Author: Avon Gale
Narrator: Scott R. Smith
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 6 hours and 38 minutes
At a Glance: I can recommend both the story and the narration here. Avon Gale has a talent for rendering hockey players as three dimensional, and Free takes his cues from that to deliver top notch narration.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: 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.
Review: The fourth book in the series about a fictionalized version of the ECHL, an NHL feeder league, and the series just keeps getting better. We are finally getting to see “families” being built in a league where acceptance is the norm in many places, but still an exception in others. Troubled Isaac Drake has settled into life, living with his coaches, who became partners in the last book. Things are going along fine until the unscrupulous owner of the Spitfires hires Laurent St. Savoy to be part of the team. Savoy committed multiple acts across the league, and in the playoff against the Spitfires, and made himself one of the most hated men in the league. He’s an outcast who somehow manages to win the sympathies and affections of last year’s outcast, Isaac Drake.
This is a complete story and you need not have read or listened to the other books in the series to enjoy it, but you may want to go back and learn the histories of the players and partners who appear in this book.
Once again Scott R. Smith lends his vast voice talents to this fourth book, and listeners will be as pleased as usual with his work. One of the benefits of having the same narrator for a series is that you get familiar with the character voices. The humor and passion involved in team sports comes right to the fore with Smith’s talents. There are so many layers to the characters, visits from old friends, and familiar locations if you’ve been following the series. Smith’s voice work has very few bumps. There may be one or two character choices that aren’t up to his usual work, but these are minimal and don’t really take away from the action.
I can recommend both the story and the narration here. Avon Gale has a talent for rendering hockey players as three dimensional, and Smith takes his cues from that to deliver top notch narration. This series, like any good series, leaves you wanting more and expecting the next book to see who gets featured next and how and why they come together. Hopefully, for those of us who want more, there will be a next book.
You can buy Empty Net here: