Romance Meets Addiction Recovery–Review of #CatherineGayle ‘s #romancefiction “Comeback” #hockey

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?

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~ * ~ * ~ Review of COMEBACK — Portland Storm, book #6 ~ * ~ * ~

Romance Meets Addiction Recovery

Nicky (Nicklas), is a recovering substance abuse addict who plays pro hockey. I loved how his character gave insight to the challenges and triumphs of improving self-image issues and staying strong.
Nicky faced challenges and temptations throughout this book where he could have slipped back into his old ways of using pills and booze as a way out. One specific tragedy toward the end almost had me convinced Nicky was going to relapse and lose his family and the love his life…but he didn’t! He didn’t, and that is what I loved most about this story.
It is a book that shows him as a prospective success and less like a past “user-loser.” It breaks the barriers of stereotypes people going through a recovery program often endure. He works hard to mend broken relationships and is honest with himself, even when times are tough. Best of all, he comes through for his team and family when it would have been easier to go back to his old ways and give up. His story is inspiring and beautiful.

— An ARC copy of COMEBACK was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review. —

Star Rating: Five of Five Stars * * * * *

Review by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted to Goodreads.

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~ * ~ * ~ Recent / Upcoming Releases by Catherine Gayle ~ * ~ *

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DROPPING GLOVES, Portland Storm Book #7, is available for pre-order at Amazon and Kobo. Release date is *April 23, 2015*. If you’re interested in reading more excerpts and to check out the entire Portland Storm series, be sure to visit Catherine Gayle’s website. She lists all of the books there, including her historical fiction books and short stories. 

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A Beautiful Story of Romance and Goodwill–@LaurieKozlowski’s #BookReview of “The Homecoming” by Robyn Carr ( @RCarrWriter )

A Beautiful Story of Romance and Goodwill (Review of “The Homecoming” by Robyn Carr)

Iris works as a florist and Seth is a disabled but active cop, assigned to Thunder Point, a small town in Portland, Oregon. Thier romance blooms gradually though they haven’t seen each other in years, because of a grudge one of them holds against the other one.

I think I’m falling in love with the town as much as the characters. Everyone, every store, everything, has a story…that is why I think I always connect with Robyn Carr’s stories and the characters she writes. It was no exception that Seth completely won me over by being completely genuine and an all around great guy. In any other book, it would seem boring–but his life story is carefully drawn where I wanted things to work out for him. He was a hell-raiser in his younger days and took many things for granted, but in this story, it’s clear he wants to make amends.

I also admire Iris for being smart and careful with her heart after she’d been taken advantage of. She was determined not to be a victim of her past and took every reasonable approach to rise above the pain and loneliness. She works as a school counselor to teens–that I loved–and I liked how her mending heart wasn’t over-exaggerated like in some novels.

I’m glad I kept reading past the first few chapters, though I wanted to put the book down because at first I couldn’t believe Seth did what he did. If I hadn’t had read Carr’s books before I may have done just that, but I knew there had to be a reason for it. And there was.

Nice and easy storytelling, with sub-plots of a mysterious domestic violence case that was solved by the end, makes this novel another hit in the collection of Thunder Point novels.

Star Rating: Four Stars * * * * 

Review by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted to Goodreads and Amazon.

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Thunder Point, Book Six

Thunder Point, Book Six

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At the age of nineteen, Seth Sileski had everything. A superb athlete and scholar, handsome and popular, he was the pride of Thunder Point. Destined for greatness, he lost it all in a terrible accident that put an end to his professional football career when it had barely begun. The people in his hometown have never forgotten what might have been.

Seth has come to terms with the turns his life has taken. But now he’s been presented with an opportunity to return home and show his father—and the people of Thunder Point—he’s become a better, humbler version of his former self.

Winning over his father isn’t the only challenge. Seth must also find a way to convince his childhood neighbor and best friend, Iris McKinley, to forgive him for breaking her heart. With his homecoming, will Seth be able to convince the town, his family and especially Iris that he’s finally ready to be the man who will make them all proud?

RECENT BOOK RELEASES

Thunder Point, Book Four

Thunder Point, Book Four

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Thunder Point, Book Five

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Robyn Carr is a RITA® Award-winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author of almost fifty novels, including the critically acclaimed Virgin River series. Her highly anticipated new series, Thunder Point, will be released March 2013. Robyn and her husband live in Las Vegas, Nevada. You can visit Robyn Carr’s website at www.RobynCarr.com.

A Steamy Sports Romance with A Powerful Message– @LaurieKozlowski ‘s #BookReview of “In The Zone” by Catherine Gayle #BookEscapeReviews #amreading #hockey

There is something alluring about sports romance fiction series. The heroes are always hunky and strong, the heroines always seem to gravitate less to the “damsel in distress” and more toward equal partnership.

Then when I find out an author of one of these books has more books out like them…I sigh, do a little happy dance, and then Amazon one-click my brains out, regardless of wallet budget, to get my sports romance fix. I’ve found a great new-to-me series that I’m going crazy over.

The Portland Storm series by Catherine Gayle.

It’s a scorching hot hockey sports romance series, with delectable heroes and strong heroines. I love how she kept Brie soft mannered yet showed her kicking ass on the dance floor. If you love sports and romance…hot romance–damn! You’ll love this series.

Here’s my review of “In The Zone” by Catherine Gayle.

"In The Zone" Portland Storm Series, Book FIVE

“In The Zone” Portland Storm Series, Book FIVE

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Steamy Sports Romance with A Powerful Message

By the middle of the first chapter of “In The Zone,” I knew this book would have a sexy edge and important message.

Brie is a plus-sized heroine because she develops a thyroid issue, causing her to continue to overweight despite her diet restrictions. She keeps her insecurities well hidden, under frumpy clothes and a sweet spirit while teaching dance classes. Her former partner dumped her because of her weight (he was an ass) and to say her spirit had been broken by his emotional abuse would be sugarcoating it.

So she puts an ad in on Craigslist to hook up for the night with someone who could make her feel desirable. Most would think this to be “pathetic” or “desperate” behavior. But when you read the story, you’ll see the author’s voice only betrays this act of so-called desperation as a genuine act of Brie proactively dealing with low self-esteem. I thought she was brave.

Kieth (“Burnzie”), is a beast. The magnitude of his character within this book is amazing. He loves his family but deals with doubt from a painful past tragedy concerning one of his brothers. I loved how he took a teammate under his wing, how he gently guided Brie into a better place emotionally by being an excellent friend, and how he’s always thinking of others before himself. He stole my heart.

I probably don’t need to say this book is off the charts hot because there is more depth than meets the eye. “In The Zone” offers great insight into dealing with grief, mental health issues, and recovery. But I’ll let you decide for yourself if this one is a winner. It was for me, for sure!!

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted on Barnes & Noble and to Goodreads.

Star Rating: Five Stars * * * * *

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BOOK BLURB FOR “In The Zone”

It was supposed to be one night of fake names, half-truths, and anonymous sex. Neither of them was prepared for it to turn into so much 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 again after health issues changed everything. That one night turns out to be so much more than either Keith or Brie expects, but anonymity is the name of their game, and the rules were laid down at the outset. Pushing for the truth might land Keith a permanent spot in Brie’s penalty box, but it’s a chance he’s willing to take. Once he gets In the Zone, he’ll be on the forecheck—but Brie’s heart is the goal he’s seeking.

Read full excerpt of In The Zone.

Upcoming Book Releases by Catherine Gayle

"Comeback" Portland Storm Series, Book Six, **Available January 15, 2015**

“Comeback” Portland Storm Series, Book Six, **Available January 15, 2015**

"Dropping Gloves" Portland Storm, Book SEVEN **Available on April 23, 2015**

“Dropping Gloves” Portland Storm, Book SEVEN
**Available on April 23, 2015**

~*~*~ About The Author ~*~*~

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www.catherinegayle.com

Catherine Gayle is a USA Today bestselling author of Regency-set historical romance and contemporary hockey romance with a New Adult feel. She’s a transplanted Texan living in North Carolina with two extremely spoiled felines. In her spare time, she watches way too much hockey and reality TV, plans fun things to do for the Nephew Monster’s next visit, and performs experiments in the kitchen which are rarely toxic.

You can find out more on her website, her blog, at Red Door Reads, at Facebook, on Twitter, and at Goodreads. If you want to see some of her cats’ antics and possibly the occasional video update from Catherine, visit her YouTube account.

