I can't say that everyone walking this planet struggles with their own personal demon(s). I can't say that everyone who does finds a way to overcome them. What I can say is that finding the strength to overcome them sometimes comes from different sources. For me, it's through conversation and writing. Both help me work through what triggered my personal demon (depression) to rear its ugly head.
But help can also be found in the most unusual/unlikely of places as well. Please join me and my guest, the lovely and talented Collette West, as she shares five books she's read about overcoming personal demons.
1. Comeback (Portland Storm, Book 9) by Catherine Gayle
Nicklas Ericsson is an addict. He’s also a star goaltender with the NHL’s Portland Storm, or he was until his addiction changed everything. Now he’s throwing himself into doing all the necessary things to pave his path to a comeback, both in his personal life and on the ice. Nicky’s run out of options, and now his sister and her children are in Portland. They need help he has no clue how to provide, though, and figuring it out might derail all the progress he’s made. For a few years now, Jessica Lynch has been running the Portland office for the Light the Lamp Foundation. Between her work and several people from her past, she knows more than she’d like about addicts. One lesson she’s learned is that even when addicts try to turn their lives around, more often than not, they fail. That’s why she takes a hands off approach, keeping her heart well away from the addicts she works with, like Nicky Ericsson. Nicky’s recovery efforts put him directly in Jessica’s path, and she can’t ignore his very real need for help. Where Nicky is concerned, she can’t separate her emotions. His niece and nephews further complicate her efforts to guard her heart. The attraction between Nicky and Jessica is instant and mutual, but she’s misplaced her trust too many times before. Can he prove that he won't fall back into old habits in time to complete the perfect Comeback?
Character to watch: Nicky Ericsson
Issue: Drug abuse
I love how Catherine gradually shows the steps leading to Nicky’s collapse in the previous books of the series. She does such a great job in describing the intense amount of pressure that rests on a NHL goalie’s shoulders, and how the expectation to win each and every game plays such a pivotal role in contributing to his addiction problem.
2. Breaking Away (Nashville Assassins, Book 6) by Toni Aleo
To Nashville Assassins’ leading scoring center Phillip Anderson, playing hockey has always been easy… as natural as breathing. His life is no different. That’s until his world is turned upside down by the death of his sister. While mourning his loss, Phillip has to find a way to make his very angry sixteen-year-old niece, Claire, happy. Now, as her guardian, he discovers the only thing that seems to heal her lonely heart is dance class. But what he didn’t count on was the attraction he’d feel towards her drop-dead sexy dance teacher. For Reese Allen, dancing has always been part of her soul. After having her heart broken in New York, she comes home with the determination to make her dance studio one of the best in Tennessee and succeeds. When she sees Claire dance for the first time, she knows the girl is bound for greatness and takes the troubled teen under her wing. Using dance as therapy, she suddenly finds herself bound to the young woman… and her hot-as-sin uncle. However, Phillip and Reese are happy in their single lives. It’s simple. They do what they want, who they want, and how they want, but from the moment they meet, the attraction is undeniable. Soon, they are more than willing to spend just one night tangled in the sheets. But, one night turns into two, and two turns into three, until they find themselves in a repeated dance of “One Last Time” that has the potential to be something more… if only Reese and Claire allow it. Can Phillip find a way to thaw the hearts of both the women in his life, or will he be forever trying to break them away from their pasts?
Character to watch: Phillip Anderson
Issue: Family addiction problem
Toni is one of my all-time favorite authors, and she doesn’t disappoint with Phillip, ‘the player of all players.’ He’s not officially a sex addict, but dangerous addictive tendencies do tend to run in his family. His sister dies in a back alley when she’s unable to pay for her dealer for her latest fix and her teenage daughter is left behind with no one to look after her. In light of such tragic events, Phillip is forced to grow up and become the man his niece needs him to be. He tries his best to curb his playboy habits and learns that he can, in fact, settle down and be faithful to one woman—when it’s the right woman.
3. Alex (Carolina Cold Fury, Book 1) by Sawyer Bennett
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves. As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.
Character to watch: Alex Crossman
Issue: Abuse by parent
The abuse Alex suffered as a young boy at the hands of his father never quite goes away. It’s heartbreaking to watch how the traumatized child still lives inside the tortured psyche of the man. Sawyer pens a richly complicated character in Alex. He’s an alpha male on the surface, but inside he’s desperately trying to hide the painful scars of his past. He’s not the arrogant rule breaker he appears to be. In fact, he’s only acting out to shield his heart so it won’t hurt anymore than it already does.
4. The Perfect Game (The Game, Book 1) by J. Sterling
He's a game she never intended to play. And she's the game changer he never knew he needed. The Perfect Game tells the story of college juniors, Cassie Andrews and Jack Carter. When Cassie meets rising baseball hopeful Jack, she is determined to steer clear of him and his typical cocky attitude. But Jack has other things on his mind . . . like getting Cassie to give him the time of day. They are damaged, filled with mistrust and guarded before they find one another (and themselves) in this emotional journey about love and forgiveness. Strap yourselves for a ride that will not only break your heart, but put it back together. Sometimes life gets ugly before it gets beautiful...
Character to watch: Jack Carter
There is a scene in this book that really stands out for me. It involves Jack in a bar, drunk, with a sexy groupie who just won’t take no for an answer. It’s one of those moments when a character is put to the test and as a reader you hold your breath and hope for the best. Will he succumb to temptation and cheat on his girlfriend? J. combines alcohol, a horny ballplayer and some groping and grinding out on the dance floor to see if her leading man has what it takes to remain faithful.
5. One Chance Night by Eliza Boyd (a.k.a. my editor/proofreader Mickey Reed!)
On the surface, Chelsea Greer has it all: A loving husband. A nice house. A good job. In reality, she works hard to maintain the illusion that is her life. She's also missing the most important thing: Love. One night could change her life. One night could give her the strength to rediscover what's important. In one night, she could find love when she most needs it and least expects it. All Chelsea has to do is follow her heart after One Chance Night.
Character to watch: Chelsea Greer
Issue: Bullying, domineering husbandChelsea’s been carrying around a secret about her marriage that’s been extremely hard to bear. She never thought she’d find herself trapped in a loveless marriage, and she never thought her husband would do to her what he did one night when he was drunk. So when a handsome stranger offers Chelsea a chance at making a fresh start, she’s so demoralized that she doesn’t know if she has the guts to walk away from all the pain, even if a second chance at happiness is finally within her grasp.
Thank you, Collette, for sharing your list with us. And thank you, readers, for joining us today. Find out more about Collette's latest book Inside Game and how this list ties in with it by scrolling down.
Title: Inside Game
Series: New York Kings, Book 5
Release Date: July 10, 2015
Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Romance
Third baseman Drake Schultz is the undisputed bad boy of the New York Kings. So it's no surprise when Major League Baseball suspends him for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Furious with their superstar, the front office issues an ultimatum: either work with their sober companion or kiss the rest of his quarter-billion-dollar contract goodbye. Cocky and arrogant, Drake resists being saddled with a live-in babysitter—even one he's insanely attracted to.
Other books in this series
Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.