Author: Avon Gale
Narrator: Scott R. Smith
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 6 hours and 22 minutes
At a Glance: The continued narration by Smith makes the book a good bet and good buy. Buy it if you can.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves – only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.
After spending years guilt-ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium – as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.
They must navigate not only Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.
Review: Max Ashford was at the height of his NHL career, he was playing in a game for the Stanley Cup. Nothing could have been better, until Misha Samarin’s skate caused an injury that ended Max’s career. Neither man fully recovered. Being from opposing teams, they went their separate ways and tried to get on with life after the game they both loved had hurt them so badly.
Several years later, Max finds himself nervously wading through an interview to be the new Assistant Coach for a third tier ECHL team. The team’s owner knew Max’s history and saw an opportunity to make money and a sports soap opera by hiring Max to be the assistant to head coach Misha, expecting fireworks on and off the ice that would surely put people in the seats to see the story play out.
Unfortunately for the team’s owner, the two men barely sparred. They fell into a rhythm that drew the two former rivals together to turn their team from bottom feeders to the top of their division. As with all romance novels, Max and Misha find themselves in awe of each other, drawn together and barely able to conceal their growing desire for one another.
Naturally, the course of true love never runs smooth. There are stumbles, the team and their winning keep getting in their way, and the owner is none too happy his planned soap opera has devolved into just hovering near the division lead. Most importantly, Misha has guilt that he ended Max’s career, albeit accidentally.
Scott R. Smith returns to this series to a grand reading. The pace is kept up throughout, and no character or scene is given less than his full abilities. Fans of Smith know his pacing is always well done; the voices he creates give us a deeper insight into the characters he portrays. This narration is one of the best I’ve heard in a while and is a gift that adds to the story. Buy it if you like men in sports who are not portrayed as shallow or dumb. Smith helps us see that both men are imperfect but perfect for each other. When characters from past books make their brief returns, hearing his voices for them is like hearing from old friends you didn’t realize you missed.
This book is part of a series, but the author gives us totally new stories with each volume. They can be read in any order without losing out on the history. I have read/listened to them in order, and I like the way the books have evolved, and the fact that each story gives us a bigger view in the fictional world of this author’s ECHL. The continued narration by Smith makes the book a good bet and good buy. Buy it if you can.
You can buy Power Play here: