ARC Review: Off the Ice (Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn)

I am going to say that it’s TWO for TWO for me, when it comes to Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn’s writing partnership, after Permanent Ink. Because I loved this one as well!

Off the Ice is the first book of the new trilogy, Hat Trick, featuring Tristan Holt, a defenseman for Atlanta Venom, and Sebastian Cruz, sociology professor at Georgia State. It has a number of tropes that may attract readers of this genre. Let’s see … student/teacher, age-gap, d/s kink … and well, hockey players!

The two men meet when Tristan enrolls for summer course during his season break and takes Sociology 3201 where Sebastian is the professor. Initially Sebastian — despite his PhD in sociology and his lecture about perceptions, mind you — ends up falling into stereotype trap as he thinks that Tristan is just a jock, who plagiarizes his fellow student’s paper. Boy, I LOVED that scene where Tristan reminds Sebastian about it, takes him down a peg *laugh*. They don’t start dating after the final grade is given though, to avoid breaking the rule.

The main conflict of the book is nothing new, especially if it involves non-straight athletes. Tristan being in the closet, afraid of the repercussion of being an out player, versus Sebastian’s out status and unwillingness to be a secret lover. Having said that, I didn’t think it was angst-heavy. We still have a lot of them being in the state of sexual bliss, outside of Tristan coaxing Sebastian to start paying attention of hockey. Addressing the issue is being kept until later in the book to act as the bridge to deliver the happy ending.

All in all, it’s a great start to introduce readers to the series. I already look forward to reading the upcoming books. I hope the next one is about Ryu, the Venom goalie.

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the authors via A Novel Take PR for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Off the Ice
Author: Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn
Series: Hat Trick, #1
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 70,900 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: October 30, 2017

Advertisements

Release Blitz & Giveaway: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (Avon Gale)

Title: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell

Series: Tour Dates, #1

Author: Avon Gale

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Release Date: September 25th, 2017

Length: 234 pages

Sub Genre: Contemporary M/M gay romance, friends-to-lovers

Add to Goodreads

Book Blurb

Victoria “Vix” Vincent has only two weeks to find a replacement fiddle player for her band’s summer tour. When classically trained violinist Sawyer Bell shows up for an audition, Vix is thrilled. Sawyer is talented, gorgeous, funny, and excited about playing indie rock instead of Beethoven. Their friendship soon blossoms into romance, even though Vix tries to remember that Sawyer’s presence is only temporary.

Sawyer’s parents think she’s spending the summer months touring Europe with a chamber ensemble. But Sawyer is in dire need of a break from the competitiveness of Juilliard, and desperately wants to rediscover her love of music. Going on tour with her secret high school crush is just an added bonus. Especially when Vix kisses her one night after a show, and they discover that the stage isn’t the only place they have chemistry.

But the tour won’t last forever, and as the summer winds down, Sawyer has to make a tough decision about her future—and what it means to follow her heart.

What Avon Gale Said About The Book

Writing Sawyer and Vix’s love story was such a joy – I loved writing two passionate, determined women coming together as friends and eventually lovers, set amongst my favorite musical genre and on the open road. It’s a road trip romance, a friends-to-lovers romance and a story about loving who you are, what you do, and the people who speak to your heart.

Purchase

Riptide Publishing

Excerpt

The girl who walked in for the next audition looked like she’d gotten lost on the way to band practice, with her summer dress; long, straight brown hair worn past her shoulders; and perfect-length fringe bangs. Vix envied girls who could pull off bangs. She looked like she was ten when she tried having them, even with the purple hair.

“What’s your name?” Vix thought that the girl looked vaguely familiar—but that might be because she looked wholesome enough to be in a soap commercial, or maybe a Cover Girl poster at Target.

“Sawyer Bell,” she said.

“Cool name,” said Vix. “Nice to meet y’all.” Sawyer cleared her throat and held up the violin case. “Should I play?”

“Wait, you do understand this tour runs through August, right?” Vix asked, because in addition to looking like she should be working at Ann Taylor LOFT, Sawyer had to be a college student.

Sawyer nodded. “I don’t have to be back at school until September.”

“Where do you go to school? University of Tennessee?” That was where Vix assumed people from around here went to college. Most everyone she’d gone to high school with had moved from Germantown to Knoxville, if they’d done the whole college thing.

