Thursday, June 30, 2022

Avon Gale - Breakaway

Drafted to play for the Jacksonville Sea Storm, an NHL affiliate, twenty-year-old Lane Courtnall’s future looks bright, apart from the awkwardness he feels as a gay man playing on a minor league hockey team. He's put his foot in his mouth a few times and alienated his teammates. Then, during a rivalry game, Lane throws off his gloves against Jared Shore, enforcer for the Savannah Renegades. It’s a strange way to begin a relationship.
Jared’s been playing minor league hockey for most of his career. He’s bisexual and doesn’t care if anyone knows. But he’s determined to avoid another love affair after the last one left him devastated. Out of nowhere a one-nighter with rookie Lane Courtnall gives him second thoughts. Lane reminds Jared why he loves the game and why love might be worth the risk. In turn, Jared hopes to show Lane how to be comfortable with himself on and off the ice. But they’re at different points in their careers, and both men will have to decide what they value most.

Comment: Since it appears as I'm a fan of the hockey theme in MM stories, this is the first book in yet another series, so of course I'd feel like trying it.

In this book, we meet young Lane Courtnall who, since joining a minor team, affiliated to the NHL, has had a bad time for he can't seem to control his mouth and says what he doesn't want. He has managed to alienate his team mates, who believe him to be arrogant, so now he wants to close the distance and his great idea to change things is to provoke Jared Shore, from the opposed team during a game. In fact, this helps more than he anticipated and he ends up the night talking to Jared at a seedy bar near the hotel. 
While Jared realizes Lane is way more into him than what he wants to convey, he thinks nothing good would come out of it anyway, but still he can't resist and they start seeing each other. Their teams play against each other often and that helps, but even though Lane seems to want to have a relationship with him, can Jared let go of a past heartbreak?

I think this was a cute story. As other readers have said, mild angst and the issues which could have added drama were more or less easily solved or talked about. I liked this, because it made reading easy but pleasant, in the sense it was a given these characters would get their HEA.

Most of the focus is on Lane, and it does seem Jared didn't have equal air time for us to understand his personality better...I suppose this can be a matter of perspective but the emotional growth Lane faces seems so much more obvious than the one done by Jared. It is true Jared is older, more mature, but since he still has some issues with how his hockey past played out because of someone he trusted, I think this situation should have had more explanations or an outcome, more so than just the fact Jared trusted Lane with his "story".

Nevertheless, the romance is cute. I loved all the silly/cute/funny scenes between them or how we got to see Lane in all his glory...he is definitely weird and without filters but in a self aware way, not because he says things to others in relation to them. I also liked how gradual their emotions develop, even what seems obvious to the reader isn't immediately shared by them. Still, sounding contradictory, they declare themselves rather soon in their relationship, but I think the notion we have of time and space is good enough to make this feel realistic.

In terms of writing style, this is not the first book I try by the author, but it was good to find it fluid and easy to go through, although sometimes it felt as if a topic could become complicated but this would be easily fixed, so I did feel a certain sense of quick solving of things, so that the plot would not get muddled. In a way, I guess this is good, makes for a better reading, but it can also mean some things could have had more meaning and didn't.

There is, as expected, a lot about hockey. The author even included a note on how teams work, what it means to be an affiliate and so on. In a way, I think the way this works can be seen in most team sports, even in soccer (the one I'm more familiar with) there are the A teams or the top league ones, and others, B teams or teams in younger/lower levels, which can upgrade or downgrade players, sort of. Still, it is always nice to learn something new so the next book with this theme won't be as difficult to imagine.

I actually liked how we got to have a good enough average of air time dedicated to the characters' personal lives and the professional one. After all, they can't exist without both and there did seem to exist a certain balance between what thr author included. I still think perhaps a bit more attention on Jared would have been nice, perhaps a bit more awareness from them with other issues, but in general, this was a satisfying read. I do plan on reading more books in this series.
Grade: 8/10

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