Trade Deadline (Hat Trick #3)

Trade Deadline (Hat Trick #3) 
Author: Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn 
Publisher: Carina Press 
Release Date: August 17, 2020 
Genre(s): M/M Sports Romance 
Page Count: 304 
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 

As I noted in my review of the second book in the Hat Trick series - Goalie Interference: "Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn write beautifully about hockey - its sheer physicality, the rivalries and friendships, the intensity of community -" and in a nutshell, that is what is missing from "Trade Deadline."

Daniel Bellemy is recently amicably divorced from his wife Tabby after ten years together, and he has moved back to his Miami hometown to play for the Miami Thunder on a one-year contract.  The team is at the bottom of the ratings and there are a lot of problems with team unity, unlike the close-knit Atlanta Venom.  Daniel comes to the team - not as a captain - but as a calming experienced team player with hopes of pulling them together, but this subplot is quickly cast aside as the focus of the book moves away from hockey. 

Daniel reconnects with Micah, his childhood best friend - and first crush / first kiss - and is finally able to explore his bisexuality without the intense media scrutiny of being part of a Stanley Cup winning team.  Micah is living the dream as a marine biologist and his job is all kinds of cute (daily dolphin selfies!) and interesting; Daniel's involvement in youth hockey is also very sweet.  But ...  

There is little hockey in this book - and little in the way of close friendships with his new team. The story really focuses on the relationship between Micah and Daniel and while it is .... interesting ... I do not find it particularly compelling.  There isn't a lot of tension and little standing in the way of their relationship since all their friends, Daniel's ex-wife Tabby and kids are very much okay with their romance. 

I'm willing to admit this may be a case of "it's not YOU, it's ME" because while I found the story enjoyable, I desparately wanted more hockey and a pinch more tension.  3.5 stars and I'm pinning my hopes on the next book in the series which will hopefully be Morley's story. 

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