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review 2018-06-05 02:44
I know I said that ‘Poke Check’ was my favorite book in this series and...
Last Defense - F. Scott Fitzgerald,V.L. Locey

I stand by that I loved that book a lot but I think it’s got a bit of company on my favorites shelf when it comes to this series. I honestly didn’t think it was possible for me to love another book in this series as much as ‘Poke Check’ but I’m happy to say that I was wrong because ‘Last Defense’ won me over practically from the first page.

 

First off let me just say we get a peek at all the usual suspects (meaning MCs from previous books) so that’s always a plus with me. We’ve met both of the MCs from this book in previous stories but only very briefly and while I remembered them I have to admit that neither of them seemed like real attention grabbers to me…which just goes to show you how much I know because as I said this one had me practically from the first page…I guess it’s a case of you’ve gotta’ watch out for the quiet ones.

 

Max Van Hellren is a defenseman and I have to admit when it comes to hockey my all time favorite player is #4 Bobby Orr. Former defenseman for the Boston Bruins so I think Max won me over by virtue of his position on the Railers but truthfully, I just came to really like him and then there was Ben Worthington…now, Ben doesn’t play hockey, nope, he runs CrossRoads Shelter it’s a no kill animal shelter…right? Tell me you don’t already like Ben. Not to mention how can you not like someone who names their dog ‘Bucky’ as in ‘The Winter Soldier’…sorry, that gets him so many coolness points in my books.

 

Needless to say, both of these men come with a full set of their own baggage…Max is 32, which is not young in the world of professional hockey and each game that he plays could very well be his last game ever. Max has a life threatening medical condition and no this isn’t a spoiler because this is all in the blurb. But for Max there’s only every been hockey and while this is his last season in the NHL, it’s the season he’s worked his whole professional career for…in fact probably his whole life he’s never wanted to be anything other than a hockey player and this is the season that could see him on a Stanley Cup winning team. The ultimate goal of every boy who’s ever laced on a pair of skates.

 

Ben has had it all. A job that he loved, living next door to his two adorably nosy aunts with his loving husband. A husband who died so suddenly and unexpectedly that Ben never got to say good-bye.

 

Things between Max and Ben start out simply as two men sharing a mutual physical attraction. But with each encounter they get to know each other a bit more and both men slowly begin to realize that they like each other and that the attraction has gone well beyond the purely physical.

 

Between the hockey and Ben’s work at the shelter which keeps him more than a little busy finding time to be together is another job altogether that these men both find that they are willing to put forth the effort for.

 

Sometimes books just grab us and we fall into them and that’s what happened for me with this one. Everything just came together for me in the best way possible and this book was a total pleasure to read. Sure there was a little bit of angst and drama but damn take out that and chances are what you’ve got is a hella’ boring story and this story just had the right amount to keep this reader interested. My attention was grabbed from the very beginning of this story and it never wavered.

 

While ‘Last Defense’ could easily be read as a standalone story I have to say my recommendation is to start at the beginning and enjoy all of  it. I love reading a series where the MCs continue to recur in subsequent stories and while it’s not always necessary to know everyone’s background and who’s connected to who…it does make the story more interesting and in general just more enjoyable. This one is most definitely recommended.

 

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An ARC of ‘Last Defense’ was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-05-10 21:17
Who doesn't know the words to at least one song by Stevie Wonder...
Life is a Stevie Wonder Song - V.L. Locey

While I'm still not a big fan of stories where there's an age gap between the MCs and by age gap I mean 10 years or more. I really enjoyed this one. 

 

Stephen Ramsey is a successful 45 year old writer who's lost his muse. He's been married 3 times and has a college aged daughter who thinks he needs to try something different and wants him to go to a retreat for the summer...not having any better ideas he decides to give it a try and heads off for basically the middle of nowhere to find his muse and commune with nature. What he finds is 22 year old Declan Pomeroy a photography student who piques his interest and has him totally enchanted.

 

While I haven't read a lot of stories by this author I have to admit this one had a slightly different tone to the writing and I enjoyed it. At times it felt a little rambly and disjointed but at times life can be a bit rambly (yes, rambly's a word...ok, maybe i just made it one but hey how do you think all these other words came to be?) and disjointed so really why can't stories reflect that aspect of the real world if it works and in this case for this reader it worked.

