She’s reaching for a breakaway pass.
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.
He got caught with his head down.
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?
It’s her only chance, but it’s his last shot.
Dana Campbell used to be vibrant, funny, outgoing and, one of the best hockey players in the US. All of that came to a huge halt the night she was gang raped and everything in her world was turned upside down. Dana’s zest for life, her ability to trust and to be touched were all ripped away from her in one horrifying moment. Seven long years later, Dana finds herself at a crossroads: her therapist has taken her as far as is possible in therapy and now it is time for Dana to work on physical contact in the real world. Dana desperately wants to heal and to know what it is like to be in a relationship but without the ability to trust or be touched, intimacy is hard to achieve. Her therapist recommended a sex surrogate and so, with every bit of will power and courage that she has, Dana asks one of the only men on Earth that she trusts to fill the role, her brother’s best friend, Eric.
Eric Zellinger has been in Dana’s life for more than a decade; as her brother’s best friend, Eric has watched Dana grow up and watched her tragic spiral downward following her rape. He has long stood by and watched Dana try desperately to reclaim her life, supported her if at all possible and, loved her quietly. Though Eric is thrilled to have Dana in town for a surprise visit nothing, nothing could have prepared him for what she has asked. Be her sex surrogate; has she lost her damn mind? When reason sets in, Eric begins to understand what an incredible amount of courage it has taken for Dana to come to him and the thought of any man touching her is absolutely unacceptable. With no other choice, Eric agrees to Dana’s plan and within the hour she has moved in with him.
To complicate the situation completely, Eric is the captain of the Portland Storm hockey team and they are in the middle of a wretched season. In order to fulfill his commitments to both the team and to Dana, Eric has to bring her with him when the teach travels. As a former hockey player, Dana enjoys the games but being around so many unfamiliar men is absolutely unnerving and something Dana struggles with. In order to protect and help her, Eric talks to the team about Dana’s situation and the whole damn lot of them pitches in to help. It’s really hard not to like Dana and so the team (and their wives and girlfriends!) accepts her and accepts Eric’s role in her life. The only two people having difficulty accepting their roles are Dana and Eric; Dana is showing marked improvement in her ability to be touched and the end of her arrangement with Eric is drawing closer each and every day.
The Bottom Line: Eric and Dana’s story is a fine start to the Portland Storm series. Both characters were instantly appealing and as each of their respective stories unfolds, they became even more likeable. The situations Gayle has created for both Dana and Eric are heart wrenching, realistic and, in the end heartwarming. My only real complaint about this read revolves solely around my lack of knowledge concerning hockey. Though I understand the very, very basics of the game I will admit to being a bit lost anytime Gayle uses some of the technical terms related to the game. While I understand that these terms and phrases are necessary, as an individual who doesn’t watch the game, it was a bit frustrating to feel so lost. These things are few and far between and certainly don’t detract from the story overall so, if you are looking for a sweet, sports themed HEA then Breakaway is certainly a book for you.
Catherine Gayle is a 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.