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Hat Trick #1

Off the Ice

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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.

275 pages, ebook

First published October 30, 2017

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About the author

Avon Gale

28 books1,221 followers
Avon Gale lives in a liberal Midwestern college town, where she spends her days getting heavily invested in everything from craft projects to video games. She likes road trips by car, rock concerts, thunderstorms, IPAs, Kentucky bourbon and tattoos. As a queer author, Avon is committed to providing happy endings for all and loves to tell stories that focus on found families, strong and open communication, and friendship. She loves writing about quirky people who might not be perfect, but always find a place where they belong. In her former life, Avon wrote fanfiction at her desk while ostensibly doing work in non-profit fundraising for public radio and women’s liberal arts education, and worked on her books in between haircuts and highlights as a stylist. Now she’s a full-time writer, delighted to be able to tell stories for a living.

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.

Enjoy fantasy with a bit of a kinky, darker edge? Check out Avon's fantasy books, co-written with author Fae Loxley, under the pen name Iris Foxglove!

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5 stars
549 (19%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 609 reviews
October 14, 2017

Oh, hell, YES, baby; this book is ALL the things:

- Great writing, with sharp, realistic dialogue, some banter, and humour

- Two complex MCs with interesting backstories

- Opposites attract, age gap, pseudo-enemies-to-lovers, plus HOT FOR TEACHER!

- KINK (dominance, spanking, mild humiliation)

- Steam and more steam

- Awesome cast of secondary characters

- No real angst, some OFY conflict

- Insta LUST, not insta love

- Believable relationship development (the MCs move from teacher/student to lovers to boyfriends)

- Strong HFN

- Promise of more hockey players on and OFF the ice

I loved Sebastian and Tristan. They have off-the-charts chemistry and fit together despite (or maybe because of) their surface differences (Sebastian is the academic; Tristan, a professional hockey player).

I enjoyed the perceptions "lesson" at the beginning. Seb unfairly stereotypes Tristan and has to own his bias.

The story is fully relationship focused, and while there is conflict (initially, because Seb is Tristan's professor and later because Seb isn't willing to go back in the closet and pretend to be Tristan's "friend"), it's resolved without undue drama.

I wish the ending had been closer to a HEA than a HFN, but I feel positive about Sebastian and Tristan's future and am really looking forward to Ryu's story!
Profile Image for Wendys Wycked Words.
1,550 reviews3,809 followers
March 15, 2019

When I found out that one of my favorite books was being "repolished", I happily signed up to review it, because what's better than re-reading one of your favorites!! I can't really say this is a "golden oldie" because it hasn't been that long since I first read this one. I can tell you that I still loved it just as much the second time around. Maybe even more since I have been slowly building a newfound appreciation for BDSM and other sorts of kink ;)

come to momma gif - Google zoeken

I was already a huge hockey fan. Those big sexy men, with their big sticks...come to mama !!!!!  I am also a huge fan of Avon Gale's "Scoring Chances" series. No way I wasn't gonna love this one !!

 This book has a lot of tropes I absolutely love...We get two hot guys getting down and dirty, my favorite sport (hockey !!), some age difference, student/teacher (forbidden vibe), and some very nicely done "kink". Not to mention the delicious dirty talk. What more could a girl wish for ... not much, I tell you !!

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I am not a big "kink" reader, but I have slowly started to appreciate it more and more. It also helped that these guys were extremely HOT together! There is definitely a bit of a dom/sub relationship going on here and I myself think it was very nicely done. Tristan loves to have his ass spanked ;)  

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There was also a bit of humiliation play, and I've got to be honest here and say that I am not a big fan. It's definitely one of the reasons I couldn't give it 5 stars. Thankfully it wasn't too much and so I didn't feel like putting the books down.

Tristan Holt is a 23 year closeted NHL hockey player, for Venom. He is taking classes he is to get his business degree because he is afraid "hockey" alone won't be enough to secure his future.  That's where he meets his Sociology professor. It becomes clear real soon that Tristan...is hot for his teacher :P 

hot for teacher gif - Google zoeken

Sebastian Cruz has offered to summer school since this could help him get tenure. He definitely the broody kind and his "resting bitch" face is practically famous. For a professor teaching about "bias", he makes a huge mistake, when it comes to Tristan though. Fortunately, Sebastian is also the kind of person to admit to his mistakes and to try and fix them. 

admit fault gif - Google zoeken

These two have an instant attraction going on, and sparks are flying everywhere, but they don't act on it, not until Tristan is no longer Sebastian's student, that is. That doesn't mean they don't get off on the whole teacher-student thing. 

I really enjoyed the way Sebastian dominated Tristan, he was exactly what Tristan needed and wanted.

When he was alone in bed at night, he craved dominance. Someone to help him just....let go.

Sebastian definitely helps him to let go. The man was an absolute master at making Tristan submit and blush... and did I mention his dirty talk ?? It was delicious.

"You can suck me off after lunch" ..."Except I want you to do it in my bed, nice and slow. If you think you deserve my come, you need to work for it." 

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Tristan had no problem "working" for it, that's for sure.

As they spend more and more time together, their feelings for each grow. But Tristan is still hiding deep inside the closet, while Sebastian is very much out and proud, with no intention of going back in.

I absolutely loved this book, it was hot and sweet and both characters awesome. I also loved all the other members of Tristan's team, and I really hope, we will get the goalie's story next ...I can't wait !!

I Highly recommend!


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Profile Image for Shile (Hazard's Version) semi-hiatus.
1,084 reviews771 followers
November 28, 2018
2.5 stars

You can find me here 👇


It is Me! not the book!.

I liked some parts and disliked some parts.

This is a Teacher/student story with some BDSM elements.

The audiobook was amazing, Kirt Graves narration is always on point.

Sebastian the Teacher. He was an a**hole from the first time he was introduced and not the good kind of a**hole. I tried but i just couldn't connect. I had some cringey moments listening to his POV.

Tristan the student and professional Hockey was a darling, i loved him, too bad he was paired with Sebastian.

Another thing was the chemistry, it was a bit wishy washy for me. The beginning was ok, i could feel the tension, then when the actual relationship started. BAM! it converted to BDSM and i was like, wait what? How now?

I also felt the sex scenes were way too many and lost interest at some point.


I really wanted to like it more but the connection was missing. I also don't like people giving other people ultimatum to come out. Everyone should be allowed to come out when they are ready.

Anyhoo, don't mind me, i am the odd bean out.
Profile Image for JAN.
1,107 reviews750 followers
November 3, 2017
** 2.5 Stars **

I don't know people...

The rates are so high. Was I expecting too much? I feel so disappointed.

It wasn't bad but it was nothing special either. Therefore I will go for 2 stars which is an "OK read" here on GR.

Tristan was lovely and I sympathized with his character LOADS. I think the authors did great revealing his emotions and fears when facing his conflicted situation of coming out.

I actually felt anxious for him every single time he had to come up front and talk about this with his parents, coach and team.

Sebastian was my problem here. I think the intention was to show an uncomplicated, straight forward character, confident about who he was and where he was coming from.

However some of his attitudes came against this image and made me look at him as a guy with a chip on his shoulder instead.

Romance wise it was missing something big time. Sebastian and Tristan didn't mesh in my brain at all. I couldn't feel any emotional connection other than sexual chemistry. It was weird, they felt more like friends with benefits to me.

As for the kink, something I usually appreciate, the fact that they were experimenting didn't work for me either.

I like when the couple are confident and unapologetic about it. They were just starting to navigate in these waters and it didn't feel sexy to me. That's totally on me though. It's a very particular taste of mine, not the author's fault at all.

Now, I'm ready, bring on the tomatoes :(
Profile Image for Heather K (dentist in my spare time).
3,843 reviews5,558 followers
October 31, 2017
*3.5 stars*

I liked this, at times very much, but when I reflected back on the story about a week after I read it, nothing stood out to me, which isn't a great thing.

I was one of the few who didn't love Avon Gale's collaboration with Piper Vaughn, and though I ADORE Avon Gale's solo works, I think I'll steer clear of her work with Piper in the future. It just doesn't give me that *squee* feeling.

I was drawn to this book because it has SO many themes that I enjoy. I love kink, age gaps, and hockey players. I think the authors did a pretty good job with those themes, but I wasn't 100% blown away, even though I enjoyed the writing overall.

I found the college class to be a little too preachy for me, to be honest. Yes, I get that the book touched upon many important issues, but it came across as didactic and sanctimonious. It is tricky to strike the right balance when you are "teaching the readers," and I don't think this book quite got there.

The kink was nice, honestly, and one of my favorite dynamics is a bigger guy as the bottom in the relationship, but I wanted a bit more from the kink. It reminded me of Permanent Ink in that way. I like my kinky books super kinky!

I know I'm sort of harping on the negatives, but I did like this book. I think these two guys went through a lot to be together, and I'm a sucker for a grumpy, snarky MC. However, I don't know if I will continue on with this series as I don't seem to connect with this writing duo as much as other readers.

**ARC provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for Jewel.
1,789 reviews242 followers
October 8, 2017
Warning: Gushy review ahead, because this book rocked my socks off.

When I read that Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn were starting a new hockey series, I was ecstatic! And I don't even think I could follow a game of hockey without someone talking me through it. But I do love me some sports romance, even if I don't really like sports. Something about seeing alpha males laid low by love just gets me going. Who could blame me, right? And add in a super toppy academic and I'm in lurve!

Sebastian Cruz is a professor of sociology. He's kind of jaded and grumpy and a bit of a hard-ass. He expects a lot from his students, but really it's because he expects a lot from himself. But as much as he talks about recognizing your own bias, he isn't immune to bias, himself, and that lands him into a rather embarrassing situation when he accuses the wrong student of plagiarism. But he also showed integrity in the way he addressed his own failure.

I had a lot of respect for Seb throughout the story. He could be a bit "black & white" in his outlooks, at times, but he was also open to reason so I didn't hold it against him. I liked that Seb owned his mistakes and the admitted when he was unreasonable, so in my book, that makes him a stand-up guy.

Tristan Holt plays hockey for the NHL team, Atlanta Venom. He knows, though, that assuming that hockey will be there for him for the next decade would be careless, so he's working hard to finish his degree in international business. I loved Tristan. He worked for everything he got, he treated people with respect, and he knew that he needed to have a backup plan. To not look beyond his hockey career would be short-sighted.

Tristan wasn't arrogant, or a jerk, but he wasn't afraid to stand up for himself, either. And he wasn't afraid to go after something he really wanted -- like a scowly professor who pushed all the right buttons.

Though Sebastian and Tristan did not embark on anything romantic or sexual until after they were no longer teacher and student, the dynamic was still very present in their relationship and I loved how they played it (talk about HAWT). Sebastian is a super toppy guy and his scowly demeanor pushes all kinds of the right buttons for Tristan, who prefers both to bottom and also not be the one to call the shots. Tristan just wants to let go and he has a feeling that Professor Cruz would be that guy (spoiler: he is! OMG he is!!).

