Book Title: Unrivaled
Author: Ashlyn Kane & Morgan James
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: LC Chase
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Genre: M/M Contemporary Sports Romance
Tropes: Rivals to lovers, professional athletes, fling to love, opposites attract
Themes: Found family, opening yourself up to love, old grief, letting people in, reinventing yourself
Heat Rating: 4-5 flames
Length: 100 000 words / 288 pages
It is book 3 in a series, but the story is independent of the other books in the series. (There are some cameo appearances but no real plot crossover)
The book does not end on a cliffhanger.
Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited
Love doesn’t pull its punches.
People say there’s a fine line between love and hate. If you ask Grady Armstrong, the line’s as obvious as the one across the middle of a hockey rink.
So he can’t explain why he doesn’t walk away when his Grindr hookup—a guy who accused him of impersonating himself—turns out to be Max Lockhart, a rival player Grady once punched in the face. Apparently Max can goad him just as well off the ice as he can on it.
Max Lockhart showed up thinking he was going to expose a fake. Instead he hooks up with a guy who claims to hate him. And has a good time. A really good time. But that doesn’t mean players from different teams can be together.
Max has always wished Grady would relax a little. When the season starts and Grady accepts Max’s offer of help with finding someone to date for real, Max gets his wish. But he should’ve been careful what he wished for, because now that he knows Grady is a big softie under that prickly shell, he’d rather keep Grady for himself.
Grady only goes on a handful of dates before he realizes he has a lot more fun with Max. But he can’t be falling for a rival player… can he?
Like every good East Coast Canadian kid, Max grew up dreaming of playing hockey with the maple leaf on his chest.
Of course, he imagined wearing it in a tournament that mattered, but just because this one had no real stakes didn’t mean he didn’t want to win. He just wouldn’t sacrifice his body for it.
But he would bring his A game for the chirps. Team USA was playing Grady Armstrong on their first line, and there were few players Max had more fun riling. His sister, Nora, had been in town for one of their regular season games against each other, and back at his house later, they got high and giggly as they watched the replay of Armstrong in the penalty box. “No, but check out the muscles bunching in his jaw when he clenches it,” she’d half tsked, half giggled. “I mean, the look works for him, but he definitely grinds his teeth.”
“Guy’s strung way too tight,” Max agreed sagely. Then he restarted the video so they could watch him lose his shit again.
So maybe Max had had an idle fantasy or three about how to help Armstrong unwind. Or, honestly, not—he’d probably be equally good in bed cranky.
Max would’ve enjoyed the World Cup of Hockey experience either way, was the point. Go team and all that. Plus events like this were prime hookup opportunities—hockey players, hockey fans, hockey capital of the country.
Unfortunately, tonight he didn’t have the energy to hook up in person—not after practice and then drinks with the boys, and with practice again tomorrow. Putting an effort into his appearance at 10 p.m.? In this economy?
This was why God invented Grindr.
Max flopped on his hotel bed and thumbed open the app.
He didn’t use it often. Max’s charm was more potent in person and in limited doses. He knew his strengths. But he was pretty good at taking dick pics that were sexy but still anonymous. Everybody should have a plan B.
He perused the app’s offerings.
The first three guys he passed on were like beers. Young, blond, inoffensive profiles. Not memorable or particularly potent, but they’d quench your thirst. One of them had actually posted the lyrics to “867-5309” under his profile pic, which made Max suspect he was either a douchebag or lying about his age.
Not tonight, Jenny. He swiped on to the next guy.
The following one, Jordan, was a mixed drink. Could be watered-down and flavorless, could knock you on your ass. No way to know until you took a sip. Jordan was cute, but not what Max was looking for tonight. He just wanted to get off and go to bed.
He swiped again.
… and then there was this guy. His face and dark eyes promised the potency of a shot.
The fact that it was Grady Armstrong’s face meant it was a straight-up catfish.
“Seriously, dude?” Max navigated to the message icon before his brain could even engage. Who did this guy think he was kidding? They were in Toronto. If Grady Armstrong wanted to get his dick wet, all he had to do was go outside and smile at someone.
The smiling would probably hurt him, though. It was not the guy’s natural expression. See: evidence of teeth grinding.
Max debated a handful of seconds before settling on the fishing emoticon. He followed up with nice try asshole, in case the message wasn’t totally clear.
A moment later a checkmark popped up to indicate the message had been read.
Max had intended to jerk off tonight, but getting into a fight on the internet was almost as good. He settled in to wait for the reply.
About the Authors
Ashlyn Kane likes to think she can do it all, but her follow-through often proves her undoing. Her house is as full of half-finished projects as her writing folder. With the help of her ADHD meds, she gets by.
An early reader and talker, Ashlyn has always had a flair for language and storytelling. As an eight-year-old, she attended her first writers’ workshop. As a teenager, she won an amateur poetry competition. As an adult, she received a starred review in Publishers Weekly for her novel Fake Dating the Prince. There were quite a few years in the middle there, but who’s counting?
Her hobbies include DIY home decor, container gardening (no pulling weeds), music, and spending time with her enormous chocolate lapdog. She is the fortunate wife of a wonderful man, the daughter of two sets of great parents, and the proud older sister/sister-in-law of the world’s biggest nerds.
Morgan James is a clueless (older) millennial who’s still trying to figure out what they’ll be when they grow up and enjoying the journey to get there. Now, with a couple of degrees, a few stints in Europe, and more than one false start to a career, they eagerly wait to see what’s next. James started writing fiction before they could spell and wrote their first (unpublished) novel in middle school. They haven’t stopped writing since. Geek, artist, archer, and fanatic, Morgan tends to pass their free hours with in imaginary worlds and people on pages and screens—it’s an addiction. As is their love of coffee and tea. They live in Canada with their massive collection of unread books, where they are the personal servant of too many four-legged creatures.