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review 2017-03-22 18:53
Defensive Zone
Defensive Zone (Portland Storm Book 15) - Catherine Gayle

Defensive Zone is the 10th full-length novel in the Portland Storm series, a series that has created an immense fan base of romance lovers and hockey fans!


This book focuses on Cody "Harry" Williams, a defenseman for the Portland Storm, and Dani Weber, the impetuous daughter of one of the coaches.  Dani has harbored a not so secret and not so subtle crush on Cody for a long time, much to the chagrin of her father.  After an incident last season, Coach Weber knows more about Cody than he wants to and has ordered Cody to stay away from his daughter.  But Dani isn't taking no for an answer.  She knows that there is more to Cody than his buttoned-up, bowtied facade and she is determined to find out what it is.  She calls him Dirty Harry, after all...!


One of my favorite things about this series, besides the hockey, is that they each have a very serious focus beyond the romance.  But this novel takes a bit of a different direction than most of the other books in the series.  Cody has a secret, one that he is not all comfortable sharing.  And that secret makes the theme of this novel acceptance without judgment.  At first, Dani's quest to find out what he's hiding is just about having fun, but then she realizes that there is a lot more to the ginger-haired hockey player than she realized and she jumps in head first.  And once she has decided that she wants something, she will not be stopped.


Through the first third to half of the book, I really just wanted to slap Dani.  She's young and she acted it.  She was extremely narrow in her vision, wanting what she wanted and to hell with anything that didn't further that goal.  She was dismissive of Cody's protests, almost scornful of his reasons for pushing her away.  Her attitude was beyond selfish and she annoyed me to no end.  But then things began to change when she finds out more about Cody and his family.  Then she grew up and became the woman she needed to be.


As I said, this book was very different from the others.  Less actual romance and a lot less hockey, but no less full of emotion and thought-provoking situations.  I love Catherine Gayle and I love that she keeps her readers guessing.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12775
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review 2015-10-27 13:53
Smoke SIgnals
Smoke Signals (Tulsa Thunderbirds Book 2) - Catherine Gayle

Smoke Signals is the second book in the Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spinoff and companion series to Catherine Gayle's fantastic Portland Storm series. And like all of the books in these two series, this novel combines love, steamy romance, hockey, and real life issues that hit hard.


I love hockey and I love novels about hockey. And I have no small amount of love for the attention to detail that Catherine puts into the hockey aspects of the book, making it not only absorbing for long-time fans like myself, but putting in just enough explanation into her writing to make it easy for hockey noobs to understand, too. But as much as I love the hockey, it is the characters and their stories that really make the difference. The characters are so real, so well-developed, that you truly become connected to their stories.


This book revolves around Ray "Razor" Chambers, who we originally meet in the Portland Storms series. When he goes to Vegas for his best friend Bab's wedding to his long-time love Katie, he expects only to be there for that important day and to see old friends. What he doesn't expect is that is entire life will change. But change is what happens when he meets the gogeous Viktoriya Dubrovskya. Gorgeous, a porn star, and one of the most broken women he has ever met. And his only mission from that moment is to protect her and to help her, no matter what she or anyone else says about it.


Like all of these books, Smoke Signals is raw and emotional and Catherine doesn't shy away from real issues and real problems. This is probably one of the more graphic novels in the series and that is less about the steamy factor and more about the very real issues that Viktoriya goes through over the course of the story. I found it hard to read at moments, but that wasn't because of the book itself or how it was written. It was because it was just difficult to imagine the kind of hell that human beings can put each other through and the circumstances that put people into the positions they find themselves. The author has a knack for finding these issues and highlighting them through her characters in a way that may make you uncomfortable and emotionally raw, but also in ways that truly make you think.


My Recommendation


Great romance, great hockey, and a great story! It's emotional and at times uncomfortable to read, but it is a book that makes you think and see the world a little differently.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=11492
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review 2015-08-10 15:56
Home Ice
Home Ice (Portland Storm Book 11) - Catherine Gayle

I truly love the Portland Storm books and I am never disappointed by them! The stories are beautifully written, with all of the romance you could ever want right along with deep, emotionally intense issues. And this one was so much more than romance,.. This is the story of a little girl who refused to accept that there was anything that she couldn't do. This is the story of a mother who would do anything for her daughters, even swallow her own fears. This is the story of a man with a heart that is bigger than most would assume.


This installment focuses on Bergy, one of the coaching staff, rather than one of the players. On the surface, he is a bit gruff, necessary as a coach of an NHL team. But there are things in his life that very few people know about and one of those things is is love for his sister Linnea, whoi has Down's Syndrome. When he meets Paige and her four daughters, he is taken with them all, but especially the youngest. Sophie is just 11 and she, too, has Down's. Paige has her hands full with four girls, all deeply in love with one of the Storm's players, Levi "501" Babcock. After winning tickets to a Storm event, Paige and her girls find their lives forever changed.


I honestly don't know just what or who I loved best in this book. There is no question that Bergy was more than a little bit of a silver fox. I don't know who was the physical inspiration for Catherine Gayle , but all I could see was Eric Dane. And I loved Paige and her dedication to her daughters, and theirs to her. And then there is Sophie, the little girl who was bound to do anything and everything. I truly loved that instead of coddling her, Paige swallowed her own fears to support her daughter. I also loved that Bergy and his friends did everything they could to make little Sophie's dreams come true.


These are the things that make these books so wonderful. The romance is always beautiful, yes. But I love that these books are so much more than that. There are real issues and those are really what make the books. The author doesn't shy away from presenting different aspects of life in a realistic way with no sugar coating it and I love that.


