and humor, a first-time bisexual awakening, a healthy dose of suspense, steamy sexy times, and an extraordinary happy ending.

Interested? You can pre-order WHAT HE REALLY NEEDS on Amazon.

About the Authors:
Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and enjoy travel, friends, dogs, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Josh and Ryan love writing, and the romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

You can catch up with Ryan and Joshua on their website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Battling a HEATED RIVALRY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a Throwback Thursday review for a M/M contemporary hockey romance from Rachel Reid. HEATED RIVALRY is the second book in her Game Changers series, which features two rival hockey players finding love with each other. All the books in the Game Changers series are standalone romances. Check out my reviews for book one, GAME CHANGER, or book three, TOUGH GUY, which I highly recommend.

About the book:
Nothing interferes with Shane Hollander’s game—definitely not the sexy rival he loves to hate.

Pro hockey star Shane Hollander isn’t just crazy talented, he’s got a spotless reputation. Hockey is his life. Now that he’s captain of the Montreal Voyageurs, he won’t let anything jeopardize that, especially the sexy Russian whose hard body keeps him awake at night.

Boston Bears captain Ilya Rozanov is everything Shane’s not. The self-proclaimed king of the ice, he’s as cocky as he is talented. No one can beat him—except Shane. They’ve made a career on their legendary rivalry, but when the skates come off, the heat between them is undeniable. When Ilya realizes he wants more than a few secret hookups, he knows he must walk away. The risk is too great.

As their attraction intensifies, they struggle to keep their relationship out of the public eye. If the truth comes out, it could ruin them both. But when their need for each other rivals their ambition on the ice, secrecy is no longer an option…

My Review:
Russian Ilya Rozanov and Canadian Shane Hollander are star hockey players who meet the first time as teenagers at the Junior World Championships. They are both team captains, and Shane’s disappointed his team loses to the cocky Russian. And, he’s not best pleased to go second behind Ilya in the NHL draft a couple of years later. They play for rival teams, but Shane has more endorsements and acclaim due to his boy-next-door looks and charming personality. Ilya thrives on conflict, and he’s got a penchant for low and dirty cutdowns.

Over these years, Ilya and Shane come into closer and closer contact, and there’s a current of attraction that they do not understand, but they do not resist either; Ilya is bisexual and Shane is gay–both are closeted. And, when they come together it’s incendiary. And confusing. Ilya tends to like dominance games, and Shane’s deep need to release tension favors a submissive role in the bedroom.

Their on-ice rivalry leads to explosive sexytimes–but over the years they begin to talk more than simply hook up, and Ilya and Shane develop a secret camaraderie that they cannot reveal–so many of their teams’ promotional activities center on their intense rivalry and competitiveness. Even if Ilya and Shane wanted to come out, they don’t feel they are able to do so and begin a public relationship with one another. Not yet, but they are making plans that will enable them to have a private life and share their growing deep love for one another without making headlines.

This was a really interesting and surprisingly tender love story for two very different men. Ilya suffers the scars of losing his beloved mother to depression/suicide, and growing up without affection from his dysfunctional family. Shane has bee well-loved by his parents, who might understand his sexuality, but he doesn’t want it to define him–or the direction of his career. There are glimmers of the first book, especially the scene where their fellow hockey player comes out to applause, which puts a new perspective on how they could live their own lives. I liked how that dove-tailed and enabled these guys to make choices that would support, versus alienate, them. It’s probably the most fraught of the three books in this series, but ends on a hopeful note.

Interested? You can find HEATED RIVALRY on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Rachel Reid is the pen name of Rachelle Goguen. She chose it because it is much easier to say, spell and remember than Rachelle Goguen!

Rachel writes cute, romantic smut, mostly about hockey players.
Rachelle co-hosts a comic book podcast called Living Between Wednesdays.

Rachel/Rachelle lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has always lived there, and it’s looking like she probably always will. She has two boring degrees and two interesting kids.

The first two books in her Game Changers m/m hockey romance series, Game Changer and Heated Rivalry, are both available now from Carina Press. Book three is coming soon!

You can catch up with Ms. Reid on her website, Goodreads, and twitter.

Are you a hockey fan? I am honestly not, because all my winter sports effort goes into wrestling–which my kids do and my hubs coaches. Still, I’ve been reading hockey romance for years now, and have more book reviews coming in that sub-genre over the next month or so. Feel free to share some of your fave hockey romance titles in the comments.

In the meantime, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Getting it Past the ICE GLADIATORS–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M hockey romance from Genevieve Chamblee. ICE GLADIATORS is the third book in her Locker Room Love series, but able to be enjoyed on its own.

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the $10 Amazon GC raffle.
About the book:
Dalek “Taz” Tazandlakova is the epitome of a hockey player—tall, broad, and powerful. As a forward for the Lafayette Ice Water Moccasins, he’s also the physical embodiment of domination and intimidation.

He’s everything Liam Jolivet isn’t.

Liam possesses an inner strength and confidence Taz has never mastered. On the surface, Liam appears to be a perfect match for Taz. The problem is, Liam is dating Taz’s roommate. It’s not the only problem, either. Taz is a “playa” and has commitment issues—along with a pain-in-the-ass coach who’s threatening to ruin his career, and a second roommate who wants to dictate his social life for his own personal gain.

Nevertheless, Taz wants Liam, and Liam appears to want to reciprocate. Do they dare cross the line?

How about a little taste?

“Actually, you’re more likely to get jabbed in the ribs or guts than beat over the head. That’s too obvious a penalty.” Taz reclined on the sofa. “The entire point of sticking is to move someone out of your way or send a message without getting caught. Hockey’s physical and intense, but it isn’t vicious. We respect each other, even if we don’t always like each other. We hit hard, but it’s without malice. At the end of the day, it’s our job. Besides, I thought this kind of thing turned you on. At least, that’s what Jackson said.”

“I said what?”

“You said he liked hockey. Obviously, he doesn’t.”

Spencer’s brows furrowed. “I’m right here. You can talk to me.”

“I said no such thing,” Jackson, Taz’s other roommate, rebutted, picking through the mixed nuts.

Victor set the bowl on a table. “And that’s my cue to leave.”

“What did I miss?” Liam Jolivet questioned, carrying three beers and two soft drinks.

“Nothing,” Victor answered. “Hand them their drinks. You and I are watching the rest of the game in my bedroom.”

Pfft.” Jackson snorted. “You’re leaving to fuck.”

At least someone’s getting lucky tonight, Taz thought. And with a hottie like Liam, why not?

Victor frowned. “And what’s it to you?”

Taz shook his head. “Wow, Jack, that was tacky, even for you.”

“Calling them like I see them.”

“You must have cataracts in both eyes, then,” Taz huffed.

“What did you mean by sticking sending a message?” Liam asked, distributing the drinks.

“Not that kind of sticking,” Jackson interjected before Taz replied. “But if you have to ask, Vic must not be handling business.”

“Fuck you, Jack,” Victor barked.

Jackson smirked. “That’s what I meant.”

“Shut up and drag your mind out of the sewer. Come on, Liam.”

“Okay, just a minute. I want to hear Taz’s answer.”

“Suit yourself,” Victor snapped, storming down the hallway and slamming a bedroom door.

Twisting the cap off his beer, Taz stared after Victor for a moment before turning his attention to Liam. “You’d better go.”

“I will, but I’m interested in what you were saying.” Liam plopped on the couch, his soulful brown eyes genuinely intrigued. He bore a meet-your-parents smile with a hint of danger that stirred Taz’s curiosity. “I know you probably get sick of all my questions every time I come over, but search engines only tell so much—computer-compiled facts. You give not only the human aspect but spill an inside scoop. It’s not like Victor ever tells me this stuff.”

“It’s an intimidation tactic,” Taz answered. “If guys know you hit, they don’t hit you or your teammates.”

Spencer clicked his tongue. “As I said: barbaric.”

Taz waved his hand. “It’s part of the game—not a nice part, but there it is. And it’s a lot tamer these days with league regulations than several years ago. Back in the day—”

“Liam!” Victor yelled from the bedroom.

“You’re being summoned, fuck boy.” Jackson laughed.

A flush swarmed up Liam’s throat to his face as he rose and trekked to the bedroom.

“He’s too easy.” Jackson chuckled.

Taz rolled his head across the back of the couch to face his roommate. “Why do you do that?”

Jackson shrugged and took a swig of beer.

