Welcome back to another wonderful round of Review by Rach! Today we have a special treat, not just a review, but also an excerpt and guest blog from the author, Katie Kenyhercz.
Meet Allie and Shane:
After a bum knee ended her soccer days, Alexandra-Allie-Kallen has dedicated her life to helping injured athletes cope and get back in the game. As the new team sports psychologist of the Las Vegas Sinners, she starts out with just one player, but he's a handful. Goalies are stubborn, and she would know. She's determined to figure him out and return him to the net good as new, especially after she sent her last patient back to the ice too soon. The problem is, she sees so much of herself in Shane, and their chemistry is off the charts. Falling for him isn't in the plan. Is love worth losing her career?
Shane Reese's entire identity has been wrapped up in being a goalie since he was five years old. When he gets a high ankle sprain right before playoffs, he doesn't exactly take it well. After putting his fist through the physical therapy room wall and hitting a few joking teammates, he's ordered to see the new shrink. All he has to do is convince her he's seen the light, and he can get back to defending his team as soon as his ankle heals. The problem is, she sees through him like no one he's ever met, and the more time he spends with her, the less hot he is to get back to the ice. Could something mean more than hockey?
And now for the excerpt:
Shane ambled down the tunnel to the locker room, half-paying attention to his excited teammates bumping his shoulder, patting his mask, and barking, “Fuckin’ awesome!” Their support meant a lot, but right now, something else meant more. He shed his gear in front of his locker. As soon as he got down to athletic shorts and a t-shirt, he slipped into the quiet hallway.
Adrenaline and emotion carried him to Allie’s office, and when he opened the door, she stumbled forward as if she’d been leaning against it.
“Shane?” A mix of confusion, happiness, and something like regret played on her face. “You were amazing out there. You—”
He scooped her up and swung her around. She gasped and laughed, holding onto his shoulders, and it felt even better than the win. He smiled so hard his cheeks hurt, and when he set her down, he backed her against the door and kissed her. Her lips were soft, warm, and moist. She tasted like cherries, and the citrus-vanilla of her perfume filled his head. Her body stiffened, but she didn’t pull back or push him away. Because his palms rested against her neck, he could feel her pulse trying to outpace a German train. He slid his thumbs lightly along her cheekbones and nudged her nose with his. When their foreheads touched, her lashes fluttered, and her breath rushed warm against his lips. She met his gaze and whispered, “Shane …”
Since peewee hockey, no one had called him anything but Reese at his own request, but God, he couldn’t get enough of the sound of his name from her mouth. In the next second the enormity of what he’d done sunk in, and he took a step back, eyes wide as he tried to get his emotional bearings. “Allie. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—I was so caught up … but I crossed a line. Even though I guess I’m officially not your patient anymore.”
The shock on her face couldn’t hide a trace of pleasure. Her voice came out low and unsteady. “It’s all right. You were just carried away. You’re not my patient now, but you might be in the future, so … we probably shouldn’t make a habit of it.” She smiled the way she did when she wanted to deflect, but the look in her eyes said she wasn’t so sure.
“Yeah.” But neither moved. He couldn’t look away. How were they supposed to pretend this didn’t exist? That it wasn’t important? Apparently, he was pretty good at self-deception, but even with his exceptional skill in denial, he couldn’t wrap his mind around treating Allie like one of the guys.
And now a little more from Kenyhercz on writing and this series:
Viva Las Vegas
A lot of readers ask how the Sinners' world came to be. It was a long, winding, random road! When I first got the idea for On the Fly about ten years ago, the Sinners started out as a minor league team, the Albany Racers. I set the series in the minors because I had Carter playing and coaching at the same time for the entire book, and that wouldn't fly in the majors. But that version of the book wasn't working, and I knew things had to change.
When in doubt, up the stakes.
I knew I had to put the team in the NHL, and I needed a more exciting backdrop. There have been talks of putting an NHL team in Vegas for years and years, but things never coalesced in real life. It was the perfect choice for me. Las Vegas is its own character and the right place for my guys and gals to get neck-deep in trouble.
Next up, I needed a new coach. I could have made a stock character to blend into the background, but even in the first draft, Nealy was a spunky, intimidating, little lady who would not be ignored. It seemed a shame to waste her hilarity in such a bit role. I gave her the coaching job on a whim one day, and everything fell into place. She was the best fictional accident I've stumbled into. She created controversy for my heroine in the first book, and she is such a gem in Full Strength. Nealy is like an angry, high-pitched Yoda for the guys, and I love her to pieces.
A lot of readers fell in love with Madden in the first book, and he was a happy accident too. Originally, I asked myself how a woman would come to inherit an NHL team, and “only child” was the first explanation that came to mind. If she had a brother, the team probably would have went to him. Light bulb moment. What if she did have a brother but got the team anyway? That added drama and backstory and made things more interesting.
My favorite elements in the Sinners' world weren't originally planned, and that's part of the magic of writing. If you start spinning an idea, it takes on a life of its own and tells you how it's supposed to pan out. Check out Full Strength, and look for Madden's book, Winning Streak next year!
Rach's Review: 5 out of 5 Divas
Well what can I say? Katie did it again! I loved On The Fly the first book in the Las Vegas Sinners series. It was fantastic, and sometimes sequels can disappoint. Totally not the case with Full Strength. Once again, she brought the characters to life, making us feel for them, root for them, and smile when they got their happily ever after. :-) I loved it. These books are sweet, sexy, funny, and endearing. Definitely a great read and one you should pick up!
Thanks so much for stopping by Katie, it was fun to have you.