I hate football and basketball. Baseball bores the snot out of me. I don’t even get golf. You try and get something round into a hole. Sounds like quarters to me—minus the fun of having a rum and coke and flirting with the cute guy next to you. When the Olympics roll around, I want to stick a fork in my eye. Who cares if Michael Phelps eats Wheaties? (In case you all forgot, he’s a swimmer who won a lot of gold medals and likes to smoke weed.) And then there’s ice hockey. Although I can’t explain it, perhaps it has something to do with my Dad and the Philadelphia Flyers. Staying up late, going into downtown Philly, munching on enormous soft pretzels, we always had such a great time that I didn’t even mind sitting in the nose bleed section. So when I found Rachel Gibson’s series about the Seattle Chinooks, a fictitious professional ice hockey team, all those good memories came “flying” back.
Simply Irresistible (1998) starts off with Beauty Queen Georgeanne Howard leaving her much older fiancée and Seattle Chinook owner, Virgil Duffy, at the altar. On her way out of Dodge, the runaway bride begs a ride from hockey player, John Kowalsky. Although the two initially rub each other the wrong way, they soon enjoy a steamy one-night stand. Flash forward seven years. The dyslexic Georgeanne has turned her life around and is now the co-owner of a catering business. Imagine John’s shock when he comes face to face with Georgeanne and her 6-year-old daughter Lexie. Simply put: John is not a happy camper. But reading how the macho hockey player falls in love with his adorable daughter and then her mother was delightful.
See Jane Score (2003) is my favorite book in the series. Like most superheroes, Jane Alcott leads a double life. By day she’s author of the “Single Girl in the City” column for the Seattle Times; by night she’s author of “Life of Honey Pie” an X-rated column for Him magazine. But what Jane wants most is to become a respected newspaper reporter. So when the Seattle Times sports reporter has to take a leave of absence, Jane steps up to the net. What I liked best about Jane is that she is a real woman with real insecurities and real strengths. In other words, she’s the exact opposite of the “Puck Bunnies” that hang around the star hockey players. Maybe that’s why she gets under the skin of Luc Martineau—Chinook goalie and ring-leader for getting Jane kicked off the assignment and out of the locker room. While immediately smitten by the bad-boy hockey player, Jane thinks she’s not Luc’s type. This makes it all the sweeter when sexy Luc falls hard for “plain Jane.”
The Trouble with Valentine’s Day (2005) is a much darker read. PI Kate Hamilton is in a bad place. After finding a supposedly missing wife, she’s blindsided when her client comes unhinged and murders his family. Then Kate makes another bad decision, propositioning the sexy stranger sitting next to her at a bar. Kate’s brutally rebuffed, so you can imagine how uncomfortable it is when she runs into him again while visiting her Grandfather in Gospel, Idaho. Ex-Seattle Chinooks player Rob Sutter is battling his own demons. After cheating on his wife, Rob lost his family and career when he was shot by a deranged “Puck Bunny.” Not surprisingly Rob hasn’t been intimate with a woman since that night. But when Kate strolls into his small town, Rob’s luck is about to change.
Published in 2009, True Love and Other Disasters was my second favorite book in the series. After being dumped at the altar by Georgeanne, Seattle Chinooks owner Virgil Duffy had gone on to marry an ex-stripper and Playmate of the Year. Now Virgil has died and left his widow, Faith, the owner of his beloved ice hockey team. Virgil’s decision doesn’t sit well with the players or his family. But Faith is a trophy wife in the best sense of the word. While Virgil was in his 80’s and unable to perform in the bedroom, Faith loved him and ensured that his last years of life were full of laughter and companionship. So I was really pulling for Faith to get her happy-ever-after with the Chinooks new captain, Ty Savage, who’d been brought in to secure a Stanley Cup for Seattle. It doesn’t take the no-nonsense hockey player long to see that Faith is not the gold-digger Virgil’s family has made her out to be. Not only is Faith breathtakingly beautiful on the outside, she is beautiful on the inside—kind, caring, and loyal. Ty quickly falls in love with our heroine only to be blackmailed by Virgil’s son. The ending was pure romance—or what I like to call An Officer and a Gentleman on Ice. After winning the Stanley Cup, Ty quits the team, sweeps Faith up in his arms, and carries her away in front of a stadium of screaming hockey fans.
In Nothing but Trouble (2010) Gibson tells the story of former Seattle Chinooks captain, Mark Bressler, and the horrific car crash and subsequent coma that ended his career. Wracked with constant physical pain and bitter disappointment, Mark has chased away everyone the Seattle Chinooks have sent to help him in his recovery. Lucky for Mark, his new personal assistant, Chelsea Ross, does not scare easily. Just a smidge over 5 feet tall, with pink-tipped blonde hair, and double-D cleavage, Chelsea is a splash of color and life in Mark’s dreary existence. Soon the gruff Mark is opening up, volunteering with a kid’s ice-hockey team, reconnecting with his teammates, and eventually falling in love with his sassy assistant.
The newest book in the series, Any Man of Mine (2011), is a variation of the one-night stand and unexpected pregnancy Gibson wrote about in Simply Irresistible. (Apparently professional hockey players don’t do condoms.) The book starts off with Seattle Chinooks hockey player, Sam LeClaire, running into his Baby Mama at an event she’s planning. It’s not a pleasant meeting. Sam thinks Autumn Haven is a beeyatch with a capital “B.” Autumn seems to truly loathe the ice-hockey lothario. We soon find out she has good reason. Years ago, after the death of her mother from cancer, Autumn was taking a much-needed vacation in Las Vegas when she fell into bed with Sam. Autumn thought it was love. Sam—not so much. Sam was in Vegas to get trashed and forget about the anniversary of his sister’s murder. After a drunken, impromptu wedding, Sam decided that “What goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas” and quickly procured a divorce. Flash forward to present day. Sam is growing weary of sowing his wild oats and wants to improve his relationship with his young son—and maybe even his son’s mother. While sometimes painful, it was mostly heart-warming to watch Sam win back Autumn.
Why should you read this series? If you like complex, often flawed, alpha males and women who are strong enough to tame them, these books are for you. So grab a glass of wine and forget about missing teeth and broken noses—Gibson’s hockey players are hot!