Saturday, September 29, 2018

Saturday's Series Spotlight: Harrisburg Railers by RJ Scott & VL Locey Part 2

Last Defense #5
Two men afraid to feel, have to make choices that could end up breaking down their defenses and leading them back to love.

Every time Max Van Hellren steps on the ice he knows it could be his last time. At thirty he’s past his hockey prime but he’s also hiding a life-threatening injury that private doctors warn could kill him. This is his last season, and there’s a chance he could lift the Stanley Cup after fourteen years in the NHL. He just needs to stay safe and healthy; difficult when he’s known for his heavy hitting and with a propensity for dropping the gloves and putting his body in the way of pucks to keep his team safe.

A one night stand with a sexy man was just what he needed, dangerous and hot, but what if it turned into more? Would he actually have to share the secrets he so desperately tries to hide?

Ben Worthington had it all. A fulfilling job running the CrossRoads Shelter, his loving aunts, and a husband that understood his devotion to animals. Then, the love of his life left him, succumbing so quickly to an unexpected sickness that Ben never had time to say goodbye. The violent loss scarred him.

Unable to move past his fears, he moves from lonely encounter to lonely encounter, slaking a desperate need that is eating away at him, but never making a connection that could lead him back into love. One night with Max makes him want more, but will giving into the temptation open the door to feelings he can’t contain?

Can these two broken men ever find a way to be together?

Goal Line #6
Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?

Gatlin Pearce is creeping up on thirty-eight and is still single. It’s not that he wants to be alone, it’s just that he’s too damn old to be in clubs filled with glittery gay boys who can’t even tell him who the Rolling Stones are.

Better to just spend his evenings at Hard Score Ink - his tattoo and artwork shop - creating masterpieces on human flesh, listening to the Railers games, and nursing a cold beer.

His solitary life is about to end when Bryan Delaney, the new Railers backup goalie, shows up at his shop looking for new artwork for his helmet. There’s some sort of sad story in those beautiful eyes of Bryan’s, and Gatlin finds himself more than a little infatuated with the tender new goalie.

Bryan Delaney leaves home at fifteen to live with a billet family. He just wishes that he could have escaped his alcoholic father and strictly devout mother earlier. Drafted to the Arizona Raptors he finds a new family, and his first love affair even if that relationship is marked with violence.

Being traded to the Railers is a shock to the system but the team isn’t like any other he’s ever played on and they truly seem to care about him. It’s only when he meets artist Gatlin, with their shared love of music and hockey, that he realizes how hard it is to escape the past.

Last Defense #5
Original Review May 2018:
Max Van Hellren is in the run for the Stanley Cup and what a way to end his career. When Ben Worthington lost his husband he made a pact with himself never to open his heart again because he couldn't bare the risk of loss again.  A chance meeting between Max & Ben occurs when Ben is visiting the Railers organizing a benefit for his Crossroads No-Kill Shelter changes everything for both men.  When the shelter comes under attack and Ben's former brother-in-law wants what he feels is owed him could the two things be related and will it make Max and Ben realize what is truly important to them before its too late?

I can't lie, I usually have some problems with people like Ben.  He suffered a true loss that breaks the heart, I get that I really do and I feel for him but to shut your heart off because the loss was too great bothers me because he's still here and yes, losing Liam hurt but Ben wasn't the one who was ill.  By the time I was born, my grandfather was in a wheelchair due to his battle with MS, by 11 my mother was sick, three years later she was on disability, and by 19 I was her primary caregiver(which I still am and proud to do so).  As you can imagine I have spent way too much time in hospitals and have seen much heartache within its halls but I've always believed that as hard as it is watching your loved one suffer I'm still alive and healthy which is why I tend to have issues with people like Ben.  I'm sorry and maybe I'm not expressing myself very well, I mean no disrespect to the character, the authors, or to those who share Ben's feelings but I just can't let go of the idea that my grandfather(and mom when the time comes) would not want me to concentrate on my loss and shut my heart off when I'm still here.

