Book Title: Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5)
Author: A. E. Wasp
Cover Artist: Ana Phoenix
Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Romance
It is a standalone book.
This is a story about losing the path and finding yourself.
It contains kissing, yelling, spanking, and carb-loaded family interventions.
Hockey superstar Joey Luciano has always been good at being whatever people needed him to be. The fans want a good-looking fast-living party boy? Enter ‘the Looch,’ Joey’s carefully created public persona. But the cracks in his mask are starting to show, and he’s begun to lose touch with who he really is. It’s going to take someone who’s been there from the very beginning, to help him find his way home.
Coach Liam O’Reilly always had a very clear picture of what his life should look like. Falling in love with the infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and endlessly fascinating boy next door was not part of the plan. But when Liam’s carefully constructed life fell apart one Christmas Eve, Joey Luciano was there to pick up the pieces. Now Liam can’t stop wanting him.
The passion blazing between them on the ice and behind closed doors could leave both of them badly burned. But through the smoke, Liam can see glimpses of a future brighter than any he’d imagined, a future worth risking his career and reputation for, if only he is brave enough to reach for it.
But Joey’s got a secret he’s keeping from everyone. If it gets out, it could be the end of everything.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
“Hey,” Joey said, looking up from his phone as Liam fell into the bathroom. “Took you long enough. I’ve been in this fucking bathroom for ten minutes. It’s not that nice. One of those for me?”
“Fucking hell,” Liam said.
Those were the first words he’d spoken to Joey since Christmas Day. Jerk. Stupid gorgeous jerk.
”Okay, then.” Joey reached for one of the shot glasses and downed it, coughing a little from the tequila burn. He’d been expecting whiskey. “Tequila?” Bad things happened when they drank tequila.
Liam nodded and poured the other shot down his throat.
Who else but his big sister would do that? Of course, he’d known they were planning on trapping him in the bathroom. He’d also known Liam would do what they wanted, too. The O’Reilly-Luciano double-team had a ninety-five percent success rate.
He’d gone along with it because someplace, not even that deep inside, he desperately wanted to see Liam again. To see if Liam would still have the same effect on him as he had since puberty. Joey licked the last drop of alcohol off his lips, feeling a tingle of lust when Liam dropped his gaze to Joey’s mouth. Yeah. Still, the same effect. Stupid, good-looking smug bastard.
Liam set his glass on the counter with a thud, and then closed the distance between them, forcing Joey to look up to meet his eyes. Sometimes Joey really hated being four inches shorter than him.
“Nice outfit,” Liam said taking in the remains of Joey’s hastily-constructed pirate costume; red and black striped nylon pants ending in a ragged cuff just below the knee, black patent-leather Doc Martin boots, and a wide gold sash tied around his waist. He’d lost his shirt somewhere in the club. The way Liam couldn’t tear his eyes away from Joey’s tattoos made the loss of the two hundred dollar shirt totally worth it.
Liam picked up the end of the sash, sliding the silky material through his fingers. “How come every time I see you, you’re wearing some kind of costume?” Last time they’d met, Joey had been dressed as Santa.
Liam, of course, was his normal GQ self in dark trousers, a white dress shirt, and one of his vast collection of purple ties. The perfect simplicity of his clothes making everyone else look like they were trying too hard.
“How come every time I see you, you’re overdressed?” Joey asked.
Liam ran his hand through his thick red hair. “At least I’m not wandering around half-naked, letting everybody and their brother get their eyes all over me.”
Joey’s jaw dropped. “Excuse me?”
Liam scowled. “It’s a snake pit out there. I got groped half a dozen times walking here.”
Joey leaned back against the water-splattered sink counter. He crossed his arms over his chest. “Your point is?”
Liam stepped close enough that their thighs brushed. Dropping his hand heavily on Joey’s shoulder, he watched transfixed as his thumb traced the curve of Joey’s collarbone. “My point is, that maybe I don’t like the idea of you getting pawed at by a room full of drunks and puck bunnies.”
Joey knocked Liam’s hand away. He had to be fucking kidding. “Tough shit.” Joey pushed himself upright, poking Liam in the center of his (distractingly firm) chest, hard enough to make him take a step backward. “You got no right to tell me what to do or not to do.”
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Wow. There was so much action and so much happening in this book with a huge cast of characters, so this book demands your full and undivided attention. I like how we got some help at the beginning of the book on the Luciano and O’Reilly families – sort of a who’s who – and a hockey terms glossary which really helped me as someone who only knows a little about the game and what I do know I’ve learnt from romance novels.
