Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Delayed Penalty by Sophia Henry Blog Tour

She closed her heart long ago. He just wants to open her mind. For fans of Toni Aleo and Sawyer Bennett, the debut of Sophia Henry’s red-hot Detroit Pilots series introduces a hockey team full of complicated men who fight for love.

Auden Berezin is used to losing people: her father, her mother, her first love. Now, just when she believes those childhood wounds are finally healing, she loses something else: the soccer scholarship that was her ticket to college. Scrambling to earn tuition money, she’s relieved to find a gig translating for a Russian minor-league hockey player—until she realizes that he’s the same dangerously sexy jerk who propositioned her at the bar the night before.

Equal parts muscle and scar tissue, Aleksandr Varenkov knows about trauma. Maybe that’s what draws him to Auden. He also lost his family too young, and he channeled the pain into his passions: first hockey, then vodka and women. But all that seems to just melt away the instant he kisses Auden and feels a jolt of desire as sudden and surprising as a hard check on the ice.

After everything she’s been through, Auden can’t bring herself to trust any man, let alone a hot-headed puck jockey with a bad reputation. Aleksandr just hopes she’ll give him a chance—long enough to prove he’s finally met the one who makes him want to change.

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Book 1
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When you’re twenty years old, there’s nothing music and a drink can’t cure.

At least that was my best friend’s response when I told her I’d been cut from Central State’s women’s soccer team that morning.

The overzealous stylings of two drunk chicks bellowing “It’s Raining Men” wafted through the air, and I’d just received my vodka club from the bartender, so why did it still feel like someone scratched my heart out with a serrated shovel?

Maybe “It’s Raining Men” wasn't the right song?

Or maybe my friend’s remedy lacked one vital piece. Like, five minutes locked in a bathroom stall with the crazy-haired hottie approaching me. His head was buzzed short on the sides, leaving a thick patch of dark locks, gelled into a neat pompadour in front. Sort of like 1920s gangster, except less slicked, more height.

Every muscle in Crazy Hair’s body rippled under his clothing as he walked. He had to be over six feet tall, with a broad chest and massive arms stretching the seams of his long-sleeved black Henley. His skin was smooth and pale, a contrast to the thick dark eyebrows resting above his jump-in-and-drown-in-me blue eyes. From the scar on his left cheek to the smug smirk of his lips, he was exactly my type: dangerous, confident, and totally lickable.

I flipped my long blond hair behind my shoulder and glanced to my left, pretending Crazy Hair’s advance had no effect on me. In reality, I’d checked to make sure that he wouldn’t pass me up on the way to some beautiful bombshell I hadn’t noticed standing in the vicinity.

Like when you see someone wave, so you wave back. Then you realize they weren’t waving at you but the person behind you. So you try to play off your lame wave like you were batting away mosquitoes, which aren’t there because it’s December in Canada. Just trying to avoid an awkward situation like that.

Crazy Hair continued to close in, before stopping just inches away.

I’d opened my mouth to ream him out for stepping too far into my personal space, but the sweet scent of clove cigarettes flooded warmth through me like a sip of hot chocolate on a January morning in the Upper Peninsula.

“You work at post office?” he asked in a thick Slavic accent.

“Um, no.” I took a swig of my drink. Though I was unsure where he was going with that line, he was hot enough for me to stick around.

The left corner of his mouth curved into that sexy little smirk. “Because I see you check out my package.”

Carbonation stung my nose as I snorted and choked trying to hold in my laugh. Without time to turn my head, I sprayed vodka club and saliva across the front of Crazy Hair’s shirt.


“Weak!” I heard from somewhere behind me.

I turned to see who had yelled, still coughing as I noticed a group of guys and girls at the high-top table behind me. Shaggy blond hair bounced against one guy’s forehead as he snickered. The dude next to him held his fist in front of his mouth in a horrible attempt to hide his laughter. A brunette in a tight red sweater didn’t look amused. At all.

Crazy Hair threw the guys not one but both of his middle fingers.

“That girl’s a fucking smoke show. Why’d he use a shitty line like that?” the blond one said.

Smoke show? I bit down hard on my lip to fight back a smile. The last time I’d heard that phrase was in high school from my hockey-playing best friend, who’d informed me that “smoke show” was player lingo for “hot girl.”

Unsure of how to recover any semblance of cool after spitting my drink across Crazy Hair’s muscular chest, I spun around and shuffled back to the table my friends occupied in front of the karaoke stage.

It felt weird to drink in public, though we’d been to Canada on multiple occasions. As lifelong residents of Detroit, Michigan, we thought of Windsor—the Canadian city connected to Detroit by a bridge and a tunnel—as the next town over, rather than a foreign country. Nineteen was the legal drinking age in Windsor, so it made sense for underage Americans like us to cross the border for some legit cocktails.

My butt had barely brushed my seat when I heard my name, and my name alone, called over the speakers. I lifted my eyes to the outdated popcorn ceiling, as if the voice resonated from the heavens beyond, rather than the karaoke host.

“Why is he calling my name?” I asked Kristen.

“I picked you a song,” she responded, taking a swig of her beer.

“You picked us a song, you mean?” Emphasis on the us, because I’d never sung alone in my life—not counting the shower and car, of course.

“Nope. Just you.” Kristen placed both hands on my back and pushed me toward the stage. “You need to sing it out. Keeping shit bottled up never works.”