The problem? Sebastian is out and likes it that way, and Tristan is not and has no plans of risking his career or being the gay poster child for the NHL. But sometimes things don't go as planned and both Sebastian and Tristan go and fall in love. *swoon*

I genuinely liked both MC's as well as the cast of secondary characters. There was a touch of angst in their relationship, but it never felt manufactured or over the top. All the angst came from their relationship being a secret and was completely understandable. I do like how it all resolved and that both Sebastian and Tristan had people that were both voices of reason and had their backs. Coming out to those you love is hard enough.

Off the Ice was fantastic -- the co-writing was smooth, the romance very satisfying (as was the HFN/HEA), and I easily lost myself in the story. I loved the teacher/student dynamic, the slight age-gap, as well as the mild kink and abundance of dirty talk. Talk about delicious. Sebastian and Tristan set my Kindle on fire! And, much to my delight, it looks like we'll get more delicious hockey stories from these two fab authors. Gimme!!!

ARC of Off the Ice was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
October 5, 2019
Audio...5 stars
Story....4.5 stars

After reading some of the mixed reviews, I was sure this book was not for me. I was wrong, and I'm glad I decided to read it after reading and enjoying book 2.

I actually loved this book a bit more than I did book 2, because to me, it was more of an emotional read. There was also more focus on the relationship than the sport so I felt the connection between the MCs more so than I did in book 2.

I've already added the audio for book 3 to my audible wish list. August 2020 can't get here soon enough.
Profile Image for Mirjana **DTR - Down to Read**.
1,379 reviews648 followers
December 7, 2017

***4.5 Stars***

I loved this so much!!! So, SOOOO good!!

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- Opposites Attract - Hockey player and college professor with dynamite chemistry.

- Age Gap - About 10 years

- Student/Teacher(ish) - Nothing happens while Tristan is Sebastian's student...but the dynamic afterwards.....oh yes!

- Some kink - Tristan loves dominance and Sebastian loves control. A little bit of humiliation (not public), some spanking, some slapping, and a whole lot of explosive chemistry! Did I mention that already? Well it should be mentioned again!

- Relationship Focused - This book is all about the establishment, growth, and evolution of Tristan and Sebastian's relationship. It truly felt like looking through the window of two men from different worlds falling in love. Tristan isn't out yet (publicly or privately) while Sebastian is. The way this conflict was handled was terrific.

- Explosive Chemistry - Did I mention that already? Well, I don't care and I'll say it again. These two are off the charts dynamite together....in all ways...in and out of the bedroom. They compliment each other perfectly!

Before I forget! I'd like to take this moment to give a shout-out to one of the hottest "sports lesson" scenes I've ever read. If someone introduced me to a new sport this way, I'd be a total fan of EVERYTHING!

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Oh, and I love how angry Sebastian gets at how invested he becomes in hockey...had me laughing and swooning at the same time.

Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn are a fantastic writing duo. The writing is seamless, the plot engaging, the characters endearing...and this reader was addicted from start to finish!

I can't wait for more in this series and more from this collaboration!!

psst.... a little birdie told me who the next book is about and I'm so excited!

ARC received in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Ele.
1,268 reviews41 followers
November 2, 2017
*4.5 stars*

Well, it's official. From now on, every Puerto Rican teacher is going to be Juan Forgia in my mind. It's all Santino Hassell's fault.

Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn are my new favorite author duo! Their writing might mesh together incredibly well, but the characters' voices are very powerful and distinct. I'm perfectly sure that Off the Ice will tick a lot of people's boxes:

-Opposites attract.

-Age gap.

-Teacher/student trope (because of my line of work this can feel a little icky, but fear not! Here, it was handled perfectly.)

-Hockey! I'm totally clueless when it comes to hockey but I actually learnt something from this. A hot and heavy hockey quiz might have helped.

-Lots of steam!

-Kink! Sebastian is one bossy top, and Tristan wants to let go in bed. He wants to be held down and being told what to do. The kink is mild throughout the story (some rough sex with a dash of spanking and a sprinkle of humiliation) but the scene when it escalates and reaches a peak was so beautiful.

-The conflict. What made the angst real and even more heartbreaking, was the fact that both characters were right. There really is nobody to blame. Sebastian can't go back in the closet, not at this point of his life. And Tristan can't come out yet. IT JUST SUCKS DONKEY BALLS!

-Strong ending.

All the above were great, but what really made this book such a winner for me were the extremely likeable and relatable characters. Grumpy sociology professor who goes above and beyond to admit and own his mistakes and bias. And the hardworking, hot jock who, above all else, is a good, good man.

I'm thrilled that this is going to be a series. I can't wait for everyone else's stories!

Profile Image for .Lili. .
1,162 reviews260 followers
October 11, 2017

Oh, boy did Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn cater to all my loves:

Age gap + opposites attract + teacher/student + kink + romance+ humor

It's the story of an out and proud but unbending college professor, Sebastian Cruz, and a closeted professional Ice Hockey player, Tristan Holt, who's recently gone back to school. At first glance, Sebastian comes across as uptight and by the rules, but even he can't resist the blonde hot guy in the gray sweatpants (shot out to #gethasselled & #megsmob. Y'all and sweatpants go hand and hand). Tristan is instantly attracted to his Psychology teacher- there's something about his take-charge personality that hits all his buttons. The attraction between is palpable but how can they ignore the fact their teacher/student relationship and the fact Tristan is in the closet?

What I loved:

-Sebastian. You know, although he could come across as a bit of a prick- he wasn't. He was caring and loving and willing to admit when he was wrong.

-Tristan. He was just a down to earth guy. He worked hard, loved his family, and never allowed the money that came with being a professional athlete go to his head.

