Title: Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4)
Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: September 2nd 2016
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.7 stars out of 5
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).
Well, Avon Gale, you had me a little worried in the beginning. Not going to lie…Laurent was a hard pill to swallow at first. You’re right when you say the kid’s got more issues than The Hockey News.
Laurent smiled. “I still don’t understand why you’re bothering with me,” he said, honestly. “I can’t be that hot that I’m worth all this effort. I’m a jerk, I don’t know if I’m attracted to you, and I have literally no idea how to behave around other people.”
“Well, first of all you are that hot. But believe me, that’s not enough. Not for a date, anyway,” Isaac said. “And I don’t know, Saint. I guess I just feel like somewhere in there, there’s somebody worth knowing.
Sure, Laurent’s a hot mess, wrapped in a blanket of pain, but that is squarely because he has been “nurtured” (read that sarcastically, by the way) by a man who I’d like to see in a wood chipper. Damn, I hate Laurent’s father.
However, when the story takes off, it takes off. I couldn’t read the paragraphs or turn the pages fast enough, and loved Issac with every sentence and grew to love Laurent as the story went on. I love the fact that Isaac recognizes the signs of some of the issues Laurent has and encourages him to get the professional therapy help he needs. I love how much the two complement each other. I love getting to spend more time with Micha and Max. And I love, love, love Mrs. Bowen. Wow!! What an awesome character who shines in every scene she’s in!
I love that Laurent really doesn’t care about Isaac’s past in any way, shape or form.
“You’re the only person I’ve ever met who made me not want to be who I am. So look. Whatever you had to do to become that person, do you think I care? I live with someone every goddamn day who disgusts me, Isaac. Trust me. It’s not you.”
This story illustrates so well how important it is when you have a difficult character to have multiple POV. With the addition of the reader getting to see how Laurent’s inner mind works, he’s elevated from a flawed, irascible character to someone relatable. His pain, scars and, ultimately, his redemption is so much the sweeter for being able to be inside his head.
He held Isaac’s words close to him. He felt them seep into his blood and ease some of the coldness from a lifetime of his father’s disdain.
In the end, even though I love Isaac so much, I think I love Laurent just a little bit more because he had so far to grow.
Having someone tell him “you deserve someone like Isaac” was the secret dream of his hidden heart, and he wasn’t sure how to handle hearing it spoken out loud.
The hurt/comfort here is so good. Sure, there were a few scenes that time jumped and I really would have liked to have read more, but overwhelmingly I love the story.
- More than anything else though? I love that Laurent is demisexual!!
This series just flat does it for me. I can hardly wait for the next one!