Title: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1)
Author: Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
Release Date: October 30th 2017
Page Count: 275 pages
Reviewed by: Ele
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Tristan Holt is nothing if not pragmatic. Despite a flourishing career as a defenseman for the Atlanta Venom, Tristan knows he can’t play hockey forever. One day he’ll retire—if an injury doesn’t force him to hang up his skates first. His backup plan? Finishing his business degree. But he doesn’t count on a very inappropriate attraction to his standoffish sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.
Sebastian is on the bottom rung of the Sociology Department at Georgia State. He has his sights set on tenure, and he can’t afford to be distracted, especially not by a sexy student with a body straight out of Sebastian’s dreams. No matter how much Tristan tempts him, that’s one line Sebastian won’t cross. At least not until summer classes end. After that, everything is fair game.
But Sebastian lives loud and proud, and Tristan is terrified of being the first out player in the NHL. Neither of them can afford to risk their hearts when they can’t imagine a happily ever after. The problem is, unlike hockey, when it comes to love, there are no rules.
Well, it’s official. From now on, every Puerto Rican teacher is going to be Juan Forgia in my mind. It’s all Santino Hassell’s fault.
Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn are my new favorite author duo! Their writing might mesh together incredibly well, but the characters’ voices are very powerful and distinct. I’m perfectly sure that Off the Ice will tick a lot of people’s boxes:
–Teacher/student trope (because of my line of work this can feel a little icky, but fear not! Here, it was handled perfectly.)
–Hockey! I’m totally clueless when it comes to hockey but I actually learnt something from this. A hot and heavy hockey quiz might have helped.
–Lots of steam!
–Kink! Sebastian is one bossy top, and Tristan wants to let go in bed. He wants to be held down and being told what to do. The kink is mild throughout the story (some rough sex with a dash of spanking and a sprinkle of humiliation) but the scene when it escalates and reaches a peak was so beautiful.
–The conflict. What made the angst real and even more heartbreaking, was the fact that both characters were right. There really is nobody to blame. Sebastian can’t go back in the closet, not at this point of his life. And Tristan can’t come out yet. IT JUST SUCKS DONKEY BALLS!
All the above were great, but what really made this book such a winner for me were the extremely likeable and relatable characters. Grumpy sociology professor who goes above and beyond to admit and own his mistakes and bias. And the hardworking, hot jock who, above all else, is a good, good man.
I’m thrilled that this is going to be a series. I can’t wait for everyone else’s stories!