Coach’s Challenge by Avon Gale
Series: Scoring Chances Book #5
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 26, 2017
Length: Ebook: ~70K (181 pages)
Subgenre: Sports romance, LGBTQ+ romance
Dreamspinner Press: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/coachs-challenge-by-avon-gale-8609-b
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.
Quotes from the author about the book:
Troy and Shane’s story was a joy to write – I loved writing about two characters who were so confident in what they wanted and determined to get it no matter what. These are two stubborn, opinionated and passionate men and their interactions were so much fun to write.
Quotes from other authors about the book:
“I hope this series continues forever. I always have time for more of Avon Gale’s quirky, impeccably written hockey players. Shane is the perfect smartass, and watching him fall for Troy is terrific fun.” – Sarina Bowen, USA Today bestselling author of Him
Excerpt #1 (short 100 – 200 words):
“Give him a chance. He’s not in bad shape, is he?”
“No,” Troy mumbled into his drink. “He’s not.”
There was a long, pregnant pause. Troy lowered the glass and stared at the whiskey stones intently. Troy had no idea where you even got such a thing. He was lucky he had ice in his freezer.
Gabe cleared his throat.
“What?” Troy shot him a glare. “He’s in good shape. Yes. I’m agreeing with you.”
“I know, that’s why I’m speechless.” Gabe grinned at him, and the lines crinkled around his eyes. “You think he’s hot, don’t you.”
“He’s a hockey player in great shape who is over the age of thirty, and he surfs for fun,” Troy reminded him. “I’m not dead. But he’s also got a bad attitude—”
“So do you.”
Excerpt #2 (long 200 – 400 words):
There was enough room on the charter bus for everyone to have a row to themselves, but that didn’t help, since Troy never had been able to sleep on a bus.
So, at three in the morning, Troy watched coaching videos as he slumped down in his seat with a pair of earbuds. He was scowling at the videos and muttering under his breath about how stupid they were when he felt someone slide into the seat next to him.
Shane, of course.
“You are fucking kidding me with this,” Troy hissed as he yanked his earbuds out. He looked around the bus, even though it was obvious from the silence that everyone was asleep, and even if they weren’t, Troy was up near the front, and the person closest to him—Quinn—was snoring with his head on the window and had one of those sleep-mask things covering his eyes.
“You ever stop working?” Shane slouched down in his seat, which made him barely visible to anyone in the darkness of the bus’s quiet interior.
“I can’t sleep on these things. And no. Not really. I even dream about fucking hockey.”
“Yeah? You sure it’s hockey you dream about fucking, and not… something else?” Shane leaned in closer, and his breath ghosted against Troy’s neck. “Like my mouth?”
“What the hell are you doing?” Troy’s cock hardened immediately. “You trying to get me fired?”
“Everyone’s asleep, Coach. Thought you could show me some of those videos.” Shane’s smile was sly. He reached out, took Troy’s phone, and magically made the videos reappear. He grabbed one of the earbuds and put it in his ear. “You should really passcode lock your phone.”
“You should really go back to your own seat.” Troy flipped to the next video. “Hang on. Let me find one about not making stupid fucking choices on a moving bus while your teammates are asleep at o-dark-thirty.”
“Mmm. Sounds good.” Shane dropped his hand to Troy’s lap. “Come on, old man. Dare you to let me.”
“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.