Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Book Review: Full Strength (Book 2) by Katie Kenyhercz

Full Strength

By: Katie Kenyhercz

Book 2 in the Las Vegas Sinners Series

Published February 17th, 2014

Review by: Sandra Long 

On the Fly by Katie Kenyhercz is a prequel to this book but either book could be read and enjoyed alone. However, being an avid reader all my life I know very well that anytime we enjoy an author’s work and know that the author has other books out there with the same cast of characters, we always want to read them all, so I would suggest reading On the Fly first as that is the timeline for the story. Like book one this novel is also a romance and revolves around the same hockey team and owners as the first book and also takes place in Las Vegas. 

But in book two we meet a new addition to the staff as well as get to know expanded family members and friends of some of the characters and a more in depth acquaintance with some of the team members from book one, while the leading characters from the first book play a more minor role.

The newest employee is Allie Kallen, a psychologist who specializes in treating athletes who are dealing with injuries that require prolonged healing time and the impact on their psychological adjustment to the slow recovery or limited activity, as well as recognizing and treating any other issues a team player may be dealing with—perhaps insecurity about being re-injured when they return to play or rejection by other team members if their injury or prolonged absence is causing a negative effect on the team’s performance. It was a decision made by Jacey, who we learned in book one inherited this team from her father and had to face a lot of criticism for basically being a female team owner in good old boy territory. Every decision she made was scrutinized in great detail by the national board of professional hockey team owners, almost as if they were hoping she would fail. One of those decisions was hiring a 
female to coach the all male team. Now she has done it again by hiring a young, attractive, unmarried female psychologist to work with her team.

Allie had been a standout soccer player, a goalie, going to college on a full athletic scholarship when she tore her ACL severely during her junior season and after a year of treatments and surgery, her soccer career ended before it ever began. She was so emotional over this that she turned her almost total emphasis on studying for her current profession, thinking if being permanently sidelined by an injury had affected her so traumatically, there must be many other athletes in similar circumstances and perhaps, through counseling, she could help them cope and perhaps get back into their sport or find a new, satisfying direction for their lives. The team’s initial reaction to her is negative and they pretty much try to avoid her, seeing any form of counseling as a sign of weakness.

Allie’s first, and for a while her only, patient is the team’s goalie, Shane Reese, lifelong friend of book one’s hero, Carter Flynn. The two men had grown up together since age 5 and had played hockey together all those years. But last season was Carter’s real last season as his third severe concussion permanently sidelined him. The two, once inseparable friends seldom spend any quality time together any more. Shane has succeeded because of his own skill as a goalie but he had never played on a team without Carter and it was affecting his playing. He was injured during a game when a 300 pound opponent fell on top of him and he suffered a high ankle sprain which had been very slow to heal. Since his injury he has undergone an extreme personality change. The normally carefree, laughing player has not had a kind word for anyone and when his fellow team members tried some of their usual teasing to get a smile from him, they got a severe verbal attack instead and he punched a hole in the wall. This had prompted Jacey to speed up Allie’s hiring and to order Reese to see Allie twice a week until he was released medically and psychologically to return to play. He was even more angry over this and could not conceal it during the counseling sessions, though, also against his will, he found himself attracted to the pretty young doctor.

To make his life even more miserable, his baby sister, Saralynn, new college grad, comes to live with him until she can find a job and start paying for her own place. A big complication to this is her degree is in public relations and before she can get a paying job she needs to do an internship which is non-salaried and she is applying for the position currently open at his team’s main office. He loves her but he does not like giving up his privacy, he does not want her meeting and possibly dating his team mates and he does not want her trying to interfere in his life.

As he has more sessions with Allie, she finds herself also attracted to him but tries to cover it up due to company policy about staff dating team members as well as the issue of doctors becoming romantically involved with clients. Reese asked Allie to call him Shane, something he has not allowed anyone else to do for 25 years. Their relationship begins to evolve and they start to see how much they have in common and both begin to feel the heat in their attraction getting hotter as the team begins to suffer from loss of their best goalie, but as the second string goalie starts to improve and Shane’s attitude doesn’t, there is talking of trading him to another team at the end of the season. Stress, stress and more stress on Shane to get back on the ice, get his sister employed and out of his house and either date or get over his attraction to Allie. Same situation for Allie as she feels compelled to succeed with her first actual patient. She feels she made a bad call last year during her internship and let a player trick her into 
thinking he was more improved from a concussion than he actually was and the very first game after she released him to play he suffered another concussion which not only ended his career but left him with brain damage requiring long term rehab to re-learn basic life skills. She is lonely being in a strange town but locates her college best friend who is now married and lives in Vegas and just full of advice.

Now, what more could you possibly want in a good romance book? Forbidden love, long term medical issues, frustrating sports issues, family drama, friendships drifting apart, friendships being renewed and exciting hockey games to keep us alert and still learning more about the game of hockey. Five stars and a recommendation to romance lovers everywhere to read this book, preferably, but not necessarily, after book one.

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?

I live in Little Rock, AR with my husband and Motley the cat, and I write hockey romance. 

I played one season of roller hockey when I was fifteen--it hurt enough that I decided I liked it better as a spectator--and it's been true love ever since! My fictional team is the Las Vegas Sinners, and my real-world team is the Pittsburgh Penguins.

I like strong, capable heroines who bring out the vulnerability in their tough guys.

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