#BookEscapeReviews – @LaurieKozlowski ‘s Review of “Want Me” by Cynthia Eden ~ Suspenseful and Sexy #eroticfiction #amreading #lawyers #bodyguards

She doesn’t play it safe… Sophie Sarantos has a weakness for dangerous men. She doesn’t like safe lovers—she likes men with a wild, rough edge. But Sophie may have attracted a lover who is too dangerous, even for her. Someone is stalking Sophie, slipping into her home, watching her day and night. The stranger seems to know all of Sophie’s darkest secrets, secrets that should never be revealed. Out of options, Sophie turns to ex-solider Lex Jensen for protection. Lex is part owner of VJS Protection, Inc., and Sophie hires him as her bodyguard. She thinks Lex is one of the “good guys” out there, but she couldn’t be more wrong. He doesn’t play at all… Lex has his own secrets. Dark, deadly secrets. And as his feelings for Sophie grow, Lex knows that he is going to have to stop pretending to be a gentleman and, instead, he’ll have to show Sophie who he really is. A man trained to kill. A man too used to evil. A man who will take any risk…as long as he can claim Sophie. Because there is one thing that Lex wants in this world…one person he desires above all others…Sophie. And no one will hurt her, not on his watch.

PLEASE NOTE: the content and review posted are not intended recommendations for readers 18 or under. If you are under age 18, please DO NOT READ ANY FURTHER. Thanks. ~ Laurie.

Full Excerpt of WANT ME.

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🔸🔷🔸REVIEW🔸🔷🔸

Suspenseful and Sexy 

Sophie loves dangerous men and Lex is just the man she needs. Lex is hired on by her as a bodyguard after she has a near death experience. Everyone wants Sophie. She is consistently referred to as a dangerous and lethal female (not in those exact words.)

Lex was a hot Alpha, sexy and protective. The men he worked with had grown up with him in a group home. I liked the brotherhood they shared and would like to know more about them.

I didn’t catch on to Sophie’s character being a pit bull lawyer until a few chapters into the book, but I hadn’t read the first book, so I was a little lost. For the first few chapters, I thought she was an insecure victim. I felt bad for the terrible past she endured, and I’m glad she found justice. I wish her character had been stronger. She was “hardened on the inside” (emotionally), but I wasn’t convinced she was dangerous. Also, Sophie’s male companions kept telling Lex that he didn’t know the *real* Sophie, over and over, and confused me why the hero was doubted around every corner. I’m always sad to see an Alpha character slip into a Beta role as his love for the heroine is discounted. 

The suspense was wonderful, but I’m not surprised because this author has written many suspense books. “Want Me” is a good book for those who love suspense and hot romance, or those who love hot romances and want to read a book with an unpredictable, but great ending.

*** The author and publisher provided an ARC via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. ***

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted to Goodreads Twitter Pinterest — Facebook — Google Plus

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Star Rating: Four out of Five Stars * * * *

Book Specs

Publisher: Hocus Pocus Publishing, Inc. 

Publication Date: January 21, 2015

Page Count: 168 pages

*~*~ More Books by Cynthia Eden ~*~*

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Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World, and IndieReader best-seller. Cynthia is also a two-time finalist for the RITA® award (she was a finalist both in the romantic suspense category and in the paranormal romance category). Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas. Cynthia is a “hybrid” author. She has published extensively with New York (her New York publishers include Avon, Kensington, Grand Central, and Harlequin), and she has also enjoyed success in her indie writing career. Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast. She loves romance novels, horror movies, and chocolate. Her favorite hobbies including hiking in the mountains (searching for waterfalls) and spelunking.

Review by @LaurieKozlowski of “Throw like a Woman” by @SusanPetrone #women #fiction #baseball

Forty years old, divorced, with two sons on the verge of adolescence and an ex-husband who considers visitation to be optional, Brenda Haversham isn’t having a whole lot of fun. She’s also no longer qualified for the work she loves, so she’s toiling away in a cubicle instead, trying to make ends meet. Brenda is short on money, short on connection with her kids, and short on any kind of social life. The only thing Brenda has in abundance is her anger. And that turns out to be her greatest asset.

When she was a kid, Brenda’s father taught her how to throw a good fastball. That wasn’t of much use to a girl, but it is enough to astound onlookers at a “test your speed” pitching cage before a Cleveland Indians game. The more Brenda pictures her ex-husband’s face on the other end, the harder she throws. And when someone tapes her performance and puts it up online, Brenda becomes an Internet sensation – and then more than that.

