Title: Defensive Zone
Author: Catherine Gayle
Series: Portland Storm #15
Publisher: Night Shift Publishing
Release Date: 3/23/2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Page Count: 260
Heat Level: 4 flames out of 5
Rating: 4 stars out of 5
USA Today bestselling author Catherine Gayle presents another novel in the bestselling Portland Storm hockey romance series.
Portland Storm defenseman Cody “Harry” Williams owes his coach everything—especially for bailing him out of trouble in the past. How does he want Cody to repay him? By keeping his hands to himself around the coach’s sensual and mischievous daughter. All signs point to this task being easier said than done…
Up-and-coming fashion designer Dani Weber always gets what she wants—and she wants Cody Williams. Cody’s sexy, geeky-chic bowties and hard-to-get attitude only make her want him more, and now Cody’s resistance is fading…and fast.
One call is all it would take to land Cody on the trading block, ending their flirtation before it gains any traction. Cody is squarely in the Defensive Zone, but the only way for the two of them to obtain what they really want is to go on the offensive—together.
Harry has a secret…and you’ll never guess it
I really enjoy this author and this series, but I have to say I didn’t see this coming and certainly not under the Portland Storm banner. That’s a very good thing. If you’re going to have a long running series, the only way to keep readers coming back is to constantly evolve and keep things fresh. Defensive Zone is certainly that.
Dani Weber is young and acts her age in many ways. I’m typically not a fan of YA/NA romances precisely for this reason. Their immaturity, impetuous, and self-involved ways of seeing things grates on me. In Defensive Zone, Dani did just that at the start. She’s vibrant, ambitious, and a spitfire who doesn’t take “no” for an answer. As admirable as those qualities are, when they applied to Cody, I grew frustrated. As she’s done in previous books, Miss Gayle develops this seemingly brash character steadily and thoroughly, and I grew to really like Dani. I always like seeing character growth, especially when they can recognize and address their own flaws. I loved that we saw this in Dani. By the end, we see her brazen attitude work selflessly. Dani is admittedly different than most of this author’s heroines but I liked that because it keeps the series fresh and makes me eager to see what is in store next. I found Cody’s character equally different from what I’d come to expect. I was surprised by his secret, but I liked how the story developed his many sides fully rather than secrets meant solely for “shock value”. I also found his steady, strong personality brilliantly complemented Dani’s live-wire attitude. They are certainly a couple I’ll look forward to revisiting in upcoming books.
The romance between Cody and Dani was fun and flirty initially, steadily developing into more. The conflicts were a bit different and the resolutions surprising, but it worked well for these characters. I did think the pacing was a bit slower at times, though that may be due to my reluctance to connect with Dani for part of the book. Overall, the book flowed and moved along without getting stuck on a problem for long. As I’ve come to expect from this author, the writing is very good and the hockey details woven expertly into the storyline. And WOW, Defensive Zone is definitely not lacking in heat. It matched the couple’s relationship and personalities so well and, accompanied with some very sweet moments, made this a memorable romance. I love when books catch me off guard, and this book did that in a few different ways. I thought this was a fun departure from what I expected in this series, while still retaining my favorite elements of a hockey romance by Miss Gayle. Sport romance fans certainly won’t be disappointed with the newest standalone in the Portland Storm series.