Friday, December 7, 2018

Review Tour: Neutral Zone by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey (Series Review, Excerpt + Giveaway)

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Length: 40,000 words approx.

Harrisburg Railers Series

Book #1 - Changing Lines - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 - First Season - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 - Deep Edge - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 - Poke Check - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 - Last Defense - Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 - Goal Line - Amazon US | Amazon UK


Tennant Rowe has it all, a boyfriend he adores, a loving family, and a career on the rise. He’s sure of his place in the world, and the future can only get brighter. Then one night, in a flash of skates and sticks, life changes forever. Getting back on the ice is Ten’s priority, and experts tell him that it’s just a matter of time.

Jared watches his lover fall in more ways than one, and when tragedy strikes, even the strongest of relationships are tested. Ten is strong, but Jared has to be stronger to help the man who holds his heart. Only, he has to admit that maybe it isn’t just him who can make Ten whole again.

Jared and Ten’s love is forever, but the rocky path to the romantic Christmas Jared had planned may be hard to travel.

Changing Lines: 4.25 stars

I rarely pick up sports books but I love RJ Scott and wanted to try this series out. I am glad I did because this book was great. While there is definitely a fair amount of hockey talk that went right over my head, the plot was interesting and I really enjoyed Ten and Mads as MCs.

There was little angst in this book between Ten and Mads. It was really about navigating a new team for Ten and him coming out. We see Mads and Ten opening themselves up to each other and how that affects their team and family lives. It was truly a pretty easygoing book. I liked that Mads was a little older and had a son and how that played into his decisions. I do love drama in a book, but it was nice that everyone was pretty understanding and accepting of Ten and Mads. Also, Ten was just super endearing because of how eager and genuine he was. The way Mads treated him was lovely. I am excited to keep reading this series.

First Season: 4.5 stars 

Getting to know Adler and Layton was so much different than I expected after briefly encountering them in book one of this series. Layton is definitely not the have everything together man and Adler is not so much the confident but a little bit jerky man that we meet in Ten and Mads' book. It was nice to really delve into both of these characters and see their walls come down throughout this story. There is a lot of character development and growth between these two from the beginning to the end. There is a little bit of a push and pull between Adler and Layton at the beginning but then it turns into them working together and really getting to know one another. Once Layton really started giving Adler the time of day, the two of them were just sweet.

I love how impulsive and goofy Adler was. At one point they compare him to a dog and that comparison fits perfectly. He was SO sweet to Layton and I loved every second of it. Layton was so vulnerable and Adler understands him so well that it makes them being together perfect for me. It is clear that the books in this series are going to be very connected, we saw that in this book where we get a good little bit of Ten and Mads and I loved that.

Deep Edge: 4 stars 

I appreciated Trent's sass in this book. These two MCs were a lot different than the previous ones in this series but still interesting to me. I liked getting to know Dieter because from what I experienced of him in the previous book, he was sort of clueless. It was nice to understand him and see him connect with Trent.

These authors do a great job of really connecting the books in this series and connecting all of the players to each other. The amount of support we see between the team members is pretty awesome. They all are there for each other no matter the situation and that is displayed heavily in this book. They are all also very entertaining and it was cool to see Trent interacting with each of them as an outsider to the team. It showed that not only are they great with each other, but they are all around good guys and I liked seeing them prove Trent wrong when he originally thought they would be jerky jocks.

There was a lot going on on the sidelines of this book when I wanted to see more of Trent and Dieter building their relationship. Both Dieter and Trent had a few things going on in their personal lives that took a little away from their dynamic with each other. There were definitely some emotional parts in this book that had me feeling when it came to the two of them. I liked how the author showed Trent and Dieter helping each other emotionally get through their personal struggles and how much that connected them in my eyes. 

Poke Check: 4.25 stars 

I ADORE Stan. I have adored him since we met him in book one and I have wanted his story ever since. I love his broken English and how large and intimidating he seems to be, but is truly incredibly caring and selfless.

