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Title: Delayed Penalty
Series: Pilots Hockey Book 1
Author: Sophia Henry
Release Date: September 1, 2015
She closed her heart long ago. He just wants to open her mind. For fans of Toni Aleo and Sawyer Bennett, the debut of Sophia Henry’s red-hot Detroit Pilots series introduces a hockey team full of complicated men who fight for love.
Auden Berezin is used to losing people: her father, her mother, her first love. Now, just when she believes those childhood wounds are finally healing, she loses something else: the soccer scholarship that was her ticket to college. Scrambling to earn tuition money, she’s relieved to find a gig translating for a Russian minor-league hockey player—until she realizes that he’s the same dangerously sexy jerk who propositioned her at the bar the night before.
Equal parts muscle and scar tissue, Aleksandr Varenkov knows about trauma. Maybe that’s what draws him to Auden. He also lost his family too young, and he channeled the pain into his passions: first hockey, then vodka and women. But all that seems to just melt away the instant he kisses Auden and feels a jolt of desire as sudden and surprising as a hard check on the ice.
After everything she’s been through, Auden can’t bring herself to trust any man, let alone a hot-headed puck jockey with a bad reputation. Aleksandr just hopes she’ll give him a chance—long enough to prove he’s finally met the one who makes him want to change.
Hello party people! Hope you guys are having a stellar week. I, for one, am pretty stoked. We've got Sophia Henry, author of Delayed Penalty, with us today and she's going to fill us in on why she decided to write about Hockey. Take it away Sophia...
I grew up in Detroit, Michigan, which was nicknamed Hockeytown in 1996-1997. But when I was a kid, the Red Wings were coming off a sad period where they were known as the “Dead Things” after a string of abysmal seasons. Yet something about the sport drew me in. Maybe because my uncle made me watch it every time he baby sat. Maybe because it was played on ice; which was really freaking awesome. Or maybe because it was so fast. Constant movement, just like soccer— the sport I played.
Kid’s soccer—a clarification, for those who think soccer is slow and boring. Kid’s soccer is fast-paced and action-packed. Little strategy; all scoring—or trying to.
I thought of Hockey as soccer on ice. The two sports seem similar to me, though soccer has no ice or skates and far more players on the field at one time. Maybe my warped-kid-mind wanted to find connections between the sports because I couldn’t play Hockey. (Too expensive.)
I’m from a family of sports lovers. Football, Baseball, Basketball, Golf, Bowling. (Yes, bowling). But not Hockey. My uncle was the only real Hockey fan, as far as I could remember.
Football stops too many times. Basketball wasn’t my thing (admittedly, because I couldn’t hit a basket for the life of me—still can’t). And Baseball, Golf, and Bowling were just plain boring to watch and play (sorry fans of those sports).
But Hockey. Sigh. Hockey is skill and speed and grace on skates. And you have to control a tiny little puck with a thin stick while grown men are trying to hit you as hard as they can.
I waited with baited breath for the Red Wings epicness to come back. I took notes. I kept record of every game. Every goal scorer and everyone who assisted on those goals. And then it happened—the Detroit Red Wings began another dynasty of awesomeness during my youth. AND they brought Russians onto the team.
Obsession doesn’t begin to describe it. Even to this day.
I haven’t kept written record of games since high school. Mostly because I don’t have time, but also because I wasn’t sure if I’d ever find a husband if my “baggage” was literal baggage—as in, boxes and boxes of spiral notebooks filled with stats on every Red Wings game since the mid-80’s.
I can’t imagine someone NOT loving Hockey. I know there are people out there who don’t, but I can’t even fathom it. Then again, they probably can’t fathom why I don’t LOVE baseball. Everyone has their thing.
Hockey is mine. Actually, it’s ours. I’ll share with anyone who—like me—cries every time the Captain of a Championship team hoists the Stanley Cup above his head. (Even if it’s a hated team). Hockey transcends rivalries—at least, it does for me. I can shed a tear and feel happiness for a team I hate for one moment in time. And then we’re back to normal. Because Hockey.
You tell me…
Thank you so much, Not Now…I’m Reading!, for having me on your blog! I truly appreciate the opportunity!
Thank YOU Sophia for taking the time to stop by. I enjoyed reading about your passion for Hockey. Amiright guys?!
At least that was my best friend’s response when I told her I’d been cut from Central State’s women’s soccer team that morning.
The overzealous stylings of two drunk chicks bellowing “It’s Raining Men” wafted through the air, and I’d just received my vodka club from the bartender, so why did it still feel like someone scratched my heart out with a serrated shovel?
Maybe “It’s Raining Men” wasn't the right song?
Or maybe my friend’s remedy lacked one vital piece. Like, five minutes locked in a bathroom stall with the crazy-haired hottie approaching me. His head was buzzed short on the sides, leaving a thick patch of dark locks, gelled into a neat pompadour in front. Sort of like 1920s gangster, except less slicked, more height.