“Um.” The girl ducked her head like she was embarrassed. “Juilliard, actually.”

Juilliard … as in, the performing arts school? Whoa. Vix waved her on. “Okay, well, show us what you’ve got.”

Sawyer opened the violin case and took out her instrument, which was a lot nicer than anyone else’s—including Bryant’s. The wood on the body was shined to perfection, gorgeous in the flickering fluorescent light of the basement. Sawyer moved so she was standing in the little audition space they’d arranged by moving the furniture. “Any requests?”

“Something good?” Connor offered, and Vix snorted a laugh.

“Whatever,” said Vix. She didn’t want to get too excited. Just because Sawyer was talented enough to get into Juilliard, didn’t mean she’d be any good at playing their kind of music. Okay, no, it probably did, but damn it. Vix didn’t want to get her hopes up that this sweet, polite girl was somehow also a violin virtuoso.

Except she totally was. Sawyer started to play, and it became quickly apparent that she was not only better than everyone else who’d shown up to audition by a country mile … she was better than their actual fiddle player. Sure, she was playing something classical and boring, but the technique was undeniable. She had that spark too; the one that said, I know music, I love music, and I will play the shit out of it.

Not only that, but performing turned Sawyer from a shy girl with too-long hair and a summer dress into … well, a musician. She closed her eyes and swayed with the notes, her body falling into the rhythm of the bow moving across the strings. The music was pulled out of her in the same way Vix felt when she was singing, when all the words tumbled from her like a storm. Sawyer bit her bottom lip between her teeth as if losing herself in the music, and it was beautiful.

I loved this book so much and gladly recommend it to anyone (especially my MM-reader friends) who wants to try FF new adult romance. Read my full review right here.

Author Bio

 

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories—either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan at Handspun Literary Agency.

Connect with Avon: Twitter  |  Facebook  |  Newsletter  |  Instagram  |  Website

Giveaway: 

To win 2 e-copies of any backlist book by Avon Gale

a Rafflecopter giveaway

ARC Review: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell (Avon Gale)

Years before I stumbled into MM romance, I actually adored a number of F/F couple and friendship from TV shows & movies: Xena/Gabrielle, Rachel/Luce (Imagine Me & You is one of my favorite feel-good movies of all time) … I adore Jess and Jules in Bend It Like Beckham (they’re friends but I can imagine they are so much more *laugh*).

BUT I don’t read a lot of F/F romance because I am uncomfortable reading sex scenes description involving two women. I don’t like the words like cunt, pussy, or tits. Heck, I don’t like reading them in M/F too which is why I avoid M/F erotica at all cost. I like reading/seeing F/F kisses and touches but not when they go all the way ‘there’.

Having said that, I’ve started to read F/F romance last year. Not many, just one or two. Then I saw that Avon Gale, one of my favorite authors, is releasing one this month. It makes me curious enough that I requested the ARC for it. After I finished, I can safely say this:

The Love Song of Sawyer Bell is DELIGHTFUL and CHARMING; definitely one of my favorite reads of the year so far!!

In fact, I thought it has ALL the right recipes for a perfect summer movie … indie musicians doing performances on stages, ROAD TRIP(!!!), as well as friendship, sexual discovery, and FALLING IN LOVE. Not only that, people, The Love Song of Sawyer Bell also has a BISEXUAL HEROINE (hell yes!) and one of the band member is an ace.

I adored both Sawyer Bell and Victoria “Vix” Vincent right off the bat. In fact, I think I spent ALL of my time reading the book with smile on my face. These girls are SO ADORABLE together … I felt like my heart is full with joy, and I loved being able to be a spectator on their blooming relationship … from the first kiss, the sex, the jealousy, the (really short) break-up, to the happy ending.

Avon Gale writes these characters in a way that it feels REALISTIC (like this could easily be a portrayal of one of the indie groups out there) and RELATABLE like they also could easily be my friends, albeit “younger” friends, y’know? Never for once I felt this to be over-the-top dramatic. Sawyer’s hating her school or Vix’s concerns about the possibility of dating a band member are both very much grounded. Heck, even the discussion that Sawyer has with her parents regarding the school was so f*cking real to me.

