cover image The Penalty Box

The Penalty Box

Deirdre Martin, . . Berkley Sensation, $6.99 (342pp) ISBN 978-0-425-20890-8

In this fun, fast rinkside contemporary romance from Martin (Total Rush ), down-on-his-luck hockey jock Paul van Dorn and formerly overweight overachiever Katie Fisher answer the age-old question: can you ever live down high school? Reintroduced at their 10-year reunion, Paul is stunned to find the girl he dubbed "Bubble Butt" grown into a sexy sociology professor. Recently forced to retire from the NHL, Paul has returned to their hometown, tiny Didsbury, Conn., where he stews in post-pro blues at his bar, the Penalty Box. Katie, on a yearlong book sabbatical, has moved home with her mother and nephew Tuck, whose own mom is stuck in rehab. Despite Paul's past cruelty, Katie falls for him after he gives a revealing interview for her project on sports and male identity. What begins as an undercover affair blossoms into a life-changing relationship as the pair discover that living in the present beats living in the past. Martin scores with this witty blend of romance and family dynamics. (Mar.)