author: Catherine Gayle
series: Portland Storm #5
published: 20 November 2014
publisher: Night Shift Publishing
genre(s): contemporary, romance, sports
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It was supposed to be a single night of fake names, half-truths, and anonymous sex. Neither of them was prepared for it to become more. Keith Burns, star defenseman for the NHL’s Portland Storm, was just looking for a way to pass the time and ease the loneliness of his lavish lifestyle. Brianna Hayden wanted to find herself—and maybe learn to love herself again—after health issues changed everything. Anonymity is the name of their game; the rules were laid down at the outset. But when a chance encounter brings them back together long after the game should have ended, all their initial rules get thrown out the window.
It isn’t long before partial truths and dancing around the pain of the past gets complicated. Their physical chemistry is off the charts, but it isn’t enough. They both want a future, but Keith has an unspeakable history involving his two brothers that he just can’t share with anyone, not even Brie. She needs the truth if they are going to have any chance at moving forward. If he can’t give it to her, it might land him a permanent spot in her penalty box. If Keith can get In the Zone, he’ll be on the forecheck—but Brie’s heart is the goal he’s seeking
I have been a big fan of this series since the very beginning! I am not usually a big reader of too much contemporary romance, but this series has me hooked. The entire series is based around the fictional NHL team, the Portland Storm. There is no denying my love of hockey, but my love for these books extends far beyond that. Not only does Catherine Gayle write great hockey, she writes about real people with real issues and she doesn’t sugar coat them.
One of my favorite things about this series is that, once a book is finished, we don’t just say goodbye to the characters. In the Zone is Keith Burns’ story, a defenseman that we met earlier in the series. It is also Brie’s story, who I think just might be my favorite leading lady yet in this series.
Kudos to Catherine Gayle for creating a leading lady that is representative of so many of us that are a bit on the fluffy side. She was a character I truly understood. Brie is a professional dancer whose career path abruptly changed when she began to suffer from thyroid issues. She gained quite a bit of weight and, with it, a whole peck of self-esteem issues. I am a former soldier who was always fit, right until a slew of medical issues led to a weight gain. I could have been that character… except for the whole relationship with an NHL player, of course.
Keith Burns. He is right up there at the top of the Book Boyfriend list. His ability to see beauty in Brie when she didn’t even see it in herself was so refreshing. His obsession with getting her to see herself as he saw her was touching and sweet. But more than that, he had his own story of pain and loss and shame. I love that the author creates such amazing male characters. As pro hockey players, all of them could be straight up alpha males and fit the somewhat chauvinist stereotype. But none of them are. Yes, they are strong and powerful, but they are also kind and sweet and deep. Keith’s shame and pain were so powerful and heart wrenching. There was so much regret and neverending angst because there are some things you can never fix, no matter how much you want to. His story was so emotional and so raw and very real/
One of the other things I enjoyed was that she touched on an issue that you don’t see in a lot of hypermasculine sports fiction. I’m not going to say too much for fear of spoilers, but I am hoping that we see more of these characters in future books.
Things to love…
- Keith. His story was a powerful one that touched me.
- Brie. I loved her character and completely related to her.
- The chemistry. There was some serious chemistry between these two!
- The issues. There were some heavy issues in this book and they were presented so well.
Definitely read the earlier books in this series before this one! Great romance, great hockey, great characters, great story lines!
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