It's very rare that I can say a series gets better and better with every book release—usually, by their nature, I feel most series wind up being a mixIt's very rare that I can say a series gets better and better with every book release—usually, by their nature, I feel most series wind up being a mixed bag—but with the Scoring Chances books, I can honestly say my enjoyment and love grow with each new story.
Misha is a Russian former hockey player with a tormented past who even years later, still feels guilty about accidentally ending Max Ashford's hockey career. Knowing it was a legal hit doesn't ease his remorse, and he doesn't know how Max can look at him and not feel anger and resentment about the injury that forced his early retirement. He doesn't know how to handle Max, whose positivity and optimism throw stoic, life-is-suffering Misha for a loop. He isn't sure what to do with someone who's constantly happy and doesn't seem to bear any ill-will toward him when Misha can't seem to forgive himself. But their attraction is intense and immediate, and he can no more resist Max's charms than he can stop blaming himself for what amounted to a fluke accident and could've easily happened to any player. It's Misha's nature to brood, and Max is very much the opposite, which I think is part of what makes their chemistry so amazing.
I loved watching these two men fall in love. Max is unashamed and enthusiastic about exploring his newly discovered bisexuality with Misha. Misha is drawn to Max’s light after spending a lifetime locked in the darkness of his own head. When they come together, it’s every bit as explosive and sexy as you might expect with two such different men. It was a joy to read, sprinkled with Avon Gale's signature humor throughout, and as always, featuring a cast of vividly fleshed out secondary characters. And of course, anyone who knows me is aware I love to root for an underdog, so the story of two coaches trying to turn around the worst team in the ECHL is one after my own heart.
And the ending? It made me feel like I was in the middle of a giant hockey hug, surrounded by all my favorite players, gap-toothed smiles, and filled with the rush of a hard-won victory! Hell yeah, baby!
I'm going to write a more official review later... maybe. (Don't quote me. I'm really bad about remembering to do this.)
I know some readers might haveI'm going to write a more official review later... maybe. (Don't quote me. I'm really bad about remembering to do this.)
I know some readers might have their reservations about Caleb going into this book. He definitely didn't leave the greatest of impressions in "Sunset Park," but damn, rarely have I seen a character who needed love and acceptance more than Caleb. The reality is he and David were never meant to last. They were always destined to hurt each other because they never truly complemented each other. Caleb needed someone like Oli. Oli doesn't live his life by anyone else's rules or bow to anyone's expectations outside of his own. Caleb, who is so worried about appearances, about being successful and the opinions of others, needed someone who would help him let loose, who would challenge him to cast some of his reservations aside, someone to help him just fucking live without constantly worrying about every. Damn. Thing.
In bed Caleb and Oli were ridiculously hot together. (Do we expect anything less from a Santino Hassell book at this point? I think not.) But more than the sex, I loved seeing Caleb blossom and become more comfortable in his skin. He's still Caleb... but he's Caleb 2.0. And Oli is the spark the lights his fire.
Recommended, of course. But don't go into it expecting that Oli and Caleb will be like the Rodriguez brothers. Caleb and Oli are different, and in turn, the tone of this book is different. But it's still the fantastic writing and characterizations you've come to expect in this series....more
YOU GUYS. You know how I loved Breakaway and our dear Lane Courtnall? Well, as much as I loved him and that book, I loved this one even more! Riley anYOU GUYS. You know how I loved Breakaway and our dear Lane Courtnall? Well, as much as I loved him and that book, I loved this one even more! Riley and Ethan are perfect together, so sweet and hot.
This was a fairly light read, no deep, dark angst. It had humor and delicious smexy times and characters that felt real. Once again, I loved all the secondaries, particularly Ethan's fabulous family (and the little glimpses of Jared and Lane). But better yet, I loved the slow-burn pace and the thoughtful exploration of bisexuality and what it meant for these two characters, first as individuals and then as a couple.
And in regards to the hockey, while there was certainly enough to satisfy fans such as myself, you'll still be able to enjoy this book even if you never actually watch any games. It's not weighed down by a bunch of sports jargon and on-ice play-by-plays. It strikes a good balance for the sports fans and for those readers who just like to read about big, rough-and-tumble hockey players falling in love with each other.
Finishing this book made me feel like I'd just scored the game-winning goal in OT with .07 seconds left on the clock! Boom, baby, right over his shoulder, top shelf. ...more
I had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of this book, and I loved it so much I had to review. I don't post reviews often, and I'm not the most eloquentI had the pleasure of receiving an ARC of this book, and I loved it so much I had to review. I don't post reviews often, and I'm not the most eloquent of reviewers, so I'm pretty much just going to paste what I said on Facebook after finishing...
