Exclusive Excerpt, Guest Post

Five Difficulties of a Coach/Player Relationship

Coach/player relationships hit about a thousand of my buttons, which is why I was so excited to write one in Coach’s Challenge. I have a thing for any kind of forced proximity romance (snowed in a cabin! Marriage of convenience!), and the secrecy inherent in the Coach/Player dynamic makes it super hot. But, as the title of the book suggests, it’s also not the easiest – and here are some reasons why!

  1. Alone time is hard to come by. Especially in the ECHL – hey, you’re on a bus with a lot of other guys, in a locker room with a lot of other guys, staying in a hotel with a lot of other guys….you get the picture. Throw in the adrenaline rush post-game and how do you find the perfect place where you won’t be interrupted to indulge in some sexy hotness? It’s one thing in your own locker room, but if you’re away in some strange state, in a city you’re not familiar with and an arena that isn’t yours…those dark corners aren’t always easy to come by! Also, hockey players wear a lot of gear. If you’re secret boyfriend is a goalie, you’re gonna have to wait a few minutes for him to get all that gear off before anything sexy can happen.
  2. Locker Rooms aren’t made for trysts. Seriously, it’s all hard benches, cold floors, lockers and smelly equipment. Not exactly the most conducive to a sexy moment, right? Showers are all right there in the open and everything, too. You’re going to have to be pretty creative. Besides, let’s say you work something out and find a way to get it on…then you’re going to be stuck having inappropriate thoughts about the many uses of skate laces during the pre-game speech.
  3. A coach’s job is to offer both praise – and critique. While this is great for a player’s on-ice development, relationship wise? It can be a little tricky. If you’ve got a coach with some strong opinions – and who’s used to shouting them out in the moment – then that might lead to some complications in intimate situations. Hearing a critique of your passing techniques is one thing…but no one wants a diagram about their bedroom skills and how they can be improved when they’re in the middle of things.
  4. Hockey has some of the most unintentionally dirty lingo in sports, and that might lead to some embarrassing interruptions when you’re not really in the mood for an audience. Because your teammates might hear the coach telling you why he wants you to “get it in deep” and not think anything about waltzing right in and interrupting you.  
  5. If you’re a coach, you’re going to be watching your secret boyfriend playing hockey in a lot of situations…both good and bad. And if you’re a hotheaded coach, you might take exception to the guy on the other team who just tripped your boyfriend on the ice. Especially when he has the puck, and a clear lane to the goal. And if your boyfriend gets that game winner in OT that wins your team a championship? You can’t really kiss him senseless without everyone knowing what’s up.


Avon Gale HeadshotABOUT THE AUTHOR

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

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

Connect with Avon: Website | Twitter | Facebook | FB Group | Newsletter | Goodreads


Coach's Challenge CoverABOUT THE BOOK 

“I hope this series continues forever. I always have time for more of Avon Gale’s quirky, impeccably written hockey players. Shane is the perfect smartass, and watching him fall for Troy is terrific fun.” – Sarina Bowen, USA Today bestselling author of Him

It’s been decades since blackmail forced Troy Callahan to retire from playing professional hockey, and he’s built a successful career behind the bench. When he’s offered the opportunity to coach the Asheville Ravens—the most hated team in the ECHL—he’s convinced that his no-nonsense attitude is just what the team needs to put their focus back on hockey. But Troy is disheartened when he finds that the Ravens have signed Shane North, a player known for his aggression—especially when Shane’s rough good looks give Troy inappropriate thoughts about a player, even if Shane’s set to retire at the end of the season.

Shane’s career in the majors never quite took off. Wanting to quit on his own terms, Shane agrees to a one-year contract with the Ravens and finds himself playing for a coach who thinks he’s an aging goon and with a team that doesn’t trust him, the coach, or each other. Despite his determination to not get involved, Shane unwillingly becomes part of the team… and is just as unwillingly drawn to the gruff, out-and-proud coach. As the Ravens struggle to build a new identity, Shane and Troy succumb to the passion that might cost them everything.


CHECK OUT OUR EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: 

There was enough room on the charter bus for everyone to have a row to themselves, but that didn’t help, since Troy never had been able to sleep on a bus.

So, at three in the morning, Troy watched coaching videos as he slumped down in his seat with a pair of earbuds. He was scowling at the videos and muttering under his breath about how stupid they were when he felt someone slide into the seat next to him.

Shane, of course.

“You are fucking kidding me with this,” Troy hissed as he yanked his earbuds out. He looked around the bus, even though it was obvious from the silence that everyone was asleep, and even if they weren’t, Troy was up near the front, and the person closest to him—Quinn—was snoring with his head on the window and had one of those sleep-mask things covering his eyes.

“You ever stop working?” Shane slouched down in his seat, which made him barely visible to anyone in the darkness of the bus’s quiet interior.

“I can’t sleep on these things. And no. Not really. I even dream about fucking hockey.”

“Yeah? You sure it’s hockey you dream about fucking, and not… something else?” Shane leaned in closer, and his breath ghosted against Troy’s neck. “Like my mouth?”

“What the hell are you doing?” Troy’s cock hardened immediately. “You trying to get me fired?”

“Everyone’s asleep, Coach. Thought you could show me some of those videos.” Shane’s smile was sly. He reached out, took Troy’s phone, and magically made the videos reappear. He grabbed one of the earbuds and put it in his ear. “You should really passcode lock your phone.”

“You should really go back to your own seat.” Troy flipped to the next video. “Hang on. Let me find one about not making stupid fucking choices on a moving bus while your teammates are asleep at o-dark-thirty.”

“Mmm. Sounds good.” Shane dropped his hand to Troy’s lap. “Come on, old man. Dare you to let me.”

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