Saturday, November 4, 2017

Off the Ice by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire — if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.

But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.

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Book 1
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Riptide Publishing

Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

Avid Reader☆☆☆☆
3.5 stars
M/M Sports Romance, undertones of power play

This was a sweet story about preconceived notions and fighting the urge to hide. However, it is also very similar to a lot of other secretly gay, awesome sports player stories.

Tristan is a great defense player for a national hockey team. He is also gay and in the closet. He is working hard, despite being a full-time pro athlete, to obtain a degree in case the worst should happen and he were to be unable to play. I really liked his dedication to his education and his forward thinking about his future. I think that was what made this book somewhat different from the other stories that deal with closeted pro athletes.

Then you have Sebastian. He is a professor and wants to make sure that his career is long. He tries to stay away from students in a romantic way, but when he sees Tristan he is immediately intrigued. Of course, he also makes a very poor first impression.

Despite their attraction and their obvious chemistry, Sebastian does not want to be back in the closet and Tristan does not want to be the poster boy for gay athletes.

Overall, it's a nice story about love and trust, accepting yourself, and hoping for the best. I do hope that some of Tristan's teammates get their own story as I thought that they were very helpful in progressing the story.

This is pretty much the perfect romance for me. I loved the idea of an NHL player finishing his degree during the off season and I loved the romance between the brawny hockey player and his brainy professor even more.

Avon Gale is my absolute favourite hockey romance writer. I love the sense of family that Tristan finds in his team and I love the irreverent banter between teammates. However, this story is called Off the Ice for a reason. The focus of the book is Tristan’s life beyond hockey. I loved his cautious approach to his wealth, his careful planning for the future, and his struggle to balance a relationship and a career. He is an intelligent and thoughtful character who feels much older than he is.

Sebastian is an equally brilliant character. I fell in love with him immediately after his first “No shit, Sherlock” response to a paper he was grading. He passionate and thoughtful – and clueless about hockey. I love that he appreciates Tristan’s mind before he even knows who he is.

I really enjoyed the kink in Sebastian and Tristan’s relationship. This is a sexy story and the D/s relationship is hot because the power exchange feels natural and exciting for these two characters – without any of the tired tropes used in most generic BDSM erotic romance.

This collaboration between Gale and Vaughn brings readers the best of both authors and I really loved the story. I’m hoping this is the start of a new series because there are several characters on the Venom team that I’d love to get to know a whole lot better.

HOT for teacher! I am not sure how many more hockey books we can have with the plot being "I am gay and play hockey" but this one worked for me. I loved Sebastian and Tristan. They just worked for me. Not only was there hot sex but they joked around, they had some things in common, and they both brought something to the table. The age gap worked for me too, as well as the kink factor; I am usually not into mild humiliation, but the authors made it work for me. One of my favorite parts was when Tris was quizzing Seb over hockey questions and his sexual rewards. Good book with not a lot of angst or drama.

I’m giving the story 4 stars, but I’d definitely give the steam in this book a solid 5 stars! Sebastian and Tristan really heat the pages up!

Tristan is an up and coming hockey player who knows that hockey won’t last forever. He’s decided to go back to school and finish his degree so that he has a backup plan after his career with Venom ends. Tristan knows his Sociology class is going to be tough, but he has no idea how tough until his super hot professor walks in. Though Sebastian teaches about not judging by the way someone looks he’s very quick to judge Tristan as a know-it-all athlete who is trying to breeze through his class, even if he is pretty on the eyes. When one of Tristan’s papers is plagiarized, Sebastian is quick to lay the blame on Tristan assuming he’s the one to have done the plagiarizing… and so begins their intense relationship. Though the attraction is seriously intense, the two know that they have to wait until the class is complete before they can pursue anything – so the day that class ends, the two are all over one another.

I really enjoyed that this book felt like it had two plots – there was Tristan in school getting with Sebastian and then his battle with coming out as gay in the NHL world. It made the book that much harder to put down. Tristan and Sebastian’s story is powerful and inspiring. I look forward to more from these authors!

I really enjoyed this sports romance with a touch of academia thrown in. It introduces a new series, which I think will be a winner – and I am looking forward to the next one already!

I read a lot of this genre, and keep thinking there is a limited life on the being the first to come out in a sport, but it is done well, and with the second angle of the student-professor relationship, the issue is not overplayed. The kink is absolutely delicious and made the story much richer, as well as being super hot.

RJ was a great foil for Seb and his issues and concerns, and clearly a good friend, and huge hockey fan. We also got to meet a number of other hockey players, with a few hints as to who might get their story told next.

If you are a hockey fan, like a bit of D/s, and the frisson of a professor-student attraction, then you will enjoy this.

Avon Gale

AVON GALE wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it—even if it was a bit weirder than the other hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after—though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal Midwestern college town. By day, Avon is a hair stylist who loves her job, her clients, and the opportunity to spend her time being creative and making people feel happy and look fabulous.

When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music, or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert, and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

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Piper Vaughn

Romance author, tea drinker, book junkie, tattoo enthusiast, typewriter collector, flirt. Lover of hedgehogs, piercings, tattoos, and hockey.

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it’s only in a book.

Connect with Piper

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Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn to read and review.

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