I had no problem singing it out if I was singing with other people, but not when it was just me. Hadn’t I been embarrassed enough today?

My short-lived “smoke show” happiness vanished, and the embarrassment of making a fool of myself in front of Crazy Hair returned. I tried to reverse, but Kristen’s trampoline-like hands propelled me back toward the stage.

Climbing onto the stage, I snatched the microphone out of the host’s hand. I almost felt bad about taking my anger out on him until I saw the lyrics to “Proud Mary” light up in white against the teleprompter’s blue screen. Fuck.

What the hell? I exhaled and lifted my eyes to Kristen.

“Girl power!” She saluted me with her glass.

Was “Proud Mary” a girl-power song? I thought it was about a boat.

“Do you have ‘Good Feeling’?” I asked the karaoke host. He was around my age, with big brown eyes matching his neat, trimmed beard and his shoulder-length hair.

“Flo Rida?” he asked, as disapproving wrinkles formed on his smooth forehead.

“Oh, no,” I said. “The Violent Femmes.”

A smile spread across his lips, and he nodded. “Give me a second.”

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Delayed Penalty gets 5 stars because it is the first book in a very long time that kept me reading way past my bed time and left me bleary eyed the next day.

Auden's romance with Aleksandr is beautiful and they have good chemistry. They share the loss of a parent, Russian heritage and a love of hockey. Auden and Aleksandr each have insecurities so life is not always smooth sailing. This story is also about Auden growing up and learning about herself and her family. By the end of the story she is more mature and sure of herself.

Delayed Penalty is a fabulous book. It was a good mix light and fun and serious and emotional. I fell in love with the characters and was up sobbing well into the wee hours. I highly recommend this story if you love romance.

4.5 Stars
I LOVED this story. I don't normally read a lot of sports especially hockey stories, but the synopsis for this one grabbed me so I thought I'd give it a shot and I'm SOOO glad I did.

I literally could NOT put this book down. I read it from start to finish in one sitting because I was just so invested in the story and the characters.

There was a very different kind of chemistry that worked for Auden and Aleksandr than I've read in a while. And oddly, there really wasn't a lot of naughty scenes and most books I love have them so I'm a bit surprised that I loved this book so much without them.

I would've liked to see some more conflict between the characters but seeing as they are both so young and their relationship is so new, I suppose that would come along later. I didn't feel like the story dragged at any points so it all worked in the end.

This is the first book I have read by Ms. Henry, but I have a feeling it will not be my last. I liked the pace, the content and most definitely the characters.

Although this is a really hot, yet cute romance involving a hockey player, that is almost incidental to the main issues in this story. That has to be dominated by the fact that both the leads are parentless. Auden since she was a small child, and her life is inevitably defined by her experiences growing up with her grandparents. As the story unfolds, we learn through her voice just what that has done to her. And though everyone else sees her strengths, it takes someone special to make her see the good as well as the bad. I love how the story plays out, and at the risk of revealing too much, I think it best to say that it is well worth reading.

Delayed Penalty was a refreshing surprise. Why? Because in the hockey romances that I’ve read, Russian hockey players have a bit of a reputation as being major players off the ice, with a tendency to over-indulge in the smorgasbord of American puck bunnies available. Despite his rather cheesy introduction at the beginning of the book, Aleksandr doesn’t live up to that stereotype. Granted Auden doesn’t realize this because she buys into the public image and hype and this is what made the book a treat to read – the breaking down of preconceived notions, fears, and walls as two people get to know one another and fall in love.

Reeling from the loss of her spot on her college soccer team and scholarship, Auden is thrown for yet another loop when the translation client her grandfather assigned her to ends up being the hottie from the bar the night before who she embarrassed herself in front of. Making matters worse is learning that said client is a minor league hockey player who doesn’t actually need a translator. As I was not in Auden’s shoes when she discovered that tidbit of information, I found the scene to be quite amusing. Obviously she did not and that’s why her response added to my amusement. But the more time Auden spends with Aleksandr, the less hostile their relationship becomes until their simmering sexual tension boils over. Oh Yeah! As their relationship develops it becomes clear that theirs won’t be an easy road as Aleksandr not only has to overcome Auden’s personal walls, they each have people in their lives who don’t want them together.

Henry does a nice job of infusing the right amounts of hockey, relationship building, outside interests, humor, steamy make out scenes, and conflict to balance out the romance of Delayed Penalty. While the initial stages of their relationship occur over the course of 4 weeks while Auden is out of school, the author unfolds the story in such a way that it didn’t feel rushed to me. I’m assuming that because they spent so much time together between her translation duties and their “hanging out” it felt longer than it was. I loved how well matched they were and how their Russian heritage factored into their relationship, which helped Aleksandr win over her grandparents. I found their actual relationship to be rather sweet – far sweeter than I would have expected from a hockey player – and that’s what made their separations so hard to witness. While I thoroughly enjoyed Delayed Penalty, I will advise hardcore sports romance readers that there seemed to be more emphasis on the romance than the hockey in my opinion. Keep in mind, Auden enters Aleksandr’s world as his translator so much of their time is off the ice which results in less on ice time, but there is still a good bit of hockey played. I for one cannot wait to read the next installment in the Pilots Hockey series to find out Landon’s story.

Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Delayed Penalty (Pilots Hockey #1) by Sophia Henry to read and review for this tour.

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