My Review:
Though this book is linked to the Locker Room Love series, we do not have a lot of recurrent characters.

Dalek, who goes by “Taz”, is a Swedish hockey player playing for the Ice Water Mocassins, a farm team for the nearby St. Anne Civets, both in suburbs of New Orleans, Louisiana. Taz is notable for his technical skating and his blue hair color, and regularly mocked by his abusive coach. His ice time is continually threatened, especially since he won’t go in for his coach’s idea of instigating fights to increase visibility and bring in more fans. The bigger problem, Tax thinks, is their proximity to the Civets–and how their arena is a dump no one would want to sit in for a lackluster team, no matter how many fights they start.

Taz had two roommates, Jackson and Victor, who are both gay, like Taz. They share the rent of a low-budget apartment, and Taz feels and especial loyalty to these two guys because they help him from being homeless. Tax’s own parents don’t really want anything to do with him; his mother having dumped him on his father who is wealthy but disinterested. Victor’s boyfriend Liam seems more attracted to Taz than Victor, and this is the main personal conflict for Taz–he likes Liam, who is a go-getter and interesting, but he’s unwilling to upset Victor. Liam claims he and Victor aren’t truly together, and that Victor has another boyfriend but both Victor and Jackson state Taz would be poaching if he hooks up with Liam. In fact, Jackson has a perfect candidate for Taz to date: a smarmy blowhard named Spencer who’s likely to reward Jackson with a promotion if Tax will put out.

For me, the story was convoluted and disjointed. I’ve read the two previous titles in this series, and I would likely rank it a distant second in terms of enjoyment behind the first book, and slightly ahead of book two which I didn’t like much at all. Taz and Liam are a mixed bag, they seem pretty likable, but I didn’t really get the feel of them. Taz seems to have everything going wrong in his life, and he keeps getting swept out to sea by one calamity or another. The idiot coach and his rants was a weird subplot that didn’t get adequately explained or resolved. The sexytimes read more awkward than sexy, and the dialogue alternated between juvenile and inordinately descriptive–in a preachy manner. Taz’s roommates were weird, and the nefarious plots to interfere with Taz’s happiness for their own personal gain seemed Scooby-Doo-ish, as well. Like, I struggled to comprehend how Taz didn’t see through their machinations. This was a breezy-take on the hockey romance that seemed stereotypical, more than sentimental.

Interested? You can find ICE GLADIATORS on Goodreads, Hot Tree Publishing, Amazon (US, CAN, or UK) Barnes & Noble, Kobo, or iBooks.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link to enter the raffle for your chance to win a $10 gift card from Author Genevieve Chamblee.

About the Author:
Genevive Chamblee is a southern darling and resides in the bayou country where sweet tea and SEC football reign supreme. She is known for being witty (or so she thinks), getting lost anywhere beyond her front yard (the back is pushing it as she’s very geographically challenged), falling in love with shelter animals (and she adopts them), asking off-the-beaten-path questions that makes one go “hmm,” and preparing homecooked Creole meals that are as spicy as her writing.

Genevive specializes in spinning steamy, romantic tales with humorous flair, diverse characters, and quirky views of love and human behavior. She also is not afraid to delve into darker romances as well.

Catch up with Genevieve on her website, Facebook, twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/authorgenevive.chamblee.7

Falling For the TOUGH GUY–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new M/M contemporary hockey romance from Rachel Reid. TOUGH GUY is the third book in her Game Changers series, but is a standalone romance.

About the book:
They have nothing in common—so why does Ryan feel most like himself whenever he’s with Fabian?

Pro hockey star Ryan Price may be an enforcer, but off the ice he struggles with anxiety. Recently traded to the Toronto Guardians, he’s determined to make a fresh start in the city’s dynamic LGBTQ Village. The last thing he expects to stumble upon in his new neighborhood is a blast from his past in the fabulous form of Fabian Salah.

Aspiring musician Fabian loathes hockey. But that doesn’t stop him from being attracted to a certain burly, ginger-bearded defenseman. He hasn’t forgotten the kiss they almost shared back in high school, and it’s clear the chemistry between them has only intensified.

Fabian is more than happy to be Ryan’s guide to the gay scene in Toronto. Between dance clubs and art exhibits—and the most amazing sex—Ryan’s starting to feel something he hasn’t experienced in a long time: joy. But playing the role of the heavy on the ice has taken its toll on his body and mind, and a future with Fabian may mean hanging up his skates for good.

