Friday, March 24, 2023

New Release-Review & Excerpt: ROAD RULES by Brigham Vaughn (Rules of the Game #1) - Includes Giveaway!

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Road Rules
By Brigham Vaughn

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Rules of the Game, Book 1

Rule #1: Hockey Comes First

As NHL team captain, Zane Murphy’s goal for the upcoming season is simple: take the Evanston River Otters all the way to the Stanley Cup.

Rule #2: Only On the Road

But an unexpectedly hot night with his best friend and teammate Ryan Hartinger throws Zane’s carefully laid plans and his sexuality into disarray.

Rule #3: Don’t Fall in Love with Your Best Friend

When feelings begin to creep in, Zane will have to decide if he’s willing to throw out the rules and risk his career and his friendship for a chance at winning it all.

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“That was a sick goal at the end of the second period, man.”

Zane Murphy looked away from the NHL game on the TV screen to smile at his new road roommate. “Thanks. Your pass was a beauty.”

“I’ve gotcha tape to tape, my dude. Tape to tape.”

Zane gave him an amused glance. He still wasn’t sure what to make of Ryan Hartinger.

They were only a few weeks into the season and Ryan was a freshman player. He was a solid winger and a great locker-room guy. He had an infectious energy on and off the ice and so far, Zane was pretty pleased to have him as a liney.

He was a little less sure how he felt about rooming with him on the road though.

Ryan reminded him of a not-very-well-trained golden retriever.

And he talked. A lot.

“Keep it up and hopefully we’ll have a better season this year than last,” Zane said with a sigh as he glanced back at the Boston vs. Dallas game.

Last season, the University of Michigan’s ice hockey team had been knocked out of the Frozen Four in the first round to a school that shouldn’t have been able to beat them. It still stung.

If only he’d gotten that last goal in the net instead of the puck bouncing off the post like that …

“If we keep it up, maybe someday we’ll be playing there,” Ryan said, nodding at the TV.

“God, I hope so.” Zane didn’t even try to hide the longing in his voice.

“Hey, you’ve already been drafted by the Otters. You’ve got a great shot at it.”

Zane settled back against the headboard of the hotel room bed, trying to push down the warm glow that settled in his chest at the thought of his draft day last summer. The Otters were a newer NHL expansion team in the Chicago Illinois area and Zane was itching to play for them.

He’d been watching Anders Lindholm—their top line center—burn up the league for years with Boston and a shot at playing on a team with him was everything.

Some guys Zane knew had called him crazy for planning to finish his degree first but his parents were pretty strongly in favor of him earning one in case the NHL didn’t work out, and Zane understood that.

Besides, U of M’s team was so f*cking good. Zane had gotten a ton of experience, dialed in his game, and felt much more seasoned as a player than he had a few years ago. And he was looking forward to another shot at the college hockey championship this year.

It meant he’d probably have to spend less time bouncing between the Otters and their AHL affiliate. He hoped so anyway.


Carra's Review

As the start of a series, this story definitely does its job of pulling you in and leaving you wanting more stories in the same world.  Zane and Ryan’s journey from straight friends through both of their bi-awakenings to so much more was gradual and progressed at a natural pace, allowing time for them to explore the more emotional aspects of their friendship as things unfolded.

Zane is the more serious, responsible of the two, always with his eye on their goal when it comes to hockey (no pun intended…well, okay, maybe a little LOL).  Ryan is the more laid-back one, but is still a steadfast support for them both.  Their deep connection even before going pro is evident, and once they are in the big leagues they are like two halves of a whole even before the intimate changes in their relationship begin.

This is easily one of my favorite friends-to-lovers books, because Zane and Ryan are far and away one of the best, most suited matchups I’ve read with this trope.  I couldn’t imagine one without the other, and watching as their relationship journeyed from new teammates to inseparable lovers was incredibly satisfying.

I’m excited for more in this series, but for now I’ll be happily content with Road Rules, which I’ll definitely be rereading in the future.  If you haven’t yet guessed, this was a 5-star read for me and I’ve added it to my Top Recommendations.  If you’re a fan of friends-to-lovers, or just of hockey romances, you’ll want to exercise that one-click finger ASAP ;-). These guys are scorching hot together, so this story is meant for readers 18+ for adult language and sexual content.



Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Road Rules, Brigham is giveaway away a $15 Amazon Voucher!

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About the Author:

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time author. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga. She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas to novels. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings. Pronouns: she/her

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