-Tris and Seb together. Sigh, their relationship was perfectly developed- PER. FECT. LY. I often found myself smiling without realizing that I was. It gave me butterfly flutterings.

-The sex was on fiiiire!

-The pace of the story was smooth, and the story developments were well timed.

-The narration. We have alternating POVs that worked excellently with the plot.

-Co-writing. I've read many co-authored stories, and this is one of the most seamless books I've read. I couldn't tell this was co-written nor who wrote who.

-The end. It was a strong HFN, and my thinking is we'll get updates as the series progresses with future couples.

One thing I wanted to bring up: kink. I didn't know going in it would have humiliation kink. As the plot started to foreshadow it was coming, I began to get nervous. It's not my thing, BUT I didn't mind here. For starters, it was very mild, AND it worked for them. In the end, it wasn't an issue. If you see it mentioned in other reviews, don't let it put you off.

All in all, Off the Ice, is a huge winner in my eyes. I love a book that can sweep me away and make me feel all warm and fuzzy. If you're looking for a romance book to get lost into, then look no further! 5+ Stars!


Profile Image for Bhavya Marya.
75 reviews68 followers
August 30, 2020
I really had a good time reading this. I love that we got both of the MC's POVs. It made the reading experience better. Because when the conflict did come I could see both sides of the issue.

The whole professor student thing was really hot in the begining. The sexual tension just made me feel impatient and excited at the same time.
I liked that the book wasn't just about the romance. It was also about how difficult coming out can be for athletes and that you need to compromise to make a relationship work.

I loved the couple. They were perfect for each other in every way. I liked how invested Sebastian became by the end in hockey and Tristan's career compared to the begining when he hadn't even watched one game of hockey. It showed that he truly cared for Tristan and wanted him to succeed.
I just wish we could've gotten more of an HEA instead of an HFN.

I don't know if I'll read the next one though. Maybe if I'm in the mood to read another hockey M/M romance. *shrugs* But I'll definitely be checking out more of these authors' works.
Profile Image for Alisa.
1,767 reviews174 followers
December 30, 2021
I was a bit hesitant going into this because while I love Avon Gale's solo books I was not a fan of this writing duo's previous book Permanent Ink. I did like this one better but not by much.

Tristan is a NHL hockey player who wants to finish off his college degree. (And on a side note, real life professional hockey player Colton Parayko is the inspiration for Tristan. You should take a minute to google him because sweet baby jesus he's something fine to look at) Tristan takes a Sociology class (which is the perfect way for the authors to work in some social justice preaching to the reader *eye roll*) where he finds himself attracted to his hot, grumpy teacher, Sebastian. Once the class is over the two men hook up and then start dating.

The story then proceeds the way most professional athlete books do. They fall for each other and then the athlete has the decision on whether he's going to come out or not. I'm not a good reader for this trope because I just hate it. There are numerous things that must be considered for a professional athlete to come out. They're risking their job, their incomes and in some cases their safety. The fact that the other person presents it as "You have to come out or we can't be together" is emotional blackmail in my opinion and it's never going to work for me. I could write paragraphs as to why I hate this so much but I'm just going to leave it with 1. I hate it and 2. Sebastian was a jerk for pushing this on Tristan.

I could have maybe overlooked disliking a plot point if I felt a lot of emotions between the characters but I didn't. A lot of telling me they cared for each other but no showing. I was not committed to these two or their relationship at all. (which was part of my problem with Permanent Ink too). A lot of the emotion that is in Gale's solo books does not come through in these joint efforts.

There was some dirty talk and some mild kink which was fine. That's a bit of a problem for me though. Kink shouldn't be "fine". It should be "Omg this book was so hot". There was a spanking scene that just came from left field. Tristan is missing his family on Thanksgiving and then Sebastian intuitively "knows" what will help Tristan and then spanking ensues. I was doing my Scooby Doo head tilt and "ruh?" for this. (I wish I could just break out the random spankings on people I just intuitively "know" need one. A spanking for you. And one for you. And you too!)

So, this was not a bad book. It also wasn't a great book. It's one of those middle of the road, meh books that I will forget by next week. I'm assuming by the series title "Hat Trick" that this will be a three book series. If so we've met the next two MC's. Both of which are teammates of Tristan's.

**ARC provided through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review**
Profile Image for *J* Too Many Books Too Little Time.
1,921 reviews3,437 followers
October 24, 2017
Solid 4 Star read.

I quite like this duo.

I wasn't a super big fan of the humiliation kink going on, but it was on the light side. Super hot otherwise.

No crazy drama.

Likable characters.

Great start to the series, I am definitely looking forward to the next book.

ARC kindly provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for BWT.
2,149 reviews215 followers
October 16, 2017
4.5 Stars

Practically perfect in every way.

During his summer off, professional NHL player Tristan Holt has decided to go back to school part-time in order to finish his business degree.

He ends up in a Sociology course being taught by Sebastian Cruz, one of the professors still trying to get tenure with the university.

The two have a rocky start, but once the class ends, the heat begins and the two begin a relationship. Unfortunately, Tristan isn't out - to anyone - and Sebastian is out and proud.

There's a delicious tension to the story knowing at some point Tristan will have to make a choice since Sebastian has made it quite clear he won't go back into the closet for anyone.

There's also terrific flow to the story, great characters - especially two teammates of Tristan's who I am enormously excited to read their stories - and lots and lots of heat.

The chemistry between Tris and Seb is electric! Now, I preface this by saying anything even slightly humiliating is not my kink, but Tris and Seb are on the same page with what works for them and both love what happens during their sexy bedroom times.

