Breakaway by Catherine Gayle-Review, Interview and Giveaway

Breakaway by Catherine Gayle-Reviews, Interview and Giveaway

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Portland Storm #1
by Catherine Gayle
Release Date: December 20, 2013
Genre: contemporary, new adult, hockey,romance

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BREAKAWAY (Portland Storm #1) by Catherine Gayle

ABOUT THE BOOK: Release Date December 20, 2013

She’s reaching for a breakaway pass.

Dana Campbell has spent the past seven years in self-imposed isolation for a crime she didn’t commit. The danger is well in the past, but her panic attacks make it impossible to have a normal, healthy relationship with a man. Even her counselor has given up on her. She has to find someone she trusts to help her fight through the panic, or her seven-year ordeal will become a lifetime sentence. There’s only one man she feels safe enough to ask.

He got caught with his head down.

As the captain of the NHL’s once elite but now fading Portland Storm, Eric Zellinger knows a thing or two about keeping his focus on the job. Questions are flying about his ability to lead the team back to the playoffs. If they don’t make it, he might be shipped out of town. It’s the worst time possible for his best friend’s kid sister to divide his focus. How can he give her what she needs without jeopardizing both the Storm’s playoff hopes and his future with the team?

It’s her only chance, but it’s his last shot.


REVIEW: BREAKAWAY is the first storyline in Catherine Gayle’s contemporary, new adult, series focusing on the fictional NHL hockey team the Portland Storm. This is the Storm captain Eric Zellinger and Dana Campbell’s story and a story that is emotional, heartbreaking and painful to read.

The premise focuses on Dana Campbell and the final step in a recovery process that has been years in the making. Following a horrific off-ice attack seven years earlier, the once and former upcoming woman’s hockey player has suffered horrendous PTSD and panic attacks, withdrawal, depression and flashbacks. Her inability to move forward has frozen Dana in a world where anything and anyone can trigger an attack. Knowing that to move on she must face her biggest challenge and she risks losing her best friend when she asks Eric Zellinger to help her overcome her fears.

Breakaway is a story about a woman who has suffered physically, mentally and emotionally only to find herself unable to move forward. The psychological ramifications and the character’s inability to interact with the opposite sex on any social level is frustrating, humiliating and debilitating-not only for Dana and Eric- but the reader as well. We struggle with Dana as she tries to overcome the traumatic hold that the attack has beaten into her psyche. It is heartbreaking to watch as one woman is unable to socialize, talk with or make eye contact with any male as well as the family who loves and cares for her. She will place her fragile and broken mind into the hands of the one man who believes he will be incapable of pulling away in the end.

Catherine Gayle has written an emotional storyline that focuses on one woman’s recovery and the people who make it possible. We are introduced to the men and women of the Portland Storm-the support system and the players who know that one of their own is suffering because of the woman he loves. In the end, we will get our happily ever after, but not before our heart breaks for a young woman whose life has been broken and destroyed.

Copy supplied by the author.

Reviewed by Sandy


TRC: Hi Catherine and welcome to The Reading Cafe. Congratulations on the release of BREAKAWAY.

Catherine:  Thanks for having me!

Catherine GaylejpgTRC: We would like to start with some background information. Would you please tell us something about yourself?

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Catherine: I’m a full-time writer. Even though I live in North Carolina now, I’m still a Texan at heart and probably always will be. You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take Texas out of the girl. I’ve been published for almost three years now, and I absolutely love my job.

TRC: You are primarily known for writing historical romance storylines. What factored into your decision to venture into writing other genres such as New Adult?

Catherine: In all honesty, I never thought I would write anything but historical romance until the day I started work on BREAKAWAY. I was in the midst of trying to write one of my historicals that was not moving at all, when the opening scene to BREAKAWAY hit me. It was fully-fleshed out right from the get-go, and I knew I wouldn’t get anything done the rest of the day if I didn’t at least write that scene. So I took an hour and wrote it, then sent it off to a few of my author-friends in the hopes that they’d tell me it was awful and I needed to put it away to get back to work on my historical. They didn’t. They told me the opposite, in fact. The next thing I knew, BREAKAWAY took over my life until it was finished.

BreakawayTRC: BREAKAWAY (December 2013) is the first instalment in your contemporary, new adult PORTLAND STORM series. Would you please tell us something about the series and storyline premise?

