Author: Sophia Henry
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Release Date: September 1st, 2015
She closed her heart long ago. He just wants to open her mind. For fans of Toni Aleo and Sawyer Bennett, the debut of Sophia Henry’s red-hot Detroit Pilots series introduces a hockey team full of complicated men who fight for love.
Auden Berezin is used to losing people: her father, her mother, her first love. Now, just when she believes those childhood wounds are finally healing, she loses something else: the soccer scholarship that was her ticket to college. Scrambling to earn tuition money, she’s relieved to find a gig translating for a Russian minor-league hockey player—until she realizes that he’s the same dangerously sexy jerk who propositioned her at the bar the night before.
Equal parts muscle and scar tissue, Aleksandr Varenkov knows about trauma. Maybe that’s what draws him to Auden. He also lost his family too young, and he channeled the pain into his passions: first hockey, then vodka and women. But all that seems to just melt away the instant he kisses Auden and feels a jolt of desire as sudden and surprising as a hard check on the ice.
After everything she’s been through, Auden can’t bring herself to trust any man, let alone a hot-headed puck jockey with a bad reputation. Aleksandr just hopes she’ll give him a chance—long enough to prove he’s finally met the one who makes him want to change.
I’m pretty sure there were only two ways Crazy Hair could have looked better than he had at O’Callaghan’s. The first was as he did right now: sitting on a bench in the locker room wearing nothing but the lower half of his uniform, including his skates, sweat rolling over his sinewy pecs and creating a happy trail all the way into his hockey pants.
The second way—I can only assume—would be if he were completely naked.
“Aleksandr, this is Auden Berezin. She will be your translator.”
“I don’t need a translator.”
I almost laughed, because he’d said he didn’t need a translator in Russian.
“You must talk with the media at some point, Sasha. They’re riding my ass to get better answers from you than ‘was good game.’ ”
Aleksandr Varenkov, hot Russian hockey god, laughed, showing the perfect set of white teeth I’d noticed at the bar.
“You have your teeth in, but you haven’t even showered yet?” Orlenko asked.
Was Orlenko a mind reader? I sure hope not, because I would be fired for thinking about my client naked.
“I wanted to look good for pictures.” Aleksandr winked at me. Then he stood, and drops of sweat raced down the hard planes of his chest.
I’d never been so envious of perspiration in my life.
“Sometimes I talk in the shower. Will she translate for me in there?”
My cheeks began to burn, so I averted my eyes, lowering them to the black Cyrillic script tattooed down his sides, then thought better of that line of sight and studied the soiled beige carpet below my feet.
“Aleks—” Orlenko sighed, rubbing his forehead.
“Zhenya,” Aleksandr began. “You know I’m kidding, yes?” He shoved a towel onto the shelf above his nameplate and walked away without waiting for an answer.
“Yes,” Orlenko hissed. He’d said it under his breath, but I heard him and wondered what my grandpa had gotten me into. “Well, that was Aleksandr Varenkov, your client. He’s a talented player and a good man. But he can be a little—”
“Douchey?” I offered in English. I shouldn’t have said it, considering Grandpa’s professional reputation was in my hands. Then again, Evgeny Orlenko was Grandpa’s friend first, so maybe he wouldn’t be too hard on me. Besides, Grandpa knew what kind of mouth I had, and he’d sent me for the job anyway.
Orlenko laughed, and continued in Russian. “Wild was the word I was looking for, but your adjective may not be that far off.”
“I’ve got it, Mr. Orlenko.”
“Are you sure?” He inspected me through thick black-rimmed glasses that were too small for his puffy face.
“As a college student with an active social life, I’ve learned how to handle arrogant douche bags.” This time I was being paid to handle one.
“I shouldn’t be having this conversation about one of my clients,” Mr. Orlenko said, his lips quirking up, then back into a tight line. At least he was trying to keep a straight face. “You’re like a breath of fresh air, Audushka. I hope you stay that way even with his off-ice antics.”
Off-ice antics? What the hell did that mean and why would I have to deal with them? “Will I have to hang out with him outside of the arena? I thought I was here to translate for media interviews after games and some practices.”
“Aleksandr speaks very little English. He’ll need your assistance in all aspects of his career; interviews, community service. At least, until he gets acclimated. Vitya said you were here for the month, is that correct?”
“Yep. All of winter break.”
“You’ll be putting in a lot of hours.”
“I’m a hard worker. And I need the cash. Got cut from the soccer team, and I have to replace the scholarship money I lost.” I was running my mouth again. Maybe I did need to tone it down.
“Well, I’m sorry to hear that. The being-cut part.” He cleared his throat. “Here’s my card. I wrote my cell number on the back. If you have any trouble or if Aleksandr makes you uncomfortable in any way, please give me a call.”
“Thanks.” I scanned the card wondering if I should try to memorize his number now, since I wasn’t sure how stable this client sounded.
After Orlenko left the locker room, I realized I hadn’t asked him what I should do next, and he hadn’t given me instructions as to where I should wait while Aleksandr showered. Since I wasn’t part of the media, I was extremely aware of being the intruder standing in a room of half-naked men. A shower shouldn’t take very long, so I dug my e-reader out of my messenger bag and sat down on the stool that Aleksandr had just vacated.
“Ewww.” I jumped up and skimmed my palm against my damp backside. Hadn’t even thought about any runaway sweat that might’ve dripped from Aleksandr’s lean, hard body onto the stool.
Stop. Just stop thinking about the shiny, wet flesh covering his impeccably carved frame.