I love a good second-chance romance and these guys got theirs and then some. Even though Erik having a soon to be ex-wife and baby made things a little more complicated for him and Stan, it ended up being a really sweet part of the story. Baby Noah was sooo cute and sweet and watching Stan with him melted my heart. After the initial discomfort between Stan and Erik, they really moved from awkward and tension-filled interactions to them building their relationship back up again. With Stan's broken English, there were some pretty funny parts and it was nice that Erik and all of the side characters took it all in stride. 

The book ended just the way it needed to. We see some conclusion with some of the things that both Erik and Stan face throughout the book and we see them really solidify themselves as a couple. 

Last Defense: 4 stars 

Oh, I FELT for Ben. Reading everything that Ben had been through was a little heartbreaking and at first, I was worried about Max being his match. It was easy to connect to Ben and after just reading the first chapter and I did not want him to suffer anymore.

Max and Ben came together hot and heavy and I was digging it. It was raw and rough and hot and not at all what I expected from Ben. These authors do a great job of character growth and we saw that in this book with Ben and Max. After everything in Ben’s past, it was hard for him to let go and let people close to him and I liked seeing that change throughout the book. There is a theme in these books of the characters really taking care of each other and we see that with Ben and Max. It was pretty sweet, especially after everything that both of them has been through.

Just like the previous books in this series, there was a little bit of outside drama that had a little bit of an effect on Ben and Max but there really was not much angst. We still saw that awesome team dynamic and they, of course, welcomed Ben into it easily!

Goal Line: 4 stars

This book had me feeling some type of way from chapter one. I was immediately curious about what Bryan's motives were but also understanding that he was clearly a good guy but seemed to have low self-esteem and was very vulnerable.

The more I learned about Aarni the more I wanted to plummet him. He was a manipulative prick and I was VERY happy to see Bryan start to let his walls down around the team but especially around Gatlin. There was a little bit of instalove but I was okay with it. I wanted so bad for Bryan to find comfort in Gatlin and get away from Aarni that it made me eager for them to really get together.

Just like some of the previous books in this series, there is a lot of character growth from Bryan throughout the story. We see him being so lost at the beginning of the book and by the end, he has established himself as apart of the Railers family and grown into his position.

Neutral Zone: 4.5 stars

This made me FEEL. I always have a soft spot for the first couple in a series and Ten and Mads just make me so happy! My heart broke for Ten at the end of the last book and I just needed him to be okay and back to his normal self. This book gave me all of the emotions and a perfect ending that promises everything I want for Ten and Mads. This story is heartfelt and sweet and I cannot wait to revisit Stan and Erik in the next book!

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

5 Stars

I am so freaking happy that we got more of Ten and Mads.

I really do love these guys and need so much more of them. I don’t think I could ever get sick of their story. The Railers are such a strong team and family who really band together no matter what they have to face.

This novella picks up after the “accident” that happens with Ten. We see him go through all kinds of struggles and emotions here. I just wanted to jump into the book, grab him and squeeze him and tell him everything would turn out OK.

Mads is the solid rock that Ten needs in order to get through this ordeal. I loved that Mads stood up to Ten’s family and put Ten and himself first over every single other thing going on in their lives. OMG. I was so freaking nervous, though, when the question was asked - I seriously thought for a second that Ten would really say no to what Mads wanted!

But of course, RJ Scott and VL Locey wouldn’t let us down like that. Lol. These authors have put together some seriously amazing, fantastic books and I will follow them (and this team) and any other books they give us for as long as they give them to us. They are both auto-buy authors for me at this point, without even reading blurbs.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***

4.5 Stars!

I love Ten and Mads and I was so glad we got another story with them. I was a bawling mess in book 6 and I needed to know everything that would happen!

Ten was stronger than I gave him credit for, after his coming out to his team and the public.

I felt so much for Jared having so much thrown at him after Tens “accident” that he couldn’t take it and broke down, and I would have done the same thing.

