The Last Defense By R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Five out of Five Stars

Summary: Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty-two he’s past his prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe. A one-night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him. Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken man ever find a way to be together?

The Review

The Last Defense is book five in the Harrisburg Railers series and it does not let down at all! I feel like with every book, this series gets better and better.

Max Van Hellren is thirty-two and has experienced a devastating illness that always has him wondering, when it’ll rear its ugly head once more. Bring a professional hockey player adds more risk to possibly having another dangerous episode (I call it episode because I feel like I’ll be giving everything away telling you just what’s going on with Max).

Ben, who lost his husband unexpectedly, runs their shelter, sees his crazy aunts (I love the civil rights, crusading pair of ladies who don’t let their age get them down), goes to church and repeats it all over again the next week.

They meet by chance when Ben stops by the Railers rink in hopes of scheduling another adoption event with the team. Their attraction is instant and they both only want one thing. Sex.

I’m going to tell you now, Scott and Locey do not let down with the heat of the sex between the two men. It’s a delicious blend of chemistry, attraction, and physicality between the two men. It’s not all quick, getting-off and leaving. As their relationship progresses, they way they treat each other and how they show their feels is evident. It’s not just sex. It’s more.

Max really resonated with me throughout the book. He didn’t want to form attachments because of the possibility of what could happen.  Then Ben was afraid of losing another person he let himself love the way he lost his husband, Liam. All it took was meeting each other to throw a wrench in their plans.  Ben woke Max up to all the possibilities of living life for it’s entirety. Max showed Ben that you don’t stop living because of loss. That seems like a very young thing to say, but I’ve experienced loss like that on a similar level. I loved that Max didn’t make Ben take pictures down, or get angry with DK being in Ben’s life. He was a true partner to Ben and would do anything to take care of him. And he did.

Now the hockey scenes in this book were amazing! It’s a Stanley Cup run, of course it’s going to be intense but there were times I was on the edge of my seat. I needed to know what was going to happen in the games. And the characters you met at the game and Trent’s Grandma. I was cackling at her reactions. When I’m watching a game with my bestie while the Canes are playing the Pens, I think I’m probably just as bad as her. And the two husbands who watch hockey together? *sigh* I loved it. And they perfectly captured their reaction to a fan of the opposing team. Hockey fans are probably some of the greatest fans because you aren’t afraid to walk to your car in the parking garage if your team wins. You come out with a friend you can chirp during games. Seriously. True story.

Max and Ben’s story sat in my heart. And they pushed my emotions around in the best ways possible.

This is one that I can’t wait to buy the print book to add to my collection!

 

Purchase Here

Soft Hands by Ariel Bishop

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This is book one of the Tripping Series

Five out of Five Stars

Summary: He’s always hit them and quit them…

Xander Richards, a winger for the Wisconsin Wendigos, has a reputation for never sleeping with the same person twice. Some say it’s ‘cause he doesn’t have any heart, but if you asked him at his most honest it’s because his heart isn’t his own: he’s hopelessly in love with his best friend and former linemate, who’s now happily married and traded away to Seattle last season.

Playing the ice has always come easy…

When Xander asks out Jordan Darling, team trainer and massage therapist, he doesn’t expect to get shot down. It’s a first, but it only makes Xander that much more determined to make Jordan his. But Jordan wants a relationship, not just the one-night stands that make up Xander’s sexual life.

Just when he thought his heart was on ice, love comes skating in…

What Xander doesn’t know is that Jordan has been nursing an unrequited crush on him for over a year. Lonely without his best friend, when he finally opens his eyes to what is right in front of him, the chemistry is undeniable. And for once, it keeps Xander coming back for more

The Review

By now, you all know I’m a sucker for books featuring hockey players. When I got the opportunity to read Soft Hands by Ariel Bishop I was so excited.  This had everything that I wanted in a book. There was tension between the man characters, attraction, pining, figuring things out and actual romance that led up to the steamier scenes!  And I read it all in one sitting. I loved it, don’t judge.

