Title: Coach’s Challenge (Scoring Chances #5)
Author: Avon Gale
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Page Count: 200
Reviewed by: CrabbyPatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 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.
Although Coach’s Challenge is #5 in the Scoring Chances series, it can be read as a stand-alone. FYI – I devoured the first two books in the series, and haven’t yet read #3 or #4, and had no problem getting up to speed with Coach’s Challenge (although I’m going to read Power Play and Empty Net as soon as I can!)
Troy Callahan turned down an assistant coaching position with NHL’s New York Rangers to coach the ECHL’s Ashville Ravens. They’ve been through a helluva season with a coach fond of blackmail and intimidation (“He’d seen prison documentaries with a cheerier cast than his team”) and Troy is determined to rebuild the Ravens. One of the new players brought aboard is Shane “Who Had So Much Potential That Never Materialized” North, who has played 16 years in the NHL, AHL and ECHL with this season probably being his last.
Troy and Shane have an almost instantaneous sexual attraction (“It was as though someone had written “Guaranteed Ways to Get Troy Callahan Hot For It” and handed it to Shane with a goddamn bow on top of it”) and Coach’s Challenge has plenty of hot sex, deliciously dirty talk and lots and lots of hockey:
That had been one of the most intense and sexually satisfying nights he could remember since… fuck. Since ever. It was rare he hooked up with someone who was so totally in synch with what he liked in bed. Or who could talk about attack angle drills until two in the morning after fucking.
Troy and Shane’s relationship is never gonna be the stuff of flowers and deep sighs. What they have instead is tender sentiments such as:
[Troy:] “If you’re just in this for my amazing skills in the sack, then say so.”
“I like you for more than your admittedly awesome dick and lack of a gag reflex,” said Shane.
“Shane stared at him. “You’re not saying you’re fucking me for team morale, are you? Because I’ll throw what’s left of this drink in your face. Wait. And maybe be kind of flattered? You make me feel complicated things, Troy.”
Amidst this quirky love story, Avon Gale tosses in some great hockey scenes (girl knows her hockey!) with a pretty big cast of characters yet you really get a sense of each characters – Evan and Cory, Gabe the GM, Shane’s roommate Alani, team captain Xavier Matthews (who totally need a book of his own).
Great hockey, great sex, great characters – 4.5 stars for Coach’s Challenge!