My Review:
Veteran Ryan Price is a defenseman and enforcer for the Toronto Guardians hockey team. It’s not a role he relishes, but his bulk and size have pinned him into the situation, so he goes to battle on the ice, and throws more punches than shots on goal. He’s new to Toronto, having been recently traded after having a spectacular meltdown on the bench of his previous team during a game, though his anxiety struggles are being medically managed for the most part. Ryan is gay, and he’s never hidden it, but he’s also never broadcast it–not that he’s had many friends, or boyfriends, to speak about it. His social anxiety, size and reputation usually keep him isolated, even from his own teammates. Ryan’s self-esteem is pretty low, despite being a pro hockey player.

On this team, however, the back-up goalie Wyatt seems determined to make friends with Ryan. He sits with him on flights, helping him to manage his deep-seated fears, and invites him to a local kids club where Wyatt volunteers. This relationship is the first that Ryan cultivates in years. The second, is a reconnection to Fabian Saleh, a boy he lived with in his teens, since Fabian’s family regularly hosted junior hockey players. Fabian is out and fabulous, having a genderqueer sensibility. He keeps a day-job at the drug store nearest Ryan’s new condo in the heart of Toronto’s queer village. Fabian is a first-rate violinist, though, and Ryan has many memories of listening to Fabian play back in his childhood home. Fabian’s rabid hockey fan family has never been that supportive of Fabian, his music or his life. It turned Fabian away from hockey, but he never forgot Ryan, the shy boy who made more of an effort to see Fabian play back then than Fabian’s own parents did.

Ryan had a big regret of never kissing Fabian back when they were young, but he’s not going to make the same mistake again–even if he’s terrible in bed. His meds and his anxiety often make him unable to perform, but Fabian’s outre look has his libido perking up big time–and Fabian’s happy to go at Ryan’s pace–even if Ryan is a hockey player. Fabian’s friends adore Ryan, even wishing to scoop him up if Fabian doesn’t make a claim, and Ryan’s so happy to be accepted by Fabian’s posse–and hear the fantastic music he makes. For a couple of months it seems things are going really well for Ryan, but then Wyatt is traded and he loses that close friendship. Then, he hurts his back on the ice, and the recovery is…bad. Fabian is mad that Ryan won’t take time off from the season to heal, and Ryan’s frustrated that Fabian keeps harping at him. With all his pain meds on top of his anxiety meds it’s an untenable situation.

With a break looming, both Fabian and Ryan are searching their souls. Should they make up? Should Ryan quit hockey? What would help them find the right path to mutual happiness? There are some really touching moments of deep introspection here, while each man figures out how to live a true and happy life. Ryan gets a chance to connect with an old teammate who offers him a chance to explore his passion for hockey in a low pressure situation. Could this be the first step to Ryan taking care of himself–first and foremost? The resolution is tender and awesome, with Ryan and Fabian being the support one another needs–right when they need it. I loved how each man found his personal happiness, and that magnified their joined happiness. Each man is a little bit broken, and to see both healed and whole in each other and in the end was so cool. I loved how uninhibited Fabian is, and how he coaxes Ryan out of his shell by his sheer exuberance. Not only that, Ryan developing a support network for himself was so great to experience. I really liked both of these characters a lot, and I liked the little glimpse of Ilya Rozanov and Shane Hollander, from the second book in this series, that we get at the end.

Interested? You can find TOUGH GUY on Goodreads, Carina Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Rachel Reid is the pen name of Rachelle Goguen. She chose it because it is much easier to say, spell and remember than Rachelle Goguen!

Rachel writes cute, romantic smut, mostly about hockey players.
Rachelle co-hosts a comic book podcast called Living Between Wednesdays.

Rachel/Rachelle lives in Nova Scotia, Canada. She has always lived there, and it’s looking like she probably always will. She has two boring degrees and two interesting kids.

The first two books in her Game Changers m/m hockey romance series, Game Changer and Heated Rivalry, are both available now from Carina Press. Book three is coming soon!

You can catch up with Ms. Reid on her website, Goodreads, Facebook and twitter.