There's dirty talk, some pretty hot teacher/student play, and lots of sex...
After a couple of slow thrusts, Sebastian withdrew and held Tristan still as he smacked his wet dick against Tristan’s cheek. “You look good with my cock in your mouth,” he said idly, dragging the tip across Tristan’s lips, smearing spit and pre-come. “You’d look better choking on it.”

I loved the dual POV and how both Sebastian and Tristan are really well fleshed out and fun to read. Sure, some of the sex scenes didn't ring my bell, but that's about personal preference and not reflective of the writing.

I would have liked to know how Sebastian's relationship with Tristan affected his position, if at all, with the university and what was happening with his chances for tenure. However, even though it's a dual POV the focus is definitely more on Tristan and his progression.

If you are looking for a low angst, smoothly written, fun story with interesting characters, delicious dirty talk, some enjoyable kinky teacher/student play (without being icky) all combined with a nice, slight, age-gap you should pick this up.

All in all it was a winner for me and I'm looking forward to more in the series.

Advanced Review Galley copy of Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) provided by the Author in exchange of an honest review.

This review has been cross-posted at Gay Book Reviews.
Profile Image for Elise ✘ a.k.a Ryder's Pet ✘.
1,314 reviews2,780 followers
November 1, 2017
⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱*Expected more*⋰⋱⋰⋱⋰⋱

The book was alright. Nothing to write home about, nor something I'd want to read again. It was predictable, but still cute. It centers around defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan ‘Tris’ ‘Holtzy’ Holt (23) and sociology professor, Sebastian ‘Seb’ Cruz (34?) who just can't help the attraction between them. However, one is out and proud while the other is still in the closet. Overall, it was still a nice read, but I wished it had been better. More action or something.
“Damn,” he said, his voice muffled. “I thought you’d come here to end it. I’ve never been so afraid.”

Quick basic facts:
Genre: - (Adult) Contemporary Romance (M/M)
Series: - Series (Standalone?), Book One.
Love triangle? -
Cheating? -
HEA? -
Favorite character? - Tristan ‘Tris’ ‘Holtzy’ Holt.
Would I read more by this author/or of series? - Unsure.
Would I recommend this book/series? - Unsure.
Will I read this again in the future? - No.
Rating - 3 stars.
Profile Image for Trio.
2,926 reviews171 followers
October 6, 2019
More a traditional romance, with a side order of hockey, fans of the writing duo of Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn will be thrilled with Off the Ice, the first in their new Hat Trick series. There is a definite style in the combination of these two fine authors which is an interesting contrast to how each of them writes on their own. Very polished, the authors’ final product is a story with a great message, interesting characters, and fiery romantic scenes (it’s okay to infer I’m saying the sex is hot!).

Alternating between both main characters’ points-of-view, Off the Ice is the story of closeted NHL hockey player Tristan Holt and out-and-proud university professor Sebastian Cruz. A good deal of the novel is about their initial attraction, the build up to establishing their relationship, and the sparks that fly when they get together.

With a message about accepting yourself for who you are and doing what needs to be done to assure your integrity, Off the Ice will resonate with readers.

Both Tristan and Sebastian have issues to deal with, but when they come together, face the problems, and work for a resolution...well the chemistry between these two is spectacular.

There’s a slight age gap and power differential and toppy Sebastian sees the submissive in Tristan almost right away. Once he encourages Tristan to speak up about his desires, Sebastian leads them into an adventurous romantic relationship.

These boys get down and dirty in the best possible way, and it certainly kept me scrolling along.

Gale and Vaughn establish a really nice flow to this book. I love how Sebastian and Tristan progress from their initial lust to the security of a more established relationship. Watching Tristan grow comfortable enough to make his needs known, and how Sebastian assures Tristan he’ll get the job done, really illustrates the chemistry between these two guys. And it continues outside their sexual relationship as they face every day issues throughout the story.

The authors set the stage nicely in Off the Ice with the promise of future novels surrounding players from the Atlanta Venom hockey team. The goalie Ryu Mori, who is also closeted, and the team captain Daniel Bellamy, who is coming out as bisexual, promise to be intriguing stories and I’ll be looking forward to reading them both. Hopefully very soon!
Profile Image for Christelle.
808 reviews
November 21, 2017
What I loved :
* Tristan : he’s kind, he’s strong and dedicated, he’s combative but fair, he’s honest, he’s easy-going, he’s funny.
* The banter : it always works for me.
* Opposites attract
* Age gap
* Hockey player
* The development of the relationship between Tristan and Sebastian : it takes place over a few month, it’s believable, no drama, but issues that are to be addressed and are to my liking. Oh, and quite steamy, of course :-)

I can’t really explain : something was missing for me to make it a "whoah" read, so it’s more a 3.5 stars, but I gladly round it up because I did had enjoyed Tristan and Sebastian's story and because this time, I enjoyed Avon Gale’s work (and Piper Vaughn as well, of course).
Profile Image for Ami.
5,773 reviews501 followers
October 18, 2017
I am going to say that it's TWO for TWO for me, when it comes to Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn's writing partnership, after Permanent Ink. Because I loved this one as well!

Off the Ice is the first book of the new trilogy, Hat Trick, featuring Tristan Holt, a defenseman for Atlanta Venom, and Sebastian Cruz, sociology professor at Georgia State. It has a number of tropes that may attract readers of this genre. Let's see ... student/teacher, age-gap, d/s kink ... and well, hockey players!

The two men meet when Tristan enrolls for summer course during his season break and takes Sociology 3201 where Sebastian is the professor. Initially Sebastian -- despite his PhD in sociology and his lecture about perceptions, mind you -- ends up falling into stereotype trap as he thinks that Tristan is just a jock, who plagiarizes his fellow student's paper. Boy, I LOVED that scene where Tristan reminds Sebastian about it, takes him down a peg *laugh*. They don't start dating after the final grade is given though, to avoid breaking the rule.

