Against The Rush
Philadelphia Power, Book 1
by Susan Scott Shelley & Chantal Mer
Jalen Daniels loves his job as a hockey coach to kids in the Philadelphia Power’s youth league. Coaching in the same league he played in and volunteering his time to a charity that brings the game to underserved communities takes up a lot of his time. The rest is filled with playing hockey in a rec league and bouncing at a nightclub. Meeting Leif Larsson, star player for the Power and father of one of the kids he coaches, knocks Jalen’s busy life off balance and leaves him craving Philly’s favorite Swede.
Philadelphia Power defenseman Leif Larsson has devoted the last four years to being a dad and a hockey player, in that order. Focusing on being the best dad for his daughter and the best teammate and player for the team was all that mattered. But when he sees Jalen at a charity event, their connection is strong enough to push his heart into pursuing the talented, surprising, handsome man.
Amid the bustle of hockey season, the sparks between Jalen and Leif ignite into something bigger and brighter than they’ve ever experienced. But navigating a relationship when their conflicting schedules make meeting up close to impossible is harder on their hearts than they anticipated. Can they find a way to score a win for love?
Nudging an elbow into my side, Ryder inclines Striker’s giant head in Sawyer’s direction with a sly smile. “I was thinking about bringing a backup turkey to Thanksgiving.”
As expected, frustration flares in Sawyer’s features, and he huffs a heavy sigh. “My dog snatches the bird off the table one time and it’s all you guys can talk about.”
Grinning, Axel zips his bag shut and takes over stowing away Sawyer’s gear for him. “Don’t forget, his yanking the tablecloth also lost us the stuffing and green beans.”
“The cranberry sauce was still edible.” Frustration fades under the amusement brimming in Sawyer’s eyes. “Don’t worry, I’ve already had a talk with him about being a good guest and I am bringing a backup turkey just in case.”
“Should I bring one too?” Blue eyes brimming with laughter, Calder rubs a towel over his damp blond hair. “Or stick with apple pie?”
“I love pie.” Axel hooks his arm around Calder’s shoulders. “Definitely more pie.”
“If you had your way, we’d exclusively be eating pie for dinner.” Laughing, I can’t resist the pull to turn my attention back to Jalen. For the first time all afternoon, he’s alone.
“Go talk to him,” Axel advises, and Sawyer, Calder, and Ryder nod in agreement.
Desire to go wars with fear of rejection and the worry I imagined our earlier connection. “What, right now? With you all watching?”
Axel fixes me with the no-nonsense stare reserved for the occasions when our team needs to be called out. “You’re one of the most fearsome defensemen in the league and a formidable champion of LGBTQ rights. Are you really going to let a little thing like us scare you away from talking to the first guy to ever captivate your attention? Don’t be such a baby.”
A baby? I immediately bristle with the need to prove I’m not one. The satisfaction on Axel’s face reveals his intention. He knows me too well.
“Fine.” Anticipation, embarrassment, and determination jangling my body louder than the music coming from the arena’s speakers, I stand. My teammates do the same, and for a second I’m afraid they’ll tag along.
Axel slaps my back. “That’s my boy.”
“Good luck, Leafy,” Sawyer adds, before tugging a ball cap with Striker’s image over his dark hair.
Ryder gives me a gentle nudge forward. “Make us proud, man.”
“You’ve got this.” Calder busts out two thumbs up.
“You guys suck.” But they just grin at me, and I smile back. I’m lucky to have friends who will goad me into being brave in the one area I’ve shied away from since the birth of my daughter. Being a dad has always come first, so I haven’t let myself indulge too far into romance. But there’s something about Jalen, and if I don’t act now, I know I’ll always regret it.
Nerves buzzing stronger than before a championship game, I head in his direction.
Against the Rush is a slow burn romance between two guys who have a instant and strong connection but who have to figure out how they can make it work. Both are extremely busy with professional and family commitments that take up quite a bit of their time. But when you meet someone that you are drawn to so completely, you’ll just have to figure things out.
I liked both Jalen and Leif – they are sensible, giving, and loving. They approach life and relationships with careful thought and hard work. Are there bumps along the way, sure, but that’s pretty much life. Plus, they wear their hearts on their sleeves and it’s just the sweetest.
I will say my only complaint is that some of the writing is a little …. flowery? The similes and metaphors got just a bit out there for me. It only happened in a handful of places but if a reader is anything like my husband that’s going to be a big nope right out of the gate so I wanted to throw it out there.
Overall, though, readers who likes a slower paced, realistic love story will enjoy Leif & Jalen’s story. It’s full of real-life moments, relationships, and issues. There’s hardly any drama or angst, just a couple slowly getting to know each other and falling in love.
USA TODAY Bestselling Author Susan Scott Shelley writes stories with heat and heart, where love always wins. Her romances give readers lighthearted escapes into happily ever after, celebrate the fact that love is love, and that everyone, regardless of how they identify and who they love, deserves to be accepted and cherished for who they are. In addition to crafting stories, she is a professional voiceover artist and enjoys lending her voice to a wide range of projects. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and loves sports, science, running, and reading. Visit her at susanscottshelley.com.
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Chantal Mer never set out to write books. Yet here she is, and she’s having a blast. Happily ever afters for everyone makes her heart sing. When she’s not writing, Chantal can be found walking her adorable dog, going to musical theater with her daughter, observing the night sky with her husband and his telescope, and learning about the latest advances in video games with her son. Give her a book and a glass of wine and she’s in her happy place. Chantal lives outside of Philadelphia with her husband, two teens, and her sweet pup, Miss Toffee. Visit her at chantalmer.com.
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