Are you a hockey fan? I am honestly not, because all my winter sports effort goes into wrestling–which my kids do and my hubs coaches. Still, I’ve been reading hockey romance for years now, and have more book reviews coming in that sub-genre over the next month or so. Feel free to share some of your fave hockey romance titles in the comments.

In the meantime, thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

ANTON Risks it All–A Review


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new contemporary hockey romance from Brenda Rothert. ANTON is the first book in her Chicago Blaze series, and it’s a great start. Star pro hockey player Anton Petrov has one woman on his mind–the one he’s remained celibate for for over two years. Too bad she’s married to his teammate…

About the book:
He’s known as Father Anton to his teammates—the brooding, sexy captain of the NHL’s Chicago Blaze has a reputation for…not having a reputation. Just like his diet and sleep routines, celibacy is part of Anton Petrov’s on-ice mojo. Or so they say. Anton stays mum on the subject. If the world thinks he chooses to abstain from sex, so be it. Better that than the truth getting out: there is a woman he burns for, but he can never have her. She’s his teammate’s wife, after all.

Mia Marceau is finally on her own. Now that she and her husband are living apart, she’s finding the peace she was desperate for. She spends her days in classes and late nights bartending, making her own way in the world at last. After what she’s been through, as long as her husband leaves her alone, she doesn’t plan to rock the boat. He still has the power to hurt those dearest to her, and she can’t demand a divorce with such a high cost.

A chance encounter with Mia has Anton hoping for a shot he never thought he’d get. And while she’s drawn to the intense, serious hockey center, Mia’s leery about playing with fire. That’s all Anton has ever known for Mia, though—a living, burning desire that won’t be denied—no matter the cost.

My Review:
**Trigger warning–this book contains scenes of emotional and physical domestic violence.

Anton Petrov has had a challenging life. Born in Russia, he and his twin Alexei were shipped to Michigan for hockey training at the age of five. Anton had to work twice as hard to perform at the same level as Alexei, who has natural talent he barely nurtures. Alexei is on a rival team, but the brothers are very close. Anton is nearly Spartan in his approach to life–no booze, bad food or late nights when he’s in season. It’s been easy to keep away from entanglements, since the only woman who’s caught his eye in the past three years is Mia Marceau–wife of his teammate, Adam. Out one night with Alexei, Anton finds Mia working as a bartender at a dive bar in Chicago’s south side. How could Adam let this happen? Unless, they’ve split up…

Mia’s finally free of Adam’s emotional abuse, but she doesn’t have access to any of their money–he froze her out the second she left, and now he refuses to divorce her and extorts the funds to care for her beloved grandpa–he won’t pay unless she gives him sex. As destitute as she is, she can’t refuse Adam’s demands and risk her grandpa being put on the street. Though mired in Alzheimer’s disease, her gramps raised her when her mother flaked and Mia’s his only family. Even though Adam won’t grant Mia a divorce, she’s moved out and is taking night classes to complete her degree. She won’t be beholden to another man. Ever.

Meeting Anton at the bar is cataclysmic. Mia’s afraid that Anton will reveal her workplace to Adam, but he wants no part of that. All Anton wants is to be close to Mia–as a friend if that’s all she will allow. Not that he wants to break up her marriage–or will make a move on her while she’s still married. He hates that she walks home from the bar late at night, and starts popping by to give her a ride. They chat, and Mia begins to confide in Anton as a friend. Learning the depth of Adam’s abuse makes problems for Anton–he can’t respect Adam and it nearly comes to blows. When Anton needs a sitter for his adopted uncle, a foul-mouthed veteran who’s suffered two strokes, he reaches out to Mia–and she jumps at the chance to help because the salary is way more than she made at the bar. BOnus, she gets to be near Anton, who’s open admiration are a balm to her broken spirit.

This is a bittersweet romance for two lonely souls that are hungering for real love. Anton watches the shenanigans of his teammates and brother, but knows that’s not the life for him. He honors his commitment to be Mia’s friend, and he does this to the letter–even helping her find a pro bono attorney to help with her divorce. Adam’s emotional and financial abuse escalates when it looks as if Mia might escape his control once and for all, and that leads to some really huge conflicts in the book. I liked how this worked out–with Mia’s friends coming to her aid, but with her being a much stronger person and taking back the control Adam tried to steal. For me, there was a bit of repetitiveness in the book that bogged the pace, and it’s a REALLY slow burn due to Anton and Mia needing her divorce to happen and her to become mostly independent in order to feel able to take Anton as a lover. In the meantime there’s hockey and personal tragedy, and a super strong bond that only grows the longer they wait.

