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The Trouble With Valentine’s Day    by Rachel Gibson order for
Trouble With Valentine’s Day
by Rachel Gibson
Order:  USA  Can
Avon, 2005 (2005)

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* *   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Kate Hamilton is headed back to Gospel Idaho to help out her widowed grandfather in his store - and sort out her life after her 'commitment phobic' boyfriend, Manny, dumps her. She's also trying to come to terms with how her job as a Las Vegas PI hit the skids. Kate holds herself responsible for helping a distraught husband and father locate his family. He went on to kill his wife, his kids and then himself. What else could possibly go wrong in her life, other than finding herself all alone and stranded in some 'snow bunny' ski bar on Valentine's Day?

Why couldn't she be more like her fantasy alter-ego, who wouldn't give a second thought to propositioning a tall, dark and dangerous-looking stranger into a one night stand? Just as the thought flits through Kate's mind, said stranger strolls into the bar and pulls up a stool right beside her. But, when Kate makes her impulsive offer, she's rejected and humiliated to boot. Kate flees, her only consolation being that she'll never have to look this particular stranger in the eye ever again. But as her recent luck would have it, Kate comes face to face with the man in her grandfather's grocery store only a few days later. Rob Sutter, former Chinook's 'hockey madman', has opened a sporting goods store right across the street. Terrified that Rob will spill the beans about her indiscretion, Kate tries avoiding him. But that's hard to do in a little town like Gospel, especially when she has a grandfather insisting that Kate 'needed to get out more'.

Thankfully Rob keeps their first meeting under wraps, but his assumption that she's a woman of loose morals ticks Kate off, making her even more determined to avoid the brash former hockey star. And while everything about Kate intrigues him, Rob decides it best to keep his distance as well. He's been burned by love and long ago concluded that commitment was a four letter word, one to be struck forever from his vocabulary. But the more the two try to avoid each other, the more they want to find out just what they missed on that fateful Valentine's Day.

This is not one of Rachel Gibson's best. While her writing is sharp and breezy as always, neither Kate nor Rob is fully realized. Rob especially is too much the clichéd sports star we read about in the news, whose priorities are fast cars, fast women and no strings attached. His overnight decision to commit to Kate seems forced. Nor do Kate and Rob ever come to terms with the darker aspects of the circumstances that ended their careers, particularly Kate, who barely mentions the traumatic incident to Rob. Neither character seems to understand the other by the end of the story. But despite this lack of depth, there are enough funny, touching and steamy moments in The Trouble With Valentine's Day, to make for an enjoyable read.

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