Author: Avon Gale
Narrator: Scott R. Smith
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson
Story Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Narration Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Overall Rating: 3.5 of 5 Stars
Release Date: 08/09/2016
Length: 07 hours 33 minutes
Genre: Contemporary, Gay Romance
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.
Minor league hockey players Lane and Jared heat things up on and off the ice in this fun, low-angst, action-filled love story. Boasting a wide range of characters, the first installment in the Scoring Chances series by author Avon Gale provides the reader with a satisfying balance of hockey playing and m/m romance.
Lane and Jared’s story is enjoyable to watch unfold, with Lane’s innocence weighed against Jared’s experience creating some amusing scenes and dialogue. They’re cute in the bedroom and committed to the game on the ice. It’s a pleasure seeing the connection build between these two, and their chemistry and heat is compelling both in and out of the hockey arena. Jared is particularly likable and appealing as he handles the less experienced Lane with fierce alacrity during the game, but leads with gentle affection when dealing with Lane’s sexual inexperience. The totality of his character is tough but tender, and he comes across as an extremely attractive MC.
Lane is more complex, even in his innocence. He struggles with a social awkwardness and a youthful innocence that sometimes wreak havoc with his communication skills and relationship-building. He is appealing in an over-zealous puppy kind of way, all exuberance and eager to do the right thing. He is constantly tripping over his own feet as he stumbles through his initial meetings with his teammates, new friends, and Jared, of course. This is cute–up to a point. Sometimes this awkwardness is just too cumbersome and overdone. There are several scenes in which the pacing feels too slow, mainly due to conversations that tend to ramble a bit too much as Lane flounders in his interactions with other characters. It becomes almost painful to witness and feels like unnecessary filler.
The author crafts appealing secondary characters and generates enough interest in them to set up their own stories for later in the series. Additionally, she provides a safe and positive place for bi-sexual characters to dwell and flourish, which I also find refreshing and inspiring. As a hockey and m/m romance fan, I love the action, passion, and personalities of the players introduced here, and I am definitely going to be picking up other titles within this universe.
Scott R. Smith’s voice is appealing; however, the frequent audible intakes of breath are a bit distracting, and I never quite got used to them. His performance of Lane’s character is also bit over the top at times in its over-eager delivery. Jared’s voice comes across much more positively, performed in rich tones with a certain bemusement that makes his character unique and sexy.
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
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