Happily Ever After Book Nerd Favorite
Breakaway by Catherine Gayle
Series: Portland Storm #1
Published: December 11, 2013 by Night Shift Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Dana Campbell has spent the past seven years in self-imposed isolation for a crime she didn’t commit. The danger is well in the past, but her panic attacks make it impossible to have a normal, healthy relationship with a man. Even her counselor has given up on her. She has to find someone she trusts to help her fight through the panic, or her seven-year ordeal will become a lifetime sentence. There’s only one man she feels safe enough to ask.
As the captain of the NHL’s once elite but now fading Portland Storm, Eric Zellinger knows a thing or two about keeping his focus on the job. Questions are flying about his ability to lead the team back to the playoffs. If they don’t make it, he might be shipped out of town. It’s the worst time possible for his best friend’s kid sister to divide his focus. How can he give her what she needs without jeopardizing both the Storm’s playoff hopes and his future with the team?
I loved this book! The content and set up for the book is very heavy and incredibly sad but that just makes the ending that much sweeter. Reading about Dana and Eric together was so great and you can’t help but desperately want things to work out ok for them. There’s not a lot angst in this book, outside of Dana’s panic attacks. Though there’s a lot about the hockey season included, this is essentially a book about healing and trust.
I can’t begin to imagine the pain and suffering that someone goes through when they are a victim of sexual abuse and for once I feel like an author did this experience justice. Too often a heroine in a romance novel is a victim but once they meet their love interest it’s like nothing happened to them in the past. Do I believe that love can heal a lot of wounds? Of course! Do I believe that someone who’s been through a nightmare deserves to have something easy in their life? Of course! But sometimes a little realism means a lot in a story. Dana suffers from panic attacks and anxiety to such an extent that she can’t even hold hands with a guy. She has completely isolated herself; she dropped out of school, stopped playing hockey, works at an all female gym and hasn’t even thought of dating since her attack. It’s a genuine struggle for her to trust in Eric and begin to find herself again. I loved how determined Dana was, even when it seemed like the odds were against her. Gayle doesn’t just magically heal her; it’s a battle from day 1 for Dana to overcome her trauma. I was mildly annoyed with how oblivious Dana is about Eric’s feelings. She knows that Eric loves her but she mistakenly believes it’s the type of love you feel for a sister. I guess with her lack of experience I can maybe understand why she would believe that, but still.
Then there’s Eric…sigh…he was so amazing! I couldn’t ask for a better hero in a romance novel. I’ve always liked the sweeter, nicer guys in books. I never understood the trend of bad boy players with over developed alpha tendencies and a mean streak. That’s just not attractive to me; Eric is much more my speed. He’s a tough guy on the ice and he knows what he wants in life but he’s not afraid to be a normal guy, with normal feelings. He’s so gentle with Dana and so concerned with hurting her or making her anxiety worse. At the same time he trusts Dana when she says she can handle something.
**Reader Safety: Heroine was gang rape in the past (referenced, short flashbacks); Heroine with severe PTSD
5 stars – loved it!
Portland Storm reviews
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