 

There's a 22 year age gap between these two men and I have admit for me that's stretching things...I mean seriously we've gone from "who's your daddy?" to "I could be your father...literally I could be your father" and sometimes that's a little more than I'm comfortable with but there were certain things that really helped to offset this for me taking it from a story that could have been 'eewwww and creepy' to a story that was sweet and I enjoyed. So let's see if I can explain what went right for me...

 

1st is the fact that it was Declan who basically did the pursuing. Which for me can make a huge difference. It made this a story about 2 men who were interested in each other exploring a relationship and it offset the imbalance of power that I often feel when it's the older man who does the pursuing. Especially when the older man is established in his career and has the amount of relationship experience that Stephen has.

 

2nd I liked that Declan didn't loose sight of his goals and what he wanted out of life for himself when it came to a career. While Declan may not have totally had his life together neither was he anyone's pushover who was going to become some mindless little neophyte. If anything in some ways I felt like Declan was what some people would call an 'old soul'. But only in some ways in other ways he had a certain sweetness and innocence about him. 

 

3rd I enjoyed the interactions between these two. In general this pairing worked for me both in and out of the bedroom. I realize that Stephen suddenly realizing he's bisexual at the age of 45 may seem like a stretch or even a bit preposterous to some but honestly I had a dear friend who was in their 50s when had the same realization so for me it didn't seem so unlikely of an event.

 

4th I really liked the way the author wove music into this story. I think a lot of us could probably create our own 'life play list' without a lot of effort and I know for me a number of the songs in this book would be on my playlist so I think in hindsight that my connection to this story started with the music...

 

I haven't done this in a while but this story basically begged for it and I found that at the end of it all for Stephen and Declan it was a Stevie Wonder song...'Overjoyed'...

And though you don't believe that they do
They do come true

For did my dreams
Come true when I looked at you
And maybe too, if you would believe
You too might be
Overjoyed, over love, over me

This one was short, sweet and fun to read. So if you're in the mood for something that's not complicated but definitely enjoyable then load up your Stevie Wonder playlist and curly up for an hour or two of light entertainment with 'Life is a Stevie Wonder Song'.

 

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An ARC of "Life is a Stevie Wonder Song' was graciously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

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review 2018-04-20 22:51
Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers, #3) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey 4 Star Review!
Deep Edge - R. J. Scott,V.L. Locey

Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport - and his own family - have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.

 

Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors, and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him, and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL, and he realizes that a place on the Railers’ roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?

 

Review

 

Trent and Dieter, sigh, I love sports romance and this series just gets better and better. 

Here we have two athletes, one from hockey and one from Olympics level figure skating. They both have been dedicated to their fields since they were childern. 

Trent has lost all his money.... because...can't tell you. But as he provide supports for his mother, grandmother, and an LGBTQA youth center, things suck. 

He meets Dieter when agrees to a reality show that will follow him cross training hockey players.

Dieter is a mess. He has a pain killer addiction going on and is in and out of denial. We get a realistic look at the think of an addict and an arc into recovery. In Trent's step father and mother, we get to see the chaos addiction (though of another kind) plays on a family.

This isn't an easy love story but Trent is amazingly well drawn and Dieter really because a wonderful partner during the course of the book. 

The secondary characters and families are wonderful and we even get Filipino food through Trent's wonderful quirky grandmother.

Can't wait for Stan's book!
 
 

 

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review 2018-04-02 00:57
Poke Check (Harrisburg Railers #4) by R.J Scott) and V.L. Locey
Poke Check - V.L. Locey,R. J. Scott

tanislav “Stan” Lyamin is happy playing for the Railers. The towering goalie is well-loved, respected, and making a home for himself even though that home only contains him, his cat, and his growing Pokemon trading card collection. Stan prefers it that way. He’d given his heart to a man in a secret affair, and that man walked away, leaving Stan shattered. Now Erik is back in his life, and he has the same tumultuous effect he had on Stan’s heart as before. This time it’s not just a kissable mouth and sweet blond curls that Erik has brought to Harrisburg, there’s a soon-to-be ex-wife and a precious baby. Despite the vow Stan made to hate Erik forever, he’s now finding it harder and harder to turn away.

Erik Gunnarsson’s dream had always been to play in the NHL, he just never imagined he’d land a contract with the Railers. Who would have thought that fate would put him on the same team as Stanislav Lyamin; the man whose heart he’d callously broken?

Secrets and lies had defined their summer relationship, and the choice that Erik made to end it all haunts him still. In the middle of a messy divorce and with a baby in tow, Erik finds himself back in Stan’s life. Now all he has to do is be the best dad he can be, prove to the team that he deserves the chance to stay on the roster and try his hardest to get Stan to forgive him. Is it possible to persuade a man who hates you to give love a second chance?

