Contemporary Romance

Review: Smoke Signals

Smoke Signals
Smoke Signals by Catherine Gayle
Dali’s review & rating: 5 of 5 stars

Happy Book Birthday!!!

A beautiful hockey romance with dark and gritty elements interweaved in story that’s heart achingly sweet, tender and full of love, compassion and hope with an absolutely perfect book boyfriend.

What would you do if you’re all alone in this world, left in a foreign country without means to live and fearing being sent back to your home country because death would be the better option? Viktoriya “Tori” Dubrovskaya was sent to the US to become a ballerina and escape a hellish fate at the hands of the Russian mafia. But after her only source of income is vanished, she makes a choice that has slowly robbed her of her self-worth and eventually her dreams.

“Someday I’ll get through to you, and you’ll know you’re a thousand times more valuable than the sum of your parts…

Someday, you’ll take control over your body again, and you’ll own it. And maybe then, you’ll see how beautiful you are to me. Maybe then, you’ll be beautiful to yourself.”
~ Razor to Tori

Left without money and a visa, feeling helpless and despaired, Viktoriya turns to selling her body to survive. But the man she’s set her sights on doesn’t just see the provocative package she’s offering, he sees through her and recognizes the proposition for what it is, an act of desperation by a scared and damaged woman.

“What if I think you’re a nice girl who’s had some ugly shit done to you, and I want to give you the chance to be the nice girl you are? What if you’re a nice girl by day and a dirty girl by night, and that’s exactly what I’m looking for.”

Even though Ray “Razor” Chamber now has a career in the NHL which guarantees neither he nor his mother will ever want for anything, he knows this was reached in part because of all the sacrifices and difficult choices his mother had to make while he was growing up. So when the sultry seductress propositions him at a Vegas casino, he makes an offer of his own. His, involving a quickie marriage by Elvis, a green card and an opportunity to mend her body and soul.

“Shocker of all shockers, somehow I ended up married before Babs.”

They have interlaced their lives lightning fast, but getting past the deep seated scars life has dealt Tori will be slow going, if at all. Can Viktoriya leave the past behind, forgive herself and move forward with the man who’s given her more than a safe harbor? Can Razor resist her long enough to break through her shields and show her she’s worthy of happiness and him?

I met Razor from the Portland Storm series and had a few sightings in Bury the Hatchet (book #1 Tulsa Thunderbirds) and liked his outgoing, sarcastic, cocky persona. I had an idea of his past, and from the blurb and knowing Catherine’s writing, I knew I would get a story that would tug at my heart, make me smile and fan myself and place itself on my favorites list. What I didn’t anticipate, but thoroughly loved was to fall head over heels for this man who so patient and determinedly, caring, gentle and lovingly helped this beaten and broken woman become whole again.

“You’ve got to give me a fighting chance. Let me in on whatever it is that’s going on in your head so I can find a way to combat it.”

I was shocked by the situations Tori had to endure to survive. I was saddened at the reminder that this a very real issue and sympathetic for the woman who lived in shame and fear and couldn’t imagine anything but bad things coming her way and anyone associated to her. But I also admired her when she finally fought to retake her life and embrace the love Razor offered her.

“He cradled my face between both his hands, tipping it up so our lips met. Soft. Tender. Reverent. He kissed me in a way no man ever had before. Like I was worth the effort of holding himself back, taking his time. Like I ought to be handled with care.”

I enjoy how Catherine conjures up these interesting situations between hero and heroine and doesn’t force their love and romance, but rather develops it slowly and gradually, bringing up not just the sexual tension but also the swoon factor to a maximum.

“What do you see?”
“You. Exactly as you are. Exactly as you should be. Thriving and powerful and ten times more beautiful than anything I’ve ever seen before.”

I also love the addition of characters from past books which adds to the camaraderie and support that help this couple out. I loved being part of Babs and Katie’s wedding and I delighted in the sunshine the witty Tallie brought. And I can’t not mention Razor’s mom who was not just understanding but also the best book mom ever.

“I recognized a piece of you in her.”
“Didn’t anyone ever tell you that you’re not supposed to marry your mother? Someone should have mentioned that.”
“I think that would have been your job, Mom.”

Catherine Gayle writes another beautiful, emotional and touching book that both broke my heart and put it back together with kindness, patience and love.

Smoke Signals is the second book in the Tulsa Thunderbirds series, a spin-off of the Portland Storm. It is a standalone, full-length, contemporary sports romance filled with all the feels, from action hockey sequences, to sweet tenderness and sexual tension. It has a happy ending, with no cheating, no cliffhangers. It also has graphic and potentially disturbing description of abuse, both physical and sexual.

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Read Chapter 1 ->…

* I was graciously given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author. The excerpts are from that copy. *

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