We are very excited to welcome Avon Gale to From Top to Bottom Reviews as part of her Coach’s Challenge Blog Tour. She’s brought an excerpt with her (so scroll down to read that) but we’ve also asked Shane and Troy, the protags of her latest addition to the Scoring Chances series to talk about this years Stanley Cup playoffs. And they had a lot to say. Enjoy! 🙂
It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.
Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.
FTtBR team: Hello Shane, Coach Callahan. Welcome to From Top to Bottom Reviews. It’s not an exagerration to say that you’re both passionate about hockey, so please tell us something about the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Troy: First, that was some bullshit about the Rangers.
Shane: The Ducks did about as well as I expected.
Troy: No one cares about California teams, Shane.
Shane: When was the last time your Rangers won a Stanley Cup, old man?
Troy: Point taken. But this year’s playoffs were crazy. Who would have thought a hockey team from the south would make the Stanley Cup Final?
Shane: You know you coach a hockey team from the south, right?
Troy: In a novel, where Avon gets to decide who wins. Real life is not that easy and is why caring about hockey is the fucking worst.
Shane: Sometimes I think you and Avon are a little too alike when it comes to hockey.
Troy: We were both pretty pleased when the Habs lost, that’s for sure. She might yell more than me, though.
Shane: Not possible. And I was really hoping the SCF would be between the Ottawa Senators and the Nashville Predators, so I could hear Bettman gnashing his teeth all the way in Asheville.
Troy: We all wanted that. No one wanted the Penguins to win again.
Shane: Except their fans.
Troy: Yes, but don’t say anything about Pens fans. Avon knows too many of them.
Shane: Don’t we all.
Troy: Once your stupid Ducks were out, who were you cheering for?
Shane: Nashville. You?
Troy: Once the Rangers are out, I don’t care about any other team.
Shane: All the opinions you expressed during the playoffs make this sound like a lie, Troy. You were totally cheering for the Predators, too. Was it because PK Subban is so hot?
Troy: I’m a coach, I can’t say that kind of thing about a player.
Shane: ….sorry, what? I can’t hear over the sound of my cracking the fuck up about that because…uh? Us?
Troy: Spoilers, dude. Don’t give the end of the fucking book away.
Shane: I don’t know what to do with you.
Avon: Guys? The playoffs?
Troy: You spent the playoffs mad at the Senators and then angry the Preds didn’t win.
Avon: So did you.
Shane: See? Also, I don’t think Avon is supposed to be in this interview. We all know she spite-cheered for whoever was playing the Penguins after the Blues got knocked out in the second round. They’re the basis for the Athens Ice Dogs, for real.
Avon: No one needs your jokes, Mr. My Team Gets Knocked Out In Every Game Seven!
Shane: Troy, tell them how you texted Max Ashford and made fun of his team losing.
Troy: That is basically the entire story, Shane.
Shane: You’re not very good at this. Although I don’t know why I’m surprised. I’ve seen your post-game interviews.
Troy: You know, you weren’t even that sad about the Ducks losing.
Shane: The only reason I cared is because that fucking annoying goalie for the Spitfires kept Snapchatting me about it.
Troy: Snap….? Never mind. I don’t want to know.
Shane: Good, I don’t want to explain it. But the Ducks kicked me down to the AHL, so why would I care what happened to them?
Troy: Well, if not for that, you might not be here in Asheville.
Shane: Very true.
Avon: Sorry, but the rest of this interview is cut short…to find out why, just read Coach’s Challenge and see what happens every time these two start bickering. 😉
FTtBR team: Thank you Avon. And thank you Shane and Coach Callahan for your…insight. It was a lot of fun, maybe we should repeat that some time. 😉
“I didn’t think you liked me very much, Shane.”
It was such an unCallahan thing to say, it was almost cute. “I don’t really need to like you to want you to fuck me, do I?”
Troy’s pale eyes flashed. “Goddammit.”
They stared at each other, the music a low throb in the bar, lights dancing merrily on the slick floor. “I could like you just fine,” Shane murmured and then deliberately dropped his gaze to Troy’s belt. “If you just showed a little effort, Coach.”
Shane knew the “coach” thing would piss Troy off—what didn’t?—but he had a hunch that wasn’t all it would do. He stood up very slowly and angled so they faced each other in the small space between the barstools. Troy was taller than Shane by a few inches, though leaner and lanky like a runner. They weren’t quite touching, but it reminded Shane of those games where you lined up across from a guy for the faceoff and just knew you were going to throw the gloves off as soon as the whistle blew.
All they needed was someone to blow the whistle. God.
Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.
Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.
At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.
Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency.
Blog Tour Genre: Contemporary Orientation: Gay Pairing: M/M Publisher: Dreamspinner Press Tag: Enemies to Lovers Tag: Guest Post Tag: Part of a series Tag: Sports Avon Gale Coach's Challenge Scoring Chances