The main conflict of the book is nothing new, especially if it involves non-straight athletes. Tristan being in the closet, afraid of the repercussion of being an out player, versus Sebastian's out status and unwillingness to be a secret lover. Having said that, I didn't think it was angst-heavy. We still have a lot of them being in the state of sexual bliss, outside of Tristan coaxing Sebastian to start paying attention of hockey. Addressing the issue is being kept until later in the book to act as the bridge to deliver the happy ending.

All in all, it's a great start to introduce readers to the series. I already look forward to reading the upcoming books. I hope the next one is about Ryu, the Venom goalie.

The ARC is provided by the authors for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.
Profile Image for Dia.
534 reviews133 followers
January 5, 2018
3,5 stars

I'm again in the minority here, as almost all my GR friends loved it.
I'm not a big fan of hockey er even sports stories, but I loved Him and Illegal Contact. I also loved Permanent Ink by this writing duo, so I wanted to give this book a try.

For the most part I enjoyed this story. It contains a lot of the things I usually love in books: age-gap, mild BDSM, opposite attract, teacher/student trope, BUT somehow this couple wasn't credible.

Tristan is a 23 y.o. hockey player in the NHL. Sebastian is his sociology teacher.
Even if I liked both main characters, I can't say I loved them together. Yes, there's a lot of dirty talk and hot sex, but the relationship they built didn't feel solid. It actually seemed like friends with benefits to me.

I think this was mostly a coming-out story for Tristan. He had to put his fears behind and be true to his family and friends. His relationship with Sebastian had to be revealed or Seb wanted out because he didn't want back in the closet. Not even for the man he fell for.

Overall I enjoyed this story, but I don't think it's much different from many other books. So I'm going to give it only 3 stars.
Profile Image for Ky.
495 reviews60 followers
October 20, 2017
Off the Ice is so much more than a sports romance. It's a coming out story. It's a story about making choices. About friendships. About family. It's basically the story of a relationship.

So, we have a teacher, we have a pro athlete and we have a summer class. Although they met in said class, that was taught by Sebastian and that Tristan was attending, this is not a student/teacher romance. They were attracted to each other from the beginning but nothing happened between them while the class was in effect. They both consciously waited until the end of it to make a move.

Tristan and Sebastian were opposites in every aspect of their lives but somehow they fit together perfectly. They each brough what was missing from the other's life. They were mature, they talked about a lot of things and they communicated the important stuff istead of letting them pile up.

They had about ten years between them but that never became an issue or the focal point in the story. I liked that instead of focusing on the age difference, the story explored other tropes.

The secondary characters had real presence here and were part of the story. The MCs didn't live in a bubble but had friends, family members and colleagues. That's one of the things I liked most about this story.

I liked the relationship that Tristan had with his parents and siblings. It was obvious how much they loved each other and how strong that relationship was. I enjoyed reading about their interactions and I was thrilled that they got as much page time as they got. I would have liked to see more scenes with Sebastian and his family because their relationship was a complicated one but I'm still glad with what I got to see of them.

With the book being a sports romance, I think most people can guess that there is a coming out side-plot at some point. I won't say anything else about that to avoid spoiling the story for those who haven't read it yet, except that in this book took place one of the sweetest and most heart-melting coming out scenes I have read.

As this is the first book in a series we get introdused to a few potential MCs, or at least I hope that we are getting their stories in the future!

Out of all of Tristan's teammates, only three got real page time here but I liked eveything I learned about them so far. Ryu was Tristan's best friend, supportive and always there when he needed him. Molrey was still trying to grow up (at 27) but he was a genuinely nice person, always joking and defusing stressful moments. The captain, Daniel Bellamy or "Bellzie", was the one I liked a tiny bit more than the rest. He had a strong character, always there for his team providing support and advice, conscious of his actions and fully aware of himself, mature and well-adjusted.

The story covers about a year of the characters' lives so this isn't just the beginning of a relationship. It's the story of two people building a life together. And that's my favorite kind of story!

5 stars, obviously, and have fun reading this!

* An ARC of this book was kindly provided to me by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *
Profile Image for Eugenia.
1,585 reviews230 followers
December 4, 2017
Avon Gale—I love her. This book, however, I did not love. Maybe I had high expectations from her incredible Scoring Chances series. I expected humor, hockey, hot sex, and characters I liked.

Piper Vaughn—I know little as a writer, having only read one of her books before this collaboration. I didn’t much care for that one.

Here I got a little hockey, some hot sex, two parts that made me laugh (I counted), and only one MC I cared about. Sorry, Sebastian, I just didn’t much like you. You were pompous and flat. Sure it was cute at the end when you got excited about hockey, but you didn’t do it for me. Tristan, you were a sweetheart, and obviously you had your reasons for digging your professor, but I couldn’t really feel them.

I was hoping for more hockey, but got very little. The sex was D/s in spirit, although unofficial. Some of it was pretty hot, but when you don’t like one of the guys it can be a turn off. Sorry, professor.

This book wasn’t bad, it just wasn’t that good. Perhaps this writing team needs a lot more practice before making it to the playoffs, much less winning the cup.
Profile Image for CrabbyPatty.
1,563 reviews172 followers
June 30, 2021
Note: Carina Press is re-issuing "Hat Trick" on March 25, 2019 with a great new cover and it has been "newly refreshed by the authors."

My initial review of "Hat Trick" is shown below with a rating of 4 stars. Upon re-reading the book, I realized just how much I enjoyed this story of two men who has an incredibly steamy kinky relationship coupled with a deep connection of love and respect. I appreciated once again their careful negotiations on coming out.

