Genre: MM Contemporary Romance, Explicit
Title: Empty Net
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: 2 September 2016
Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a 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. He was 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. 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 on to Laurent—or their relationship.
What I Liked:
So, I pre-ordered this book for my kindle and then forgot about it until it had already been released for an ENTIRE hour!!! Once I realized, I freaked out, did the dance of joy, and then stayed awake reading until I had finished the book (or dawn, as some people call it). I was a bit wary because while I like Isaac well enough in the last book, Laurent was such an asshole. So I was completely unprepared to fall in love with him, but I just want to pet him and cuddle him and tell him that everything’s going to be alright (Though, maybe I should just let Isaac do all of that). He is 100% the definition of a woobie. He’s kind of like the old-school fanfiction version of snarky-to -cover-up-abuse Draco Malfoy from the Draco/Hermione and Draco/Harry fics I used to read when I was 14.
Having said that, I thought that Laurent’s abuse, eating disorder, and attitude problem were handled in a very believable and sensitive way. I have (unfortunately) a lot of recent experience seeing a psychologist and working on my own issues, and it was kind of cathartic to see Laurent getting the help he needs to heal. For such a loudmouthed punk, Isaac is gentle and understanding while dealing with Laurent. Their relationship together was so emotional and beautiful.
What I Didn’t:
This book was a bit harder for me than the previous 3 in the series because of some of the issues that Laurent deals with. Watching him struggle with an eating disorder and reading his disordered thoughts was difficult. I have never personally had an ED, but as someone who struggles with severe anxiety and depression, and whose disordered thoughts have led to other versions of self-harm, I was very conscious of (at least some) of what Laurent was experiencing.
Also, It seems crazy to me that Laurent’s father got away with such behavior for such a long time. I mean, I feel like someone would have stepped up at some point! Or maybe that’s just me being naïve believing that there are a lot of good people in the world. Some people are shit, but others are unbearably noble and good.
This continues to be my favorite romance series. In the week leading up to this release, I actually reread Breakaway, Save of the Game, and Power Play, and I really don’t think I could pick a favorite out of the 4 books if I tried. Empty Net was definitely the most difficult and emotional book of the series thus far, but I absolutely loved the characters and the realistic way that it handled abuse, disordered thinking, therapy, and healing. I would recommend this book to people based on that alone, though it also being about hockey players certainly doesn’t hurt!
My Rating: 4/5