Second by RJ Scott and VL Locey (LA Storm book 2)

Usually when you talk about a book in a hockey series being gritty, you're talking about on ice grit, but in Second we shift the focus and watch Bryce and Michael deal with more real world problems and build each other up. 

From the blurb:

Bryce has lost everything he loved. Michael is rebuilding a life built on lies. Is their love worth fighting for?

In the high-stakes world of professional hockey, Michael “Zeetoo” Zhang had the potential to shine brighter than his older brother. But he chose a treacherous path, and the scars of past failures and the constant shadow of his brother’s success haunt him. After a run of bad luck, and angry at the world, his resentment intensifies when he’s arrested, then sentenced to work supervised hours at an inner-city community garden. He’s already lost hockey and his house; how can he afford to lose anything else?

Bryce Kincaid is chased by his own demons, and years after the mistakes he made, he’s determined to never lose control again. He’s built something stable and good from the wreckage of his life, and the last thing he needs is a pampered celebrity anywhere near his beloved community garden project. When Michael arrives, he’s a broken man wrapped in a fiery package. But the gardens work their magic and reveal a vulnerability in Michael that Bryce can’t resist, he’s terrified to open his heart, and their growing relationship might be nipped in the bud.

To change his life, Michael must confront his past and fight for a future he never believed he deserved. But when that past threatens to destroy everything Bryce has built, their love could be over before it’s begun.

Heather's Review;

If you are expecting a book rife with hockey and team interaction, this won't be the book for you.  This book deals with far more gritty, real world issues like addiction, self-destructive behaviour and taking a truly introspective look into what is important and real in one's life.

You'll probably start out truly disliking Michael... in all honesty there isn't much to like, but as he's exposed to the garden, to Bryce and to Bryce's son, you find yourself rooting for his HEA. This book is angstier, rawer and more real than the first book in this series and as long as you're there for it, you'll find a very satisfying HEA.  It can be read standalone, but benefits from being the second book in the series.

Second is currently available in wide release paperback and e-book.