Enforcing Emory by Mickie B. Ashling

Title :  Enforcing Emory        Word Count : 71,964

Genre : Contemporary Gay Romance

Blurb : 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.

My Review :  This is a tale of love akin to Romeo and Juliet. Two young men from different backgrounds and different  families with ideals set in place of what it means to be inherently male and female. One American, one Ukrainian . One a hockey player and one an Olympic figure skater. For flamboyant Emory,  it has been love at first sight from the moment he meets the Ukrainian  hockey enforcer Nikolai.  On the other hand, Nik is not sure how he feels about Emory and his in your face gayness. 

It  soon becomes clear that Nik is attracted to Emory , but he definitely has to keep it on a down low because of his extremely homophobic father Igor. Igor has invested a lot of time and money in his son’s hockey career and he has no plans to tolerate any sort of derailment of his future plans. He rules with an iron fist which can be very brutal and abusive if he’s  crossed. Emory’s family has been very supportive, loving and accepting of who he is.

Emory has been very insulated in America from the perils of homophobia. When he goes to the Sochi Olympics in Russia, he sees the truth of the dangers that Nik has tried to warn him about when his father is hurt protecting him from thugs.  Emory becomes very introspective after this, questioning his entire being. Throughout all his achievements, this incidence of violence leaves him with a feeling of worthlessness. After wallowing in despair for awhile , he decides to recreate his whole image to try to make the world more accepting. He desperately wants to be measured by his achievements rather than his orientation. I think in this endeavor  Emory was a little bit naive in thinking that he could control how the world thinks.

Nik feels such a sense of pride for Emory’s achievements and he aspires to be as brave as the sweet, flamboyant young man. Emory makes him want to defy everything that he has ever been taught . He desperately wants Emory in his life. They take baby steps in their newfound love. Although Nik is not ready to come out of the closet just yet, he is not ashamed to admit to Em how much he loves him. 

I really loved the  interaction between Emory and his dad  and I wish that all parents of gay youths could be as loyal and fiercely protective. Emory’s dad Tom loves him unconditionally and accepts him for who he is irrespective of  his flaws and foibles. 

Nik and Emory are forced to deal with their public relationship when someone leaks a video of them skating and fooling around. Nik is very afraid of the fallout , but Nik and Nik’s family are very supportive. Nik’s own father goes ballistic and try to snuff his lights out with a pillow . Nik realizes that he has to cut ties with his family.  Outside of that, Nik and Emory’s relationship flourishes despite whatever prejudice they faced.  Mickie B. Ashling does it again by giving us a full-bodied novel filled with a great storyline, diversity, opposites attract and love conquering all odds. I could not put this one down.I give this my ratings of 4 – lose the underwear. 

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