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Title: Goalie Interference

Authors: Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn

Series: Hat Trick #2

Publisher: Carina Press

Release date: September 30, 2019

Genre: m/m contemporary romance

Tropes: enemies to lovers, friends with benefits

Warnings: tense family situations, racial microaggressions (called out on page)

Word count: 75,000 words | 297 pages

Buy it here.

Blurb:

It’s goalie vs. goalie in this brand-new enemies-to-lovers hockey romance from Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn…

Ryu Mori has had a stellar season as goalie for the Atlanta Venom. So when he’s called into management’s office, he’s expecting to hear he’s the new starting goalie for the team, not that some new guy—an incredibly hot, annoyingly bratty rookie—is here to compete for his spot.

Not everyone gets to play in the best league in the world. Emmitt Armstrong knows that, and he’s not about to waste the opportunity after grinding his way from the bottom to the top. If the Venom is looking for a meek, mild-mannered pushover, they’ve got the wrong guy.

Ryu doesn’t want to admit the other goalie’s smart mouth turns him on. Beating Armstrong at practice feels good, sure, but there are other, more fun ways to shut his rival up.

In this league, it’s winner takes all. But there’s more to life than winning, and if Emmitt and Ryu can get past their egos and competitive natures, they might just discover they work better as partners than they ever imagined possible.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

My review:

While this was a fun read with a great ensemble cast and diversity representation, I never felt the connection between Ryu and Emmitt. We're told so often that they love having sex together, but there was never an emotional connection that kept me rooting for these guys. They were so focused on the sex, and barring a couple of sort of-serious conversations, I didn't understand why they were so attracted to each other.

I also didn't connect with Ryu and Emmitt individually. A lot of their problems seemed very surface, two-dimensional. They weren't very well-rounded and lacked character depth. They also didn't have much in the way of character arcs. Who they were at the beginning is exactly who they were at the end, which is a detriment to what could've been a five-star novel.

On top of that, we're told a lot of information instead of shown, which made for some low-tension and low-stakes. The final resolution just sort of...happens, without a conversation between our guys, and it felt very rushed. There were a lot of hockey scenes, which I normally enjoy, but even those scenes felt rushed, and they lacked the adrenaline-fuelled, edge-of-your-seat fast-paced needed to make them pulse-pounding.

I did enjoy the cameos from Tristan and Sebastian from book one, although sometimes it felt like the Tristan and Sebastian Show. I'm curious about Morley, though.

Overall, it was an entertaining read—I loved the dynamics between the team members, the way they all had each other's backs, and the storyline of two goalies trying to make a relationship work...their competitiveness, and banter, were very well done—but it wasn't quite up to the standards I've come to expect from these authors.

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