Today I am so pleased to welcome Jeff Adams to Joyfully Jay. Jeff has come to talk to us about his latest release, Head in the Game. He has also brought along an exclusive excerpt and a great giveaway. Please join me in giving Jeff a big welcome!
Many thanks to Jay for hosting me to talk about the release of Head in the Game, a m/m hockey romance novella.
It’s the story of Roger, an NHL defenseman whose game is slipping. He spent the previous season recovering from a nasty breakup and now he fears for his career. Since he’s an older player, he knows he needs to prove himself so he’s not sent down—or worse. He decides to return to his hometown and the coach who honed an angry high school student into a pro hockey player. Not only will Roger get coached, he’ll also dish out some guidance while working with the summer youth camp.
Of course, love has a sneaky way of showing up when you least expect it and have no time for it.
A relationship isn’t in Dylan’s plans either. He’s back home to coach alongside his dad—first in the summer camp and then at the high school. Dylan’s also headed to grad school.
Then Roger and Dylan meet in the locker room after the first day of camp and are immediately feel the attraction.
A May/December romance was the nugget that started this story, followed closely by sending a pro player going back to his high school coach. I pivoted around a few ideas for who the love interest could be and I went quickly from another camp coach to his former coach’s now adult son.
With that pairing, writing the story became a lot of fun and a bit of a challenge. I’d been contacted by fellow author V.L. Locey about joining her and other m/m hockey romance writers in a charity anthology (2017’s Changing on the Fly: The Second Period) and the story could go no longer than twenty thousand words. There were a lot of options for what to put these two through between Roger’s game, his hang-ups around falling for his Coach’s son and his perceptions on the age difference. Plus there’s a clock running since come fall Roger hopes to return to his team while Dylan starts a job and school.
The age gap, combined with dating the son of a friend and mentor, quickly became my favorite thing between Roger and Dylan. The older man is more cautious—doesn’t want to anger his mentor and at the same time he’s surprised by his interest in Dylan. A younger man had never caught his eye. For Dylan, he’s always been into older men and he’s got no qualms making his desires known.
This seemed like the perfect time to put out the standalone version of Head in the Game since it’s NHL All-Star Game weekend. It’s one of my favorite weekends in the hockey schedule since the best of the best players are in lineups that can happen nowhere but the All-Star Game. I’m excited the game is back in San Jose too as the Sharks venue is where I saw my first in-person All-Star game back in 1997 (a souvenir puck from that game still sits on my desk).
I hope you’ll take the occasion of this weekend’s game to pick up a copy of Head in the Game and root for Roger and Dylan.
Roger felt better coming off the ice after the camp session than he had in years. He worked with the teen group after watching them go through the warm up—a complex set of moves Coach B liked to use. It was easy to spot the players from the Panthers because they fell right into it while the newbies took longer to catch on. Roger switched rinks with the teen group and enjoyed putting them through assessment drills. It was a good group with a mixed skill level.
Afterward, Roger headed to the locker room to change. He only had a half-hour before his meeting with Coach B to figure out his personal training plan. There were jitters about that. He trusted Coach, but he wasn’t sure what to expect either. Coach excelled at teaching strategy. What made him great though was helping players navigate psychological blocks. It’s what transformed Roger in high school. Coach had helped him get past what his father dished out. His father still berated him the few times a year they talked. Roger’s ex also contributed to his current issues because he couldn’t shake him off even months after their breakup.
Coming into the locker room, Roger froze in the doorway, rooted to the spot by the sight of a young man draped in a towel standing two lockers away from his. All of his previous thoughts scattered as he took in the sight before him.
The man’s back was to him. He danced a little bit, and Roger caught glimpses of earbuds as the man moved. Roger liked what he saw—a toned body, including a tight ass that was in sharp detail when the man bent over to get his skates off the floor before putting them into his locker. Jet-black hair was wet and slicked back. His legs and arms were dusted with fine black hair. The rivulets of water trickling down his back were one of the sexiest things Roger had seen in a while.
