Release Review: Defensive Zone: Catherine Gayle

Defensive Zone (Portland Storm #10)
Catherine Gayle
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Release Date March 23, 2017

Portland Storm defenseman Cody “Harry” Williams owes his coach everything—especially for bailing him out of trouble in the past. It’s up to 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 Cody’s resistance is fading…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 Cody and Dani to obtain what they really want is to go on the offensive—together.

Dani Weber has set her sights on Cody "Harry" Williams..."Dirty Harry" in her mind. She knows under his buttoned-up facade that he is hiding a sexy, dirty side and she wants to explore it. So much so that since they shared a kiss, she has essentially been stalking him or at least relentlessly pursuing him.

But Cody is on the run and resistant. After getting in some trouble, he made a promise to her dad, who is also one of his coaches, that he would steer clear of her. He is worried about his place on the team and a possible trade. And he has some personal issues that make it not a good idea. But even though he is really attracted to her, he pushes her away, tries to avoid her, and even resorts to lying to her. But Dani is determined to break down his defenses and is bound to eventually push him too far. He thrives on control, but Dani pushes all of his buttons. And no amount of trying to control her seems to work. And even when he thinks by sharing his hidden side to her that it might scare her off, it just spurs her on more.

In her mind there is nothing wrong with enjoying each other, and they both agree it could never be something serious. They can set rules. Discretion is key. No one needs to know what goes on with them behind closed doors. They are all about power exchanges, challenge, and heat. They are a blend of out-of-control passion and a balance of needs. They are a fiery match with a lot of potential, but they also have to keep it a secret. If her father or the team find out, it could mess with his career. Something he cannot afford to lose, no matter how much Dani might be worth it.

I really loved the dichotomy of Cody. He had a lot of layers to him. He tried to be stoic and take everything on his own shoulders, and held tight as he could to his control. Dani got on my nerves a bit initially since she really was pushy and at times self centered on what she wanted and not what Cody needed. But she had a good heart and did grow on me more. I came to really like them together. They had a fun rapport and oodles of chemistry. This one had quite a few erotic and stimulating scenes.

It brings in cameos from some of the series regulars especially Dani's family including her parents, her sister, Katie and brother-in-law Jamie, and their brother, Luke. It also featured more with her friend, Bea, and Koz got a little tease of a story. I am really looking forward to Luke's book and Koz's book.

This series is easy to fall back into with familiar characters, but the stories can also stand alone as they feature new couples. It was feisty, steamy, funny, intense, and had a bit of a naughty side. It is told in both of their points of view which was perfect, especially in the beginning when it was such a cat and mouse game. These two were full of surprises and I liked that there was more to the characters than we had originally seen.  I really enjoyed this installment even though it was a bit different.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.  

Dani Weber has chased after Cody “Harry” Williams for some time. So far, Cody has been able to deflect her advances or avoid her altogether, since she has been away at college. Her father has warned Cody away from his little girl and Cody has taken that threat to heart, especially since the Storm management has announced they are looking to move some younger players into the defensive lineup. But Dani has always gone after what she wants, and she doesn’t care what her dad says: she wants Cody.

These two had great chemistry, even as Cody tried to stay away from Dani. Part of the reason David Weber wasn’t thrilled about his daughter being with Cody stems back to the night Cody was arrested and Webs bailed him out. Webs knows things about Cody that no father wants to know about the man his baby is with. As a reader, this gave things a fun little twist. Cody is into kink. He is not straight up vanilla, a fact that Dani uses to up his nickname from Harry to Dirty Harry. She is on board with trying out the things he is interested in, but it is definitely a hurdle they have to face: will she be into the same thing he is?

Overall I enjoyed this book, but there were times I felt like David’s overprotectiveness and the severity of the threat he issued went too far, especially as his daughter is an adult. The ending also felt like it wrapped up rather quickly for all the difficulties they had faced. I didn’t feel like things were really settled, even taking into account what they were doing in the final scenes. There felt like a lot of build up to just stop as soon as a solution had been found, and the foundation for their relationship was still on shaky ground.

I loved the side characters that are close to Dani and Cody. Much of Dani’s scenes focused around her start-up fashion business and her work with Bea. I love Bea’s general confidence and the additional confidence she finds with the help of Dani’s designs. I can’t help but hope, with a few of the scenes in Defensive Zone, that maybe Bea will find a match on the Storm as well. I also loved watching Cody rally around his sisters in trying to find a solution for their father, even as Cody had to do all his help from long distance. 
I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Catherine Gayle 

Catherine Gayle is a USA Today bestselling author of more than thirty contemporary hockey romance and Regency-set historical romance novels and novellas, with over half a million books sold. 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.

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