Release Reviews: Two-Man Advantage: Leigh Carman

Two-Man Advantage (Players of LA #3)
Leigh Carman
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Release Date July 7, 2017

A hockey star skating on the edge of a catastrophe.

A PR specialist so adept, he’s called “the Fixer.”

Working together will be the biggest challenge of both their careers.

The LA Vikings hockey team is fed up the violent outbursts of its huge, intimidating enforcer, Viktor Novak. Hounded by a homophobic and domineering father, Viktor takes out his frustrations by spilling blood—on and off the ice. Now he has one last chance to clean up his image, or his career is over.

That’s where Bowen Miller comes in.

Bo has taken on the hardest cases and succeeded—by micromanaging every aspect of a client’s life—at the expense of his own happiness. But in the stubborn, hot mess that is Viktor, Bo might have met his match—both in and out of the bedroom. One man is out of control, and one controls everything. But when sex and attraction come into play, those roles are open to negotiation. 

My third exposure to the books of Leigh Carman, Two-Man Advantage, was a surprise in more than one way. While the blurb does not clearly indicate it, the story does contain light bondage and a significant Dom/sub element. To be fair, though, I really don’t have a good frame of reference on which to judge how “light” these elements are or even how well they are portrayed, because they aren’t my kink of preference. But since I firmly believe in the motto “don’t yuck my yum” when talking about kink, this review will analyze the BDSM element only insofar as it relates to the plot of the book.

PR specialist Bowen Miller accepts what could well be the most difficult challenge of his professional career when he accepts the task of fixing professional hockey player Viktor Novak’s public image, a man whose propensity for aggression and violence has begun to put his career in jeopardy because it has started costing the team victories. Bo has always been successful in the past by controlling as much of the client’s life as he can. That method, however, sets off the already volatile and combative Vik. The dynamic really is rather simple to understand. Take control-freak Bo and pair him with a man who has always felt like he’s been denied control over every facet of his life, a fact that has led him into an out-of-control spiral, and to call the result confrontational is about as much an understatement as comparing an iceberg to an ice cube in a glass of tea.

Not to mention the fact that their attraction—which starts instantly for both men (insta-boners *eyeroll*) and which both are oblivious about in the other, something the author handled in a method I appreciated—and eventually their sex scenes are also explosive. Vik knowing what the consequences will likely be if he fails to cooperate with Bo is enough to give Bo the upper hand when it comes to controlling Vik’s hockey persona, but when it comes to the bedroom, it’s the one place Vik won’t relinquish control. And Bo is just as much of a control-freak there too, which brings on the bondage-and-domination element. I think I’ll let it be a surprise for the reader as to which character ends up in which role of the Dom/sub element that permeates the rest of the book. 

While Dom/sub is not my kink, and thus some of the sex scenes left me feeling a little uncomfortable, when it’s placed into the context of the story, it worked very well as a conduit for the characters to work through their issues. This fact is arguably what made the book as enjoyable for me as it was, a pleasant surprise given the circumstances. These sorts of reading experiences are good for me because they encourage me to be a little less hard-no when it comes to deciding on whether to read a book with a kink I’m not particularly comfortable with.

Since this is the third book of a series, some comparisons are in order. First, though, let me note that each of the books works fine as a standalone. As much as I enjoyed Two-Man Advantage, as with the first two books in the series, its writing style has both positives and negatives. Unlike the first two books, though, the drama in this book has a much more realistic and less contrived feel to it, a fact that made this story have a much better flow than the previous two, making it much easier to read. But instead of the drama pulling me out of the story, here there were several small things that did, things like timeline quirks within a scene (for example: order food, exchange exactly nine sentences of dialogue, food arrives… if only it were like that in real life!) and some excessive descriptions about pointless things that felt like filler, just to name a couple. Obviously, these small things didn’t kill my enjoyment, but they did limit it to some degree.

As a whole, Two-Man Advantage is the best story of the three so far in the series, though I found its main characters to be less compelling as those in the previous books. As such, my rating is the same on this one as the others. And that rating is good enough that, with one book left to come in the series, I am looking forward to seeing how that final book reads.

The author and/or publisher generously provided me a complimentary copy of Two-Man Advantage in exchange for this fair and honest review.

PR specialist, Bowen Miller "The Fixer"  has just been asked to take on the challenge of a NHL player who is allowing his temper to cause issues for himself and his team. And he knows this is not going to be an easy assignment.

Viktor Novak is hostile, combative, angry, and has a bad attitude and image. And now it is reflecting poorly on his team and is putting his career at risk. He knows he has problems. He is full of self loathing and has been conditioned to feel like a failure and loser. He can never please his father, the team management, or himself. He is gay, but deep in the closet. He feels like he has no control over his life and that no one really cares about him or has faith in him. He is not really living his own life or being true to himself. He keeps it all bottled up until he just explodes on or off the ice.

Bo has been solely focused on work, control, and does not allow emotions or ties with people to cloud his judgment. He is gay and out, but does not do relationships. For awhile they both think the other is straight. They have a pretty instant attraction that brings along a lot of confusion, antagonism, and misunderstandings. They push each other's buttons from the beginning. Bo is intimidating, controlling, bossy, and micromanages everything. Viktor does not really want another person telling him what he has to do. They end up in a battle of wills that eventually leads to an explosion of their sexual tension. But Bo is shocked to realize that sex with Viktor is not like anything he has ever experienced before. There is a dance of dominance between these two between professional life and the bedroom. And  Viktor's house seems to be the one place Viktor can completely take control of a situation while allowing Bo to free his mind and let someone else make decisions for a change.

They give each other what the other needs. They complement and balance each other in ways they never expected. But it will take some time to come to terms with it all and deal with the fears, anxiety, emotions, and hurt feelings as they push and pull at each other. 

Viktor has a lot to really work through. He is so full of self hate since he has been conditioned to believe he is worthless. He hides his sexuality. He reacts strongly and cannot control anything in his life due to swinging emotions.  He needs understanding, acceptance, trust, and stabilizing influences. He needs to find hope that his life can change and improve, and have the support to have a chance at getting there. Bo needs to be taken care of as much as he takes care of others. But he can be intimidating and appear cold. And are both stubborn, emotional, and quick tempered while not always effective at communicating. Both of their pasts have shaped who they are, and pushed them in different directions.

The sex scenes fit with this couple and their needs. Sometimes I wanted to see more intimacy, vulnerability, and reciprocity. But I understand why they were written the way they were. But a couple of them were not exactly my thing, but they were raw, heated, and tested each of them.
At first this book was more about fun verbal sparring and sexual tension, but then meandered into more emotional, intense situations, and battles for control. It was told in alternating points of view. There were a few things here and there that I questioned or made me roll my eyes. But I honestly had a hard time putting it down, and  I did care about these two and wanted to see them really open up and find a way to make it all work. 

I liked Bo's friend and team media consultant, Dom, as he was good for comic relief and honest truths. And Vik's friend, JT was a good anchor for him. Vik's family also was a big part of his issues, but I liked his sister, Nat and brother, Sergey. 

This was an antagonistic, intense, M/M hockey romance with strong characters, deep seated issues, and light BDSM components. It does have some humor and banter too. These men challenged each other in various ways and I was engaged in their story. It can be read as a complete stand alone although characters from the other books are mentioned briefly. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 

STANDALONE books in a series. However, characters do make cameos in other books and it may add to the experience to read in order.

Match Point (Players of LA #1)
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Jay and Kim's 4 star reviews

Two stubborn men.

One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.

It was hate at first sight.

Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.

When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.

Fair Catch (Players of LA #2)
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Our 4 star reviews

Two men.

One night of passion.

They never expected to see each other again.

They were wrong.

Tobias Bennett is a quiet and unassuming man who teaches yoga and enjoys parkour. Though he is proud to be gay, an abusive relationship with a domineering man has left Tobias wary of romance, and he keeps to himself in his tidy Los Angeles apartment.

Pro football player Sullivan Archer is Tobias’s complete opposite: loud, brash, fond of the spotlight… and deep in the closet. When a hamstring injury sends Van to Tobias as part of his therapy, neither of them is expecting to come face-to-face with his one-night stand. Now they’re stuck together throughout Van’s healing process, and the close proximity will force them to deal with some hard truths. For Tobias, it’s realizing his hookup is a celebrity. For Van, it means accepting that he likes Tobias more than he wanted. They’ll both have to acknowledge that if they choose to pursue a relationship, their lives will change in big ways.
Leigh Carman (Heather C. Leigh) 
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Leigh Carman was born and raised in New England with all of its fall foliage and winter snow. She escaped to the South, where she currently lives outside Atlanta, Georgia, with her husband, two kids, and French Bulldog, Shelby.

She loves the Red Sox, the Patriots, and anything chocolate (but not white chocolate—everyone knows it’s not real chocolate so it doesn’t count), and has left explicit instructions in her will to have her ashes snuck into Fenway Park and sprinkled all over while her family enjoys beer, hot dogs, and a wicked good time.

Leigh also writes M/F dark romance under the name Heather C. Leigh. She also loves exploring the underbelly of fame and the crushing weight of those under the microscope 24/7.


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