Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Review: Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1) by Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

Off the IceTitle ~ Off the Ice (Hat Trick #1)

Author ~ Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn 

Publisher ~ Riptide Publishing

Published ~ 30th October 2017

Genre ~ Contemporary M/M Romance





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.


Debra’s Review

Age-gap, teacher-student dynamics, a bit of kink and two fantastic authors – how could I not jump on this? This Avon Gale-Piper Vaughn collaboration worked very well for me. Avon’s hockey books have always been automatic reads for me and this was no exception. For those of you who aren’t hockey fans, the story is very relationship-centered so I wouldn’t let that deter you.

It’s pretty much lust at first sight for both hard-ass sociology professor Sebastian Cruz and his unlikely student, professional hockey player Tristan Holt. Not that either would do anything about it, but they do enjoy eyeing each other. Things seem to be going well until Sebastian, despite the premise of his class, makes assumptions about Tristan based on his appearance and things get tense, but when it comes down to it, Sebastian is willing to concede to his mistake. When the semester finally ends and there is no longer a teacher-student issue, Tristan takes a chance and as much as Seb thinks it’s a bad idea, he can’t resist. The sexual tension between these two leading up to the first kiss was scorching! As things get more physical and the two begin to indulge in some shared interests, the heat factor ratcheted up even higher.

I loved that there was a bit of kink in this one. It’s not formal BDSM, but Tristan likes his sex a bit rough and craves letting go of control off the ice, something his size doesn’t usually get him from guys and Sebastian enjoys the domination. They play with domination and submission, a little bit of humiliation and some slapping and spanking. The teacher-student dynamic also gets them both off. Even though they get together once that formal relationship has ended, it’s still something they have fun with.

The co-writing was seamless, the relationship builds at a good pace and the alternating points of view conveyed just how much the two enjoy each other’s company. The two are opposites from appearance to demeanor, but Sebastian, who is new to team sports gamely tries to learn about hockey and ice skating to support Tris, while Tristan overcomes his fears to introduce Sebastian to his family and come out to them.

There isn’t a lot of angst in this story, but all of the obstacles they face have to be dealt with from within themselves. Sebastian is still uncomfortable about the fact that they met as teacher and student. It’s not a huge impediment, but it does weigh on him a bit. The biggest problem is that Sebastian is out and proud, while Tristan is in the closet. With no out hockey players in the league, Tristan isn’t looking to become the first, but with their relationship having become so important and serious, Sebastian can’t stand being referred to as a friend and hidden back in the closet. As much as Seb understands the difficult situation Tristan is in with his team, he can’t continue to allow himself to be hurt. Tristan understands, but isn’t sure he can risk his career. I thought this played out fantastically. It’s a situation that neither wants to be in, but has to be addressed if they are to move forward. It just plain sucks for both of them and the pain and heartache definitely came through in the writing.

I really loved this collaboration and will be looking out for the rest of the books in the series. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes an opposites attract love story with some steamy sex and a realistic amount of angst.

Purchase Links

Riptide Full Logo



Connect with the Authors


avongale_thumbAvon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories—either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.


Piper Vaughn 2Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she’s known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, sci-fi, she loves them all (and has a three-thousand-book library to prove it!).

As a bisexual and Latinx person, Piper takes great pride in her heritage. She grew up in an ethnically diverse neighborhood and strives to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life … even if it’s only in a book.


ARC Received From

a novel take

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