One thing you should know, there is a scene in the beginning that involved a female so if you’re a stickler for the books needing to be 100% M/M it might bother you. Honestly I forgot about it until I sat down to write my review.

Xander Richards is what you immediately think of with a pro-athlete. He takes care of his body, lavishes in the attention given to him and relishes in his sexuality. What I found quite interesting was he’s demisexual. Like how awesome is that? I consider myself a demisexual so to see someone write about it had me excited.

Then there’s Jordan Darling, a Louisiana boy. Oh my gosh, does this get any better? (I live like an hour from Baton Rouge so I spazzed a little) There were a lot of little details that definitely showed he was from the south. His calls with his Nana, the food, and the sense of family he has.

Jordan fights his attraction to Xander because he doesn’t want to be another one night stand. He wants more. He fights that attraction at every turn and corner because Xander is constantly there. Any scene that had Jordan massaging and working Xander’s shoulder was delicious to me. They had to fight their attraction, remain professional and not do anything inappropriate.

What I absolutely loved? The fact that Xander was a geeky hockey player. He loves to read and watch all the shows I like. It was nice to see a more introverted relationship portrayed throughout this. I just wanted to shake them at times and say, “talk to each other!”. But they get figure their stuff out.

 

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Poke Check by R.J. Scott and V.L Locey

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Five out of Five Stars!

This is book four in the Harrisburg Railers series

The Summary: 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?

The Review

I’ve been waiting for Stan’s story since meeting him in Changing Lines, so to find out that he was getting his own book, I was beyond excited. There’s something about a huge, Russian goalie who is still figuring his way through the English language while playing the sport he loves, jockey.  I found a combination of a few real life players in Stan. He had the humor of Marc-Andre Fleury. He had the love of animals and difficulties with languages from Evgeni Malkin. The intense focus and fury of Nikita Kucherov . Finally the goal flipping, anger of Henrik Lundqvist (yeah I know Locey is a huge fan of the New York Rangers but *shakes fist*)

What I particularly enjoyed about Poke Check was the fact that Stan and Erik met during the off season and had a wild affair. Then Erika breaks Stan’s heart. He sleeps with a woman and ends up getting her pregnant and marries her. Ending up on the Railers with Stan was not what either of them expected. Stan’s hurt was palpable and one hundred percent real. I would have the hardest time working with someone who broke my heart but having to work as closely as they do? Very difficult. They kept it professional and end up being friendly with each other.

There was a lot going on in this. It was neat to see so much Stan’s life outside of hockey. We got to meet his sister Galina and see her have a whirlwind romance with Arvy. Stan also had to deal with his country’s stance on homosexuality and his fear of what would happen to his mother if he was found out.  That was very real and relevant to Russian athletes today.

Erik was a cutie with his cute son Noah. There were a lot of little single-dad moments that I loved getting to see because you know there’s going to be a time the babysitter is sick, you don’t have a backup and what do you do? He was very much about making sure his son was happy and healthy.

Over all I really enjoyed this book.  It had everything I love about a RJ Scott and VL Locey book, hockey, romance, sexy scenes, a bit of drama and a happily ever after.

 

Deep Edge by R.J Scott and V.L Locey

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Five out of Five Stars

This is book three in the Harrisburg Railers Series

Summary:

One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?

Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport – and his own family – have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.

Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors, and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him, and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL, and he realizes that a place on the Railers’ roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?

 

The Review

In the third novel of R.J Scott and V.L. Locey’s Harrisburg Railers series, Deep Edge, Dieter and Trent face-off against their demons and learn how to accept the help of others. Trent Hanson has been dealing with the betrayal of his father and trying to figure out a way to make money to save his mother’s home and his beloved ice rink. Dieter has darker demons to deal with, addiction to pain medication* and the pressure of performing well enough to extend his one year contract with the Railers.