My Recommendation


I am an unabashed fan and I love this series! Definitely a must read for anyone who enjoys hockey, romance, and intense emotional reads!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=11348
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review 2015-07-06 19:39
Bury the Hatchet
Bury the Hatchet (Tulsa Thunderbirds Book 1) - Catherine Gayle

I am a huge fan of Catherine Gayle's hockey-themed romances! I have read every one that she is written and they are each amazing reads. The knowledge that the author has of hockey and the behind-the-scenes of it all is obvious and seen in the incredible attention to detail. But the stories aren't all about hockey. The plots are raw and real, stories that many of us have experienced in some way for ourselves. Bury the Hattchet is the first in the new Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spinoff from the Portland Storm series. Along witb a new team and new cast of characters, there are still some familiar faces from the Portland Storm books.


One of those familiar faces is Hunter Fielding, formerly of the Portland Storm. He is undoubtedly one of the best goalies in the NHL and he has just been traded to the Tulsa Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds are a new franchise in the NHL, which translates to an expectation of a few rather less than stellar years in hockey stats. New team, new players, many of whom aren't to the level that Hunter himself is. Needless to say, he is unhappy about the trade and makes some rather unflattering remarks about it in an unfortunate drunken rant that went viral. That means a whole lot of damage control with the new team... and this happens in a completely unforeseeable way. A marriage in name only to a fallen beauty queen with some damage control issues of her own. In comes Tallie, Oklahoma's favorite pageant queen who had an unfortunate drunken incident of her own that also went viral, tarnishing her image. Her mother and her pageant coach convince her that the only way to clean up her image is to marry Hunter.


I couldn't imagine two more unlikely people to be at the center of this book... the rough hockey player and the goody two-shoes beauty queen. Hunter is rough around the edges and angry and Tallie used to being told what to do and having no input on her own life. But, as usual, Catherine Gayle creates a story that is full of tension, romance, intense emotion, and plot twists. Hunter is angry and it is obvious. He is angry about being shuffled off to a team that he sees as a demotion. He is angry about being forced into this marriage. He resents everyone involved, even initially Tallie herself, despite the fact that she, too, has been forced into the situation. But he has protective, softer side, too, especially when it comes to Tallie. I loved the interaction between them! She softened him, opened him up a little. And he taught her to be her own person. Until Hunter, her entire life had been ordered by her mother and her coach, To say that the two were overbearing would be an understatement. There were times that I wanted to jump into my Kindle and throttle them both and slap Tallie into taking charge!


The incredible character growth is probably my favorite aspect to these books. They grow and change over the course of the novel, changing without losing themselves to another person. Too many times, in literature and in life, the dynamic of change within a relationship means that one or both of them lose the who they are to the other person. I love that Catherine's characters become better versions of themselves, rather than acquiesing to the other. This is what keeps me coming back for more!


My Recommendation


This is a great read! Great romance, great hockey, intense emotions and situations, and fantastic plot twists!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=11232
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review 2015-04-13 16:50
Dropping Gloves
Dropping Gloves (Portland Storm Book 10) - Catherine Gayle

Now anyone who reads my reviews knows that I am an avid fan girl of Catherine Gayle's Portland Storm books.  I absolutely love hockey, so I appreciate a good book written around that theme.  But Catherine's books are so  much more than hockey romance.  They are intensely emotional stories about real people.  There is none of the "celebrity diva" attitude with the players, being down to earth people with real issues, real struggles.  There are times when I feel like Catherine is channeling my life with her stories because they often, in some way, mirror things that are going on in my own life and Dropping Gloves is no different.


One of my favorite things about this series is the cast of characters that appears in each book, whether as the main characters in their own story or as supporting characters in another's.  Catherine makes characters that we come to love and care about and we don't lose them or their stories as we move to a new book.  Some of them have been featured in their own books and we get little updates, while others may have yet to have their own books and we get glimpses of future stories.  It's an exciting way to create a world and I love it!


From the first time we met Jamie "Babs" Babcock, I have been waiting for his story and now we have it!  He has been one of my favorite characters from day one, kind and considerate and fiercely loyal.  I loved the way he fit in with the other players and with their families.  I love a man who genuinely loves kids, something that is a big part of his character.  And then he fell for Katie Weber when her father was his teammate.  And no matter what happened to her, he was there for her.  But then life brought new opportunities to Katie and she left him before even truly giving them a chance together.  That was heartbreaking and it has been talked abut from time to time in subsequent books, building the anticipation for Dropping Gloves.


Hollywood hasn't been what Katie thought it would be and her career hasn't gone the way she wants.  She just doesn't want to keep living the life her agent has been pushing her into.  So when Katie comes home from Hollywood to sing the national anthem for the team's "Hockey Fights Cancer" night, she is feeling at odds within her own life.  Changes need to be made and she knows it.  


This is a story of struggle and change and acceptance.  For Katie, it's about changing her life and being true to herself.  She has done some things she regrets and she is having a hard time forgiving herself for her own part in her victimization.  That feeling is something that I think all of us can relate to at some point or another.  She realizes just how much she cares about Jamie, but her inability to forgive herself makes her feel as if she just doesn't deserve someone as wonderful as him.  But, as if all of this wasn't enough, a personal tragedy in her life turns everything on edge.  And it turns me into an emotional mess!


For Jamie, it begins as a struggle to accept that his time with Katie is over and that he needs to move on.  But then he sees her again and the struggle becomes even harder for him.  He's hurt and he doesn't entirely trust her with his heart, but he is still drawn to her and slowly those barriers come down.  I love that his character isn't scared off by dark times.  Instead, he embraces them and makes himself her rock when she needs it.


My Recommendation


This is a love story that is beautiful, but it isn't just the romantic love that is beautiful.  It is the love of family and friends, too.  It is emotional and intense and impossible to put down!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=11074
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