Reviewed by Caroline
TITLE: Off the Ice
SERIES: Hat Trick Book 1
AUTHOR: Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 283 Pages
RELEASE DATE: October 30, 2017
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.
Avon Gale plus Piper Vaughn plus Hockey equals just under 300 pages of brilliance. They have proved themselves to be a formidable writing team with Off the Ice and I was sucked in from the first chapter.
Sebastian Cruz in the sociology professor who has lost all zest for life. His students don’t challenge him, his job doesn’t interest him, his friends are about ready to give up on him and really he’s just a pessimistic old grouch. He’s not at all interested in a personal relationship of any kind preferring just to scratch an itch when necessary without further complications like knowing someone’s name. That pretty much changes immediately when faced with a new student who he can’t easily read, who wears sweatpants that drive him insane and who piques his interest regardless of how hard he fights it.
Tristan Holt is living the dream as a hockey player in the NHL but he is sensible enough to realise he is only ever one injury away from retirement. With that in mind he uses all his spare time to enrol at college and works on his backup plan which is where he meets the snarky professor Cruz. There is no insta love here, there isn’t even insta like to begin with but there is lust and it’s off the charts with its steamy intention.
The age gap, the snarkiness and the risk of coming out don’t lend themselves so much to angst as much as they do to a plausible romance. Both men are quite pragmatic in their approach to the problems their relationship throws up and the touch of dominance and kink fits in perfectly with their characters and the story.
This was the perfect start to a new series which also introduces us to a few secondary characters that I hope we will see more of very soon. I am now waiting very impatiently for book 2!