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If there’s one thing that Helen Parat knows, it’s how to defend. Whether it’s her goalie or her bruised heart, the Venom’s top D-man isn’t about to let anyone get too close. While it’s an admirable thing on the ice, it’s left her alone for far too long in her personal life. Better lonely than taunted, the stately beauty decided years ago. That philosophy has served Helen well – until Bobby Fovea entered her defensive zone.
The energetic and handsome Wildcats captain is winning Helen over, one honest and loving smile at a time. Just when she thinks she’s blocked him out, Bobby finds a new way to work his way into her heart. As Helen and the Venom make their push for the championship, it’s going to take every ounce of dedication, grit, and passion she has to seize not only the cup but the happiness she’s denied herself for far too long.
Review by Victoria:
It all comes down to this book, ladies and gents. If you, like me, have followed this incredible season for the Venom women’s hockey, we’re in the playoffs final series. The team has been through so much and we’re not quite done yet.
“Okay, so next week when we have a day off between games, we’ll meet up here and go to the Mennonite store to get fabric. I’m so excited!” Alicia bounced around her spacious kitchen as we cleaned up the patterns, coffee mugs, and a sticky honeypot Wren had been sticking her fingers into.
“I got a pink lily dress.” Wren informed us then took off in pursuit of a kitten that had wandered into the house from the goat barn.
“She insisted on pink.” Alicia told me when I joined her at the sink to dry the mugs she was washing by hand.
“She’ll look precious. And what about you? What’s your bridal gown like?”
She sighed a bit, as if in a dream, and then shook her head, her soft golden hair framing her face.
“We try not to boast about material things but, oh, Helen, it’s going to be so beautiful!”
I smiled at her. “He’s a lucky man.”
“We’re both lucky. The goddess has blessed us both in so many ways. And she’ll bless you too.” With that, she reached over to pluck the damp dishcloth from my hand. The others had filed out to explore the farm. “Why don’t you go outside and talk to Bobby for a bit.”
I crinkled my nose.
“He’s got a good soul, Helen. Even Dale and Sage have commented on that. Sincerity glows within him. What harm can come from being nice to him?”
A chicken began to cackle outside, which made the geese start honking. She had no idea. Alicia had probably never been laughed at by a drunken frat boy when he took off her shirt.
“Right, nothing. I’m off to talk to Bobby.” I left her standing at the sink with soapy hands and a wistful expression. Might as well just get this over with and talk to the man. When things went south then they’d all stop nudging me, and I could go back to my perfectly nice life.
The back of the farm faced the pastures. Along one fence were some beehives. I spotted my teammates over at the farm pond, seated along the bank, soaking their feet in the water by the looks. That looked like fun. But no. I had to go make small talk with Bobby. Pfft.
Following the fence, I came to the barn. There were no goats to be seen. One large gate had been removed from a massive post driven into the fertile ground. I slipped into the opening, stepped over the gate lying on the ground, and peeked into the barn. Nothing in there but mangers filled with hay and dust motes floating in slim streams of the summer sun.
I spun around and there he stood. Smiling, as always, with his bare shoulders exposed to the sun. They were lightly freckled. Slick with sweat. I forbid my eyes to drop to his bare chest. Eye to eye contact only.
“Hi. I uh…” I waved a hand at the gate by my feet. “Came inside. Is that okay?”
“Sure, yeah. We’re around back working on a small pen that they use for the kids when they’re little.” He motioned me to the eastern side of the barn. I gave him an awkward smile then went around the old clapboard barn. Sage was sitting under a tree with his legs in a lotus, sipping cold tea. He lifted a hand in greeting and I did the same. A gusty wind whipped past, tugging on Sage’s long gray hair.
I had no idea what to say to the man. I kept my eyes on the ground. Bobby stepped around me, leaned his shoulder on the side of the barn and started talking. I slipped my hands into my pockets and bobbed my head as he chatted about fence staples, apple trees in the orchard, and how beautiful my eyes were. Wait. What?
“What?” I asked when the compliment sank in.
