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