Friday, September 2, 2016

Release Day Review ~ Empty Net (Scoring Chances: Book 4) by Avon Gale

Release Day Review ~ Empty Net (Scoring Chances: Book 4) by Avon Gale

Title: Empty Net
Series: Scoring Chances: Book 4
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

GoodReads ~ Dreamspinner

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a 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. He was 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. 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 on to Laurent—or their relationship.

Isaac Drake, Goalkeeper for the Spartanburg Spitfires, is out and proud refusing to pretend to be anything other than himself. Living with Coach Misha Samarin and Assistant Coach Max Ashford he finally has a place he can call home. Determined for his team to take home the Kelly cup this year, he's thrown for a major loop when Laurent St. Savoy is traded to the Spitfires. After all Laurent’s hatred for Isaac and homosexuals is well known, especially after his behavior in last year's playoffs. Isaac is angry and can't stand the thought of sharing a locker room with the man. He just wishes Laurent wasn't so attractive and would keep his mouth shut. 

Laurent St. Savoy grew up in the shadow of his father, legendary NHL goalie Denis St. Savoy. His life was riddled with physical and emotional abuse and no matter what he did he would always be seen as a disappointment. So when he is traded to the Spitfires he hopes he'll be able to finally be free of his controlling father and Coach. Of course, he is prepared to be hated by his teammates and coaches for his past behavior and attitude. Feeling unworthy of kindness, the last thing Laurent wants or expects is to like or be liked by anyone. 

After a confrontation in the showers by his new teammates, Laurent breaks down when he's alone. His whole life is a farce and he hates himself. When Isaac discovers him in a vulnerable position the man takes care of him in an unexpected way. Laurent soon realizes Isaac Drake may be the one person he can feel comfortable enough with to be himself. 

The two men begin an unlikely friendship that slowly morphs into something deeper. It's the first time Isaac has truly felt connected with a lover and for Laurent it is the first time he's ever been intimate with someone.  Slowly Isaac is able to help Laurent learn how to be a person others see and like. But there are issues Isaac won't be able to help Laurent with by himself. Laurent has to reach out to others in order to begin healing from the damage his father inflicted upon him. 

Wow! I loved Empty Net and have to say I am so glad to start September off with such an engaging book. I'm a fan of Avon Gale's Scoring Chances Series and I love the men in each of the books. I have to say, though, that in my opinion, there was something very special about Isaac and Laurent.  Laurent touched me, I felt my heart break for him and I actually forgot how I had hated him when he was being an a**hole. While there is never a good excuse for the type of behavior he showed towards Isaac and his team, it was a lot more understandable. 

Laurent's self-loathing and his coping mechanisms were so sad and it pained me to think it was caused by his father's abuse.  It was as if he had to learn how to interact with people all over again. Which is why someone like Isaac is so good for him. I loved Isaac's patience and the way he was willing to stick up for Laurent even when Laurent didn't deserve it.  He was a great friend and then boyfriend and his loyalty was special.  And as for the chemistry between the two, wow, it was combustible. 

The writing as always was great and the moments we see them on the ice were realistic and entertaining. I definitely recommend this book and not only to fans of hockey. This is a sad yet funny story about two men who truly do make the other a better person. 

5 Stars!

***A copy of this book was provided to Bayou Book Junkie by Dreamspinner Press in exchange for an honest and fair review***

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