While I'm not sure exactly how the story was "refreshed," the secondary characters seem more integrated and the flow and pacing of the story feels more crisp. I'm revising my rating to 4.5 stars and giving "Hat Trick" a Recommended Read AND I'm looking forward to the second book in the series - "Goalie Interference" - featuring the Venom goalie, Ryu Mori.

Original Review: Tristan, a defenseman with the Atlanta Venom, knows hockey is not forever and is working on finishing his business degree. Taking Sociology 3201: Wealth, Power, and Inequality from Professor Sebastian Cruz. Tristan - tall, blonde, Wisconsin farm boy, rocking sweatpants and a Grateful Dead t-shirt - doesn't exactly fit into the hipster vibe of the other students. But then Professor Cruz - "tall and whipcord lean with warm golden-brown skin and wavy raven-black hair" - isn't what Tristan expected either.

Sebastian is out and proud while Tristan remains closeted, but they soon navigate a relationship that is hot, dirty and sexy with a side of dominance / humiliation kink that totally works for both men:
Tristan learned what it meant when someone like Sebastian Cruz said, Your ass is mine. He spent almost as much time nude—in bed, or bent over tables, or down on all fours—as he did dressed.[...] They couldn’t stay away from each other, or keep their hands and mouths off each other. Tristan was so obsessed with how amazing Sebastian made him feel, it might have scared him if Sebastian didn’t seem equally enthralled.
We get both POVs throughout and I loved how Tris and Sebastian's relationship is free of manufactured angst and strong on conflict resolution as they work their way through Tris coming out to his parents and his team. My only niggles were that at times the pace of the story felt slow, and the abrupt and somehow ....clumsy ... introduction of potential MCs for additional books in the series

I give Off the Ice 4.25 stars, rounded to 4 stars.

I received an ARC from the Publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.

Visit my blog, Sinfully Good Gay Book Reviews
Profile Image for Antisocial Recluse.
2,707 reviews
September 14, 2019
I’ve actually felt some overkill lately with hockey stories, but I was confident of quality writing from this author collaboration and I was right. They freshened up the closeted pro athlete trope and gave it a level of realism that’s not always present. Tristan is a smarter kind of athlete, working to finish his degree despite the sudden wealth and notoriety of playing in the NFL. Sebastian is a sociology professor, looking for tenure and he makes note of the big blond jock in his class, in the totally wrong way. Best scene of the book was Tristan’s smackdown when Sebastian forgets his own lessons. When they start dating after classes end, that dynamic turns around. Tristan likes a little kink, and Sebastian dominating him with a little verbal humiliation, spanks and slaps, is just what he needs to let go after the intensity of game competition. *fans self* It’s not a ton of sex though, and it’s pretty mild overall.

The story is balanced with a few game scenes and Sebastian learning the basics of hockey. I appreciated that, since no matter how many books I read, my knowledge is rudimentary at best and I’ll never watch it on TV. Characters for likely future books are highlighted, especially Ryu, the goalie and Tristan’s best friend. I did think Sebastian’s actions late in the book were out of line but the scene with his friend R.J. made that more balanced. I have to admit that I didn’t identify with Tristan and Sebastian as a couple very well. There was something lacking that I can’t really define, but I couldn’t care very much when their crisis occurred. The authors handled the whole matter quite well though. I will absolutely recommend this to the romantically inclined sports and hockey crowd. It’s a thoughtful romance plot, without overblown drama, but with a promising HFN.

* An ARC was provided by the author via NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review with Hearts On Fire Reviews*
Profile Image for Gabby.
1,209 reviews26k followers
May 2, 2019
"Perception always changed the more you learned about a person, whether it be their sexuality, political views, or the way they treated homeless people on the street."

This book was cute, but nothing really stood out to me. This book should have been a homerun five star book for me because it has a lot of my favorite things: 1) student/teacher romance, 2) forbidden romance, 3) lgbt romance, 4) hockey player character, 5) age gap between the two man love interests. And this book was cute, don't get me wrong. We follows Sebastian Cruz, a puerto rican professor, and Tristan Holt, an NHL player who is going back to college to finish his degree. Tristan is enrolled in his class and they begin to experience a lot of sexual tension between them.

Their romance was cute, but it wasn't necessarily something I'm going to remember. I really enjoyed reading some of Sebastian's lectures about sociology, I found them really fascinating. I thought for a student/teacher romance it wasn't quite as forbidden as I was hoping it would be. It was more like, oh lets just wait to make a move till the end of the quarter and then we'll be fine... which is okay but it was lacking that suspense of them getting caught that I usually love in forbidden romances. Also, some of the sex scenes were a little too kinky for my taste, lol it was making me uncomfortable. But, I loved Sebastian's sense of humor and he made me laugh a few times with quotes like this: "Nothing took his mind off sex like the badly written academic efforts of students who never showed up."

Overall, this book was okay but there was nothing about it that's going to stick with me for very long after finishing it.
Profile Image for Dani.
124 reviews38 followers
October 22, 2017
Age gap, student-professor dynamics, complex characters and funny dialogues. What else would I want?

Sebastian Cruz is the hot and scowly professor that had my heart at full speed. Tristan Holt is a professional hockey player that decided to go back to school to have a backup plan in case things go south with hockey.

From the first pages, I was hooked. I don't know if it was because this was partly Avon's work or what, but I loved every second of it. The dialogues were witty and the plot was fast-paced. I never got bored. I sighed, laughed, blushed and swooned almost the whole book.

