cGenre: MM Romance, explicit
Title: Power Play
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: May 9, 2016
Previous Book in Series: Save of the Game
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.
What I Liked:
Everything! But really, this book was so great. I was worried about this one, because after two books, I’d become rather attached to the Jacksonville Sea Storm. I thought there was absolutely no way I was going to love these new characters and new team as much as I loved Lane and Jared and Ethan and Riley and Zoe and…Well, I was wrong.
I really loved the backstory between the leads, Max and Misha. Max is injured in an accident during the Stanley Cup playoffs and has to quit playing professional hockey (which made me think of The Cutting Edge. I should watch that movie again sometime!). Misha feels that he was responsible for Max getting hurt, and thus quits hockey partially because of the guilt. Also, they were on rival teams (Bruins and Habs), so there’s that as well.
Even with the worry on both sides, they end up being a good team. The just click, and there is some definite chemistry between them. One thing that I loved about the romance was that there was very little angst about being gay/bi. Max has newly discovered his bisexual orientation, and while he isn’t very experienced, he has no doubts and is ready and willing to explore. Misha, on the other hand, is gay, and while he does have some angst based on internalized homophobia and being a gay Russian, most of his pain is based on the events of his past.
I also liked that the romance is a secret, but not really. One of my favorite things is secret relationships and people finding out about them. But I also really like when people are in reveal *a secret* that it turns out everybody already knows about. Everyone is like, “Yeah. We know. And?” It’s just such a refreshing change from “OMGWHAT?!?!? GAY?!?!? HUH?!?!?” reveals. I mean, those are fine, but variety is good too.
The main plot outside of the romance is focused on Drake, the loudmouthed goalie of the team. He seems unlikable at first, but as the story goes along and you get to know him, he definitely becomes more sympathetic. I liked the connections that he and Misha had towards the end of the book.
What I Didn’t:
Hmm…I van’t really think of much. Unlike the first two in the series, I don’t remember any M/F sex scenes. There was some homophobia (both internalized and …externalized?) and mentions of unhappy things like prostitution and the like. All of this is really more of a warning though, not anything that I really disliked.
I know that I said this for the last book as well, but this book is the best in the series. I loved how mature the characters were, and how there wasn’t a lot of angst about sexual orientation. The hockey action was good, the characters were good, and the overall plot interesting and engaging. I really like the development of Drake, who is a secondary character in this book, but will be one of the romantic leads in book four, Empty Net. This book was fantastic, and this is definitely my favorite hockey romance series (and I’ve read quite a few…).
My Rating: 4.5/5 (SO GOOD! Want the next book now!!!)