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Catherine: The PORTLAND STORM series will be based around an NHL team, the Portland Storm. Each book will have a different player on the team as the hero–no cliffhangers! BREAKAWAY is about the team’s captain, Eric Zellinger, and his best friend’s kid sister, Dana Campbell. He’s always had a thing for her, but she was raped several years before the story begins, and in the aftermath of being raped, she’s suffered from panic attacks when she’s around men. Eric has convinced himself he’ll never be able to have the sort of relationship he wants with her because of that, but Dana wants him to help her to get past the panic. The next book in the series will star Dana’s older brother, and I’ve already got ideas in place for several more books down the line.

TRC: The storyline focus is difficult and heartbreaking and, will be for many women who have suffered similarly. What challenges or difficulties (research, logistics, background) did you encounter writing this particular story and series?

Catherine: The biggest challenge for me in writing BREAKAWAY was that I took a piece of my own life–being raped and suffering from panic attacks afterward–and gave it to my heroine. I had to strike the right balance of capturing what Dana experienced without turning it into me and my life. There’s a fine line between conveying a fictional character’s emotional journey as honestly as possible and backing off from it a little too much because of what emotions it brought up in me.

TRC: Are any of the characters or premise based in reality or a culmination of fact and fiction?

Catherine: Dana’s rape and panic attacks are, as explained above, based on my own experiences. The rest of her character, and all of the other characters and situations, are purely fictional.

TRC: If you could virtually cast the leading characters in this storyline, which models or actors best represents your ideal image?

Catherine: Oh, wow. I’m so not good with this. LOL. I’d say Dana Campbell could be played by a younger Charlize Theron, and Eric Zellinger could be played by Ian Somerhalder.

Dana and Eric 2

TRC: How do you keep the plot unpredictable without sacrificing content and believability?

Catherine: I’m a character-driven writer, and that tends to lend itself well to keeping the plot unpredictable. In any situation my characters face, if I try to force them into actions just because it suits the plot, then the plot falls apart. I have to allow my characters the freedom to react and respond in a natural way.

TRC: Are you a plotter or a panster (write by the ‘seat of your pants’)?

Catherine: I’ve been a bit of both. With my historicals, I am very much a plotter. With my contemporary romances, I’ve found it is best to write as a pantser. I have an end-goal in mind from the beginning, but the path to getting there is up in the air.

To Enchant an EarlTRC: When writing a storyline, do the characters direct the writing or do you direct the characters?

Catherine: My characters direct the storyline. I always run into problems if I try to force them to adhere to a pre-determined plot point.

TRC: The mark of a good writer is to pull the reader into the storyline so that they experience the emotions along with the characters. What do you believe a writer must do to make this happen? Where do you believe writers fail in this endeavor?

Catherine: I think that writers have to write honestly enough, to go deep enough into their characters’ heads, that THEY experience the emotions alongside their characters. Sometimes, we’re afraid to go there because of what it might bring forward from our own lives. But if we hold back from that, then we’re creating a distance between ourselves and our characters that will always transfer over to the reader, as well.

TRC: Writer’s Block is a very real phenomenon. How do you handle the pressures and anxiety of writer’s block?

Catherine: I have multiple series going, and so if I get stuck on one piece I’m writing, I always have some other project I can work on. It helps me to keep my sanity, and to maintain productivity.

The Devil to PayTRC: Many authors bounce ideas and information with other authors or friends and family. With whom do you bounce ideas?

Catherine: I’ve got some fantastic critique partners–Erin Knightley, Tammy Falkner, Ava Stone, Jessica Knight-Catania, and Jane Charles, just to name a few–who are always willing and able to help bouncing ideas around. I’ve also done a plotting weekend with Erin Knightley and Heather Snow, where we’ve helped one another work out ideas for our upcoming projects. Any time I get together with another writer, there is a great possibility of ideas being tossed around.

TRC: On what are you currently working?

Catherine: I’m writing the second PORTLAND STORM novel, tentatively titled ON THE FLY, and brainstorming ideas for a historical novella, A DANCE WITH THE DEVIL.

TRC: Would you like to add anything else?

Catherine: Thanks so much for having me!