I haven't read Piper's work so I wouldn't know how she added her magic here but I think these two meshed their writings and ideas pretty well.

I flat-out love how Tristan went back to his study even though he knew it was going to be difficult because of his hockey stuff and I love he wasn’t discouraged because of his hockey mates who didn’t understand why he bothered. He’s brave and hard working and you have no idea how I adore those kinds of people.

And oh my god, KINKY SEX ALERT!!!

The sex was hot af. It was bossy and dirty, though this kinky stuff of humiliating someone during the sex isn't my cup of tea I have to admit it was hot as hell and I could stand it because I *cough* love bossy men in bed *cough*

I enjoy the way the relationship developed: it was smooth and real -just like the characters -and I must say the UST at the beginning was the best part for me. I always love slow build-ups.
aaaaaaand just like every couple they obviously had issues. The way these two authors kicked those problems out of the picture was perfect. No unnecessary drama or rash conclusion.

Another fantastic hit on the sports romance department. Highly recommended.

ARC of Off the Ice was generously provided by the publisher, in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Teal.
590 reviews177 followers
September 22, 2019
After a fun, zippy start in typical Avon Gale style, this stalled out about mid-way through and deflated into dull, uneventful telling.

And in the midst of that tedium came a sex scene where Sebastian keeps hitting Tristan in the face. Welp, that was it for me. To each his own kink, but for me that was about as sexy as watching someone strangle puppies. The relationship was dead for me at that point so I just skimmed the rest, trying to get it all over with as quickly as possible. I've enjoyed many of AG's previous books, but after this I may take a break from her stuff for a while.
Profile Image for Yarie ☆.
326 reviews25 followers
June 15, 2020
This book is really fun, the characters in this book are all very cute and I managed to care for the main couple, the bad part? The book has many more pages than was necessary in my opinion. Things kind of dragged on ...

In this book we are introduced to Tristan and Sebastian, Tristan is a player on a professional hockey team and wants to finish college, Sebastian is a teacher in one of the classes he has to pass. Although Sebastian teaches basically about prejudices in society, he makes the mistake of being prejudiced against our Tristan, he thinks that as Tristan is pretty he is copying his colleague's work, when it is the other way around, Sebastian learns that he's just as guilty as society of making stereotypes and maybe something else ...

All the books in this series have so far fallen into the error of stretching the story too much, yet it was quite enjoyable.

Rating: 3.5 Stars.
Steam: 6 out of 10.
Love Triangle:
Profile Image for Catherine.
1,560 reviews228 followers
November 3, 2017
Between the trope-y goodness of Keira Andrews' Kidnapped by the Pirate and now Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn's Off the Ice, I have been absolutely spoiled by the m/m romance genre this week. Seriously, I am riding quite the book high right now!

This book was full of sexy times. No, I don't mean the humiliation kink or the student/teacher dynamic or the spanking or the alluded to public sex over the hood of a vintage GTO (although all of those things got my motor running in a big way); I'm talking about the communication and support that infused every page and every interaction between these two fantastic characters. Even when it hurt me them, I still reveled in the realism of their dialogue and emotional reactions, and the actions they each ultimately took to resolve their relationship felt authentic.

This was a fabulous start to what I am positive will be one of my new favourite sports series. I would love nothing more than to read about 300 more pages about Seb & Tristan, but since I know I can't get that, I'll just wait eagerly for Ryu's and Bellzie's books.
Profile Image for True Loveislovereview.
2,165 reviews1 follower
October 31, 2017
4.5 stars You could think: another sportsman in the closet and we know how it will end.
No....it was wrapped in a different paper. Kind, lovely and spanky dominating.
Sebastian a professor at the uni where Tristan follows a study besides his prof ice hockey career.
Grumpy professor and the ideal student. Sebastian in his thirties and Tristan a lot younger.

They started in a bad way with wrong assumptions Still the attraction coming from both sides. After the sky cleared and they are communicating much better they wait for a real date after Tristan finished his study. And then the heat is on. They started as a fling but within no time they spent all their time together.

Controlling and dominating Sebastian was a lust for my eyes. He was very tuned toward Tristan.
Tristan fit well in Sebastian's hands, especially his cheeks. (All four ;)
All the ingredients for a great story were there and all of them worked.

Tristan has fears to come out but his fear to loose Sebastian has to be bigger, if he wants Sebastian to hold on to their relationship, even if they love each other.

The whole story was steady, strong, lovely and together the men were hot.
I enjoyed it very much and only stopped reading when it was a necessary.
Everything past the revue, friends, colleagues, family and teammates...
Attractive way of writing it had a lot of feelings in the most appealing way.

Kindly received an ARC from the publisher through Netgalley.
Profile Image for Annie ~ Queer Books Unbound.
357 reviews54 followers
September 22, 2017
*I was a first reader for this*

To say that I loved this would be the understatement of the year. And that's not only because inspiration for one of the characters was Colton Parayko (one of my favourite hockey players) - though that might play into it.
But also because Sebastian Cruz is one amazingly grumpy, hot professor and the chemistry between both of them is palpable and just off the charts. Add hockey to the mix and I'm in book-heaven.

The Avon Gale / Piper Vaughn writing-team just works. They effortlessly created a setting that is so vivid and real that I found myself thinking of Tristan and Sebastian as real people instead of fictional characters.

This book made me almost miss my train stop when I was travelling, that's how good it is. That never happened to me before but Off the Ice just sucked me in and wouldn't let me go. I've read this a couple of times already and I'm sure there's more rereads to come.

If you're a fan of hockey, amazing (and hot) characters, humour and a little bit of kink this should be on your to-read list. ;)

Full review to come closer to the release date. :)
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