What stood out most here for me was the sense of family and kinship; how close they all were and the ribbing and teasing that went on between them all. It was fun to read their group chats which was a really nice touch by the author. Liam and Joey grew up together and were really close before things got intimate and to watch this evolve was really interesting; I don’t think I’ve read about a pairing that were this close (and with everyone knowing ALL their business!) before. They were really under the microscope whilst navigating their feelings and I did sympathise with the both of them. You really get sucked in here, willing Liam and Joey on, and the supporting characters are so rich and diverse – and don’t forget hilarious – that it’s like watching a film in a way; blink and you’ll miss the action. There were some really sweet and hot moments here with the MC’s, written beautifully by the author. If you’re up for a roller-coaster ride set in the hockey world, with a ton of family interference and plenty of laughs, give this one a try.
An advanced copy of this book was received for review on OMGReads.
I’d been waiting for this book for a long time and couldn’t wait to jump into Liam and Joey’s story. Despite my eagerness, the first couple of chapters of this book were difficult for me to get into. It’s been a while since I read Boy Toys, the novella introduction to Liam and Joey. And there is a lot going on that we just get thrown right into. Liam and Joey’s families are very close friends and the beginning of many chapters in this book is excerpts from the families’ group chats. It’s a lot of names and voices and references and side stories thrown on us all at once at the beginning. I highly recommend revisiting Boy Toys before starting Boy Next Door.
Once I got about a quarter of the way into the story, I felt more in sync with the characters and wasn’t as confused and needing to reference the “who’s who” at the beginning of the book. (Speaking of, I have a love/hate relationship with lists of characters and their connections in books – on one hand, it’s handy when I’m trying to remember exactly who Natalie is, for example, but on the other hand, I’m not totally sure that many characters are necessary. It is a bit overwhelming. I’m reading a romance novel, not a chemistry textbook; I don’t want to have to check the glossary to follow along with what I’m reading. It’s necessary once you get to book 8 in a series about the same small group, but shouldn’t be necessary in book 5 of a series with unrelated characters. But I digress.)
So, once I was about a quarter of the way into the story, I was comfortable and felt caught up. I was past the distractions of the side characters and able to fully focus on Liam and Joey. And their story is really good. It’s super tropey, in a good way. We’ve got friends-to-lovers, age gap, childhood crush, coach and player, self-discovery, athletes, coming out… the list really goes on. And while putting all these tropes into a single story could most definitely go way overboard, it all works really well here.
The middle part of the book really shines. Liam and Joey both grow a lot together in a short period of time, coming to terms with some things that have been plaguing them for a while – Liam’s past failed relationship, Joey’s health concerns and sexual orientation, as well as their orbiting around each other for years that everyone sees but them. There’s lots of hockey action that’s really well-written, and lots of amazing cameos featuring Robbie and Paul and Alex and Sergei from previous books in the series. Liam and Joey explore their physical and emotional connections to each other while also balancing internalized homophobia and a spectrum of embarrassment and shame. It’s a lot going on, really, but I thought it was well-written and very realistic.
The ending felt a bit rushed – one major conflict was wrapped up with literally a one-page summary, which was a bit disappointing. Liam and Joey’s relationship also seemed to escalate super quickly off-page between the second-to-last and last chapters. I would’ve appreciated a bit more page time to showing the aftermath of the Big Confessions.
Despite my disappointment with the first quarter and the very end, I really enjoyed this book. It had been a while since I spent time in this universe but it was like coming back to old friends. I’m so glad Liam and Joey get their happily ever after and am always down to revisit Alex and Sergei (gah I love them). I’m not sure where this series will go next, but I look forward to seeing where the author will take us.
An advanced copy of this book was received for review on OMGReads.
About the Author
After time spent raising children, earning several college degrees, and traveling the world with the U.S. State Department, she is returning to her first love – writing.
A dreamer and an idealist, Amy writes about people finding connection in a world that can seem lonely and magic in a world that can seem all too mundane. She invites readers into her characters’ lives and worlds when they are their most vulnerable, their most human, living with the same hopes and fears we all have. An avid traveler who has lived in big cities and small towns in four different continents, Amy has found that time and distance are no barriers to love. She invites her readers to reach out and share how her characters have touched their lives or how the found families they have gathered around them have shaped their worlds.
Born on Long Island, NY, Amy has lived in Los Angeles, London, and Bangkok. She currently lives in a town suspiciously like Red Deer, Colorado.
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