Now I know this is fiction but the reason I included the above paragraph as part of my review is not because I hate or dislike Ben, quite the contrary, I enjoy Ben's determination to survive and keep the shelter he started with his deceased husband going.  As with the whole "hockey thing"(see blogger note at the end of my review), being able to feel for Ben despite my issues speaks loudly to the talent and heart of the authors.  Ben may feel his resolution to close himself off to the risk of loss is unwavering and lifelong but seeing him let Max in, seeing him care for his rebellious aunts, and his devotion to his animals only goes to prove just how big his heart truly is.  It also goes to show that he continues to learn and grow, which not all people are open to.  Max never expected to find someone like Ben but watching him open his heart to him is a beautiful journey.  Both men are absolutely adorable, whether its as a one-night stand, friends with benefits, or something more they have this connection that only makes each one stronger.

I won't say much in regard of Ben's aunts other than the fact that they cracked me up.  They may not be in many scenes but when they are in the room they own it.  When they say they are going to "stick it to the man" with their latest rebellious protest, not only did I believe them but I also found myself laughing so hard that I got more than one odd look from the neighborhood kids playing in the street.  As for Bucky the malamute, well what can one say other than his adorability is off the charts.

Put all these elements together, throw in a dash of Ten/Jared, a pinch of Layton/Adler, a smidgen of Trent/Dieter, a heaping dollop of Stan/Erik, and a sprinkling of the other Railers players and Scott & Locey have baked us a delectable dessert you just can't get enough of.  Luckily for us Railer fans the next installment, Goal Line is scheduled for release later this summer.

As good as Last Defense is as a whole, what I really loved was how the authors took certain dramatic plot points(which I won't spoil) play out without concentrating on them.  These moments showed me the authors were letting us know that angst happens in life but more times than not, the good far outweighs and overshadows the bad. Talk about storytelling talent and there is a difference between writers and storytellers.  Writers bring us wonderful stories but storytellers take us on an amazing journey.  Last Defense lives up to the excellence of the previous Harriburg Railers entries and does not disappoint.

Goal Line #6
Original Review August 2018:
When Bryan Delaney moved in with a billet family when he was fifteen he found the kind of family home he always dreamed of, when he was drafted by the Arizona Raptors his goals were within reach, when he was traded to the Harrisburg Railers he heard repeated warnings from the man he cared for not to trust them.  As Gatlin Pearce nears thirty-eight, he finds himself tiring of the club scene so when Railers goalie Stan Lyamin brings in the new backup goalie to have new artwork for his helmet, he finds himself very intrigued.  Will Bryan let himself find happiness with the Railers or will he listen to the warnings?  Will Gatlin help Bryan adjust to his new home and the freedom that comes with his new team?

Once again I am blown away by the incredible storytelling of RJ Scott and VL Locey in this Harrisburg Railers universe they've created.  I have to say that I found Goal Line to be the darker of the series, not so much that I would even tag them as "dark elements" but I just found it to be more angsty in a dark-ish kind of way.  Having said that, don't think there isn't the usual light-heartedness that the authors have sprinkled throughout the series between the players because there is plenty.  I really don't want to touch on the plot too much as there are a few spoilers for the future and for those who haven't read all the entries in the Harrisburg Railers we get to see some of the previous pairings and where their home life is now so I don't want to shine a light on them either.  I will say that you will be mesmerized from beginning to end.

Let's talk about our two guys in Goal Line, Bryan and Gatlin.  I'll start by saying if you aren't a fan of May/December romances then you might give their pairing a bit questionable although the age gap is not as big as your typical May/December I do think its enough that the tag fits.  For me, I believe in the old adage "age is but a number" so I never even really gave their ages a second thought and frankly I loved how the authors didn't really either, sure there are a few mentions but its not an ongoing drumming-into-the-reader's-head kind of mentions.

I know I say it a lot and if I really did it my attic(if I had one) would be full of safely packed away characters, if there has ever been a character that really needed bubblewrapping than it is definitely Bryan Delaney.  Talk about a man who has been dealt a rough hand but at the same time he's had some pretty wonderful moments too but when the bad is the kind he has seen then the good doesn't have a chance to shine.  Some might say, "well he's just ungrateful" because of the luck he seen at times but when you've had to deal with the kind of bad he's seen, the "lucky" moments are overshadowed with self-doubt and thoughts of "when is the ice going to break out from under me".  Scott and Locey handled the balance beautifully.  As for Gatlin, well what's not to love?  He hasn't had it exactly all unicorn and rainbows but he's dealt with everything the best he could so when these two meet, it's at exactly the right time for both, even if it takes a little coaxing.