There’s just a bit of sexytimes near the end, and they are most satisfying. I love how supportive Anton is, without pushing Mia around with his wealth. I liked Mia a lot, and–as I am a South Side girl as well–I admired her independence and pragmatism. I was disappointed with Mia’s character development, because she’s a described as mixed-race black woman but she could have been any-woman. There is a lack of anything culturally-relevant in her character or mannerisms. That was a short-coming for me. Ultimately, the romance is sweet, the bad guy gets what’s coming to him, and there’s more hockey romance headed our way soon….for two side characters in this story.

Interested? You can find ANTON on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

About the Author:
Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

You can find Brenda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wattpad, Amazon, or sign up for her newsletter.
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Tense Attraction OFF THE ICE–A Review

Hi there! Today, I’m starting something I’d like to go back to from time to time, feature weeks! This week, I’ll be sharing reviews/alerts that highlight athletes and I’m kicking this “Sports Week” off with a review for a new M/M contemporary hockey romance from the writing team of Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn. OFF THE ICE is a new collaboration that came out a couple months ago. It’s also a coming out story, which is always fun to read. I really loved PERMANENT INK by this team and I wasn’t let down with this new story. If you like M/M hockey romances I’d highly recommend BREAKAWAY by Avon Gale or THE UNDERSTATEMENT OF THE YEAR by Sarina Bowen, too.

About the book:
Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules

My Review:
Tristan Holt is a pro hockey player in Atlanta on his summer hiatus and taking college courses to finish his degree in business management. He’s interested in his sociology class, and his sexy professor, Sebastian Cruz, an out and proud gay Puerto Rican man who never quails at speaking truth to power. Prof Cruz can’t help noticing fit and burly Tristan, either. Unfortunately, Sebastian makes some wrong assumptions, and levels an accusation that reveals all of his own prejudices.

Tristan not only calls Sebastian out on it, he accepts Sebastian’s apology, and that allows Tristan to feels safe enough to not only reveal his hidden sexuality, but also his deep attraction. Not that they can do anything about it. But…summer school is over soon, and Tristan wouldn’t mind his austere professor taking him well in hand. If Sebastian is willing to take that next step.

The chemistry between them is intense, and their mutual love of classic rock and muscle cars helps draw them closer. Tristan is a 23 year old pro athlete, and Sebastian is a mid-30s professor, but they share a love of learning, too, and Sebastian’s prejudices are settled once he gets to know Tristan up close and very personally. The biggest hurdle they face is Tristan’s unwillingness to come out. There are gay players in the NHL, but none of them are out and on an active roster; Tristan doesn’t want to be the vanguard player. Tristan hasn’t even come out to his parents or teammates, and he’s rather confident they won’t mind. Sebastian isn’t pushing Tristan to come out…at first, but, the longer they date, the more Sebastian realizes that he can’t just be Tristan’s public “friend.”

This conflict felt real, as did the anguish. They have to take a step back, and think about their lives, careers and goals. Sebastian takes the advice of his good friend to really examine his motives, and his decisions. Sebastian is a prickly guy, who is sometimes self-righteous, but he’s also humbled by Tristan’s quiet dignity, and his kindness. Sebastian wishes his relationship with his own parents was as loving and accepting as Tristan’s is with his family. Tristan’s personal life and his professional face are two very separate spheres, but he recognizes the need to be honest with his closest friends and family. I liked how this shook out, with Tristan being happier in his relationships. There’s a lot of hot moments, and some good discussion of prejudice, in the context of wealth, power and professional sports. I’m looking forward to reading more in this new series. Expect some interesting power plays in the bedroom and on the ice, and teammate shenanigans. There’s heart with the heat, and even a “hot for teacher” reference that brought me back to sixth grade.

Interested? You can find OFF THE ICE on Goodreads, Riptide Books, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I read a review copy provided by NetGalley.

About the Authors:
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.

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

You can find Piper online on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Caught Offside–CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY: Review and Giveaway!