Series review - 5 Stars!

I loved this series and how each book intertwined with the last in some little way or another.

The characters burrowed their way right into my heart from page one of Changing Lines. Stan is my absolute favorite of the guys, though I love them all!

Harrisburg PA was a great town for these men to be in, and the fans of the team were awesome.

I look forward to reading more for this series, as well as more form these two awesome authors.

*** Copy provided to Bayou Book Junkie for my reading pleasure, a review wasn't a requirement. ***



Karma. It’s a real bitch. Just ask anyone.

I’d left my man and my team behind in Harrisburg and flown to—get this—fucking Tucson, Arizona, to begin treatment for my traumatic head injury.

The same city the Raptors played in.

I could open the blinds in my room here in the Draper Neurological Rehabilitation and Performance Center and see the glistening mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena. Funny shit right there. Four blocks over, the Raptors were on the ice for morning skate, and I was here, trying to get my brain healed enough so I could maybe play my game again someday.

Shit, right now I’d be happy to be able to speak or read normally.

“Ho, ho, ho,” I growled, closing the drapes, then pulling my sunglasses off and tossing them to the bed. Living behind sunglasses and blinds sucked. Headaches sucked. Slurred speech sucked. Seeing the pity in the eyes of my boyfriend and family and teammates sucked. Christmas with sand and cactus sucked. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be back home with Mads, decorating our tree and shaking my presents. I wanted to be shopping for gifts for my boyfriend, my mother and father, for my brothers, and for Stan and Adler and all the Railers. I wanted things to be the way they had been before that night. Tears threatened, but I held them in. Crying only made my head hurt worse.

So, I padded out of my room and made my way to breakfast and the first of several rounds of rehab I’d be facing today. I’d been here one day and had come to realize that my brain was now as well-known with the neurologists here as my face was back in Harrisburg. This was the place for athletes to come when they were battling CTE-related brain issues. Most of the men here were older, retired players, lots of football players. I mean lots of them. I’d met three other hockey players so far, all retired, all fighting to keep a step ahead of the disease taking over their brains. Sometimes, late at night, when I was lying in bed, I’d get scared for myself and all the other guys on my team. I worried about Mads. God knows how many concussions he’d had when he was playing. Add that to his heart shit and… well, I worried about stuff now. Lots more stuff than I had before the night my head met the ice, sans helmet.

The facility held a hundred and fifty people, and not all of us were athletes. Lots of patients had come here after car accidents or other catastrophic injuries. There were head injuries and spinal cord injuries being healed. The staff seemed nice, confident in their ability to nurse me back to my old self or as close as we could get. The halls were bright and airy, the food excellent, and the medical staff top-notch. And yes, it was expensive and elite and the cream of the crop. Which was why Mads had stubbornly pushed me into coming here after my initial rehab had been completed. Two weeks at the facility, a couple of weeks back home for the holidays, then back for another four weeks. Then maybe we’d talk about hockey.

“Hey, you’re Tennant Rowe, right?”

I skidded to a halt outside one of a dozen sun-rooms. As though people in Arizona didn’t get enough sun just stepping outside? They needed to make rooms for sun? A tall, burly black man about my age ran at me, hand out. I smiled up at him, trying to pull some information about him from my cloudy memory banks.

“I’m Declan Fidler, cornerback for the Temple Owls.”

“Ah, cool, hey man.” We shook hands. God, he was cute. Short hair and a flashy smile, big wide shoulders and inkwork all over his arms. “Sorry to see you here though, dude.”

“Yeah, I know that.” He ran a hand over his hair. “First game of the season too.”

“That sucks,” I said, then released his hand. “I was on my way to the dining hall.”

“I could eat if you want some company.”

“Totally. Be nice to have someone to talk to who’s under forty.”

“I feel that.”

