Book Title: Game Plan (Vancouver Orcas Book 1)
Author and Publisher: Amy Aislin
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood Designs
Release Date: April 4, 2023
Genre: Contemporary M/M hockey romance
Tropes: Second chance, forbidden romance, hockey
Themes: Forgiveness, making amends
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 72 000 words
It is the first book in a new trilogy that’s a spin-off from Star of the Game (Stick Side 6). All three books will stand on their own and feature new couples.
It does not end on a cliffhanger.
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Coaching his new AHL team? Easy
Reconnecting with his ex…who’s also his best player’s father?
Not so much.
As the new head coach of the Vancouver Orcas, Matt Shore has got his work cut out for him. Coming off a season where the Orcas came in last in the entire AHL, Matt’s job is to whip his new hockey team into shape for the oncoming season.
He doesn’t need any distractions, especially not one in the form of a tall, dark, and gorgeous antiques dealer.
Who’s also his ex—and his best player’s father.
Pierce Langley-Brown has a lot of regrets. The biggest? Leaving Matt behind two years ago when his son needed him. Now, with his son on Matt’s hockey team, there’s no avoiding the man who once owned his heart.
Not that Pierce wants to avoid him. And that heart? It still belongs to Matt.
But will Matt choose to keep it after all this time?
Content warnings: past parental death (off-page but is discussed on-page); depression and mental health
This was a cute second chance/hockey romance story and I was really rooting for Pierce and Matt and wanted them to find happiness together. I felt like there was a pretty solid focus on forgiveness and mental health and really could appreciate what these characters go through and learn on their journeys.
Pierce and Matt had what seemed to be a pretty solid relationship until Pierce’s world was upturned after some events that led to life changing decisions followed by depression. He shut out most of the people in life including Matt. Pierce’s son Jason recovers and Pierce has started working on his own issues and that brings them to a new city and new hockey team for Jason. It just so happens that Matt is the coach of Jason’s new hockey team and Matt and Pierce are reunited. The flame is still there, the intense feelings are still there, but is the trust there?
There were a lot of touching moments between Pierce and Matt as they try to rebuild the relationship that was once growing between them. It’s clear that these men care deeply for each other but there are some major challenges as well. Matt is Jason’s coach, so there are professional questions, Jason isn’t aware of the relationship and Pierce is hesitant to damage the delicate relationship he has with his son and then there’s previous hurt Matt carries from Pierce leaving so abruptly before.
I think I expected a little more angsty feelings with all that was going on with these characters, but I was missing some of the drama. Yes, there is a lot of emotion here but I felt like was expecting a little more and that the resolutions came easier than I expected. Overall, I liked these characters and really did want them to be happy. I’m definitely curious to see more from these characters and where these stories will go.
“What do you think?” Matt slowed as they approached the entrance to Kitsilano Beach Park. The parking lot was mostly empty at this time of day. “Should we park here or find street parking farther down?”
“Doesn’t matter,” Pierce muttered. “We both know I’ll only last five minutes.”
Matt grinned and pulled into the parking lot. “Not to worry. We’ll build your stamina in no time.”
Speaking of stamina . . . Matt scratched at his thigh, drawing Pierce’s gaze.
He swallowed hard. Sipped his coffee. Eyed Matt’s profile as Matt backed into a spot. “What kind of strenuous activities do you expect me to be doing that I’ll need stamina?”
Putting the car in park, Matt side-eyed him. “Increasing your stamina helps reduce fatigue. Allows you to perform your daily activities at a higher level while using less energy.”
“Uh-huh.” Amused at the non-answer, Pierce sipped more coffee, hiding a grin behind his mug. “Is that all?”
Huffing, Matt popped his door open. “Get out of the car, LB.”
Pierce let his laughter loose, feeling giddy and happy and like Matt’s laughter gave him superpowers.
Until they got a few minutes into their jog.
“Jogging is . . .” Huff.
“Good exercise?” Matt prompted, not the least bit winded.
Matt chuckled, but he slowed to a fast walk. Other joggers and cyclists passed them, but Pierce didn’t care much about anything other than gulping big breaths of air. On their left, the sandy beach was dotted with wooden logs for seating, and the ocean was calm under a blue sky peppered with the occasional cloud. In the distance, the mountains rose, tall and green.
Pierce sucked in a deep breath of ocean-tinted air, held it, and released it in a long sigh.
“How did you survive in landlocked Laval for two years?” Matt asked
“Technically, it’s not landlocked. Laval is mostly on an island across the Prairies River from Montreal. It’s not the same, but there are waterfronts. I did miss home, though. It’s good to be back.”
“Yet you’d still move with Jason if he got traded again?”
Pierce blinked at Matt. “What makes you say that?”
“You sort of implied it,” Matt said, suddenly finding a hangnail interesting. “When you said you moved back here because Jason did.”
“Oh, well . . . I mean, generally, parents don’t follow their kids around, right? Especially when those kids reach adulthood?”
Matt raised an eyebrow, and if ever sardonic
had an expression . . . “Yet here you are.”
“Sure, but . . .” Pierce shrugged. “I kept my apartment here for a reason, you know? Jase getting traded here was fortuitous. It gave me an excuse to return home, which gave me a reason to be close to Jason so we can keep repairing our relationship.”
“If he’d gotten traded to . . . I don’t know . . . somewhere in the States, you wouldn’t have gone with him?”
Pierce blew out a breath. “I might’ve gone with him for the first week or so, just to make sure he was settling in okay. Whether or not I would’ve moved there with him . . .” He rubbed his jaw, the overnight stubble he hadn’t bothered to shave scratching at his palm. “I honestly don’t know. I don’t spend much time mapping out what I would or wouldn’t have done in a situation that doesn’t exist.”
“But it could
Pierce stopped right there on the path, a frown pulling at his forehead. Once Matt had turned around, he said, “Are you trying to tell me something? Is Jason about to get traded? He just got here.”
Matt’s eyes were dark as sin under the autumn sun. “No. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m just . . . curious.”
Curious because . . . he didn’t want Pierce to leave again?
Because . . . he was still in love with him?
Pierce nearly laughed out loud at the fanciful thoughts.
“Curious about . . . ?”
Matt walked backwards, forcing Pierce to follow. “What your long-term plans are. I don’t even know what you do for work right now.”
“I’m a runner.”
Another sardonic eyebrow paired with an amused twist of the lips. “I beg to differ.”
“No,” Pierce said with a laugh. “Not a runner
runner. A runner for an antiques dealer in Quebec.”
“Which is . . . ?”
“I buy antiques for my dealer. She tells me what she’s looking for and what her budget is, and I run around looking for it.”
About the Author
Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.
An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.
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