Release Review: Smoke Signals: Catherine Gayle

Smoke Signals (Tulsa Thunderbirds #2)
Catherine Gayle
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Expected October 22, 2015

Desperation changes a person. Leads them to do things they never would have dreamed.

Thanks to his mother, Ray “Razor” Chambers knows what desperation can lead a person to do. But as a defenseman for the Tulsa Thunderbirds, those days are long in the past for both of them. His best buddy is about to get hitched in Vegas when a woman whose eyes are filled with an all-too-familiar haunted look approaches Razor. She makes him a proposition, and he knows he’s witnessing yet another act borne of desperation.

Viktoriya Dubrovskaya knows all about desperation, too. She came to America to study ballet and escape a fate no one should have to bear. She can never go home again. She’s broke and broken, not to mention in survival mode. Viktoriya turned to the only help offered, but in the end it stripped her of everything she was and all she wanted. Now she’s out of time, money, and options…until she sees Razor.

There’s no chance he’ll take her up on what she’s offering, but he suggests a counter-proposal—one involving a ring, a green card, and the chance to reclaim her body. It’s an opportunity she can’t pass up, but for Viktoriya and Razor, learning to live together as husband and wife is as foreign as interpreting Smoke Signals. And where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire.
A desperate woman. A man who can empathize. One impulsive decision.

Viktoriya is a woman in need and she gets more than she bargained for when she  propositions Ray "Razor" Chambers while they are in Vegas. Razor even surprises himself with his counter offer. Soon they find themselves visiting a chapel to give her a way to avoid deportation to Russia.

Tori is so beat down with sadness, shame and self worth issues, not to even mention the physical and mental scars. But Razor sees something in her that makes him want to protect her. She knows her issues are a lot for Razor to take on but no amount of trying to push him away seems to work. He just keeps trying harder and harder to find her vulnerable parts and get through to her. But she is a woman with so much to deal with and she is so stubborn that at times it seems insurmountable. But he is determined, pushy yet sympathetic, demanding but caring. He just wants her to see the good in her he sees. Even when he is not as fair to himself and does not always even give himself enough credit. 

They are from two different worlds with two very different personalities. They will have to break down barriers, learn to compromise, and figure out who they are and what they want. Razor especially has his work cut out for him because she does not make it easy on him.

I have to admit that I had a hard time warming up to Tori. Some of my initial disconnect could be attributed to the broken English due to her being Russian, but a lot was just how she bluntly described her past and experiences. I know we needed to understand what she has been through, but sometimes it was just a bit too much to visualize. But as the story went on I connected with her more and understood why she was the way she was. This was a journey for her to find herself, open up, and believe in the good of others and herself. 

And Razor...who knew what was hiding under that veneer? Our cocky, outspoken, arrogant, self proclaimed a-hole really has  soft, sweet, protective side. I admired his determination, tenacity, and how much he tried to nurture her failing spirit. He was so patient, thoughtful, and understanding. I have to agree with Tori that he was a really good man. 

I enjoyed more with other Tulsa Thunderbirds and Portland Storm peeps: Hunter and Tallie, Dima, Kade, Babs and Katie, Webs, Zee, and 501. I adored  Razor's outspoken mom and their unfiltered interactions. I loved that he and Babs are still such good friends despite the distance. I am looking forward to Dima's book as we got to see a bit more into his personality in this one. Tallie and Hunter (Bury the Hatchet) played a big part in this story and I came to like them even more. 

I have to admit that this one started out a bit slow and uncomfortable for me. Some of the premise, her experiences,  vivid descriptions, and her personality in general initially turned me off. She has so many issues and they were so different. And the whole story started out so impulsive and so out of character for the Razor we have known. But I eventually warmed up to Tori. And I loved Razor's changes. And I found myself really rooting for them to overcome all of their hurdles and find some way to be able to make it work. So in the end, I liked them and felt the story took on a more positive progression and was more relatable. This story focused on finding strength, hope, commitment, understanding, and healing. It was told in dual points of view and the character's both showed growth. There were difficult situations and past experiences, but there was also romance and tenderness. Razor came to be a great hero even if he was a not-so-white-Knight. 

ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review. 

Bury the Hatchet (Tulsa Thunderbirds #1)

He was poised to be an elite goalie for a contending team.

Hunter Fielding has long since proven himself to be one of the best goaltenders in the NHL. The problem? His former team had another (slightly better) backstop. They left Hunter out to dry, the upstart Tulsa Thunderbirds claimed him in the expansion draft, and he made a few stupid comments about backasswards Oklahomans. Now the T-Birds say the only way he can redeem himself is to make nice for the media with some local goody two shoes who’s made some mistakes of her own.

Oklahoma’s sweetheart could do no wrong until she could do no right.

Tallulah Belle Roth was the reigning Miss Oklahoma USA until a night of out-of-control drinking, a naked foray in a hot tub with very bad boy, and a bunch of lowlights on TMZ. Now she’s been stripped of her crown and is facing the censure of the same people who made her out to be Little Miss Perfect. Tallie won’t ever get her title back, but her life is another matter—and the only way the public will allow her to do that is if she presents herself as happily settled with someone else under Oklahoma’s eye.

The marriage is to be in name only—one year of sickeningly-sweet lovey-dovey PDA, all to get their detractors to bury the hatchet. Those kisses and tender moments for the cameras take an emotional toll, though. Can in name only be enough?

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Expected May 5, 2016

The best night of Dmitri Nazarenko’s life quickly turned into the worst night of his life. In a few short hours, he went from winning hockey’s Holy Grail to making a decision that nearly ended both his best friend’s life and his own. They each still bear scars, but some wounds never heal. Dima’s body is now a shrine to his memories, with a beard meant to hide ugly scars and tattoos designed to prevent ever forgetting the mistakes he’s made.

London Hawke knows all about incurable injuries, but she’s never let hers get in the way of living her life. Seeing a man haunted by the ghosts of his past is a surefire way to trigger her annoyance, and that’s exactly what she finds in Dima. He’s able-bodied, but he acts like he should be the one in the wheelchair instead of her. Someone needs to slap some sense into him, but London doesn’t want to be that someone even if it’s fun to butt heads with him when they face off.

Trading barbs leads first to flirtation and then to dancing between the sheets. London won’t accept sharing the bed with his past for long, but Dima can’t remember how to live in the here and now. He’ll have to figure it out or London will leave him to dance with his ghosts alone. 

Catherine Gayle Website/Facebook/Twitter

Catherine Gayle is a USA Today bestselling author of more than twenty-five contemporary hockey romance and Regency-set historical romance novels and novellas. 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.

If you want to know more, be sure to sign up for Catherine’s mailing list. She can also be found at Hockey Romance, 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.


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