Author ~ Avon Gale
Narrator ~ Scott R. Smith
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Release ~ 9th August 2016
Length ~ 7 hours 33 minutes
Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance
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.
This is the first book in Avon Gale’s Scoring Chances hockey series. I admit I had a very limited knowledge of the sport before reading but it’s explained at the outset of the book and as it’s woven into the fabric of the story, I found it easy to follow. A young Lane Courtnall has been drafted to the Jacksonville Sea Storm team, a national hockey league (NHL) affiliate. Lane has no brain to mouth filter and this lands him in some trouble with his new team mates. He’s also hiding the fact that he’s gay. He feels lonely and isolated and, desperate to show his team mates he can belong, he squares up to Jared Shore, enforcer for a rival team the Savannah Renegades. This becomes the ice breaker for Lane with his team mates and he begins to feel like he might belong after all.
Jared Shore is older than Lane and has played most of his hockey in the minor leagues. He is bisexual but quite open about it. However, after being burned by his last relationship he has sworn off love altogether. A one night stand with Lane has him questioning himself and together they embark on a relationship where Lane reminds Jared why he fell in love with hockey in the first place and Jared tries to teach Lane to be more comfortable with himself.
I love Lane Courtnall, he has the ability to fascinate and infuriate at the same time. He is socially awkward and has the knack of taking conversations off on diverging tangents, even during sex. It takes a while before Jared can keep up with how Lane’s mind works. After a while I found his ability to just say what he’s thinking, especially about and to Jared, to be very endearing. This is where I really like that they were different ages. It takes someone older to ground Lane and keep him focused and Jared manages that. It’s also Lane’s youthful enthusiasm that sparks something in Jared to reignite his love for playing the game. They complement each other perfectly. The descriptions of the sport and the play by plays were exciting to read and gave me that buzz I get from reading and watching sport. The anticipation, the adrenaline kicking in, the thrill of discovering a new sport, even if it is as a spectator. You certainly don’t need to be a die hard hockey fan to enjoy this book, though it may just convert you.
There are a host of other colourful characters that we are introduced to, including Lane’s best friend Zoe and his team mates. The parents of both Lane and Jared also feature in the story in different ways and for differing reasons. This is a low level angst book, no major drama, but still quite a gripping read and you are left thinking about which team mates might get their story next.
I had read and loved this book prior to listening to the audio version. There is always a risk listening to a book that you love that the narration will diminish your affection for the story. This risk increases with a narrator not previously known to you. So it was with a small amount of trepidation that I began listening to Breakaway. I needn’t have worried, Scott R.Smith nailed it. I was worried that he wouldn’t be able to capture the very essence of Lane Courtnall, which is characterised by his verbal diarrhoea and his ability to take conversations off on strange tangents. Scott R.Smith really succeeded in bringing Lane to life. He gave each character in the story a very distinct voice, they were all easily recognisable and I find that to be so important when listening to an audio book. He also accomplished the brilliant feat of bringing age to the different voices. Lane is a young 20 year old and Jared is in his thirties and he managed to convey this with ease especially in their many two handed conversations. The other thing he captured well was the southern drawl, especially of Lane’s best friend Zoe. Accents done poorly is a pet peeve of mine, but no worries here. Overall the narrator added a new dimension and enjoyment to this book and has narrated the next in the series. I cannot wait to listen to it.
Meet Avon Gale
Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.
At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.
Connect with Scott R. Smith