Review: Power Play (Scoring Chances #3) by Avon Gale

A freak accident during the Stanley Cup Playoffs put an end to Max Ashford’s hockey career. Despite everything, Max gets back into the game he loves—only this time, behind the bench as an assistant coach of the Spartanburg Spitfires, the worst team in the entire league. But nothing prepares him for the shock when he learns the new head coach is Misha Samarin, the man who caused Max’s accident.

After spending years guilt ridden for his part in Max’s accident, Russian native Misha Samarin has no idea what to do when he’s confronted with Max’s presence. Max’s optimism plays havoc with Misha’s equilibrium—as does the fierce attraction that springs up between them.

Not only must they navigate Misha’s remorse and a past he’s spent a lifetime trying to forget, but also a sleazy GM who is determined to use their history as a marketing hook. But when an unwelcome visitor targets a player, Misha revisits his darkest days, and that might cost him and Max the beginning they’ve worked so hard to build.

In the third installment of the Scoring Chances series we go behind the bench. This love story has a dash of hurt/comfort so expect some feels, but it's still surprisingly low angst given the weightiness of the subject matter.

Misha and Max have a history. Both were NHL players on rival teams and a fluke hit delivered by Misha ended Max's career due to injury and Misha's due to guilt. A skeevy mobish GM thinks teaming them up for his joke of an ECHL team will generate tawdry interest and put asses in the seats. It's a cheap gimmick but it leads to his desired end game only not for the reasons he originally envisioned. They actually make a great team and it turns out what the guys needed was a little leadership to put the fire in their bellies.

There has always been something about Russians that I find appealing. Granted Misha is probably a stereotype of a Russian but stereotypes are based in fact, right? Whatever. It totally worked for me. He's dry, stoic, austere, doesn't use contractions, drops articles when worked up, has a tendency to lapse into Russian in the midst of the sexy times and always has the good vodka in the freezer. 

He also has a painful past that is his own personal hell. He's appointed himself the protector of everyone to his own detriment at times, a trait which also makes him an excellent coach.

This is the first book in the series with a really strong secondary character plot line. It wasn't until Misha and Drake started interacting that I really invested in the story. Everything about their connection I found compelling from their Wednesday nights on the ice to the way Drake respects and responds to Misha from the jump.

"But it's hard to believe Coach Ashford... like, he's that hot and a good guy? And bisexual? So a fucking unicorn, then."

In short, I loved Misha. He may be my favorite Gale character to date, though Avery is tough to beat. And Drake. I'm hopeful the next book will feature him because he deserves some happy.

Max I didn't find as interesting. He struck me as an amalgamation of previous Gale characters. He's cute and goofy but he doesn't stand out. I found myself rushing through his chapters to get back to Misha. I also didn't completely buy how quickly he started lusting after Misha. I understand not dwelling on things you can't change, but I would've liked more UST, some conflict. Maybe even some angst over admitting for the first time being attracted to not only a man, but the man that ended his NHL career. 

Gale excels at the introvert/extrovert trope with levity thrown in for good measure and a heaping of pop culture references, but I definitely found Power Play to be sexier than the first two books of the series. Maybe it was the Russian?

"I want to fuck you with my hand over your mouth so you can't make any noise."

Yep. It was definitely the Russian.

This book can be read as a stand alone and, honestly, if you're not on the Gale Express the only one you're depriving is yourself.

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Find out more on Goodreads & Dreamspinner Press.

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