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True Love and Other Disasters
by Rachel Gibson
(Avon, $7.99, PG-13)  ISBN 978-006-157906-6
The 2009 Stanley Cup playoffs just finished and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Detroit Red Wings in seven games. Last year these two teams played and the Red Wings won.  I only bring this up because Gibson has chosen to blend some fact with her fiction.  In True Love and Other Disasters, this year’s playoffs were between the Penguins and the Seattle Chinooks, who beat the Red Wings to keep from the repeat. Gibson has also chosen to name real players, and she’s name-dropped a lot of the big ones. As a hockey fan, I can forgive her the license with the facts since her story is funny, a little irreverent and a darn good romance. The reader has to suspend their beliefs a little around the fact that the romance is between the team captain and the new owner, but if you can do that, I think you will enjoy the journey.

Faith Duffy is a widow who has inherited a hockey team just as the playoffs are starting. It was her husband’s dream to win the Stanley Cup and he felt he had the team to do it. Faith knows nothing about hockey and is ready to sell the team to her husband’s son until he makes her angry and she changes her mind. It was one of the better decisions in her life. Faith, you see, was a trophy wife. Her husband Virgil was in his eighties and she is just about to turn thirty. She is an ex-stripper and ex-Playboy bunny: Miss January and ultimately the Playmate of the Year. Virgil married her five years ago for her charm, her beauty and her companionship. Faith got security and someone who cared about her She also got money and a future that kept her from having to worry about her next meal. Virgil’s gift while they were married was giving her self-confidence and she returned his gift by keeping his secret. He was unable to perform in the bedroom, but she never let on.

Ty Savage (pronounced Sah-vahge) is a Canadian who left his hometown team of Vancouver to play for the Seattle team mid-season in return for a fat salary and the Captain’s C, replacing the Chinooks captain who got seriously injured. He brought the knowledge of a veteran and the skills of a great hockey scorer to the team. Ty always liked Virgil and hated to see him go. His focus is on the Stanley Cup and he is worried that upheaval in ownership could distract the team. He doesn’t care who owns the team; he just wants it settled. Ty is surprised when Faith decides to keep the team. Like any red-blooded male, he is also aware of her beauty. What surprises him is her wit, her charm and her ability to hold her own, even when it is clear she is clueless about hockey.

This is a story that develops slowly and intensifies quickly. One minute they are shoving each other away when they share a hot and heavy kiss and the next thing we know, they are sneaking out and sharing a bed. But there is more than sex, even though they keep telling themselves that is all they need. It was fun watching them each let down their guards and recognize that they like each other outside of the bedroom as well as in it.

What makes the story is Faith’s transformation from an insecure airhead to a successful and smart businesswoman, and Ty’s transformation from tough, emotionless hockey player to a man who finally sees that there is more to life than sports and sex. Faith is vulnerable and almost falls for the threats that could destroy her, but ultimately she prevails. Ty is just charming in a macho kind of way. The other strong parts of the story involve the secondary characters. Faith’s mom (who has been married seven times and loves to party) falls for Ty’s dad (an ex-hockey player who wants Ty to win the cup, something he never did). Their relationship is cute and at times tender. Jules, who becomes Faith’s assistant, also adds to the tale. 

True Love and Other Disasters is entertaining, fun to read and filled with intelligent characters who are witty, sexy and full of life. It may not mirror life in the hockey world, but it is a great way to escape for a few hours. 

--Shirley Lyons

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