He joined me on the walk to the dining hall, which looked nothing like the hospital cafeteria I’d been expecting when I first saw it yesterday. This place was upmarket. Round tables with cloth covers, thick royal-blue carpeting, windows that ran floor to ceiling, flowering plants in the corners, and a wait staff.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this place,” I murmured as I followed Declan to a table by the windows.

“I feel the same way,” he said as we took our seats. “I mean, I grew up wealthy, my father’s the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and I was still blown away.”

“That’s impressive. Did he…?” My brain went totally blank, and I scrambled to find the proper word. “Push. Yeah, did he push to get you in here?” I winced at the slip.

Fuck this shit. Really. Push? How fucking hard it is to recall a word like push?

An older woman in a tidy uniform filled our water glasses, then asked if she could have our room numbers. All the meals here were prepared by nutritionists with an eye to the patients’—athletes in my case—unique needs.

“Big-time. He was adamant about me coming here after the initial rehab. Said that this place would do things to counter the damage that no regular rehab could do. You here for CRT?”

“I uhm…” and that skip again. Fuck. “Dude, sorry, I’m like…” I tapped my temple.

He reached over the table to take my hand. “Ten, man, do not sweat it. You should have seen me when I got here. Barely able to string four words together. Sometimes I still trip up, just like that. But it’s all good. We’re tough motherfuckers. We’ll train our brains.”

“Yeah, train the brains. Cool.”

He gave my hand a squeeze and then released it. “So CRT?”

Our food was served, my platter loaded with scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, a bowl of oatmeal, and chocolate milk. My meds also sat on my tray. Declan’s food was similar, as were the meds in tiny cups lined up for him.

“Cognitive rehab therapy,” he said before shaking out his napkin and laying it over his lap. I did the same and tossed down the pills. I had no idea what they were pumping into me, and I truly didn’t care. As long as they got me back on the ice, they could be dumping Soylent green into my body via the milk. Man, that old movie rocked. What I wouldn’t give to be curled up on the couch with Mads watching it again. “Speech, occupation, and physical therapy. You don’t have any big physical issues, do you?”

“Some weakness on the left side, my arm, but it’s getting better. I hardly drop anything now.”

“That’s good. Once the swelling goes down, things tend to get better.” He took a bite from a slice of whole wheat toast. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here eating with you. Cup winner, LGBT crusader. Thanks for doing that, coming out, being proud and gay. I know how hard that is. My family and team have been amazing about my being queer.”

“Excellent. Glad they’re… fuck, I just. Give me a sec. Yeah, uhm, glad it’s good for you. I’m sorry. Sometimes I can go, like, whole days and barely fuck up, and then I’ll hit this patch where my brain glitches out and… shit. Fuck. Okay, I’m going to shut up for a minute and let my neurons… fire or something.”

“It’s fine. I understand.” And he did. I could see it in his eyes. He totally got it because he was living it too.

I wished everyone else in my life could get it as Declan did. We ate in amiable silence, not that heavy, cloaking pity blanket of quietude that my family draped over me every time I fumbled.

Therapy followed that pleasant breakfast, hours of it. Doctors and nurses, therapists, reading and tests and poking and prodding. Weights and treadmills and medicine balls. Shoving tiny pegs into tinier holes, pet therapy which was actually cool because who didn’t love a dog kiss? Speech therapy was last, and I tanked at it. Totally blew it to shit with my inability to recall one simple phrase. It made me so mad I flipped the table, sending papers and pencils flying. Then, because I had no clue where that outburst had come from, I felt even shittier.

“Tennant, it’s okay,” the woman, who was some fancy kind of advanced speech therapist, said as we picked up the mess I’d made. “Temper flare-ups are common. It’s frustrating not to be able to express yourself. We see that frequently in stroke victims.”

“That was uncool. Just so uncool. I didn’t… it wasn’t… shit.” I dropped to my ass, hands full of work sheets that looked as if a four-year-old had scribbled them down, buried my face in the papers, and wept.

Julie. Yes! That was her name. Julie sat down beside me, rubbed my back, and told me all kinds of reassuring things.

