Length: 50,000 words approx
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Harrisburg Railers Series
Book #1 - Changing Lines
Book #2 - First Season
Book #3 - Deep Edge
One scorching summer in each other’s arms could never be enough.
Stanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way.
He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby.
Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.
Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?
Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him.
Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?
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There are many people I would have rather seen standing on the ice of my practice arena than Erik. For example my beloved sister, Galina, my sainted mother, Arina, my cat, Lucy, or my new gay American heartthrob, Zachary Quinto.
Zachary would be wearing only a smile even though it’s cold on the ice.
But no, none of them were standing in front of me wearing a Railers sweater and curls. Those damn golden curls. They’d always tempted me beyond sense. As had his mouth. And the way he would tilt his head when he was trying to understand me out of bed. In bed? There was no language barrier. Our bodies had always been tuned to each other like radio waves to a satellite dish.
Even now, I felt the low hum of his presence in my veins. I had feared this moment would come. From the first time I’d heard his name mentioned as being a new member of the Rush, our AHL feeder team, I’d known he would eventually stand in front of me, tipping his head, with his curls, his eyes and his mouth.
Connor was looking at me as if he expected something from me. Ah yes, words. He wanted me to say something. How did “go fuck a donkey” translate into English?
“We are known to each other.”
I skated to my net, mask perched on my head, and tried to focus. The humming in my blood was unsettling. Closing my eyes, I let the blue ice under my skates talk to me. Opening myself up to the sounds of hockey, the stress of seeing Erik again lessened. I whispered to the pipes as I tapped them. Asked them in Russian if they were going to be my friends during this practice.
“Uh, hey, I know this is a strict breach of protocol and all…but is there a problem between you and Gunner?”
I glanced to the left. Tennant stood there, geared up, his stick casually resting across his shoulders. So Erik now had his American hockey nickname. Why didn’t I have a new American hockey nickname? Pah. I was being petty. It tasted bad on my tongue.
“Gunner is okay person from time back in space.” Was that right? English was hard to speak. It made no sense. How could there be three ways to spell one word? Russian was simple. Strong. Pure. A language of passion and spirit. American was whiney and tied my brain into knots. No, that was not true. American was a wonderful language. It was me who was whiney and unhappy. “Time back. In the back of time. Is bad time to talk. Go away.”
‘Poke Check’ is the fourth book in the ‘Harrisburg Railers’ series by R.J. Scott & V. L. Locey and without a doubt it’s my favorite book in the series and I’m not even going to say ‘so far’ because this one has totally won a special spot in my heart.
I’ve been a fan of the Railers’ big, dorky, adorable Russian goalie from the start. Honestly, he’s just too sweet to resist. My only concern going into this one was that sometimes in our minds we build things up, we give them so much hype that no matter how hard the poor author(s) try we’ve doomed them to failure and as you can tell by my 5-star rating that was not the case in this story…not even close.
Stanislov ‘Stan’ Lyamin is the Railers goalie and throughout the previous books we’ve seen glimpses of him as he befriended his team-mates giving them help and caring advice when needed. For me, Stan was one of those characters that just worked, from the minute they enter the story you like them and want to read more about them. Previous stories haven’t given us a lot about Stan’s past but there has been a subtle hint or two that Stan’s had some heartbreak in his life, but those stories weren’t Stan’s.
Stan grew up in small village in Russia and he learned really fast that being a gay man in Russia was something that you kept to yourself if you valued your safety…even your life. So he worked hard at what he was good at…at what would hopefully help him escape Russia so he could live a life that allowed him to have his dreams and one of those dreams was to be a goalie in the NHL…this was the dream to that brought him to safety but there are still things that Stan wants…he’s got the big house in a nice neighbourhood and his cat, Lucy and his sister Galina is coming to visit now if he could just have the last two things on that list…his mother, Arina living in his beautiful big home with him and a man that he could love and build a life with, but first he’s going to have to come to terms with that fact that the man that he loves, the man who broke his heart is now one of his teammates.
Erik Gunnarsson’s finally made it…he’s been called from the AHL to play on an NHL team…his dream come true, but of all the teams out there did it have to be the Railers. Walking away from Stan at the end of the summer three years ago was the hardest thing he’d ever done. Not only did it break Stan’s heart but it broke Erik’s heart as well. For Erik it was the only choice to make once he discovered that he was going to be a father. Three years later he finds that even though his priorities have changed, and Noah is his world it hasn’t changed the love that he feels for Stan.
I knew going into this story that I loved Stan and I have to admit I was all set to be angry with Erik but it never happened, from the start with all his insecurities, doubts and the sincerity of his efforts to do right by his son, Noah and give him the best life he could, to earn Stan’s forgiveness and to play hockey…good hockey so that the Railers would want to keep him. I just couldn’t not like him. Erik was a good guy trying to deal with some crappy circumstances the best way that he knew how to.
Stan and Erik’s second chance doesn’t happen over night and it takes time and effort for them to find their way back to each other. From their first tentative conversations to that moment when Stan finally understands and forgives Erik for doing what he felt he had to do and as they get to know each other again reigniting the passion they shared I was totally and absolutely enchanted with this story.
As well as just loving this story in general there were things in specific that added to my overall enjoyment of the story. I loved reading Stan’s POV and his Russian/English translations were at times incredibly humorous adding a light touch to the story. The banter between Stan and Erik just worked it felt right and natural and the other thing that really stuck out in my mind was how the author’s portrayed Freja, Noah’s mother. So often in books we see women portrayed in a less than favorable light because they choose not to have children and I really liked how Freja was portrayed it was different and refreshing. Obviously as a mother myself it wasn’t my choice but it’s nice to read a story that reminds us we have choices and different choices don’t have to be good or bad they can be just what they are different.
While I really loved this story and I can’t imagine enjoying whatever comes next more. I’m definitely on board to see if the authors can prove me wrong.
An ARC of Poke Check was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.
About the authors:
RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.
The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.
When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.
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