Title: Coach’s Challenge
Author: Avon Gale
Series: Scoring Chances #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Page Count: 210 pages
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Genre(s): M/M, Contemporary Romance, Sport
Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5
A Scoring Chances Novel
It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression. And it only gets worse when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a member of his team, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.
Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.
Low on angst + top-notch sexy = another hit in this series
‘A new broom sweeps clean’ as the saying goes and in this case, there is not just one but two needed to clean up the mess the former coach of the Asheville Ravens left behind by making said team the probably most hated in the whole league.
For Troy Callahan, new head coach of the Ravens, whose career as an active hockey player found an abrupt end not long after it began by being outed as gay by the man whose position he acquires now, it is personal satisfaction to succeed where Denis St. Savoy failed in order to get the team back at the top of its game.
His reputation as a control freak, him being tough as nails but also fair, and his changes to the atmosphere, soon earn him the respect of his players. But of course, the players have to earn his respect, too.
Well, that is where the other ‘broom’ comes into play…
Shane North, almost at the end of his career, a Player talent which never quite lived up to expectations and whose reputation as a goon being more benched than actually active on the ice, is not quite the addition Troy wants on his team, especially when Shane seems to prove him right on his first day with his supposedly lax attitude.
When both men first meet, they are finding themselves on a collision course of strong will and a personality to match, but they also feel an immediate mutual attraction, neither of them can deny.
“You’re an asshole, but other than that, you’re a pretty stand-up guy.” Shane glanced pointedly down at Troy’s crotch and then back up again.”
And now… Let the sexy times begin! And sexy, not to say steamy and hot, is what you get here, and even though both men are pretty aware of the fact what consequences her relationship could entail…
“He was surprised when, a few seconds later, Troy pushed the curtain aside and got in with him. Shane blinked at him through the water. “Let’s just go ahead and make the most out of this mistake.” With that, Troy grabbed him by the back of the neck to pull him in and kiss him.” For once Shane didn’t even want to argue.”
… they cannot keep their hands off each other and are very…umm, inventive when it comes down to exploiting every chance they get, even in defiance of any risk.
Although it was another hit, I have to admit that Coach’s Challenge was not a direct hit for me. My favorites in this series are still Power Play and Empty Net, maybe because in both books more emotions are involved. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely loved the banter between both men and the dirty talk was hot as hell,…
“I already figured you’d be a loudmouth control freak in bed, like you are on the ice, so no surprise there.”
… but both suddenly speaking of having developed deeper feelings came a bit out of thin air for me. Blame it on me being a romantic at heart, but I would have wished for one or two at least a bit tender moment between Troy and Shane beforehand so I could reenact it better.
That doesn’t mean you don’t get any emotions here at all, though. There was at least one scene in the locker room, that actually made me tear up, but it related to a certain Team captain who really stole my heart in this book.
Everything else I love about this series was there, though. Avon Gale’s love for this sport is once again palpable and I’m really not exaggerating here when I say that she made me craving for every scene that is happening on and off the ice.
And aside from the smartass replies from both characters…
“Could you get off my lap? I can’t fucking think about the future with your dick pressing into my thigh.” “That’s my cell phone. Fucking amateur.”
… there was humor galore that made me wheezing with laughter.
“That was the thing about Troy. He just said something like it was fact and made it happen. Shane wouldn’t be surprised if he scored goals back in his hockey-playing days just by looking at the puck and saying, “Get in the net, goddammit.”
Add some great side characters to the mix, like the GM of the team and Troy’s best friend, Gabe, but also Shane’s friend Alani (I promise you, she simply rocks!) and a whole bunch of adorable hockey players…
… and you get an all-around carefree package of an enjoyable read. So now, dear Avon, you just have to tell me that Xavier’s story will be next and I am a very happy little girl. Yes? Pretty please?