author: Catherine Gayle
series: Portland Storm #6
published: 19 February 2015
publisher: Night Shift Publishing
genre(s): contemporary, romance, sports
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | BookBub | Goodreads
Nicklas Ericsson is an addict. He’s also a star goaltender with the NHL’s Portland Storm, or he was until his addiction changed everything. Now he’s throwing himself into doing all the necessary things to pave his path to a comeback, both in his personal life and on the ice. Nicky’s run out of options, and now his sister and her children are in Portland. They need help he has no clue how to provide, though, and figuring it out might derail all the progress he’s made.
For a few years now, Jessica Lynch has been running the Portland office for the Light the Lamp Foundation. Between her work and several people from her past, she knows more than she’d like about addicts. One lesson she’s learned is that even when addicts try to turn their lives around, more often than not, they fail. That’s why she takes a hands off approach, keeping her heart well away from the addicts she works with, like Nicky Ericsson.
Nicky’s recovery efforts put him directly in Jessica’s path, and she can’t ignore his very real need for help. Where Nicky is concerned, she can’t separate her emotions. His niece and nephews further complicate her efforts to guard her heart. The attraction between Nicky and Jessica is instant and mutual, but she’s misplaced her trust too many times before. Can he prove that he won't fall back into old habits in time to complete the perfect comeback?
As always, this is a book that brought me to tears. As much as I love a good hockey book, this series is about so much more than that. They are emotionally charged characters going through real issues. Those issues aren’t prettied up and softened, but shown in all their raw, gritty reality.
This new book focuses on the Storm’s Swedish goalie, Nicky Ericsson, who sidelined his own career because of his grief and subsequent addictions. Now he is struggling not only to come out on the other side of that, but to regain his place on the team and the trust of his fellow players. He is living his life day to day when, out of nowhere, his sister and her three young children show up, literally on his doorstep. It is in that moment that he discovers that his world is about to change dramatically and he turns to his friend Jessica, who works for the foundation his teammate created for addicts, Light the Lamp.
This is a story that must be experienced to be fully appreciated so there are key plot points I don’t want to touch on for fear of spoiling that experience. Nicky’s struggles are palpable and he doesn’t always handle himself well. If he had sailed through those struggles with only a moderate amount of hardship, I would have hated it. But his struggles were real, dark and hard to overcome and very realistic. Jessica, too, has her own struggles with addiction, albeit in a very different way. Her story was filled with as much struggle and angst as Nicky’s, their stories weaving together beautifully!
There are moments of humor, of love, of acceptance, of sadness, of heartbreak. This is a book that tells a real story and all the emotional messiness that comes with life. This is a big part of the reason that I have loved this series so much!
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: