I’ve been aware of Leslie LaFoy for awhile now as her recent books have garnered good grades from my fellow reviewers. The problem is, I’m not too keen on Regency historicals or spies. So when I saw she was now trying her hand at category romance which is more my cuppa, I jumped at the chance to review Blindsided. And I’m glad I did. This was a fun story.
Catherine Talbott is stuck in a pit not of her own digging. Her husband left her and their twelve-year-old son, Kyle, taking all of their money with him. Her brother Tom died and left her the Wichita Warriors, a third-rate pro hockey team that is losing money by the bucketful. Catherine sees a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel when her office manager, Lakisha, tells her that Tom was working on a plan to revive the Warriors. He had planned to approach Logan Dupree, ex-hockey legend and long-ago Warrior himself, to coach. Cat, both a hockey and business novice, is unable to come up with something better, so she hops a plane and goes to talk to Logan.
Logan isn’t interested. As he tells Cat, he’s pulling down far more money than she can afford to pay him just sitting in his Florida deck chair. And he’s tried coaching once, his ex-girlfriend’s son’s peewee team, and it was a failure. But Cat leaves him her card and the newspaper clippings file Tom lovingly assembled on him over the years. And Logan begins to remember that once upon a time he wasn’t a hockey great, but a rookie who Tom took a chance on. His conscience niggled, he goes to Wichita just to see what the damage is. And he winds up staying. Who can say how much an attractive blonde factored into the equation?
The best thing to be said about Blindsided is that it felt real. The characters felt real. Catherine’s problems felt real. Logan talked and acted like a real guy. Even the troubles of the secondary characters, including Cat’s sister-in-law, Millie, who is slipping into senility, seemed real. LaFoy’s dialogue was natural, sprinkled with guy talk, and had a bent toward the humorous.
Cat is a plucky heroine, a real optimist. When things are tough, she doesn’t give up, and she has no problem standing up to people when they try to railroad her. She is concerned about “her boys,” though, to a greater extent than any serious businessman should be, so Logan’s professional detachment serves her well.
In Stephen King’s book On Writing he talks about how readers love to hear about what other people do. Talk about their jobs, and you’ll hook ‘em, he says. That’s true here. Since Cat is so overwhelmed learning about both the sporting and business sides of professional hockey, the reader gets to see her deal with it all, and it’s pretty interesting. LaFoy obviously has some hockey knowledge, but she intersperses it into her narrative in an unaffected way – there is no chunky encyclopedic exposition to wade through. The reader simply follows Cat as she learns how to recruit, how to fundraise, how to determine which players should remain and which should be let go, and how to keep that funky hockey smell out of the gear.
The only thing that was a trifle questionable in the whole book is the idea that a rich ex-hockey pro would actually go for a woman who was older than he was and who had a family. Most guys in Logan’s position would probably go the trophy wife route, realistically speaking. But Logan is, of course, a fantasy guy, so he can’t be that shallow. Or, at least, he can’t stay that shallow. LaFoy presents his background as full of alcohol and rink bunnies, and it is believable that, having lived that lifestyle, he found it to be unsatisfying. And his chemistry with Cat is so bright and hot, it’s not like he’s giving up too much by choosing a more experienced woman.
Blindsided was a fun read, one of the better category romances I’ve read this year. I have a real hankering for hockey heroes, and Logan filled that need nicely. LaFoy has another category romance coming out in December. I will have to check it out.