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.
I’ve got to start by saying Lane was adorable. As an awkward person, it’s very easy for me to appreciate characters who excel in one area but can’t quite get a grasp on normal human interaction. I loved that he was such a mess, and I think one of the important things to take into account is that he’s in his early twenties. He’s not the normal thirty and up guy that we see. He’s just starting out, he’s away from home, and up until this point, he lived and breathed hockey. He still does, but now there’s more to it.
Jared is a nice foil for Lane. He’s the opposite in almost every way, and he’s charmed by Lane’s awkwardness. He provides a steady force that Lane really needs, and Lane manages to help him out a lot as well (possibly more than Jared helps him, which is a nice twist).
I laughed A LOT while reading this book, and I’m not going to lie, I got a huge kick out of it taking place in Jacksonville. I’m from Florida, so when certain things are mentioned it’s probably a little funnier to me because it’s a Florida thing. And Avon nailed it. I’m a little disappointed we didn’t get to see Lane in downtown Jacksonville because that would have been hilarious, but overall I was really impressed.
As a hockey fan, I appreciated it even more. I don’t know the first thing about the ECHL, I’ll admit, and this book actually sparked my interest. So it’s possible alongside my NHL game schedule there might be some ECHL ones now.
Overall this was a hilarious and very light hearted read. It’s easy on the drama and big on the humor. I definitely recommend it.