Today is my stop on Gay Book Promotions release blitz for Ulrivaled by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James, the third book in the amazing Hockey Ever After series!
People say there’s a fine line between love and hate. If you ask Grady Armstrong, the line’s as obvious as the one across the middle of a hockey rink.
So he can’t explain why he doesn’t walk away when his Grindr hookup—a guy who accused him of impersonating himself—turns out to be Max Lockhart, a rival player Grady once punched in the face. Apparently Max can goad him just as well off the ice as he can on it.
Max Lockhart showed up thinking he was going to expose a fake. Instead he hooks up with a guy who claims to hate him. And has a good time. A really good time. But that doesn’t mean players from different teams can be together.
Max has always wished Grady would relax a little. When the season starts and Grady accepts Max’s offer of help with finding someone to date for real, Max gets his wish. But he should’ve been careful what he wished for, because now that he knows Grady is a big softie under that prickly shell, he’d rather keep Grady for himself.
Grady only goes on a handful of dates before he realizes he has a lot more fun with Max. But he can’t be falling for a rival player… can he?
Like every good East Coast Canadian kid, Max grew up dreaming of playing hockey with the maple leaf on his chest.
Of course, he imagined wearing it in a tournament that mattered, but just because this one had no real stakes didn’t mean he didn’t want to win. He just wouldn’t sacrifice his body for it.
But he would bring his A game for the chirps. Team USA was playing Grady Armstrong on their first line, and there were few players Max had more fun riling. His sister, Nora, had been in town for one of their regular season games against each other, and back at his house later, they got high and giggly as they watched the replay of Armstrong in the penalty box. “No, but check out the muscles bunching in his jaw when he clenches it,” she’d half tsked, half giggled. “I mean, the look works for him, but he definitely grinds his teeth.”
“Guy’s strung way too tight,” Max agreed sagely. Then he restarted the video so they could watch him lose his shit again.
So maybe Max had had an idle fantasy or three about how to help Armstrong unwind. Or, honestly, not—he’d probably be equally good in bed cranky.
Max would’ve enjoyed the World Cup of Hockey experience either way, was the point. Go team and all that. Plus events like this were prime hookup opportunities—hockey players, hockey fans, hockey capital of the country.
Unfortunately, tonight he didn’t have the energy to hook up in person—not after practice and then drinks with the boys, and with practice again tomorrow. Putting an effort into his appearance at 10 p.m.? In this economy?
This was why God invented Grindr.
Max flopped on his hotel bed and thumbed open the app.
He didn’t use it often. Max’s charm was more potent in person and in limited doses. He knew his strengths. But he was pretty good at taking dick pics that were sexy but still anonymous. Everybody should have a plan B.
He perused the app’s offerings.
The first three guys he passed on were like beers. Young, blond, inoffensive profiles. Not memorable or particularly potent, but they’d quench your thirst. One of them had actually posted the lyrics to “867-5309” under his profile pic, which made Max suspect he was either a douchebag or lying about his age.
Not tonight, Jenny. He swiped on to the next guy.
The following one, Jordan, was a mixed drink. Could be watered-down and flavorless, could knock you on your ass. No way to know until you took a sip. Jordan was cute, but not what Max was looking for tonight. He just wanted to get off and go to bed.
He swiped again.
… and then there was this guy. His face and dark eyes promised the potency of a shot.
The fact that it was Grady Armstrong’s face meant it was a straight-up catfish.
“Seriously, dude?” Max navigated to the message icon before his brain could even engage. Who did this guy think he was kidding? They were in Toronto. If Grady Armstrong wanted to get his dick wet, all he had to do was go outside and smile at someone.
The smiling would probably hurt him, though. It was not the guy’s natural expression. See: evidence of teeth grinding.
Max debated a handful of seconds before settling on the fishing emoticon. He followed up with nice try asshole, in case the message wasn’t totally clear.
A moment later a checkmark popped up to indicate the message had been read.
Max had intended to jerk off tonight, but getting into a fight on the internet was almost as good. He settled in to wait for the reply.
