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.
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.
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.
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.
Last Defense #5
Goal Line #6