Rachel has lost all trust in men after what her ex-husband did and she’s very protective of her children and who they are around. Soupy seems like a great guy but Rachel doesn’t trust her judgement anymore when it comes to men.
There are some heavy topics in this one but Catherine Gayle does a great job of handling them. We met Brenden in the previous book and it’s nice to have him as the hero here. I really liked his character because he’s a just such a nice guy. Brenden was my favorite part of this book and I was complete mush every time he made a connection with Rachel’s kids. He’s always ready and willing to do anything Rachel needs and watching him fall in love with Rachel’s kids, Maddie and Tuck, was great!
I liked Rachel, though she spends most of the book very tightly strung. Rachel comes across as such a great mom; she’s devastated by what happened to Maddie and trying so hard to make things better for her. Though her protectiveness is through the roof she’s doesn’t smother Maddie, at least not too much. Though she wants to resist Brenden she’s instantly attracted to him and he’s determined to help her out when it’s clear that she spends all her time taking care of her kids and no time taking care of herself. I completely understand why Rachel is so over the top protective of her kids. I imagine any parent would be this way but when her need to protect them is used for the The Big Fight it just didn’t work for me. I don’t blame her in any way but something was just not working for me (see bottom of page for spoiler).
Once again there was a lot of hockey in this one and plenty of set up for future books, some of it tear-worthy. There’s also a lot of Jaime “Babs” Babcock and he was just absolutely adorable. Babs is now living with Brenden and being the oldest of 6 boys he’s great around kids. Babs friendship with Tuck is so sweet and Babs pretty much steals the show in any scene he’s in. Catherine Gayle is great at creating a family out of the Portland Storm players, coaches, wives and girlfriends and this is abundantly clear in this book. Gayle’s characters are just genuinely nice and caring and regardless of any realism, I love it.
Content Note: references to child sexual abuse
••• Book Details •••
Portland Storm #2 • Romance, Contemporary • Night Shift Publishing • February 17, 2014
Injury after injury has put Brenden Campbell’s NHL career on hold for years. Now he’s playing for the Portland Storm and determined to make it stick. Few things in life drive him more than being told he can’t have something he wants, and what he wants most is to prove he belongs. Brenden also wants Rachel Shaw, the cute, little redhead who just got hired as the general manager’s new assistant. But then she went and made herself off-limits, telling him: “I don’t date.” Those three words pretty much guarantee that he’ll do everything he can to change her mind.
Rachel is changing things up on the fly for her family, moving them somewhere she can be the kind of mom her kids deserve. Allowing anyone else to be in their lives is out of the question, at least until her instincts get back on track. How else can she be sure who to steer the kids clear of? Right now she trusts no one, including herself, and especially not a man like Brenden Campbell. He’s way too handsome and a little bit cocky. Falling for a guy like him is a mistake she can’t afford to make twice.
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At this point, Brenden and Rachel have admitted they love each other, they are openly dating, and Brenden is sleeping over at her place. Rachel finally agrees to go on a “real” date and leave the kids with Babs to babysit. But when she finds out that a man at the arcade made Maddie uncomfortable Rachel blames herself for leaving them unprotected and almost breaks up with Brenden over it.