Review: Empty Net by Avon Gale

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Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

So, I read the four books in the Scoring Chances by Avon Gale in like, three days, but I’m too lazy to review all of them now, so I choose my favorite for this post: Empty Net.

Empty Net seems to be a book made for me: it has angst that isn’t exaggerated, really good characters and a relationship that isn’t instalove, but that develops organically. I ended up sleeping at 2am reading it and even though I was a zombie in the morning, I didn’t regret it. Empty Net is just too good.

What really made me love Empty Net, though, was how sweet the relationship between Drake and Laurent was. Laurent is probably the first demisexual character I’ve ever read and I loved – like, really, really loved – how Drake was okay with it and how they both explored what he wanted to do or not to do when it came to sexual stuff. It was just so nice to read a story with an acespec character being treated well/respected by their partner, and Gale wrote them SO well. Know the heart eyes emoji? It was me during like, 80% of this book.

I liked Drake – he’s a delight – but Laurent was my favorite character by far. I related a lot to him – which, as you already know if you’ve read my other reviews & follow me on Twitter, is a Big Deal. I rarely relate to characters, it doesn’t matter the genre of the book – since his thought process is very similar to mine (I have AVPD, which kind of explains it) and I could see myself easily in how he reacted to things. That made how Drake treated him even more important to me.

Empty Net deals with some heavier issues than the other books in the series, but it was really well done & important to the story. I liked how realistic it was too and how the characters developed to deal with everything.

Overall, I loved this book. If it isn’t perfect it does get close to being and is totally worth a read (and many rereads). 5.0 stars.

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