He shook that thought out of his head. This wasn’t the place. He let the door close, and its squeak made it through the music. The guy’s head jerked around as he pulled one of the buds out. Roger recognized him as one of the coaches working with the younger players. His breath hitched as he focused on the handsome face, shining dark eyes, and lips that formed a broad smile. The jolt was something he hadn’t felt in a long while.
“Roger Jacobson, very cool to see you again. We didn’t get a chance to talk before.” The man held his towel closed while walking toward Roger. As he approached, his free hand extended for a shake. “You may not remember me though. Dylan Barker.”
Roger smiled now too. “No way.” He shook the man’s hand. “Coach B didn’t tell me you were on staff this year.” Mental warning bells sounded. Dylan was very handsome, and it was hard not to stare at all the flesh. “You were like waist-high the last time I saw you.”
Now Dylan stood only a half-foot or so shorter than Roger.
“Sounds about right. Glad to see he landed an NHLer this year.” Dylan went back to his locker as he talked. “I’m assisting Dad with the Panthers this fall while I go to grad school.”
“Keeping the family legacy alive.” Roger shook off the attraction he felt and got back to the business of why he’d come to the locker room. “He must be proud.”
“That might be an understatement given his reaction when I accepted the job.” Dylan dropped the towel and grabbed briefs from the locker.
Roger couldn’t help but see in his peripheral vision. The stirring in his sweats caught him off guard. It was a good thing he wore a cup so it wouldn’t be obvious. He couldn’t allow the coach’s son to get a rise out of him.
“I’m sure my kids will love it when you talk defense with them.” Dylan continued dressing as if he posed no distraction at all. “Looks like they’ll be a good group. How were the teens?”
“Really good.” Roger impressed himself being able to talk as Dylan pulled a t-shirt over toned pecs that featured the same dark hair as his arms. The perfect amount, Roger thought, and immediately chided himself for it. “There’s some potential college and pro material. A couple of them were outstanding. I’m not sure what I’ll have to teach them.”
Dylan raised an eyebrow as he buttoned his shorts. “You’ve got what, at least ten years of experience? You’ve got things to teach.”
Roger shrugged. “Hope so. Otherwise your dad may wonder why he brought me here.”
“Listen, I’d love to talk more, but I gotta go take care of some school stuff. I hope we can hang sometime. I’d love to hear stories from the pros and get some tips on working for my dad from a former player’s perspective.”
“Sure thing,” Roger said before he could stop himself.
Dylan slipped his feet into sneakers, closed the locker, and extended a fist to Roger. “See you tomorrow.”
Reflexively, Roger bumped the fist. “Yup.”
Dylan was gone as Roger wished he’d come up with more than a “yup” as his final word.
After a disastrous breakup, pro hockey defenseman Roger Jacobson’s game is slipping. With his contract up for renewal, he has to do something quick because his fourteen-year career is on the line. Roger returns to his hometown to work with his old coach and help run the summer hockey camp. But Dylan Barker, a handsome graduate student and the coach’s son, proves to be a romantic distraction that Roger couldn’t have anticipated.
Can Roger’s trip home fix his game and mend his broken spirit?
Jeff Adams has written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published. Since then he’s continued to create, often with a hockey player at the center of the story.
Jeff lives in northern California with his husband of more than twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. He also loves to read, but there isn’t enough space to list out his favorite books.
Jeff is the co-host of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.
You can learn more about Jeff at JeffAdamsWrites.com.
Leave a comment about your favorite hockey team, player game moment or m/m hockey romance book (you might just add to my TBR!) for your chance to win an ebook of Head in the Game along with a $5 Amazon gift card. Or just share any comment on the post with us! Two lucky commenters will win! The contest ends on Wednesday, January 30th at 11:59 pm ET.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- Winners will be selected by random number. No purchase necessary to win. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.
- If you win, you must respond to my email within 48 hours or another winner may be chosen. Please make sure that your spam filter allows email from Joyfully Jay.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- All book prizes are in electronic format unless otherwise specified.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Readers may only enter once for each contest. Duplicate entries for the same giveaway will be ignored. In the event of technical problems with the blog during the contest, every effort will be made to extend the contest deadline to allow for additional entries.
- Void where prohibited by law.