The Indians come calling and Brenda finds her life taking a turn in a new direction. Soon, she’s standing on the mound as the first woman player in Major League history – and dealing with everything that comes with it. The money is great and the endorsement deals are even better. The fury of “traditionalists?” Not so much. And the conflicting emotions of her teammates are even harder to manage. Meanwhile, Brenda’s home life is evolving faster than she can keep up, redefining her role as a mother, a friend, and even a lover. As the season winds down Brenda will find out if she has what it takes to be a winner – at both baseball and life.

A funny, poignant, and endearing novel from a writer of rare warmth and humanity, THROW LIKE A WOMAN is a 95-mile-an-hour heater of a novel.

Susan Petrone's debut novel "Throw like a Woman"

Susan Petrone’s debut novel “Throw like a Woman”

*AMAZON* BARNES&NOBLE*

**** REVIEW ****

A Whole New Level of Brave

One of my favorite sports is baseball. I’m not a die-hard fanatic of the sport, but thoroughly enjoyed reading “Throw like A Woman,” because of the realistic angle it portrayed. It featured Brenda Haversham as a strong female who reached for a goal not many people would have the guts to pursue: a career in Major League Baseball.

Brenda isn’t any female lead character. She’s motivated, intelligent, and older, with two rambunctious boys and an ex who chooses not to be involved in their lives. She won me over to her side as the story opened with her envisioning her ex’s face as the ball’s target. This idea might seem harsh, but when you read the story, you’ll see she has every right to feel the anger she does toward her ex, Ed.

I wanted to strangle Ed’s character, especially toward the end, but Brenda’s sons were cute as heck in a destructive and fun-loving kind of way.

It was amazing to read about the different team members, each of them stood out in a small but significant way. They are the type of characters who you want to know more about. My favorite team character was Stuart, from the Minor Leagues. He has a superstition about touching people. Also, the rapport (bullying) from a few Major League players worried me until I realized Brenda could hold her own with them. I loved how the bullying issue panned out, in the end.

“Throw like A Woman” is packed with humor and grown-up words your mother would insist only hell’s angels would say (if hell’s angels played for the Cleveland Indians and had a woman’s body, heart, balls, and brains.)

I’m a sucker for a romance story, and the sweet romance in this novel was outstanding. The sparks between Brenda and Charlie knock this story out of the park. A must read for those who love inspirational stories based on breaking societal barriers.

Star Rating: Five Stars * * * * *

Reviewed by Laurie Kozlowski. Also posted on Goodreads.

*— Review disclosure — “Throw like a Woman” ARC was provided by the author and publisher  via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. *

* ~ * ~  *  Book Specs * ~ * ~ *

Published by: The Story Plant

Page count: 336 pages

Release Date: March 24, 2015

Like this review? Be sure to “friend” Laurie on Goodreads! 🙂 You are also able to follow this blog by signing up to receive recent book reviews in your mail box by clicking the “Follow Book Escape Reviews” via email button and following the prompts. Happy reading!

Susan has published several short stories and non-fiction writing. Visit her website “Clips & Credits” section to be directed to them.

About The Author

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Susan Petrone grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and although she’s moved away a couple of times (Annapolis, MD, and Alkmaar, The Netherlands), she lives there still. Her short fiction has been published by Glimmer Train, Featherproof Books, Muse, Conclave, and Whiskey Island. Her first novel, A Body at Rest, was published in 2009 by Drinian Press. Her second novel, Throw Like a Woman, is due out in March 2015 from The Story Plant. Her short story, “Monster Jones Wants to Creep You Out” (Conclave, 2010) was nominated for a 2011 Pushcart Prize. Her plays have had performances and/or readings at the Cleveland Playhouse, The Lamb’s Club (New York, New York), St. Johns College (Annapolis, Maryland), and several smaller non-Equity houses in Cleveland, Ohio. She co-authors the Cleveland Indians blog (ItsPronouncedLajaway.com) for ESPN.com’s SweetSpot network. On the non-fiction side, Susan’s work has appeared on CoolCleveland.com and ESPN.com. She holds a master’s degree in English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Cleveland State University and lives with one husband, one daughter, and far too many dogs in a little house near some medium-sized woods.