I really love this series! This third book is independent of the other books (there are some cameo appearances but no real plot crossover) but I’d still recommend you to read the previous books as well, simply because they’re absolutely worth it! This series is such a wonderful and sweet mm hockey romance rivals to lovers series, with the perfect amount of steam and lovable main characters with an absolutely sizzling chemistry!
You can find my reviews of all three books here: The Hockey Ever After Series by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James
About the Authors
As an adult, she received a starred review in Publishers Weekly for her novel Fake Dating the Prince. There were quite a few years in the middle there, but who’s counting?
Her hobbies include DIY home decor, container gardening (no pulling weeds), music, and spending time with her enormous chocolate lapdog. She is the fortunate wife of a wonderful man, the daughter of two sets of great parents, and the proud older sister/sister-in-law of the world’s biggest nerds.
Morgan James is a clueless (older) millennial who’s still trying to figure out what they’ll be when they grow up and enjoying the journey to get there. Now, with a couple of degrees, a few stints in Europe, and more than one false start to a career, they eagerly wait to see what’s next. James started writing fiction before they could spell and wrote their first (unpublished) novel in middle school. They haven’t stopped writing since. Geek, artist, archer, and fanatic, Morgan tends to pass their free hours with in imaginary worlds and people on pages and screens—it’s an addiction. As is their love of coffee and tea. They live in Canada with their massive collection of unread books, where they are the personal servant of too many four-legged creatures.
Connect with Ashlyn Kane
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I’m so happy to be a part of the Gay Book Promotions Book Blast for Chasing Hope by Gwen Martin. I read it a while ago and absolutely loved this heartbreaking and beautiful book that is full of pain and hope, grief and joy, loss and love, and amazing characters! So do yourself a favour and get your own copy of it right away now that it’s on sale for only 99c!
Loss chased him away. Hope brought him love...But is that enough?
Sean is only twenty-seven, but he’s already lost everything that gave him life. On the verge of losing hope for a future, he moves to a town where no one knows about him, the death of his child, or his failed marriage; but when his nightmares and his guilt follow him without the pitying glares, he realizes he can’t move forward on his own.
Jonah has worked tirelessly to keep his father’s memory alive and be a fixture in the small town he grew up in. Now, nearing forty, his dreams have been long forgotten to keep everyone else’s alive, and he doesn’t know how to reclaim his life as his own without losing his last connection to his father.
But when the two men’s lives collide, they’re forced to confront their grief and accept that there can be life and hope after loss—if you’re willing to chase it.
Chasing Hope is a 68k small-town, second chance at love, M/M Romance. There are subject matters in this book that may act as triggers for some. Readers are invited to check out the complete trigger warning on the copyright page, which can be viewed by clicking on the "Look Inside" preview or by downloading the sample. These triggers contain spoilers for the book.
“Well, don’t ever do what I did and sleep with your best friend’s brother.” Jonah rubbed the back of his neck, color tinting his cheeks. “I said that wrong. There’s no ill will or anything. It didn’t last long.”
When Sean spoke, his voice came out hoarse and shaky. “I’m sorry.”
Jonah waved his hand. “Eh, it’s not a big deal. It was a long time ago, and we’re still super close. Candice worries I’ll never date again but dating at 37 is far harder than when you’re in your twenties.”
Sean laughed. “Oh really? Because I’m 27 and I can say that having been married and divorced by the time I was 26 isn’t exactly great dinner date conversation.”
Jonah shifted in his seat, resting his arm along the back of the couch. His hand grazed over Sean’s shoulder, his eyes watching the pattern they traced. “Well, that’s a shame on their part. They’re definitely missing out.”
Sean’s entire body was vibrating, and the muscles in his legs quaking. He didn’t know what he was doing, he didn’t know if he could confess the truth of his sexuality again. Sean had already tried twice, and both times had failed miserably.
Sean had once gone bungee jumping with Parker over the Colossus Bridge in Italy. He didn’t know what he was doing, but the massive expanse of green was so vivid it looked like a photograph. The man who had geared him up spoke broken English and said with a thick Italian accent, “You fly. Be free. Nowhere else but here.”
