Release Reviews: Power Play: Catherine Gayle

Power Play 
(Portland Storm #11 on Goodreads and #16 on Authors website)
Catherine Gayle

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Release Date June 29, 2017

She’s got the dress; he’s got the honeymoon. Why not tie the knot?

Honeymooning alone in Cabo, injured Portland Storm center Riley Jezek would do anything to get back at his cheating ex-fiancée and backstabbing brother. When a knockout blonde sits next to him at the bar, Riley’s ready to erase the memories of his ex. But when he notices the tears threatening to stain the blonde’s wedding gown, Riley decides it’s time for a Power Play.

Mackenzie Cain thought she had it all figured out. She found the man. She found the fairytale. She thought it was her dream come true. She was wrong. What she found was a nightmare with a crazy fetish. Alone and dressed in couture was not how she envisioned her wedding night.

When the sexy hockey player makes her an offer, Mackenzie can’t refuse. After all, Prince Charming always shows up by chance. But can Riley’s attempt at revenge turn Mackenzie’s new reality into a page-turning romance? 
I have to admit that this started out a big shaky for me since I had a hard time buying the premise at first, but these two won me over. 

Riley Jezek is taking his honeymoon to Cabo alone after discovering his fiancee's betrayal. Mackenzie Cain followed the promise of online love to Cabo, but it did not turn out how she imagined. Both of them are alone on their expected wedding day. A bit of emotional turmoil, some alcohol, a desperate woman, and  a deal is born. Riley feels like it is getting revenge at his fiancee in a way, but he also has a need to protect and help the struggling Mackenzie.

These two are actually alike in many ways. They have both been frequently disappointed and did not have loving, supportive families. They both have abandonment issues and are guarded. They are always expecting the other shoe to drop and for life to disappoint them. They are both afraid of getting close and then being left, especially Mackenzie. She has a hard time believing in herself or having faith in them. She does not think happy-ever-afters like she reads in romance novels will ever apply to her. They have some challenges to face, have to step out of their comfort zones, and learn to be a team. 

They are thrust together as strangers just learning who each other are and trying to build a new life together. He just wants her to fit into his life, to support her, and to make her happy. She wants to be more sure and independent, but also to take care of him and those he cares about. 

The shy, sweet, naive, and unsure Mackenzie has plenty of chances to show growth. She has to take on things she never thought she could, but is fearful and often second-guesses herself. Riley believes in her and just wants her to believe in herself and him. But he also has his own fears. They do not always do well talking about serious things and their feelings. They are so scared of rocking the boat, they are not always forthcoming. But overall there is not a lot of relationship angst or drama, and it deals more with handling life issues. 

It was a sweet, sexy, and romantic story with an "insta-couple" trying to make it real. Despite starting out as strangers, they were compatible. They laughed, had great chemistry, and similar feelings, and goals. She had a lot to learn about his world, and they both were discovering what it really means to have a partner.

Despite my reservations in the beginning, I became attached to this couple and ended up loving them together. It was told in dual points of view and featured some of our Storm faves. Nate (Ghost) and Anne were featured as he is Riley's best friends. But the other guys and the WAGS also filtered in. Max and Lola were big characters that made me smile often. I always love returning to the Storm world and I am looking forward to with with Colesy, Koz, and Hammer. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review. 
Two weddings cancelled at the last minute mean a bride and groom are each flying solo in Mexico. Riley Jezek would love to get back at his cheating ex-fiance and brother. McKenzie Cain needs a way back to the states after the fairytale she thought she had found fell apart.

I had a hard time with much of the beginning of this story. McKenzie is so over the top in her romantic notions of life (despite repeated reminders that she grew up in unstable foster care) that I had a hard time feeling sympathetic or being able to support her decisions.

As they returned to Portland, and McKenzie started making Riley’s home and the city her own, some of my frustrations were eased as they faced the challenges of getting to know one another and making plans together.

Both characters are slowly developing feelings for the stranger they married so impulsively. I liked the pace of the emotional side of the relationship, even as the physical side moved whip-lash fast. They are absolute strangers when they marry, sharing only a strong physical attraction and broken dreams. As they spend time together, they learn more about the other, albeit slowly.

McKenzie has some things she has to face about herself in order to make things work with Riley, the biggest being her absolute terror towards dogs. I loved watching the relationship between her and the dogs build as she learned to trust the gentle giants.

Overall this was a sweet, light fairy tale-like romance. It read very quickly, so even when I was frustrated with the characters they moved past it (and learned from mistakes) quickly. I loved seeing the Storm teammates, particularly Nate as he is Riley’s best friend.

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

(on author's website)

Catherine Gayle
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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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