Power Play by Avon Gale
Series: Scoring Chances, Book 3 (Stand-alone)
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.
Not only must they navigate 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.
Avon Gale’s Power Play is the third in the Scoring Chances series. The first one is Breakaway and the second is Save of the Game. Don’t worry if you haven’t read the other two yet; this book can be understood on its own, but if you’re like me and you end up loving this book then you should check them out as well. I know that I am excited to catch up on Gale’s backlog!
Gale is a hockey fan and her work shows it. She provides a helpful mini-guide to the hectic and convoluted structures of the NHL’s minor league system to help clarify where in the hockey rabbit hole these boys are coaching. (Also if you are familiar with the NHL there are some Habs/Bruins easter eggs for you.) Don’t worry if you aren’t a hockey fan: Gale’s work is set in the hockey world but isn’t overwhelmed by it. Max and Misha’s story is compelling, and super hot, even if you aren’t into sports!
In this book Max and Misha are brought together as a marketing ploy by a trashy GM who wants to use their history to gain more fans. The boys have other plans and use this opportunity to focus on changing the dynamic of both the Spitfires and their relationship to each other.
Gale’s Power Play is a fresh take on sports romance. Usually the books I see in this genre are jock/nerd dynamics, or used to be friends, but this involves two players who never interacted beyond the incident. Gale has Max and Misha getting thrown together again by chance (a ridiculously selfish GM) and having to come to terms with what happened between them.
In this case it was Max’s career ending injury that was caused by Misha’s hit. Instead of Max angsting over his lost career we find that Misha is the one still angsting over causing Max’s injury. The way they handle the accident reflects the contrast in their personalities.
Max is more of a carefree, outgoing guy who takes things as they are while Misha keeps his feelings close and people at arm’s length. Max wants Misha and embraces his bisexuality by acting on his desire for Misha. Why wouldn’t he? Misha acts tough but he’s really a marshmallow who indulges Max by speaking Russian in bed and letting him take over Misha’s house.
Misha is a harder nut to crack. He’s closeted and doesn’t believe that he deserves to be happy, especially not with Max, so he tries to resist their chemistry. And fails, of course, but even then he generates a lot of delicious angst and self loathing that creates tension between them. Max does a good job of drawing Misha out of his shell and helping him deal with some of his… darker secrets.
Misha falls for Max hook, line, and sinker, but not until something sparks between them while they are coaching the team of misfits that brought them together. There are a lot of great secondary characters, but Isaac Drake was the stand out. Partially because his story helps Misha deal with his past; however, I wouldn’t be surprised if Drake got his own book in the series. He’s a short fused goalie with a smart mouth on him and I am sure Gale could find someone to love him. 😉
My favorite part of the book was how their relationship brought personal growth into each of their lives. Gale did a good job of having their relationship blossom into something that helped each of them develop as people. Which is one of my favorite things in romantic partnerships (real or fictional!). Misha learned to open up to new people and to forgive himself while Max learned to channel his exuberance to help others.
Ultimately this book is about how you recover and who you let in to help. In Gale’s words “Accidents were accidents. Falling down was part of the game. What mattered was how you got back up again.”
You can find the author over at her site (Here!) where I found her delightful bio quoted below. Her books include the other two books in the Scoring Chances series as well as Let the Wrong One In.
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. 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.
You can buy Power Play from:
Barnes & Noble
I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.