REVIEW: Nothing But Trouble by Rachel Gibson
Dear Ms. Gibson,
I am a slut for your hockey theme books. You can give me improbable plots and unlikeable characters but it you throw hockey into the mix, I will give up for your stories. Why? I like to watch big, strong macho guys fall for women who initially drive them nuts and I like to see woman who are horrified at the thought of falling for hockey players fall anyway.
Six months ago, hockey superstar Mark Bressler’s life was turned upside down by a horrific car accident. Now forced into early retirement and struggling with his new physical reality, he’s made a new career out of getting rid of the nurses and “minders” that the Seattle Chinooks team keeps trying to foist on him.
Chelsea Ross is to be his latest victim but she’s got an incentive he doesn’t know about: the $10,000 bonus promised to her if she can stick out three months with him. Chelsea might be little but she’s tough, having lived in the dog-eat-dog world of aspiring LA actors for almost 10 years as well as being the personal assistant to innumerable Hollywood assholes along the way. Bressler and his insults are nothing new to her.
But the passion they find together after finally giving into their attraction to each other is. The sex is great – no, better than great – but the emotional feelings that begin to develop just might be even better. If they can trust this potential love.
Long time fans of the Chinooks books will be happy to see a few familiar faces throughout the story but the book focuses mainly on Mark and Chelsea with a subplot for Chelsea’s twin sister, known to, and feared by, the team as the Mini Pit.
Even though Chelsea is short and Mark is brawny, I like the way that their relationship is balanced. I never got the feeling that he is overpowering her either physical or verbally. Chelsea more than holds her own here and proves her background of dealing with demanding people. And Mark, insulting as he can be, never slips over the edge into jerkwad territory. He does criticize Chelsea’s driving but then after surviving the kind of car accident he did, that’s reasonable. He comments on her fashion style but not on her body, despite what he thinks are her surgically enhanced breasts. Plus he makes sure that his former teammates behave themselves around her.
The physical attraction isn’t immediate, even though both admire each other’s bodies and they each manage to restrain themselves once desire starts kicking in. Chelsea is determined not to give into Mark sexually during work hours since this is something she’s never done. Even though it drives him nuts, Mark respects her boundaries. I appreciate that both can act professionally and not be reduced to puddles of drool.
Mark’s life was hockey and now that’s gone. There will be no coming back from these injuries and it does affect him. He does feel resentment at not being able to play for the Cup, he hates that his body won’t always obey him now and there is a dark pool of anger in him that takes a while to dissipate. All this felt natural and to be expected. His transition from player to “life after hockey” takes time and I’m glad you allowed us to see that time elapse.
Chelsea’s got a plan for life post-Mark and, just as she falls for him because he supports her, so did I. Hey, he doesn’t see anything wrong with her but he’s not her and if she wants this, then he’s onboard with it. The fact that Chelsea is able to reveal her secrets to Mark, and vice-versa, shows me how they are coming together.
Which makes the Big Misunderstanding all the harder to take. The only thing about it that keeps me from completely losing it is that Mark does have experience with woman who just want him for money. But, I still think his reaction is overreaction and it’s not like the money is coming from him, after all. Then the reconciliation happens on his sudden about-face which is fast enough to cause whiplash.
Up until the end, this book was cruising for me. And I still think that readers will enjoy most, if not all, of it. I love the hockey, I love most of the relationship, I love the big honkin’ ring Mark gives Chelsea but oh, that Big Mis. B
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I felt the exact same way about the ending. What a way to ruin a book that had been very strong up until then. All I could think was how Mark was overreacting majorly. Oh well. Their make-up was so-so for me though I kind of thought Chelsea gave up on her dream at the end.
Another book to add to my To Buy list. I don’t think I ever read this author. :(
Thanks for the review!
I REALLY enjoyed this book. I would give it an A-. Gibson’s writing just flows, her humor & references are realistic and very contemporary, which I like. The ending was rushed and at odds with the rest of the book and I only wish Mark’s revelations & turn around were fleshed out more but I still lapped this book up in one day. It was that good! :)
Jayne, SO glad you reviewed Gibson! She is spectacular.
Danielle D, what a treat you have in store for you! See Jane Score is my favorite of her hockey books (I haven’t yet read Nothing But Trouble). But for a non-hockey book–and my most adored contemporary romance, hands down–Truly Madly Yours is unmatched. I read it in a day (like Jen X!), read it again the next day, and over again and again for ten days in a row. Yes, I know, this is somewhat obsessive. Somewhat… ;) Last weekend I finally read Lola Carlyle Reveals All. Yummy, as almost always with Gibson.
Even though it’s Canada’s national sport, I’ve never watched a hockey game in my life and likely never will, but I love Gibson’s hockey books (and those hunky players!). My favourite is also See Jane Score, not least because of the great title. Actually I love all her books, reread them about once a year and can’t wait to get my hands on NBT. I’m a little anxious now about the the Big Misunderstanding – a plot device I particularly dislike, but Gibson is such a terrific writer I’m sure it will be ok. Thanks for the review Jayne.
Hey…it’s not even out yet, how come so many of you have read it already? RG is an autobuy for me…so I can’t wait until it comes out next week. I’m especially craving a hockey book since I’m watching the playoffs and hoping my team makes the Stanley Cup games.
Anyhow…great review…can’t wait to read it.
@Frannie: LOL, I don’t watch the actual game much either – I need to get Hockey for Dummies. But you – a Canadien – don’t watch it? I’m astounded! Better not say that too loud or the angry villagers with pitchforks and torches will show up to run you out.;)
I hated See Jane Score. The heroine kept whining about being kept down by The Man in sports journalism.
Girl had a copy of Hockey For Dummies. It wasn’t sexism if it was everyone wondering how a woman with no hockey knowledge got to cover the local NHL franchise, that’s just plain reasonable.
I’m a huge hockey fan (great playoff game between Boston and Buffalo last night) and the local hockey reporters could still run laps around me in terms of knowledge. It’s a key detail.
Soured me on the rest of the series. I don’t like sports books that just assume women don’t know sports.
@Ridley: I agree with what you’re saying about why you don’t like “See Jane Score,” but also have to agree with the others that it’s one of my favorite Gibson books.
@Sarah: I kind of wondered about her dreams as well. Maybe Mark will finance her surgery and she can do local acting jobs.
I enjoyed See Jane Score and I felt Gibson made it clear that the job fell onto Jane’s lap, so her not knowing hockey was part of the plot and foil.
Anyways, none of Gibson’s “hockey” books are really about hockey, rarely is there real action time, it’s used mostly as a backdrop especially, in the case of Nothing But Trouble.
I love Rachel Gibson and look forward to this one. I adore the hockey books, although being from Australia I know zero about the sport itself. To me it’s exotic :)
Damn, I thought after the last few MAJORLY disappointing Gibson books I was done, done, done with them. But your review, Jayne, has made me want to read this one.
Love hockey, loved See Jane Score (even though not perfect in representing the sport, IMO), gonna end up buying this one, I just know it. Damn.
@Robin: Are you talking about the 4 “writers” books? They weren’t on par with her hockey books, as far as I’m concerned. I liked this one much better.
@Jayne: Yes, those, and also her last one (True Love and Other Disasters), which had me counting similarities to SEP’s It Had To Be You (there was even a little white dog in both!!).
@Danielle D: Rachel Gibson books are amazing easy to read and small enough to fit in your handbag! :)
@Katharine Ashe: The trouble with valentines day & simply irresistible were another 2 brilliant hockey books!!