There is really not much more I can say that won't give anything away so I'm going to leave off with saying this: Goal Line is absolutely brilliant!  If you haven't read Harrisburg Railers yet than I say "stop reading this review of #6 and go out, grab about 6 boxes of kleenex, 6 bottles of your favorite drink of choice, your favorite comfort blanket, and tell your family and friends not to expect to hear from you for a while", trust me you won't be sorry.  For those who have read #1-5, well then stop reading this review and get cracking with Goal Line.

Blogger Note: 
As with all the installments in this series I feel the need to mention that I am NOT a hockey fan. I don't dislike it but if all the hockey arenas in the world were to disappear tomorrow, I would not miss the sport.  But also as with the other Harrisburg Railers entries, I think my non-love of the sport and my love of the series says more to the authors' talents than anything I can come up with.  They manage to write the story with just enough hockey lingo with the ins-and-outs of the game for the reader not to be lost and yet doesn't make the non-fan feel talked down to all while bringing us a lovely entertaining romance.


Last Defense #5
“Nice dog.” I paused just this side of the players’ entrance at the deep voice coming from behind me. There was something about that man’s voice…the timbre of the bass or the way he spoke. Not sure what it was, but the last time he’d spoken to me my body had had the same kind of reaction. A spear of latent heat low in my belly followed by a shiv of icy dread.

“Thanks.” I wanted to stare at the door. Or run. I couldn’t do either of those, though, so I turned to face the bearded man. Christ, but he was fierce-looking. Like a Viking, with piercing eyes and an aura that screamed berserker. He was bigger than me. Taller by at least four inches and probably sixty pounds. He was wearing a suit, as Stan and Erik had been, but his looked incredibly fine on his burly frame. Dark blue with a silver tie and a white shirt. His biceps strained the material trying to contain them.

“His name is Bucky.” There now, I had spoken to the man who made my heart leap around inside my chest like a frog on a highway.

“Like Captain America’s sidekick?” He looked down at my worn T-shirt with Cap’s shield on it.

“Exactly like that.”

He took another step, which put him into my little personal space bubble, his gaze and mine locked. I wet my lips and jerked my chin up a bit. I wasn’t going to let some hockey player intimidate me.

“Cute dog. Hot owner.” He gave me a long, slow look, petted Bucky, and stepped around the dull-witted man trying to digest the fact Mr. Fear had said he was hot. “Are you coming in, or are you teaching your dog to open doors mentally?”

“I’m here to see Layton Foxx.”

“Yeah? Well, I’m here to participate in morning skate.”

“I know who you are. Max van Hellren. You played for Washington four years ago.”

He tugged the door open and settled a kind of bored look on me. “Yeah, that was me. You like Washington?”

“Hometown team.” Bucky barked to back me up. Max smiled. All the ferocity that oozed out of him dissipated when he smiled. The man was seriously fine.

“Maybe I can change your mind about which team to cheer for, Mr. Washington Fan.”

“Ben. My name is Ben.”

He nodded just once, his hand still keeping the door open. “Ben. I like that. Suits you. So, are we coming in or are we going to flirt here in front of Pete?”

A security guard peeked around the door and winked at me. I wanted to die. Right there.

“I don’t flirt,” I snapped. I stalked around Max and Pete and went off to find Layton Foxx. Determination hot in my breast kept me from looking back to see if Max was checking out my ass. I hoped he was and I prayed he wasn’t.

Goal Line #6
Keep your eye on Ten, he’s trouble.

That was all the text said, and I re-read it a few times as if more words would suddenly appear.

I don’t know why I looked for affection in any text that Aarni sent me because, in my kind-of-boyfriend’s own words, he wasn’t the demonstrative type. And he would always point out that someone could get hold of my phone. Then they would know that Aarni Lankinen, the villain of the Arizona Raptors, wasn’t everything he made himself out to be, that he wasn’t the playboy who fucked every woman within his reach. That he had a boyfriend on the side, and that it was me.