I honestly was a bit worried about this premise. I have my own issues reading about addiction and Trent has a strong, flamboyant personality. I thought I’d skim through this and hope for book four. That was not the case. I ended up falling in love with Trent. He was unapologetically himself, and I personally needed that kind of character in my life this week. I needed someone to tell me, ‘Ashley just be YOU, everything else doesn’t matter’. Trent did that for me.

Dieter, oh boy, Dieter. He had everything under control. Until he didn’t. It made me uncomfortable seeing him under the influence like he was. Then it made me angry. And finally I wanted to fix Dieter because of the potential he had. It took the idea of losing his career, his love of hockey and losing Trent to make Dieter realize he might just need help. I appreciated the fact that he did go to rehab with the support of the team, his family and Trent. That was no doubt the greatest gift anyone could give him.

I think the mark of a great story is the fact that it can make the reader feel. The emotions I went through as I read, the fact I HAD to keep reading to the end, proves how good this series truly is.

Would I recommend this? Go buy the entire series now. You don’t have to know hockey to enjoy this. I promise. Go forth and enjoy.

Purchase Here 

*Personal experiences with addiction make it difficult for me to read or hear about drug abuse and addiction. It’s a testament to these authors that I gave this book a chance.

First Season by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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Five out of Five stars

This is book two in the Harrisburg Railers Series

Summary: Layton Foxx works hard for what he’s achieved. The condo, the career, the chance to make his mark…it’s all down to the sacrifices he’s made. With tragedy in his past, he doesn’t want or need love. Then he meets Adler Lockhart, the extroverted, sexy winger for the Harrisburg Railers, and abruptly he can’t avoid love even if he wanted to.

Adler Lockhart has had everything handed to him his whole life. Cars, villas, cash, college tuition at the finest Ivy League schools. The only thing he doesn’t have is parents who care, or the love of a good man. Then Layton walks into his privileged life and shows him what real love can be like.

Layton wants success, Adler wants a family…how can love make both these things possible?

The Review

In the second installment of R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey’s Harrisburg Railers, First Season, we meet Layton Foxx and Adler Lockhart. Layton Foxx is brought in by the Railers management as a form of crisis management for Ten and Mads coming out publicly. Layton and Alder’s first meeting is about as disastrous as Alder’s word vomit is. I think that’s what endeared me so much to Alder.  I can relate to losing that filter when I get nervous or unsure in a situation. He’s just as awkward as the rest of us even if he’s a pro-hockey player.

Layton is young but incredibly smart. He faces his fear of jocks and his past taking the job with the Railers and I think it really changed his opinion and helped him on his road of healing. There was something very organic about him and I found myself admiring his resolve and rooting for Adler to finally get through to him. And when they do push past work colleagues, past friendship and into a romantic relationship it felt true to the pair. Their intimacy was vivid, strong and fun. Just like Alder’s habit for saying whatever comes to mind and Layton’s gentle but wry humor.

I think Layton brought Alder a sense a family that he didn’t have as he grew up. Layton gave that to him by bringing Alder to his childhood home, trusting and sharing his heartbreaking past and at the very end, acknowledging Alder’s chosen family as that.

There was something about these two that had me one hundred percent invested in their story. R.J. Scott and V.L Locey could have written an eight hundred page novel on these two and I would have loved every second of it. The second installment of the series was a perfect addition, (I have a fear that the second book in a series can ruin everything, this totally DIDN’T) and it flowed from book one to book two and into book three (which I scored an ARC of!!!).

What also had me dancing in my seat? The fact that you saw characters from Changing Lines throughout First Season. They just weren’t written and then forgotten about. I was glad to see Mads family and so much more of STAN! I love Stan to pieces and need to read more about him!

Should you buy this? Yes, go buy it now, you’ll be glad that you did.

Available for purchase here

 

Snap Shot by V.L. Locey

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This is book one in the Cayuga Cougars Hockey series

Summary: Mario McGarrity has been around the block – and rink – more than a few times.

