Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Length: 200 Pages
At a Glance: These guys are just so, so great. I have no doubt this book will become the fave so far of many readers.
Reviewed By: Jules
Blurb: Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and 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, 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, and 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 Laurent—or their relationship—together.
Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating)
Review: Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances series is one of the most consistently well-written series I’ve read this past year; it’s certainly one of my favorites. It’s guys-being-guys at its finest—in all their dorky, sexy, shmoopy, funny glory. I honestly just can’t get enough, and the fourth book, Empty Net, is a prime example of why. Gale has once again put together a story full of humor and feels, and romance, and, of course, full of hockey.
If you’re like me, then you thought that there was no way the author was going to get you to fall in love with Laurent St. Savoy. Not after that shit he pulled in Power Play. No. Fucking. Way. Well…think again. Not only did Gale get me to fall in love with him, but she did it handily, in less than three chapters. And, I don’t think I’m particularly easy. I mean, I can definitely hold on to stuff. I’m Irish. We hate for life! What Laurent did to Drake during the Kelly Cup playoffs was reprehensible. Buuuuuuuuuuut, there’s two sides to every story, and in Empty Net we finally get to hear Laurent’s side.
Drake is understandably shocked and pissed off when he learns that the Spitfires GM is up to his usual antics, and has acquired Drake’s nemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, in a trade. No doubt hoping to boost interest and attendance using the previous season’s playoff drama as a tool. Laurent, now the Spitfires’ new backup goalie, certainly isn’t any happier about his new team, and continues acting like a sullen dick and alienating everyone, teammates and coaches alike. Things come to a head, though, when Isaac catches his best friends and teammates, Hux and Murphy, bullying St. Savoy in the showers. He decides—mostly as team captain—that things can’t go on as they have been, and that he and Laurent need to find some way to get along.
After they agree on a truce, things move fairly quickly to an awkward friendship, and then an even more awkward confession of attraction. Or, in Laurent’s case, massive confusion and exploring of his sexuality. I love the way their relationship progresses. The pace is perfect. The whole thing is just so real, and so…them. From the very first time that Drake tells Laurent to stop talking (this becomes a thing throughout the book, and was so unique to them and perfect…I loved it) to them becoming so much more at the end of the season, I was on board.
I have to quickly talk about ‘Saint’, the nickname that Isaac gives to Laurent, and how amazingly perfect it was for him. Due to his volatile and abusive relationship with his father, Laurent hates his last name, and the man who gave it to him. The name St. Savoy has nothing but negative connotations for Laurent, so when Drake starts calling him Saint, he is decidedly thrilled. Gale does such a great job of giving the nickname weight, and showing the reader how much it means to Laurent. Loved, loved, loved.
In fact, I love the way Gale handles so many things in this book. She does a really wonderful job with the sharing of Saint’s cruel and abusive past, as well as with discussions of his substantial eating disorder. Both topics demand being handled with care, and she certainly does that. I felt like she covered all the bases, but also kept things within the spirit of the series, i.e., there was plenty of emotion and respect for the subject matter, but nothing ever got too heavy.
So many things to love in this book. More Misha for one. Gahhhhh. I LOVE that man. He’s perhaps my favorite character in all of the books. Also, I thought it was so cool that we got two different perspectives of the game in this one. Unlike all of the players in the series thus far, Saint does NOT play for the love of the game, and I love the story that Gale tells there. And I just used ‘love’ four times in this paragraph, annnnd thirteen times total in the review…Perhaps I should take this as a sign to wrap this up!
But, first, I will leave you with this…
“Laurent stared at her, and then he started to cry. Having someone tell him “you deserve someone like Isaac” was the secret dream of his hidden heart, and he wasn’t sure how to handle hearing it spoken out loud.”
“When Isaac said those things to him, Laurent could feel the empty places made hollow by his father’s cruelty as they filled up and mended into something whole.”
Massive feels, right?!? But really, this is the kind of stuff we usually get from these guys…
Isaac grinned at him. “You’re bad at this.”
Laurent scowled. “I’ve never been on a date before. Also you’re kind of a dick.”
Ha! These guys are just so, so great. I have no doubt this book will become the fave so far of many readers. Isaac and Saint are definitely unforgettable. And I, for one, hope that Avon Gale keeps writing this series forever. 🙂 A girl can dream!
You can buy Empty Net here: