Olympic figure skater Emory Lowe falls in lust the moment he lays eyes on his new neighbor, hockey player Nikolai Vetrov. On the surface, Nik is a typical badass enforcer, intimidating and dangerous, on and off the ice. The only son of Ukrainian immigrants, Nik has been groomed from childhood to fulfill his father’s dreams of seeing him in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Igor guides his son toward that goal with a controlling—and abusive—hand, steering him clear of anyone who might ruin his chances.
Although Emory is the US National Figure Skating champion, he’s in-your-face gay, and his audacious persona rubs Nik and his family the wrong way. Raised by supportive and loving parents, Emory is Nik’s polar opposite in every way but one—his desire to succeed. Underneath the fluff and glitter beats the heart of a fierce competitor, and this side of Emory’s personality begins to close the distance between the two athletes.
While the attraction is one-sided in the beginning, Nik finds himself responding to Emory’s flirting. But before the incongruous pair have a chance at any sort of relationship, they must survive the pressures of career, separation, and most importantly, Igor’s ruthless homophobia.
I absolutely adored Enforcing Emory. I was drawn in by the premise of the story – an out and proud gay figure skater and a straight (possibly) homophobic hockey player separated by sexual orientation and culture differences falling in love. I could not resist and Ashling did not let me down at all. The author delivered on the premise and then some.
Emory is a force of nature and Nik never stood a chance. Actually despite the beginning of the book and Emory’s father’s reaction to “communists” moving into the neighborhood, Nik never stood a chance against the Lowe family as a whole. Emory is larger than life. He’s an accomplished figure skater who is confident of his abilities as well he should be as he’s slated to skate at the Olympics in Sochi. On the other hand, Nik is the stereotypical man’s man – the hockey enforcer who discounts figure skating as a sport and Emory as an athlete. That is, until he sees videos of Emory skating and realizes the guy might be a diva, but he’s the real deal when it comes to the ice. I don’t want to say that Emory sets out to seduce the straight boy because although he did set out to seduce Nik, it was more like he recognized something in Nik that Nik wasn’t even aware of about himself. For me, it was equal parts sweet and hot as Nik came to terms with his attraction to Emory and finally allowed himself to act upon it.
Nothing about his relationship with Emory was easy for Nik and the author manages to keep the non-sexual tension high in ways that seem real for the characters. Not only do the guys have to deal with Nik’s concerns about his parents and his career, but Emory faces a level of hate and discrimination he’s never encountered before when he goes to Sochi. The events that unfold while Emory competes in the Olympics left me heartbroken on several levels and completely devastated for Emory. And yet, they both do their best to overcome the obstacles they encounter once they decide they want to see where things will lead. I will say that I was quite surprised at how willing Emory was to keep their relationship a secret for Nik as he tried to figure out how it would affect his budding hockey career and his relationship with his homophobic parents. But it’s his care and concern for Nik that made Emory so lovable and why I said Nik never stood a chance. The fact that Emory brings a highly supportive family with him that adopts Nik as their own makes it even better. I loved how Emory’s father Tom went from using Ruskie as a slur for Nik to it being an endearment for his future son-in-law (that’s my conclusion, not something the author says). Ashling provided the right mix of drama, conflict, sports, hot and sweet sexy fun times, and romance to make Enforcing Emory a highly enjoyable new adult romance. I will have to keep my eye out for more of the author’s work.