He’s creeping up on retirement age, has some dings and dents, and says what’s on his mind. Not exactly what most would consider a luxury ride, but his beautiful Lila – the transgender woman who stole his heart – loves him like no other woman ever has despite a little rust here and there.

Everything is good – no, great – aside from the distance issue, until a surprise from Lila’s past crops up and moves in with her. Can Mario be the family man that Lila needs, or is this one game the old vet is unable to skate in?

 

The Review

Snap Shot by V.L. Locey is the first in the Cayuga Cougars series. Lila and Mario (aka Seamus) have a relationship that I think everyone aspires to have. No matter the difficulties they face, they face those issues together and work to find a solution.
I’ll be one hundred percent honest, I was hesitant at first towards how Lila was going to be written. It’s my first foray into this particular genre so I was a bit nervous about how their love scenes would be written. Locey blew it out of the water (in the greatest way possible). Lila and Seamus’ relationship was honest, full of steamy goodness and not at all raunchy (which was what I was afraid I’d find here).

I enjoyed seeing how Seamus dealt with the surprise Lila gave him, Langley, her son. Langley acted exactly how a kid in his shoes would act. He was a rebellious, smart ass that all teenagers are. Some of the things he did had me rolling my eyes but Seamus and Lila made an excellent team when it came to Langley.

I found myself falling in love with the secondary characters as well. Augie, the goalie and the rest of the team as they drifted through the novel had me laughing. When you fall in love with the secondary characters along with the main characters you know you’ve found an excellent book.

I was super excited to see that Augie was going to be featured in book two!

Would I recommend this book to others? Yes, so many times yes.

Changing Lines by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

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This is book one in the Harrisburg Railers Series

Summary:

Can Tennant show Jared that age is just a number, and that love is all that matters?

The Rowe Brothers are famous hockey hotshots, but as the youngest of the trio, Tennant has always had to play against his brothers’ reputations. To get out of their shadows, and against their advice, he accepts a trade to the Harrisburg Railers, where he runs into Jared Madsen. Mads is an old family friend and his brother’s one-time teammate. Mads is Tennant’s new coach. And Mads is the sexiest thing he’s ever laid eyes on.

Jared Madsen’s hockey career was cut short by a fault in his heart, but coaching keeps him close to the game. When Ten is traded to the team, his carefully organized world is thrown into chaos. Nine years his junior and his best friend’s brother, he knows Ten is strictly off-limits, but as soon as he sees Ten’s moves, on and off the ice, he knows that his heart could get him into trouble again.

 

The Review

 

I have to preface this review by being honest. I typically love everything by bot V.L. Locey and R.J. Scott. So if I get a little flowery, excuse me. I try to be as objective as necessary but they are on my one-click author list. I’m a little obsessed with hockey as well.

Changing Lines is the first book in a hockey centered series by R.J Scott and V.L Locey. Ten is a much younger hockey player who is attracted to Mads, an old family friend who also happens to be Ten’s new coach. This is definitely what I would consider a vacation read. It’s a light, easy and happy read. It wasn’t overly complicated and it had all the aspects of a romance novel that we all love.

Saying that, there were parts of the plot I wish would have been explored more. With all the emphasis that had been put on a ‘slow’ moving relationship, all the development happened off screen. I was hoping for a drawn out, steamy, story line. It felt a bit rushed and they just needed to get together right now because the reader won’t stick around if they don’t!

Also, in the summary there was mention about the age difference between Mads and Ten but it was a plot point briefly explored. I expected angst and both men having to fight a little more to get what they wanted. One of the only things that reminded me that Mads was older was his son*.

I did love the interaction between all the Rowe brothers. They are a hockey family through and through, and the dynamic instantly made me think of the Staal brothers. There are a lot of brothers in the NHL and it was exciting to see that shown in a M/M romance. I liked that the family of hockey was as important as if seems to be in real life. If you aren’t a hockey fan, you should still give this a read if you like sports romance.

Purchase Link Here

*If I recall correctly we are getting a New Adult novel featuring Mads’ son. I’m beyond excited about this.