Hi There! Today I’m sharing a review for a New Adult hockey romance from Cindi Madsen. CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY is the fourth book in her Taking Shots series about collegiate hockey players, and a sweet, fun read.

Catch my review below and enter to win a huge gift basket of goodies including a $50 Sephora GC, too!
About the book:
Confession #1: I used to be a puck bunny, but after a hockey player broke my heart, I gave up all things hockey. Now I’m just focused on finding a way to pass my math class so I can graduate college.

Confession #2: Ryder “Ox” Maddox’s deep, sexy voice sends fuzzy tingles through my entire body, and I’m powerless to stop it. Which is a big problem since the hot, surprisingly funny hockey player is my new math tutor.

Confession #3: I can’t stop thinking about how ripped Ryder is from all his hockey training, and how fun it’d be to cross lines with him.

Confession #4: I kissed a hockey player and I liked it.

Confession #5: If I’m not careful, I might relapse and fall for Ryder, and then I’ll be totally pucked.

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a series, but fully enjoyable as a standalone.

Lindsay Riviera is a college senior looking to remake her life. She grew up not knowing her father, and with a mother who used her looks and wiles to find boyfriends to support their lifestyle. That’s not who Lindsay wants to be, and she struck out to be a sex-positive person, in control of her finances and lovers. Thing is, while she hung out with the hockey players at Boston College, and took great thrill in hooking up with them, she got her feelings bruised when the player she thought was really into her turned out to be using her the way she’d used others.

So, she stepped back, took a hockey hiatus, and accepted it when her tell-all expose on collegiate sports–written by her handpicked reporter–turned out to be more pro-sports than she liked. All Lindsay needs to do is pass her remedial mathematics course, and she can graduate and leave her “puck bunny” status in the rear view mirror. Lindsay isn’t happy to learn the only math tutors available either despise her…or are on the starting defense for the Screaming Eagles hockey team.

Ryder “Ox” Maddox is a pleaser. He’s a sophomore in college and a math major, despite his father’s desires. Ryder’s dad played professional hockey for years, and is determined to see Ryder follow on his skates. His mother isn’t quite so stern–after all her marriage was ruined by Ryder’s father chasing too many puck bunnies, and she’s an upstanding mayor in a posh Connecticut burb. Which is why Ryder needs to be a perfect kid–and also why Ryder’s an uptight guy.

Still, he really likes Lindsay’s sass, and hopes to charm her into his life. HE has no idea about her player-chasing ways but she comes clean about it, and he seems untroubled–until his team mates are trying to score her.

I really liked the frankness of this New Adult romance. It’s about making mistakes and learning from them. Lindsay and Ryder make lots of mistakes, and they make it right time and again. It has a nice sex-positive message, with Lindsay holding herself accountable for her own actions, and not allowing anyone the slut-shame her. There’s a rather slow burn to the romance, with Lindsay pushing Ryder away, and building a friendship that slides into more. And, they make good partners to each other, as well. There’s real conflict regarding the status of their relationship, and the status of their academics–because Lindsay is due to graduate, and Ryder isn’t ready to let her go.

For me, the story was mostly about the complicated dynamics of interpersonal relationships in the small hockey-fan community. Lindsay is a strong determined woman, who makes choices that benefit her–and allows Ryder to join her where she is. Likewise, Ryder is a great guy, kind and compassionate, but also scarred by his heavy parental expectations, and the infidelity that tore his family apart. I liked the book and felt the plot was mostly on target. There’s some unexpected melodrama with Ryder’s parents, particularly, but the resolution managed that to my satisfaction.

Interested? You can find CONFESSIONS OF A FORMER PUCK BUNNY on Goodreads, Amazon (US, AU, UK, and CA) Barnes & Noble, iBooks, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

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Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Cindi Madsen is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and young adult novels. She sits at her computer every chance she gets, plotting, revising, and falling in love with her characters. Sometimes it makes her a crazy person. Without it, she’d be even crazier. She has way too many shoes, but can always find a reason to buy a pretty new pair, especially if they’re sparkly, colorful, or super tall. She loves music and dancing and wishes summer lasted all year long. She lives in Colorado (where summer is most definitely NOT all year long) with her husband and three children.

You can visit Cindi on her website where you can sign up for her newsletter to get all the up-to-date information on her books. Also, check her out on Facebook, twitter, Instagram, Goodreads.