He cocked his head a bit to the left, his big shoulder dropped a little, and he gently reached out to touch the side of my face with his hand. His finger was rough, calloused, and gentle. That thick shank of soft red hair fell over his brow.
“You have beautiful eyes. So green, like the mountains. And skin white like homemade vanilla ice cream.”
“I’ll be thirty-four in August.”
“You want a party?”
“I – you – what? No. I’m not asking for a party. I’m telling you that because you stroking my face is stupid.” A bee flew by and landed on the side of the barn. Bobby was too busy trying to make up silly things to compare my eyes and skin to to take notice of a bug.
“You say that a lot. About me liking you or thinking that you’re pretty. Why do you think that?” He never moved closer, if anything he swayed back some. Perhaps he was worried that I’d bolt which was preposterous. Helen Parat was solid like a wall. Built like one too…
“Why do I think it’s stupid for you to have these romantic notions?”
A rivulet of sweat ran down the side of his face, through the bristles of his new beard, and down the side of his thick neck. Then the stupid thing slithered down his pectoral, leading my gaze down to a dark pink nipple surrounded by a few dark red hairs. Where would that sweat droplet go next? Downward over his hard stomach? Maybe. Hopefully. I was happy to wait here by the barn with the bee and see where it went. I had time. All day. And his stomach was quite nice with all those rippled muscles and a treasure trail of dusky red hair that—
“Helen, are you checking me out?” I heard the humor in his voice. My eyes leaped from that sinful trail to his twinkling brown eyes.
“I like coffee with muffins.” Oh, Helen, what kind of moronic statement was that? Dear God, woman. “I mean…your sister thinks that – I need coffee. Not muffins. Unless you want muffins then we could do muffins but they’re empty calories.”
“So, you were checking me out.” Well wasn’t he suddenly filled with masculine self-satisfaction? “I like coffee with muffins too.”
When I said nothing due to my brain literally drowning in estrogen, he flashed a smile filled with white teeth. His gaze locked with mine, a sultry hum of sexual attraction riding the wind like the sweet scent of bread baking in Grandma’s kitchen. He placed a hand on the side of the barn and locked his elbow.
“Blueberry are good.” I finally manage to reply.
“Yeah, they are good.” If he kissed me now I would…kiss him back. Slap him. Kiss him back. Slap him. No, kissing is nicer than slapping. Maybe a dirty look? No, dummy, no dirty looks. Just kiss him. But…kiss him back. Sigh. Fine. Kiss him back wins. I would. I’d regret it afterward but not during.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Dr. Who, Torchwood, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.
When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.
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Other Books by V.L. Locey
Gone Writing Publishing M/F Backlist Books and Upcoming Releases
Pink Pucks & Power Plays (To Love a Wildcat #1)
A Most Unlikely Countess (To Love a Wildcat #2)
O Captain! My Captain! (To Love a Wildcat #3)
Reality Check (To Love a Wildcat #4)
Language of Love (To Love a Wildcat #5)
Final Shifts (To Love a Wildcat #6)
Clean Sweep (Venom #1)
Twirly Girl (Venom #2)
Tape to Tape (Venom #3)
Angle Play (Venom #4)
Flow (Venom #5)
Roster Addition (A To Love a Wildcat novella)
Gone Writing Publishing LGBT Releases
Playmaker (An F/F Venom series novella)
Independent LGBTQ Releases
On Broadway (Part of the 2016-2017 Changing on the Fly M/M charity hockey anthology)
Holly & Hockey Boots (An M/M holiday hockey romance novella)
Point Shot Trilogy Boxed Set
Snap Shot—Cayuga Cougars #1
Changing Lines—Harrisburg Railers #1—Coauthored with RJ Scott
Open Net—Cayuga Cougars #2
First Season—Harrisburg Railers #2—Coauthored with RJ Scott
Rookie Moves (Part of the 2107/2018 Changing on the Fly M/M charity hockey anthology)
Deep Edge—Harrisburg Railers #3—Coauthored with RJ Scott
Coach’s Challenge -Cayuga Cougars #3
Poke Check – Harrisburg Railers #4 – Coauthored with RJ Scott
Blueline – Venom #6