by Deirdre Martin

March 2006
ISBN: 0-425-20890-7
Reviewer Graphic Button Berkley
Mass Market Paperback

Welcome to Didsbury where life moves at its own pace. Where getting a cup of coffee does not mean a trip to Starbucks but rather to the local old-fashioned coffee shop where a waitress brings you a bottomless cup of coffee. Didsbury loves their hockey and the boys in town dream of making it to the NHL.

One boy, Paul Van Dorn was lucky enough to reach the NHL. He was unlucky in that his professional career shortened due to an injury. He returns to Didsbury something of a hometown hero and settles into life to the best of his ability. He revels in his glory days by telling his hockey stories repeatedly at his popular grill The Penalty Box, and by coaching a peewee hockey team.

Katie Fisher was an overweight under popular girl when she lived in Didsbury. She has worked hard to lose the weight, and is now a successful college professor. She is returning to Didsbury to work on her book, and to help her mother tend to her nephew Tuck.

They run into one another during a high school reunion. Paul is stunned to realize that Katie is the same person he teased in high school, and Katie is remembering her high school crush that no one knew about. Paul agrees to an interview for Katie’s book about the culture of sports in America. The interview leads to a personal relationship, which is not without its own turmoil.

Throughout The Penalty Box, events seem to conspire to keep Katie and Paul from having a relationship. Both think the other is having trouble dealing with the past, and refuse to see how that is affecting whatever future they might be able to have.

Ms. Martin has written a book with a truly wonderful romance. As a reader, you never give up rooting for Katie and Paul to work out their issues, and have their happy ever after. She has however woven into the story issues that are pertinent to our times, and leave readers with a better understanding of how we are treating our youth who participate in sports as well, as how a family might be enabling a family member to be a drug and alcohol abuser.

Ms. Martin is quickly becoming a favorite contemporary author of mine, and I look forward to her upcoming stories.

Reviewed in February 2006 by Sandi.

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