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It’s hard to criticize a book in a genre you rarely read. When it falls outside of your reading preferences, you find yourself having to tackle that first, and then focus on the story. Why choose this book or genre then?, you may ask. It’s because I love sports romances and frankly, because I still haven’t quite figured out how to weed through the new adult genre.
If have to be completely honest, I was a bit disappointed with this book. As a fan of contemporary sports romance-and hockey to boost- I hardly had any chance to read it. While the hero was a hockey player, there wasn’t much of the sport to classify this as a sports romance. I’m not asking for a rundown of a whole match or anything, but a little on field action here and there would make this gal happy.
The lack of the sport wasn’t the only problem I had while reading though. I believe my tastes for romance are in more adult category, so while the hero and the heroine of this story might appeal to certain readers, I found it hard to immerse myself in a book with two people of twenty years of age.
Both Auden and Aleksandr had more on their shoulders than their peers so I could respect that, and I could understand that they were still a couple of 20 year olds, but most of their issues were dealt with in the last twenty pages. I think this book could’ve used more pages to tell their story, since they both had quite the baggage. More time to give the two of them to connect and share would’ve been nice too. Though I’ve never been tempted, I’ve seen my fair share of people who fall hard and young in love enough to want to be married, and though I’m in no way judging, it is also precisely why I would’ve been happy to see more of the two strengthening their bond. More joking around because they’re still young, more talks about their burdens, more time to spend together, and more reassurances that they themselves believed they were on the right path when it came to their decisions for future.
All in all, I think this was a good portrayal of young love. Rash and passionate, Auden and Aleksandr jumped straight from dislike to love. While I could appreciate this in another setting, I couldn’t help but feel like a big sister, that I should keep my eyes and ears open for the two of them lest their fire of young love burns quick.
I’m adding two spoonfuls of this story into my hodgepodge, and wish Auden and Aleksandr all the best.
As an end note, I want to acknowledge the author’s desire to attract attention to those who, for any reason whatsoever, don’t have families. It’s a tough world out there, and any attempt to make it better for those who need it is always appreciated.
ps. Normally I don’t do this, but I just want to say that the Guest Post you’ll be reading below definitely gave me a better idea of young adult/new adult theme. I still wrote my review based on my own reading experience, but I now have a much better appreciation for characters in these genres. It’s not always easy to take a trip down memory lane and remember how you were those days, but I guess these books help with that. Enjoy.
A Different Kind of New Adult
Thank you so much, Lady Muslin Myst, for giving me the opportunity to write a post for your awesome blog! I truly appreciate it!
Introductions: Hi! I’m Sophia Henry and I write New Adult Sports Romance. I love hockey. I love reading. And I love happily ever afters. Put them together and that’s how I came up with my debut series, featuring the Pilots Hockey team.
As a reader, I’m a Young Adult freak. Take a look at my bookshelves, and you’ll find a handful of adult novels among a sea of Young Adult perfection. Characters seventeen and up, in junior/senior year of high school or early college, is my favorite range. But, since I’m an adult (at least in age), sometimes I want a YA book to have a teeny bit more.
As a writer, I’ve heard the advice “write the books you want to read” on numerous occasions. Because I’m a YA reader who wanted a little more, my books are that “little bit more.”
Delayed Penalty, along with the entire Pilots Hockey Series, features. Characters who are over 18, in college or working their first jobs. The are new at being adults. That’s my interpretation when I write my characters. Is it everyone’s interpretation? Nope. Should it be? Nope.
But my characters are definitely new at being adults. And I put them through the wringer:
My characters aren’t magically infused with knowledge and experience when the clock hits 12:00am on their 18th birthday.
Growing up, I had grandiose ideas that eighteen was this magical number—BOOM—adult. I can do what I want. When I want. With who I want. And it was true, to an extent. But I still spent the summers in between college years back with my family. And being in my family’s house, under their roof made me feel like a kid again. Not saying I didn’t do anything, but I felt guilty if I brought a guy home or wanted to smoke weed in my room. (Those were completely hypothetical scenarios people.)
My characters don’t know everything. They think they do, but they don’t.
They make silly mistakes. They get upset over insignificant things. They fall in love in a minute and think break-ups mean the end of the world. Do I, as a 30-something, know different? Yes. But my characters don’t. And most of the early 20-somethings I know personally don’t. So I’m going to give them their opportunity to make mistakes and freak out, just like I did at that age. (And I have the journals to prove it; except that one I burned…)
My characters are a little awkward and nervous about their “skills”
I’m talking bedroom skills here. Or backseat of a car…whatever floats your boat. I try to write that realistic, somewhat awkward, definitely uncomfortable, first time. If it is a first time. Some of my characters have had sex before the story starts, so it’s a little different, but it’s still slightly embarrassing, because that’s just how it is for some people at that age. For some of us, even after we’d had sex a few times, we still felt weird, uncomfortable, nervous when we were with a new partner. That’s me, the awkward realist. hahaha. My poor characters.
The Pilots Hockey series may be a little different—sweet, with more. I love that the NewAdult genre spans diverse and interesting settings, characters, and situations. This is the time to explore. This is the time to show that, though we are all the same, we each have a different story to tell based on our own experiences, cultures, and imaginations. The New Adult genre lets us celebrate those differences.
Because when you’re thirty-something, you’ll look back on your past—whether it was silly and awkward or legendary and awesome—you’ll look back and say, “Man, those were the days.”
Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband.
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