Another thing that works for me is how Avon Gale makes the exploration of the sexual part of their relationship to be FUN. Vix always knows that she is a bisexual, she is open and unapologetic about it. Sawyer, on the other hand, has only acknowledged her attraction to girls: Vix is her first crush. Still, when they finally doing it, it was full of happy moments. One of my favorite scenes is when both Sawyer and Vix visit a sex shop then Sawyer is busy trying a strap-on dildo for her “lesbian lifestyle investment“. *LAUGH GLEEFULLY*

This book is not only about the friendship and the romance though, it is also about reaching for your dreams. Vix is living her dream right from the beginning, playing her music with her own band. Sawyer, on the other hand, might take a little detour before getting there. I could feel both the girls’ passion about their dream in every performance they do, in they way the collaborate together writing notes and lyrics… It was REALLY REALLY GOOD, and why I was dying to see this as a movie somehow.

Do what you love. Take risks. And when something doesn’t work, take a different one. But don’t stop taking them …. Sometimes it takes a while to find your own music, but believe me, it’s so worth it when you do. Otherwise, all you’re playing is notes.

In short, I pretty much LOVED everything about this book … maybe I thought the ending to be a little rushed, and I kind of wanting to read about a slightly grand gesture from Vix… and personally, I still cringed whenever I read those words I didn’t like. However, it’s not a deal breaker. In fact, I’ll be happy to recommend this to ANY of my friends or readers who want to take a dip on new-adult F/F romance. I think it can put a huge smile to your face. I know it did to me.

RATING: 4.25 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the author via A Novel Take PR for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: The Love Song of Sawyer Bell
Author: Avon Gale
Series: Tour Dates, #1
Genre: FF New Adult Romance
Word Count: 62,000 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: September 25, 2017

ARC Review: Permanent Ink (Avon Gale & Piper Vaughn)

I am a fan of both Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn so I was really excited to read this collaboration from both of them. BOY this one was good! I LOVED it.

First thing first… maybe I was in the right mood for this book because I enjoyed the daddy kink! It was a kink that I usually avoid, but somehow in here it worked well. Probably because both men owned it! Or probably, like my friend said, “It’s your hormones talking” *laugh*. In fact I vehemently wished that there were more spanking, paddling, and gagging the boy involved… and I was rather bummed that it didn’t happen *pout*.

I know, SHOCKING, coming from me

What I loved the most about Permanent Ink was the complex characters. We have Poe, a 23-year-old brat who loves his graffiti art and probably gives his dad, Landon, a lot grey hairs with his attitude. Then we have Jericho, a 40-year-old tattoo artist and owner of a tattoo shop who also a good friend of Landon. When Poe is arrested once again for vandalism, Jericho offers a job via Landon to help Poe to pay his dad for the lawyer’s fee. It t is a way for Jericho to “pay it forward” because a long time ago, someone gave Jericho a second chance to get his life in line.

I loved that the slow burn — Poe IS the son of Jericho’s best friend, so it’s complicated — but boy the chemistry and tension sparkled between these two. It wasn’t just the romance though, there was personal development too, which for me was VERY important. Poe matured up as the story went along. He realized the importance of tattoo and different kind of art. He became respectful towards Jericho. In short, he GREW up. While Jericho learned a different way to appreciate art and life (“You remind me that life is like art. It isn’t static“); I guess being with Poe made Jericho wanted more of what he was content with.

Another thing that I loved was the description and appreciation of TATTOO ART. I don’t have tattoos but I could feel how this was important for both authors. It became an extra character, I think, in this book

The only thing that I wish to be more present is the relationship outside the tattoo shop. I want to see how Jericho and Landon connect outside of the art. Because I believe that is also important for a long-lasting relationship, right? Oh and also, what’s up with dangling the readers with paddle gift and NOT write in on page, authors?!

As a reader, for me, one of the signs of great writing collaboration is when the two authors can mesh their style seamlessly that I can forget that actually two minds are involved in creating the book. In that point, I thought Permanent Ink delivered. I didn’t know which author wrote which character and I didn’t really care. This book has deliciously sexy romance with two characters I genuinely care about. I cannot wait for the next book in this series — or for more collaboration between Gale and Vaughn!

 

RATING: 4 out of 5
4stars

 

The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley for an exchange of fair and honest review. No high rating is required for any ARC received.

 

BOOK INFO:

Title: Permanent Ink
Author: Avon Gale, Piper Vaughn
Genre: MM Contemporary Romance
Word Count: 67,800 words
Publisher: Riptide Publishing
Release Date: August 7, 2017