“I’m kind of done for the day,” I told her, and she let me go. I walked the halls, feeling discouraged and sickened with myself. Once I got back to my room, I called home, needing to hear Jared’s voice. As soon as he picked up, I kind of began babbling. A lot of it wasn’t sensible, and it was garbled because I’d have to stop, think, and then restart. But through all of that, Jared listened and never interrupted. When I was done, I fell back onto the bed, exhausted, battling a headache, and sick to death of myself and my stupid brain.

“Sounds like a rough first day,” Jared said. I rolled to my side, tucking my knees up, my gaze on that shiny arena where the Raptors were playing hockey right now. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come out? I can get a hotel room.”

“No, you need to work. The team needs you.”

“You need me as well, Tennant.”

“No, I got this. You can’t do this for me, Mads. Neither can Ryker or Brady or Jamie or my mother. It’s just…” I exhaled through pursed lips. “It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. I mean, I knew it would be hard but fuck sake, I couldn’t recall simple words. How will I ever be able to play if I can’t…” I stopped and calmed myself down. “I hate that this happened. I hate Aarni so much for doing this to me, Jared. I never thought I could ever hate anyone.”

“I know, babe. I wish you’d reconsider and let me come out there.”

He sounded as sick at heart as I was. And truthfully, in that moment, I was close to telling him to fly out. I so needed his arms around me.

“Tell me you love me.”

“I love you.” He drew in a shaky breath. “Do you want me to come out? Just say the word.”

I sat up slowly to avoid a head-rush and the pain that went along with those. “No, I’m good.” I pushed to my feet and went to the window. The sun was setting now, the mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena glowing scarlet and pink. “I’m a tough camper. My Mom said that to me the first time I went to hockey camp.”

“Yeah? How old were you? Five months old or so?”

That made me chuckle. “Nah man, I was like six. And this camp was in Buffalo. I wanted to go so bad. I mean, I can be kind of stubborn when I want something.”

“I’m well aware of that fact,” he replied. Was he sitting down or pacing? Probably pacing because he was tension-riddled over me. “You were persistent about us.”

“Damn right I was. I knew we’d be good.” I touched the pane of glass as a smile of remembrance played on my lips. “I went to that camp, and as soon as my folks dropped me off, I wanted to come home. But Mom wouldn’t let me. She said I had to be a tough camper and that once the homesickness wore off, I’d be glad I stayed.”

“Were you?”

“Yeah, I loved it. Scored my first goal against Tommy Wayfarer. He got mad and cried.” The lights of Tucson began to flicker to life. Someone walked by my door humming Santa Claus is Coming to Town. “I’ll be okay. I just have to score my first goal here.”

“You will.”

“Yeah, I will. So, tell me about morning skate. How did the lines look?”

We talked about the Railers and about Ryker and Declan, my new therapy buddy. We talked about old movies and new songs. We talked for hours. Darkness had blanketed the city when I dozed off on him. I woke up a second later, phone still to my ear, my boyfriend chuckling.

“Wow, you snored yourself awake,” Mads said, then groaned, rising to his feet I assumed.

“Shit, yeah, I fell asleep.” A yawn rolled out of me. I flopped to my side on the bed, my sight on the desert sky over Tucson.

“I need to turn in too,” he said around a yawn.

“Yeah, you’re a couple of hours ahead of us. I’ll call you tomorrow at the same time. I love you, Mads.”

“I love you too, Ten. And your mother was right; you are a tough camper. You’ll begin to see improvement, I know you. You won’t stop until you do.”

“Thanks, Coach.”


“I miss our goodnight kisses.” My eyes were so heavy I could barely keep them open.

“You’ll get plenty when you get home.”

“Mm, loving sounds good.”

“Yes, it does. Get some rest. Heal. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”

“Night,” I mumbled, ended the call, and then fell into an exhausted but fitful sleep. The bed was too hard, too narrow, and far too lacking in Jared Madsen’s big, broad body.

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing 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.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

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