The phone rang, and I answered as soon as I saw his name. Aarni wasn't the most patient guy on earth, and he liked it when I was fast to respond.

“Did you get my text?” Aarni asked without preamble.

“I did.”

“Don’t let me down now.”

I got the feeling, as he laughed, that he expected me to do that very thing. I still wasn’t sure what would count as letting him down. But given the kind of person I was—clumsy, quiet and only really focused when I was dressed for hockey—I kind of expected to fuck up.

The Arizona Raptors had chosen me in the 2014 draft, not long after my eighteenth birthday. I was the second highest ranking goaltender drafted that year, something to be proud of, I guess. But I’d not managed to stay up at NHL level, spending the rest of the time in the Raptors’ development team in Tucson. Until last year, when I’d actually been a starting goalie after both main goalies had been injured.

I hadn’t been stellar, and Arizona put me on waivers, leaving me vulnerable to being picked up by who the hell ever. My confidence had been rocked. I was a solid goalie for the development team, but the minute I got up to the primary team, NHL level, I choked. Why the hell did the Railers even want someone who hadn’t lived up to their early promise? I assumed I’d attend this training camp, and that would be it. They’d push me down to the Railers’ development team, and there I would stay.

Which wasn’t a bad thing, except they’d taken me from Arizona and from Aarni and it was the first time I’d been really on my own.

“Hello? Are you even listening to me?” Aarni snapped.

“Of course, I won’t let you down,” I lied.

I’m a good goalie, I stop pucks, I can be strong and focused and stay in my own head to track the plays in front of me.
Still, Aarni knew about me what I knew about myself; I’d choke at NHL level just as I had for the majority of my time with the Raptors.

I’m not ready. I should go back down to the minors.

“Also, don’t get comfortable there. They’re not going to keep you for long.”

“I know.”

“And don’t forget what assholes the Railers are. Don’t trust them, particularly wonder-boy Rowe. Arrogant fucker.”

I didn’t see Ten as arrogant at all, but then I was basing my assessment on TV interviews, including the one he’d given with Jared when they’d announced their relationship. I’d been proud of Ten and Jared for doing that, and part of me, the dark, hidden, ruined part, was green with envy that they were able to be open with the world.

I’d said that to Aarni, but he’d reacted badly and hadn’t talked to me for three days. His disappointment was a knife in my gut, and I hated every second of it. That was not happening again. He was right. Ten was a Stanley Cup Champion, a superstar, and if there had been NHL players at the Olympics, then he would undoubtedly have been on Team USA. No team would ask him to leave just because he had a boyfriend. It didn’t seem to be hurting the Railers, and they had a growing reputation as being LGBT-friendly.

“Jesus Christ, Bryan, are you even on this phone call?”

I pulled myself back from the edge. Aarni had said something about Ten being arrogant.

“I won’t forget,” I spoke with confidence so he’d realize I was listening.

“And remember I’m not there to watch your back.” He sighed deeply. “I worry there’s no one to look after you when you attract trouble. Especially from defenders like Max van Hellren. Asshole should have been thrown out of that game against us for what he did to me. Fucker lost us the chance at a championship. So fucking pleased he ended up collapsing. He deserved it.”

My chest tightened. Max wasn’t part of the Railers anymore. He’d retired after the cup win, but Aarni was right. There would be other guys there to step up in his place. Aarni had been furious, with a side order of mean, over what Max had done to him, checking him into the boards. But he’d finally calmed down, said he’d show Max what was what the next time the two teams met. He’d been so disappointed when Max had retired.

But Aarni was a good guy. He was the one who’d gotten involved when the bullying on the Raptors had gotten to be too much for me to handle. When the guys in the toxic locker room got on my case. I’d only played a few games at that level with the Raptors and had fucked every single one of them up. They’d hated it, but Aarni had been there for me.

He seemed to know the point when the rest of the team pushed it too far, always stepping in just before I was going to run from the room. He’d helped me so much, but he was back in Arizona, so far away.

“I’ll be okay,” I murmured, fear gripping me again about the kind of things I needed to face with this new team.