Favorite Food

Favorite Dessert
Creme brulee

Favorite TV Show
Downton Abbey

Last Movie You Saw
The Hobbit 2: The Desolation of Smaug

Dark or Milk Chocolate

Secret Celebrity Crush
Steve Yzerman (he’s a retired hockey player)

Sandy: OMG-love Stevie Y ( I am a diehard Red Wing Fan)

Last Vacation Destination
A cruise to the Bahamas

Pet Peeve
The screaming toddler next door

TRC: Thank you Catherine for taking the time to answer our questions. Congratulations on the release of BREAKAWAY. We wish you all the best for 2014.

Catherine: Thank you again! It’s been a pleasure.


Catherine is offering a paper copy of BREAKAWAY to two (2)  lucky commenters at The Reading Cafe.

1. If you have not registered at The Reading Cafe, please register by using the log-in at the top of the page (side bar) or by using one of the social log-ins.

2. If you are using a social log-in, please post your email address with your comment.

3. Please comment and say hello to Catherine or let us know-DO YOU LIKE HOCKEY?

4. Giveaway is open to US and CANADA only.

5. Giveaway runs from january 19 to January 23, 2014


63 thoughts on “Breakaway by Catherine Gayle-Review, Interview and Giveaway

  1. Thanks for having me today, Sandy. And woo hoo! Another Wings fan. I’ve tried to like the Lightning, since that’s where Stevie Y is now, but I just can’t seem to do it. Other than Stamkos, but how can you not like Stamkos?

    • Steve Stamkos played Junior A hockey for my hometown team so needless to say I am well aware of both Steve’s…lol

      Thank you for giving us the opportunity to read and review Breakaway. It was a very emotional and heartbreaking read. Congratulations on the release…..!!!

      • I’m amazed that it looks like he’ll be ready to play in time for the Olympics. I still have the moment he crashed into the net and broke his leg in my mind.

    • Hi, Fran. I’ve definitely had readers tell me it brought them to tears while reading…and I know I teared up a few times while writing it.

  2. Great review Sandy-sounds very emotional.

    Congratulations Catherine. It is always difficult to overcome adversity and especially such a painful time in your life. No doubt writing about the subject has been a little cathartic and revealing. Wishing you all the best.

  3. Great review Sandy and wonderful interview Catherine. Welcome to TRC, I’m a die hard hockey fan, pretty much grew up in our local hockey rink watching our Junior hockey team play. So this series based on a fictional NHL hockey team will be right up my alley. Yeah another Steve Yzerman fan, wooo hoo!!!! As a die hard Red Wing’s fan I find it hard to cheer for Tampa Bay Lightening too, but I will always be a fan of Stevie Y! Good luck on your future books.

    • Thanks, Marcie! And yay for more fans of the Wings and The Captain. 🙂 I wish I’d grown up in an area where we had youth hockey when I was a kid. It’s growing in the Dallas area now, because the Stars have done a GREAT job of making it possible, but when I was a kid? It was football, football, football. LOL. Come to think of it, most people in Texas are still all about football, football, football… Hmm…

    • Hi, Kassandra. If you’re new to the sport, it helps to have someone who is familiar with the rules nearby when you start watching. There are some really odd rules which are difficult to figure out on your own, such as icing the puck. Once you get the basics, though, it’s a great game to watch. It’s really fast-paced and filled with action, and the game can change in an instant!

  4. I love Hockey. I am a huge fan of the Chicago Blackhawks and rarely ever miss a game. If I do I try to catch as much online. This book sounds great and definitely adding to my TBR list.
    christinebails at yahoo dot com

    • A Blackhawks fan, huh, Chris? One of my beta readers for this book is a diehard Hawks fan. She swears to me that Eric Zellinger must be based on Patrick Sharp. 😉

  5. Hi Catherine. I enjoyed your interview. I love reading sport series including Deirdre Martin’s Blade series & Rachel Gibson’s hockey series, the Chinooks, Kate Angell’s Rogue’s baseball team, etc. As for being a hockey fan, well I need to be knowledgable since my son writes (blogs) about hockey here in the state of hockey, Minnesota. He covers the University of Minnesota men & women hockey teams as well as the MN Wild. He writes for SBNation & College Hockey’s website. I would be prouder if he only was paid for all of his writing. I am looking forward to reading this book and checking out some of your others.