Squeeeee. This book, y'all. It was like sweet balm for my hockey-loving soul.
LANE. I ♥ this kid so much. So awkward and endearing. I want to keep him in my pocket!
And Jared is lovely too, and Zoe, and Riley. (And speaking of Riley, OMG, I want his book ASAP.) All of the secondary characters were really great and well-developed, in my opinion.
I was so happy when I finished it I wanted to throw my gloves off and punch someone in the face! (This is the highest compliment I can think to give a fellow hockey fan.)
So, so lovely. Don't go in expecting action and drama. This was a slow, quiet story, truly a character study, and wonderfully told. I'm an unabashed KSo, so lovely. Don't go in expecting action and drama. This was a slow, quiet story, truly a character study, and wonderfully told. I'm an unabashed Kim Fielding fangirl, and I count a couple of her books among my all-time favorites. This just got added to the list. ...more
Full disclosure, I read this book during the beta stages. I'm sure the finalized, post-edits version will be even better, but even reading this in theFull disclosure, I read this book during the beta stages. I'm sure the finalized, post-edits version will be even better, but even reading this in the draft stage, I loved it more than its predecessor, Sutphin Boulevard. I adored Raymond - well and truly adored him - and I love him and David together. Their chemistry is off the charts amazing, and the characters continue to be so nuanced and so very real. These guys, man. ...more
Full disclosure: I proofread this book in the final draft stages, but really, all of the hard work was already done when I got my hands on it. I basicFull disclosure: I proofread this book in the final draft stages, but really, all of the hard work was already done when I got my hands on it. I basically just got to enjoy the ride... and what a ride it was.
This isn't your mama's contemporary romance novel, but it is very much a romance, albeit one with Santino's signature gritty style, which fans of the ICoS series will no doubt recognize. First, we have Michael, an MC who is flawed as hell and all the more real for those flaws. He reminded me of some of my own family members (I'm also Puerto Rican and from an area much like his.) Then there's Nunzio, Michael's best friend, who practically sizzles off the page. This man is hot, and their chemistry is unreal from the very start. Of course their story can't be easy--no one who enjoys this author will expect any different--but it's all the more amazing for that. Because, really, how often is life as simple and sweet as we'd hope? Life and love are complicated and messy and often heartbreaking. Sometimes we get things right. Sometimes we get them horribly wrong. Hopefully we come out stronger and wiser in the end.
Don't go into this book expecting fluff because you won't get it. What you will get is a realistic a portrayal of a man who's nursing a lot of resentment (and pain, though he probably wouldn't admit it) about things that have happened in the past, about his current circumstances, about work issues... and things only get worse as the book goes along. Michael's downward spiral is rather epic, and yet totally believable and true to life. Also, all the side characters are vividly drawn. There are no cardboard cutouts in this book. They live and breathe. You'll want them to have stories too. (Good thing there are more coming, am I right?) I'd almost call it a street romance, in that it has that vibe, with Nunzio and Michael having grown up together in this less than reputable neighborhood, and being the products of that neighborhood. Even though they're grown, the area plays a role. The story feels like a dirty, sexy New York love affair. It feels real. And let me also add how much I appreciate the fact that Santino is bringing more diversity to the world of M/M because I think it needs it.
But, man, these two... when things between them are good, it's like magic. The desire, the sexual tension, it's delicious. But it's the emotions that'll kill you. There are a couple of hard punches straight to the feels in this book. Yet the ending makes every difficult moment worth it. And, believe me, there are definitely some scenes that shred the heartstrings.
My review probably doesn't even do it justice. Let me just say I recommend it.
My story in this antho is called Three Strikes. Check out the unofficial blurb below. :)
Jeremy Saitou is on his third and final strike. His manager, SMy story in this antho is called Three Strikes. Check out the unofficial blurb below. :)
Jeremy Saitou is on his third and final strike. His manager, Shawn, would love nothing more than to send him packing. Shawn hates everything about the guy, especially Jeremy’s insolent mouth. Sure, Jeremy is exactly Shawn’s type—hot, pierced, and tattooed—but no one else has ever annoyed Shawn more. So when Jeremy offers Shawn the use of his body in exchange for one last chance to save his job, Shawn immediately shuts him down, even as everything in him screams for him to say yes and finally put Jeremy in his place.
As a manager, Shawn can’t in good conscience accept Jeremy’s offer, but he does grant Jeremy the same chance he would any other employee—one last week to get his act together and prove his dedication to his job and the company.
The very last thing Shawn expects is for Jeremy to start pursuing him in the days that follow. Now it’s impossible to separate the lies from the truth. Is Jeremy really interested… or is he just doing everything in his power to make sure he still has a job at the end of the week?...more