Every muscle in Crazy Hair’s body rippled under his clothing as he walked. He had to be over six feet tall, with a broad chest and massive arms stretching the seams of his long-sleeved black Henley. His skin was smooth and pale, a contrast to the thick dark eyebrows resting above his jump-in-and-drown-in-me blue eyes. From the scar on his left cheek to the smug smirk of his lips, he was exactly my type: dangerous, confident, and totally lickable.
I flipped my long blond hair behind my shoulder and glanced to my left, pretending Crazy Hair’s advance had no effect on me. In reality, I’d checked to make sure that he wouldn’t pass me up on the way to some beautiful bombshell I hadn’t noticed standing in the vicinity.
Like when you see someone wave, so you wave back. Then you realize they weren’t waving at you but the person behind you. So you try to play off your lame wave like you were batting away mosquitoes, which aren’t there because it’s December in Canada. Just trying to avoid an awkward situation like that.
Crazy Hair continued to close in, before stopping just inches away.
I’d opened my mouth to ream him out for stepping too far into my personal space, but the sweet scent of clove cigarettes flooded warmth through me like a sip of hot chocolate on a January morning in the Upper Peninsula.
“You work at post office?” he asked in a thick Slavic accent.
“Um, no.” I took a swig of my drink. Though I was unsure where he was going with that line, he was hot enough for me to stick around.
The left corner of his mouth curved into that sexy little smirk. “Because I see you check out my package.”
Carbonation stung my nose as I snorted and choked trying to hold in my laugh. Without time to turn my head, I sprayed vodka club and saliva across the front of Crazy Hair’s shirt.
“Weak!” I heard from somewhere behind me.
I turned to see who had yelled, still coughing as I noticed a group of guys and girls at the high-top table behind me. Shaggy blond hair bounced against one guy’s forehead as he snickered. The dude next to him held his fist in front of his mouth in a horrible attempt to hide his laughter. A brunette in a tight red sweater didn’t look amused. At all.
Crazy Hair threw the guys not one but both of his middle fingers.
“That girl’s a fucking smoke show. Why’d he use a shitty line like that?” the blond one said.
Smoke show? I bit down hard on my lip to fight back a smile. The last time I’d heard that phrase was in high school from my hockey-playing best friend, who’d informed me that “smoke show” was player lingo for “hot girl.”
Unsure of how to recover any semblance of cool after spitting my drink across Crazy Hair’s muscular chest, I spun around and shuffled back to the table my friends occupied in front of the karaoke stage.
It felt weird to drink in public, though we’d been to Canada on multiple occasions. As lifelong residents of Detroit, Michigan, we thought of Windsor—the Canadian city connected to Detroit by a bridge and a tunnel—as the next town over, rather than a foreign country. Nineteen was the legal drinking age in Windsor, so it made sense for underage Americans like us to cross the border for some legit cocktails.
My butt had barely brushed my seat when I heard my name, and my name alone, called over the speakers. I lifted my eyes to the outdated popcorn ceiling, as if the voice resonated from the heavens beyond, rather than the karaoke host.
“Why is he calling my name?” I asked Kristen.
“I picked you a song,” she responded, taking a swig of her beer.
“You picked us a song, you mean?” Emphasis on the us, because I’d never sung alone in my life—not counting the shower and car, of course.
“Nope. Just you.” Kristen placed both hands on my back and pushed me toward the stage. “You need to sing it out. Keeping shit bottled up never works.”
I had no problem singing it out if I was singing with other people, but not when it was just me. Hadn’t I been embarrassed enough today?
My short-lived “smoke show” happiness vanished, and the embarrassment of making a fool of myself in front of Crazy Hair returned. I tried to reverse, but Kristen’s trampoline-like hands propelled me back toward the stage.
Climbing onto the stage, I snatched the microphone out of the host’s hand. I almost felt bad about taking my anger out on him until I saw the lyrics to “Proud Mary” light up in white against the teleprompter’s blue screen. Fuck.
What the hell? I exhaled and lifted my eyes to Kristen.
“Girl power!” She saluted me with her glass.
Was “Proud Mary” a girl-power song? I thought it was about a boat.
“Do you have ‘Good Feeling’?” I asked the karaoke host. He was around my age, with big brown eyes matching his neat, trimmed beard and his shoulder-length hair.
“Flo Rida?” he asked, as disapproving wrinkles formed on his smooth forehead.
“Oh, no,” I said. “The Violent Femmes.”
A smile spread across his lips, and he nodded. “Give me a second.”
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Sophia Henry, a proud Detroit native, fell in love with reading, writing, and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to North Carolina, where she spends her time writing books featuring hockey-playing heroes, chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts with her husband..
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