“I doubt that.” He sighed. “But you weren’t enough of all that for the Raptors to keep you, so you have no choice, and there’s nothing we can do about it, can we?”


He must have heard the desperation in my voice. I hadn’t wanted the Raptors to give up on me, but that was hockey. One day I had woken up in Arizona as the backup to the backup, fucking things up, and the next day, the team had put me on waivers, and I was suddenly in snowy Pennsylvania.

“Good boy,” was all he said, but it was enough.

He hung up, but those two words gave me a shot of steel to my spine, and I settled my breathing before opening the car door. Security had let me right through to the player parking lot, and my Toyota sat right next to a sexy red Porsche. My salary had taken a hike, up to three million for the two-year contract I had here, so I probably needed a new car.

Even if the Railers saw through me and sent me packing, I’d still have enough money to buy a car.

“Hey,” someone called from behind me, and I immediately assumed that I was standing somewhere I shouldn’t have been. The man was in a guard’s uniform, tall, built and smiling at me benignly.

“I’m sorry. They told me to park there.”

“Of course. Bryan Delaney, right?” he asked and extended his hand for me to shake, which I did immediately after wiping the sweaty palm on my jeans.

“Yeah, Bryan,” I said when I realized I hadn’t answered his question.

“Welcome.” He thumbed at himself. “Name’s Pete. They said I needed to keep an eye out for the new guy.”

He dropped my hand, and I forced a smile onto my face, even though my stomach was churning. “Thank you.”

“This way.” He chatted on about the weather, life, hockey and something about his sister who lived in Arizona. By the time he dropped me outside an office, I knew enough about Pete to write a book. Thing is, his chatter stilled my nerves, and I wasn't going into this room blind. I knew the name on the door, Alain Gagnon, former goalie for Vancouver, and one of the best goalie coaches in the business. I’d skyped with him once in his capacity as Goalie Coach for the Railers after they’d claimed me off waivers. He’d seen me coming to the Railers as a positive thing, a great thing. All I’d seen is my failure at NHL level hockey with the Raptors, and I remembered going back to Aarni and needing to be held.

Of course, Aarni had said he didn’t need to hug me, but he’d reassured me that, however I played, he would always have my back. I’d needed the comfort. His words of advice stayed with me even now.

I just want you to realize what you are and what your place on the team will be. Ten acts friendly, but he won't care about you like I do. Stan? He’s had some lucky saves, and as for that fucker Van Hellren? You saw what he did to me in our last matchup. I wish you weren’t so naïve, Bryan. It’s unlikely you’ll get many starts, so don’t be disappointed when you get sent down to the minors.

I won’t be disappointed. I’d promised Aarni, and I’d made a vow to myself not to get too excited and involved.

RJ Scott
RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.

She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below.

VL Locey
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, two dogs, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and three Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

RJ Scott

VL Locey

Last Defense #5

Goal Line #6


Release Blitz: A Taste of Agapi by Chris Ethan

Title: A Taste of Agapi
Author: Chris Ethan
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: September 26, 2018
Cover Design: Tiferet Design
Jimmy has a secret.

But when he meets Ren, he can no longer hide it.

Ren is an adventurous comic-book nerd.

He transfers to Thessaloniki, Greece in an attempt to find his place in the world.

What he gets is more than just an escape from his academic family.

Jimmy is a hard working man.

After losing his mother, he has put his heart and soul into finishing his studies and helping his dad through his financial difficulties.

When he is introduced to Ren, Jimmy initiates him into the coffee-and-chill culture of his Greek city.

But something awakens in both of them.

Something neither can tame.

Can the two boys be more than just friends?

And what is that feeling called? That feeling they can’t seem to shake off?

Author Bio:
Chris Ethan is a book whore. He enjoys selling his feelings for money and other pleasures and is blatantly unashamed to do so for as long as he breathes. Chris Ethan is also a persona for Rhys Ethan, author of fantasy and sci-fi. He uses Chris Ethan to share stories of adult queer romance with those who need it. Before you delve into his books however, be warned. He likes putting his characters through shitstorms and hates anything conventional. But then there's that darned happy-ever-after. Also, he likes swearing. Deal with it!


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