Book Title: Game Changer
Author and Publisher: Amy Aislin
Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood Designs
Release Date: July 18, 2023
Genre: Contemporary m/m sports romance
Tropes: Boss/employee, hockey
Heat Rating: 3 flames
Length: 70 500 words/290 pages
Game Changer is book two in the Vancouver Orcas trilogy but stands on its own.
It does not end on a cliffhanger.
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It’s Blair Brawsiski’s ride or die year. After a decade in the AHL, if he doesn’t get called up to the NHL this season, it’s time to hang up his skates and focus on other things. But between a second job and family priorities, his attention isn’t where it should be, and his dreams of making it to the big leagues are dwindling by the day. Hiring a personal assistant to help out with day-to-day stuff? Probably the smartest move Blair’s made in a while. But when that PA turns out to be an assertive baker who’s exactly Blair’s type? Blair can’t help but wish those dexterous hands would knead something other than pastry dough. Namely, him. Charlie Shore needs extra income. Desperately. With his expenses about to go up, it’s find a second job or get evicted. Getting hired as Blair’s PA is perfect: flexible hours, decent wages, and a scorching hot professional hockey player who’s willing to let him use his gorgeous kitchen for his baked goods. Too bad that hockey player is exactly Charlie’s type. Too bad Charlie knows better than to date his new boss…
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The man on his porch turned and . . . oh. Okay. Charlie being Coach Shore’s cousin, Blair had expected him to look like Coach: big, burly, and bearded. But Charlie was short, slim, and clean-shaven. He wore a wool coat in a colour that was somewhere between ivory and tan, a dark green scarf, and a matching toque with a grey pompom. Dark blond hair peaked out the bottom of the hat.
He looked like an ethereal fairy from another realm.
Of course he was exactly Blair’s type, all cute and rosy-cheeked and elfin.
Blair let out a rueful laugh under his breath. As if he had time for dating with everything else going on in his life. Jen and Jerry would be married before Blair found a minute of free time.
“Charlie?” he asked again, holding out a hand as he crested the porch’s top step. “I’m so sorry I’m late.”
“No biggie.” Charlie’s smile was wide and genuine despite Blair’s tardiness, and it triggered something loose in Blair’s brain.
Hand still in Charlie’s, he said, “Have we met before? You look familiar.”
“No,” Charlie said with a conviction that had Blair questioning himself. “But we’ve probably been to several of the same functions, most recently the pre-season barbecue at Coach Epps’ place. I work for the organization.”
“No kidding. Doing what?”
“I’m the baker for our NHL team. I make pastries for team breakfast, breads for sandwiches for lunch, and whatever else the head chef might need. Dinner rolls, desserts, that sort of thing.”
Now Blair recognized him. There were only a few times a year when the entire organization got together: the pre-season barbecue, the holiday party, and the end-of-season barbecue. But when you put the entire AHL and NHL teams in a room, along with coaches, management, and office and support staff as well as significant others and children, it made for close to two hundred people. And with Blair missing half of those due to other commitments in the ten years he’d been with the Orcas, it was no wonder he hadn’t officially met Charlie. Plus, not being a social creature meant that introducing himself to a crowd of strangers one by one was basically his version of a living nightmare.
He did remember once seeing Charlie from across the yard at one of the barbecues and wondering who the cutie with the smile that radiated warmth was. By the time Blair had set his plate down and turned back to make his way toward the man, Charlie had vanished.
And now here he was, on Blair’s doorstep.
What was he doing here if he already had a job, though? “Are you . . . seeking a new career direction?”
“No,” Charlie said with a quiet laugh. “Just a second job.” He cocked his head, and he might’ve looked guileless if there hadn’t been a hint of humour in his brown eyes. “Can I have my hand back?”
“Right.” Blair snatched his hand away, embarrassment tingling across the back of his neck. “Sorry. Uh. Come on in.”
4 out of 5 (very good)
Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!
This Is book 2 in the Vancouver Orcas series, I have not read book one, Game Plan. I didn't think I was missing anything, but I WANT to read that book now, I don't need to, you know? So this can be read as a stand-alone book, but be prepared to feel the same as I did after reading this one.
Blair has a self-inflicted deadline, and he needs help to sort himself out so he can meet it. Charlie needs the extra cash, so steps up as a general assistant and food prep person. Falling in love was not on the agenda for either of them.
I've read a couple by Amy Aislin, and they seem to carry a common theme, for me: warm and fuzzies and a whole lotta cute, and this book is no exception to that!
It really is a wonderful read, one that made me chuckle in places, it's emotional in places, it's steamy at some points, and hella smexy in others (and yes, steamy and smexy ARE different, but don't ask my book brain to explain it!) and it really is an all-round great read.
There is no breakup, no nutty ex, and no real drama save for Charlie's cash flow problem, but that got fixed anyway. There are some family issues, but they get sorted once people see what they are doing.
I loved that once Charlie and Blair decide to be together, they go all in and Blair's teammates take Charlie in as one of their own.
It took me a wee while to place all of Charlie's cousins, and even longer to get that Matt Shore, Blair's coach, is one of those cousins! There is a clue to Matt's story here: his is the first book. And Cousin Dorian, who plays a large part here, has the third book in the trilogy. I need that book too!
A delightful read, that really hit the spot I didn't know needed hitting.
4 very VERY good stars
** same worded review will appear elsewhere **
* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book; the comments here are my honest opinion. *
July 18 (Release Day)
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Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.
An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.
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