Sean wanted to take that leap again. Wanted to be free. Wanted to fly.
He leaned over and kissed Jonah.
It wasn’t the best kiss. If anything, judging by Sean’s history of kissing, it was embarrassingly awful. He was a little off center from Jonah’s mouth, and Sean’s lips slid over to the corner. At the same time, he lingered a second too long, and Jonah gasped in surprise, causing Sean’s tongue to slide under Jonah’s bottom lip.
He pulled back, his face burning. Jonah’s hand lifted to his lips, eyes round with shock. Sean couldn’t control his breathing, his hands balling into fists. He licked his lips again, eager to taste Jonah on his tongue. Jonah’s eyes trailed down to Sean’s mouth and stayed there for a protracted beat.
“Um,” Jonah said, his lips pursing out a bit. “That—”
“I’m not straight,” Sean said, blurting the words a bit louder than intended. The rest tumbled out, glued together, sticky and rushed. “I tried to tell you before, but I messed up and I couldn’t—I couldn’t—I mean, I didn’t want to—”
Jonah pressed a finger to Sean’s lips, silencing him. His eyes appeared bluer in the dimming late afternoon, his hair framing his sharp jawline. Sean’s breath came out in ragged huffs as Jonah traced his fingertips along Sean’s chin, over his jaw, and around his temple. He combed those same fingers through Sean’s hair, and Sean couldn’t help but let his eyes flutter shut, lean into the touch.
“When I dated Lee, we didn’t tell anyone because I was worried about Candice finding out about her brother and best friend hooking up,” Jonah said, his voice quiet but even.
Sean tried to listen, tried to pay attention, but it was hard with Jonah’s dull nails scraping along his scalp. He shivered, biting the inside of his cheek hard.
Jonah drew closer, his other hand resting on Sean’s hip. “In the end we realized it wasn’t meant to be. We decided we were better off as friends, and a few months later he started dating the man who is now his husband. They’re better together than we ever would’ve been.”
Jonah’s breath ghosted over Sean’s mouth as he whispered, “There’s been no one since.”
Sean breathed hard through his nose when Jonah’s hand cupped around the back of his neck. “No one?”
“Well, there is someone,” Jonah murmured, low and rumbly.
“Ye-yeah?” Sean whispered. His eyes remained closed, too scared to open them and see how Jonah’s eyes looked. He imagined they were full of heat and as captivating as a clear summer sky. Breathing became difficult, and his heartbeat ramped up to a gallop.
“Yeah,” Jonah said, his voice breathy. “I really want to kiss you. Is that okay?” Jonah whispered.
The huskiness of his voice swirled around Sean like a sharp wind, overwhelming and shocking. He gripped Jonah’s t-shirt and pulled him closer.
“Yes,” Sean said. He wanted to sound confident and sure, but instead his voice came out raw and desperate. The next word slipped between his lips on its own accord. “Please.”
Chasing Hope is of the most authentic stories I’ve ever read about the devastating grief and guilt, and how to find the strength to go on living, after being through the worst thing that can happen to a parent; losing your child. But at the same time as it dealt with all this hurt and loss, it was also such a sweet and heart-warming small town, second chance, m/m romance.
Find my full review here: Chasing Hope by Gwen Martin
About the Author
Gwen Martin grew up in Florida where the sun was always shining, the humidity was high, and Disney was just a hop skip away. She currently lives in Knoxville, Tennessee to experience seasons and be closer to the mountains. When she’s not trying to write one of her million story ideas, she’s usually hanging out with her husband and four cats.
Gwen first started writing at a young age, coming up with stories in class instead of paying attention to the math lesson. Since then she has been exploring her love of writing in various fan communities where she has learned how to cultivate character development and romantic interactions.
She has a strong love affair with cold brew coffee, black cats, and nerding out in various fandoms. When she’s not writing, she’s reading everything she can get her hands on, listening to a lot of lo-fi and making playlists, chilling with her four gatos and obsessing about Pusheen. Because it’s always about Pusheen.
Connect with Gwen Martin
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Buy Chasing Hope
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