I've been a fan of Rachel Gibson's particular brand of contemporary romance since her first book, Simply Irresistible was published back in 1998. That book featured John 'The Wall' Kowalsky, an ice hockey player from her fictional team the Seattle Chinooks and kick-started her series about players from that team.
Although she does write one-off novels as well, the ice hockey players of the Seattle Chinooks have proved to be very popular with readers. Several years and several books down the line, Nothing but Trouble also features a player from that team, who is about to find his happy-ever-after. I should add that a knowledge of or even an interest in ice hockey is not required to enjoy this book.
Mark Bressler, had been team captain of the Seattle Chinooks until a serious car accident put an end to his career leaving him very badly injured though slowly recovering. This happened right before the finals for the Stanley Cup, ice hockey's highest prize, and Mark is understandably embittered at having the glittering prize snatched away from him in such a cruel manner and he considers his life to be in ruins.
Enter Chelsea Ross, largely undiscovered bit part actress who is currently 'resting'. She's paying a visit to her sister in Seattle and takes on the task of being Mark's carer, something he regards as unnecessary and she regards as a temporary stop gap before returning to chase her dream of Hollywood stardom.
Rachel Gibson is one of my favourite authors. From her first book it was plain that she had a very deft touch when writing romance. Her characters are rooted in realism and therefore totally believable and her dialogue, especially between her leading man and woman, sparkles with wit and humour. To date, she has published fourteen romance novels and not one of them has been a turkey and this one is no exception.
On first acquaintance, Mark Bressler is not a very likeable person, but Rachel Gibson manages to get across the fact that such a disastrous end to a career as he has experienced would possibly have that effect on a person, especially one who until the accident had received great media attention and plaudits wherever he went. However, excuses aside, he really is rather unpleasant to Chelsea in his attempts to get rid of her and that darker edge to his character makes this less of a frothy romantic read. He does lighten up as the story progresses and, of course, the love of a good woman does wonders for his temperament.
Chelsea also takes some getting used to. In many ways, she's rather immature, especially in her determination to chase her acting dream. She's over thirty when the story begins and it's plain for the reader to see that she's never going to make it in Hollywood now and would be better off cutting her losses and settling for something that actually paid the bills. She did grow on me though, especially as she began to face up to her future and gain some maturity. She is an eternal optimist and puts up with more than most would endure from our injured leading man.
The secondary characters in this book are well defined. I especially liked Chelsea's sister, Bo, and the interaction between the two siblings is very realistic. Although Bo has a career and doesn't have her head in the clouds like Chelsea, she has a lesson or two to learn as well.
This book isn't great literature and it doesn't pretend to be so but it's definitely a well written, well plotted romance with colourful characters that are believable and who the reader grows to care about. I really enjoyed it.
For those who haven't come across Rachel Gibson before, she writes a good story with great dialogue and has a wonderful sense of the romantic. Her writing style is very much in the same vein as Susan Elizabeth Phillips with snappy dialogue and a fast moving storyline and, as this is a romance, it's not really giving anything away to say that it has a happy ending - eventually!
Rating a book is always difficult but as a rule of thumb I award five stars to a book which I simply can't put down until the last page. This doesn't quite come up to that rating but it's pretty close.
The book is on sale at Amazon for £4.68 plus free delivery though it may be possible to pick up a used copy more cheaply. After I'd read mine, I sold it on through Amazon Marketplace. It sold on the day I listed it which demonstrates Rachel Gibson's popularity amongst romance readers.
Throughout this book I found myself studying the other ice hockey players featured in the story and wondering which of them is most likely to take centre stage (or should that be rink) in Miss Gibson's next novel. I'm not entirely sure who it will be but I'm looking forward to finding out.