    • Hi, Eileen! I am a huge fan of the SB Nation hockey sites. They can be a great way to move on to paid sports writing, actually. I am a regular reader of a number of them, and I’ve seen some of my favorite bloggers move on to paid gigs. Some of the SB Nation sites have attained legitimate press status with the teams they cover, even though they are fan blogs. That’s fantastic that he’s involved in that way, and I’ll cross my fingers that he can make it turn into a career, if it’s something he’s interested in doing. I hope you enjoyed Hockey Day in Minnesota and the Wild’s overtime win. I was not quite as thrilled with it. I adopted the Stars as my secondary team when they moved down to Texas from Minny, and after this losing streak they’ve been on, they desperately needed two points in that game. They’ll play again tomorrow in Dallas, though. 🙂

  6. I’m blown away by the range of topics this feature covers!! Breakaway sounds intense, but cathartic. The ability to trust and heal culminating in a love story sounds like a much earned HEA.

    I was thrilled to read that your catalog includes historical romance! To Enchant an Icy Earl caught my aesthetic eye first and foremost –always awesome to gobble up the cover.

    I am a huge Los Angeles Kings fan and swoon, hard, for Luc Robitaille. My daughter won tickets for the premiere of Breaking Dawn I at the Nokia which is next door to the home of the Kings, Staples Center. We were waiting rather impatiently for My Rob (it’s a thing, don’t laugh) when these giant men started walking up the aisle toward their seats. OMG when I saw Luc (and his wife), I went fan-girl and much to my daughter’s embarrassment, squeaked out a Hi, Luc!!! The look on his face was priceless –why would anyone recognize me here?! He was super sweet, as was his wife (ugh!) :D, and acknowledged me. Still swooning!!!!

    Thanks for interacting with The Reading Cafe and adding to our TBR lists!!! 🙂

    • Lucky Luc! He might be the only King ever that I’ve enjoyed, Carmen, but that might have an awful lot to do with his stint with the Wings. LOL. I’ll keep my thoughts on certain current Kings *cough, Diving Dustin Brown, cough* to myself so as not to offend you. Yes, I write historical romance as well. I’ve got a number of Regency-set novels, novellas, and short stories available, and I’ll continue to write them as I grow my hockey series. I’m finding that while there are some readers who love both historicals and hockey romances, there aren’t just a ton. Most tend to prefer one or the other, so I’m working on building up an entirely new audience for the Portland Storm series. Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

  7. Hi Catherine. I love reading highly emotional stories and sports stories, so this book/series sounds fantastic! I’ve signed up for your newsletter so I won’t miss the next books about the Portland Storm.


    • Hi, Deb. This is definitely NOT a young adult book. It sits on the edge between what they’re calling new adult and the usual adult contemporary romance. I hope you enjoy it. 🙂

    • I’ve never done a full season ticket package, Lori. When I lived in the DFW area, I had a partial season ticket plan, though. I haven’t been ready to give over that much money to the Carolina Hurricanes now that I’m in the Raleigh area. LOL. Having Kirk Muller as a coach helps, because I LOVED him as a player, but I just can’t do it.

  8. Great review Sandy. The topic is very powerful and probably touches a few readers with its familiarity.

    Congratulations Catherine on the new series and release. Writing a story that you are emotionally connected to heroine’s distress must have been very cathartic. All the best!

    • Thanks so much, EmberFlame! I have to say, I’ve had more readers contact me to open up and tell me their own stories since I put out this book than I ever imagined. It’s definitely striking a chord, which only shows how many of us have gone through something similar.

  9. Wonderful review for such an emotional storyline.

    Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

    Congratulations to Catherine for writing about a difficult subject so close to your own personal experiences.

    • Hi, angrybird! Thanks for stopping by. I think I do my best writing when it is something I connect with on a personal level like this, so I hope that comes through. 🙂

    • Thanks for stopping by, Maureen! Yeah, the rules of hockey can be more than just a little unclear, LOL. I count myself as very fortunate that the Dallas Stars broadcast team are really good at explaining some of the harder to understand parts of the game. Since they broadcast in a non-traditional hockey market, they kind of have to be. That definitely helped my understanding when I was younger. Now that I live in North Carolina, I’ve bought the Center Ice package, so I can see all the games. I’ve started watching some of the other local broadcasters, and they just aren’t as good as Ralph and Razor! Those two spoiled me for many, many years.

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