Saturday, September 3, 2016

ARC Review: Empty Net (Scoring Chances 4) by Avon Gale

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating).

Dani's rating:

"Did that just happen?" Isaac asked as they headed upstairs. "Your landlady . . . she's like eightysomething. And unless I'm wrong, she dressed up in her husband's suits and pretended to be a boy so they could have bi threesomes in a booth at whatever a boy's club is."

"Sounds like it," Laurent agreed.

"You don't even seem surprised," Isaac said . . . .

Laurent shrugged. "No one's all that normal, no matter what they look like or how old they are."

WOW, people, just wow. This story rocked my world, and this is why:

- the best kind of enemies-to-lovers trope (Isaac has every right to hate Laurent, but he sees something in Laurent that others don't, and when he walks in on Laurent sobbing in the showers, he can't leave; he just can't.)

- plentiful and insanely SMEXY times (We have a virgin here, y'all, and Isaac is a patient and sensual teacher; the slow burn, the tentative touches—delicious.)

- the feels, OMFG, the FEELS (It's not all fun and games; Laurent has been abused and beaten down by his disgusting douchebag of a father, and his self-loathing is destroying him.)

- awesome secondary characters (Misha & Max play a big role, and I'm a total goner for Misha, but I also loved Isaac's best friends who have his back, even if they don't always think before they leap.)

- team camaraderie (Even if you're not a hockey fan, you'll love this series; I promise!)

- hilarious, witty dialogue (No one writes dialogue like Avon Gale, NO ONE; I was able to laugh even in the middle of some very emotional, draining scenes.)

"You put on cologne."

"Duh. It was a date. You put on a dress shirt," Isaac countered.

"I didn't tuck it in, though."

- Laurent's 80-year-old landlady (Trust me; she's a keeper.)

- HEA (I may have cried; don't hold it against me.)

Isaac is out and not ashamed: not of his blue hair, and not of his past. He has a big mouth and an attitude to match, but he's just a big ol' teddy bear (or maybe a duck) inside.

When Laurent, the goalie of the most hated team in the ECHL, spat on Isaac and spewed homophobic slurs, Isaac was furious. And rightly so. But then Laurent is traded to Isaac's team, and Isaac doesn't want strife in his locker room.

Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

Isaac and Laurent become friends, good friends. But Isaac lusts after Laurent and cares enough to call Laurent on his bullshit. Isaac is brave and willing to fight for his man, and Laurent is so broken, so shattered, he NEEDS Isaac in his corner, needs someone to love him and tell him he's good enough.

Power Play, the third novel in the Scoring Chances series, was my very favorite. Until I read this book. Now they're tied for first place, and both have a spot on my Best M/M Romance of 2016 shelf.

Read at least the third book before reading Empty Net. You won't be disappointed. This series is seriously all that and a slice of pizza.

Get the book:


Don't join the book burners. Do not think you are going to conceal thoughts by concealing evidence that they ever existed.
~Dwight D. Eisenhower 

An ARC of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. 

Download links are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with the book, author, publisher, or website listed.

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