Off the Ice (Crabbypatty’s Review)

Title: Off the Ice (Hat Trick, #1)
Author: Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
Release Date: October 30, 2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Page Count: 275 pages
Reviewed by: Crabbypatty
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 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.

Tristan, a defenseman with the Atlanta Venom, knows hockey is not forever and is working on finishing his business degree. Taking Sociology 3201: Wealth, Power, and Inequality from Professor Sebastian Cruz, Tristan – tall, blonde, Wisconsin farm boy, rocking sweatpants and a Grateful Dead t-shirt – doesn’t exactly fit into the hipster vibe of the other students. But then Professor Cruz – “tall and whipcord lean with warm golden-brown skin and wavy raven-black hair” – isn’t what Tristan expected either.

Sebastian is out and proud while Tristan remains closeted, but they soon navigate a relationship that is hot, dirty and sexy with a side of dominance / humiliation kink that totally works for both men:

Tristan learned what it meant when someone like Sebastian Cruz said, Your ass is mine. He spent almost as much time nude—in bed, or bent over tables, or down on all fours—as he did dressed.[…] They couldn’t stay away from each other, or keep their hands and mouths off each other. Tristan was so obsessed with how amazing Sebastian made him feel, it might have scared him if Sebastian didn’t seem equally enthralled.

We get both POVs throughout and I loved how Tris and Sebastian’s relationship is free of manufactured angst and strong on conflict resolution as they work their way through Tris coming out to his parents and his team. My only niggles were that at times the pace of the story felt slow, and the abrupt and somehow ….clumsy … introduction of potential MCs for additional books in the series

In the matter of a few pages, we abruptly learn that team captain Bellize is getting a divorce and goalie Ryu is gay and looking for someone like Tristan

I give Off the Ice 4.25 stars, rounded to 4 stars.

Buy Link Amazon Global Avon Gale Piper Vaughn GoodReads More Avon Gale Reviews More Piper Vaughn Reviews

Advanced Review Copy

Galley copy of Off the Ice (Hat Trick, #1) provided by the author in exchange of an honest review.


Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.  Frederick Douglas

I distinctly remember that day in school when, all of a sudden, those squiggles on the page made sense and I could read. It has changed my life in ways I still cannot comprehend.

My favorite M/M tropes are friends-to-lovers, murder/mysteries, amnesia, hurt/healing and historicals. Shifters, vampires, paranormal? Meh … not in my wheelhouse, but I’m a sucker for a well-written well-plotted book, no matter the genre.

Favorite authors includes Brandon Witt, Rick R. Reed, Abigail Roux, Jay Northcote, JL Merrow, KJ Charles, Lane Hayes, Marshall Thornton and so many more.

A few “badges” from NetGalley:
100 Book Reviews Reviews Published Professional Reader

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