 

Review

 

I really liked Stan and Eric. I was super excited about this book and I enjoyed it.

I like everything that is here but to be a really great read, more detail, and more couple time, and more exploration was needed. 

The writers are in a tricky spot because Stan's English is not great, he doesn't speak Swedish, and Eric's Russian is basically nil. 

However, when we are in Stan's head things work well and this is a lovely alternating point of view book. 

I just needed more complexity to really feel the love between these two great heroes
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review 2018-02-27 16:47
Loved, loved, loved this one!!! So freakin' good!!!
Poke Check - V.L. Locey,R. J. Scott

‘Poke Check’ is the fourth book in the ‘Harrisburg Railers’ series by R.J. Scott & V. L. Locey and without a doubt it’s my favorite book in the series and I’m not even going to say ‘so far’ because this one has totally won a special spot in my heart.


I’ve been a fan of the Railers’ big, dorky, adorable Russian goalie from the start. Honestly, he’s just too sweet to resist. My only concern going into this one was that sometimes in our minds we build things up, we give them so much hype that no matter how hard the poor author(s) try we’ve doomed them to failure and as you can tell by my 5-star rating that was not the case in this story…not even close.


Stanislov ‘Stan’ Lyamin is the Railers goalie and throughout the previous books we’ve seen glimpses of him as he befriended his team-mates giving them help and caring advice when needed. For me, Stan was one of those characters that just worked, from the minute they enter the story you like them and want to read more about them. Previous stories haven’t given us a lot about Stan’s past but there has been a subtle hint or two that Stan’s had some heartbreak in his life, but those stories weren’t Stan’s.


Stan grew up in small village in Russia and he learned really fast that being a gay man in Russia was something that you kept to yourself if you valued your safety…even your life. So he worked hard at what he was good at…at what would hopefully help him escape Russia so he could live a life that allowed him to have his dreams and one of those dreams was to be a goalie in the NHL…this was the dream to that brought him to safety but there are still things that Stan wants…he’s got the big house in a nice neighbourhood and his cat, Lucy and his sister Galina is coming to visit now if he could just have the last two things on that list…his mother, Arina living in his beautiful big home with him and a man that he could love and build a life with, but first he’s going to have to come to terms with that fact that the man that he loves, the man who broke his heart is now one of his teammates.


Erik Gunnarsson’s finally made it…he’s been called from the AHL to play on an NHL team…his dream come true, but of all the teams out there did it have to be the Railers. Walking away from Stan at the end of the summer three years ago was the hardest thing he’d ever done. Not only did it break Stan’s heart but it broke Erik’s heart as well. For Erik it was the only choice to make once he discovered that he was going to be a father. Three years later he finds that even though his priorities have changed, and Noah is his world it hasn’t changed the love that he feels for Stan.


I knew going into this story that I loved Stan and I have to admit I was all set to be angry with Erik but it never happened, from the start with all his insecurities, doubts and the sincerity of his efforts to do right by his son, Noah and give him the best life he could, to earn Stan’s forgiveness and to play hockey…good hockey so that the Railers would want to keep him. I just couldn’t not like him. Erik was a good guy trying to deal with some crappy circumstances the best way that he knew how to.


Stan and Erik’s second chance doesn’t happen over night and it takes time and effort for them to find their way back to each other. From their first tentative conversations to that moment when Stan finally understands and forgives Erik for doing what he felt he had to do and as they get to know each other again reigniting the passion they shared I was totally and absolutely enchanted with this story.


As well as just loving this story in general there were things in specific that added to my overall enjoyment of the story. I loved reading Stan’s POV and his Russian/English translations were at times incredibly humorous adding a light touch to the story. The banter between Stan and Erik just worked it felt right and natural and the other thing that really stuck out in my mind was how the author’s portrayed Freja, Noah’s mother. So often in books we see women portrayed in a less than favorable light because they choose not to have children and I really liked how Freja was portrayed it was different and refreshing. Obviously as a mother myself it wasn’t my choice but it’s nice to read a story that reminds us we have choices and different choices don’t have to be good or bad they can be just what they are different.


While I really loved this story and I can’t imagine enjoying whatever comes next more. I’m definitely on board to see if the authors can prove me wrong.

 

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An ARC of Poke Check was graciously provided by the authors in exchange for an honest review.

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