Empty Net by Avon Gale
Series: Scoring Chances #4
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 2, 2016.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
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).
Sports Romance (Hockey)
Enemies to Lovers
Additional Warnings: See the summary for the Author’s Warnings!
Empty Net is the fourth in the Scoring Chances series, but you don’t need to read the other books to understand it. However, you should read the other books because they are so good!! This book focuses on Isaac Drake, the feisty goalie who caused Misha and Max headaches in the last book (read my review here!) and Laurent St. Savoy, the backup goalie.
Gale was setting up Laurent to be a character that I really didn’t like. I thought it was going to take the whole book for him to get together with Isaac but instead she did something really interesting with the traditional enemies to lovers trope. I can’t say more without spoiling everyone, but Gale does a really good job of explaining Laurent’s behavior and why Isaac would bother dating someone like that.
Even after the thing that brings them together happens there is still an interesting contrast between Laurent’s and Isaac’s personalities. I like when characters are different enough to not seem like twins but also not so different that they spend a lot of time in conflict. Gale did a good job balancing their personalities and showing why these two would work together. It made it easy to root for them.
This is going to sound bad until you read the book but I really related to Laurent a lot. I don’t want to get into it but I wish I could have read something like this when I was younger. It might have helped me move on faster or helped in some other way.
Another reason why I could relate to Laurent was because he was a demisexual. It seems like the new trend in romance is to have an asexual character that doesn’t like sex at all. Nothing wrong with that, but it was really cool to see someone who needs the emotional connection to enjoy sex. That was really cool and I think Gale did a good job of showing what that feels like and why it is confusing.
This was a really enjoyable story that you don’t need to like hockey to enjoy. The hockey is there, of course, but Gale’s focus is on Laurent’s story and how Isaac helps him grow (character development ahoy!!). There is also an emphasis on camaraderie and friendship that gives this story depth and makes it relatable.
Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.
To find out more about Gale and her books head over to her website (click here!).
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I received an advanced copy of this novel in exchange for a fair and honest review.