His father was sitting at the small kitchen table they’d managed to cram into a corner, reading the most current copy of USA Hockey Magazine. Beside him, Irina was surfing the net as usual. Alla was busy by the stove, stirring the large pot that contained the traditional winter stew.
“How can you get internet when I don’t have service yet?” Nik asked, pulling up a chair.
“Piggyback with your neighbor,” she answered nonchalantly.
“Isn’t that illegal?”
“Only if you’re caught.”
“Naughty girl,” he said, shaking his head.
“Mama made special almond cake for your birthday,” Igor mentioned.
“My birthday’s not until tomorrow,” Nik reminded them.
“We’ll be on the road by seven in the morning. Tonight we celebrate.”
“Okay,” he said. “Thank you for the cake, Mama.”
“You’re welcome, Kolya. Where were you this afternoon?”
“I was over at the neighbors’ teaching Emory some Russian phrases. He’s going to Sochi in three weeks and wants to learn.”
“Are they paying you?” Igor asked.
“No,” Nik said. “I offered to teach him.”
“Time is money, and if that poofter can’t pay, then give it up.”
“I’m not doing it to get rich.”
“No?” Igor put down the magazine and focused on his son. “Do you have a money tree I don’t know about? As soon as we hit the road tomorrow, our job is done. Rent is paid through February, and the last time I checked, your bank account was almost empty.”
“I’ll be getting paid as soon as I start to play next week,” Nik explained.
“And between now and then?”
“You have plenty of food,” Alla said reassuringly. “At least you won’t starve.”
“That’s all I need for now.”
“Good thing you don’t smoke,” Igor pointed out, “or drink too much.”
“I’ll be fine, Papa.”
“You should ask those people to pay you,” Igor said again. “Start thinking like a businessman.”
Nik rolled his eyes in exasperation and snapped, “Drop it, Pops.” As soon as the words were out of his mouth, he wanted to take them back. His father’s eyes narrowed, and the resounding slap on his left cheek was a swift reminder he’d overstepped. Igor was not a man to joke around with, and his word was sacrosanct as far as his family was concerned. Any sign of disrespect was dealt with quickly and usually violently. Nik wasn’t kidding when he’d told Emory that his dad would break his nose if he dared to talk smack around him. Lying when asked if he was beaten regularly was second nature, though. He’d rather die than admit to being physically abused at the ripe old age of nineteen—or twenty in one more day.
Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai (Nik) Vetrov. On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.
Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way. Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.
While the attraction was one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting. Before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.
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Mickie B. Ashling is the alter-ego of a multifaceted woman raised by a single mother who preferred reading over other forms of entertainment. She found a kindred spirit in her oldest child and encouraged her with a steady supply of dog-eared paperbacks. Romance was the preferred genre, and historical romances topped her favorites list.
By the time Mickie discovered her own talent for writing, real life had intruded, and the business of earning a living and raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing and the inevitable emptying nest, dreams were resurrected, and the storyteller was reborn.
She stumbled into the world of men who love men in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called "gut wrenching, daring, and thought provoking." She admits to being an angst queen and making her men work damn hard for their happy endings.
Mickie loves to travel and has lived in the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East but currently resides in a suburb outside Chicago.
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May 25 - The Novel Approach
May 25 - Garrett Leigh
May 26 - Charlie Cochet
May 27 - Emotion in Motion
May 28 - BA Tortuga
May 29 - On Top Down Under Book Reviews
May 31 - Diverse Reader
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June 2 - Cup o' Porn
June 3 - WoW...from The Scarf Princess
June 4 - Love Bytes
June 5 - Divine Magazine
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June 9 - Sinfully...Addicted to All Male Romance
June 10 - Hearts On Fire
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