Title: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5)
Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 26th 2017
Genre(s): M/M Contemporary Romance
Page Count: 200 pages
Reviewed by: Belen
Heat Level: 3.5 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.88 stars out of 5
It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds out the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks have Troy thinking inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if he’s set to retire at the end of the season.
Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon, and with a team that doesn’t trust him, Troy, or each other. Despite his determination not to get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.
When Troy Callahan accepts the head coach position for the Ravens he knows he’s starting with a team that’s been broken down by the previous bastard of a coach and has one of the worst reputations in the league. To top off trying to build his team’s morale, he’s not exactly ecstatic about being helped by an assistant coach who doesn’t seem to know his ass from his elbow, and isn’t really helping.
He was affable enough, and if he was bothered by coaching with a gay guy, he never said anything about it. So far he hadn’t said much of anything, though Troy’s personality was a bit overbearing. Especially when he first met someone. And then generally every moment after that.
When veteran AHL player, Shane North, doesn’t get picked up by his team for another year, he decides to spend his final year playing hockey in the ECHL.
Shane was in Asheville because of the Ravens’ GM, Gabriel Bow. Bow was his coach when Shane played for the Anaheim Ducks, and he contacted Shane about an open roster spot when Shane’s AHL team, the Gulls, put him on waivers. No other AHL team seemed interested in picking up a thirty-six-year-old player, so if Shane wanted to end his career on his own terms—which he did—he’d have to do it in Asheville.
Callahan and North strike sparks from the first moment they meet. They give as good as they get. This quickly turns into passion.
“You could argue while I suck you off, if you want. I know how much you like blowjobs and arguing. Consider it a Christmas present.”
Troy did indeed like both of those things. “And here I didn’t get you anything.”
Shane leaned in and mouthed at Troy’s erection through his boxers, his breath hot through the fabric. He leaned back and deftly pulled Troy’s cock out of his underwear. “Oh, I wouldn’t say that.”
And, damn, does it make for some hot times. If you’re into dirty talk with your sexy times be prepared to be happy!
“I like you for more than your admittedly awesome dick and lack of a gag reflex,” said Shane. He patted Troy on the back. “Don’t worry.”
One of the things I would have loved to have seen more of is Troy and Shane’s romantic development. There’s plenty of passion, but less so of the quieter, getting to know you type moments.
Troy tipped his head back and stared up at the ceiling. “I can’t believe this happened.”
Shane wasn’t sure he bought that at all. “Really? You can’t believe two contrary people who thought they were just gonna have sex every now and then decided to have feelings?”
“When you put it that way, maybe it’s not such a surprise.”
The story itself is a fun read with not many surprises, very little angst, a good amount of humor (which I’ve come to expect of Avon Gale’s writing), and one of the best “it’s not going down like this” moments I’ve read this year. I love it when the “bad” guy gets thwarted. Though I didn’t get the comeuppance I really would have like to have seen on that front, I did enjoy Troy and Shane banding together to fix their problem in a no-nonsense, realistic way.
While I can’t say the fifth story in the Scoring Chances hockey series is my favorite, it’s a solid addition to the series with plenty of humor, very little angst, some great dirty talk, and a HFN ending.
I’m definitely on board with team #TRANE.