BannerWelcome to this edition of the Substitute Book Reviewer. While Ali is recovering her equilibrium, I’m driving this bus for a few posts. Allow me to introduce myself, I’m Melanie Ting. And I’m a writer, not a reviewer. Therefore my reviews will lack the professional polish of Ali’s work, but I hope to make up for it with goofy charm, humour, and Canadian spelling.

Ali is my fairy godmother. She thinks I’m not confident enough about promoting my books. She’s always telling me to buck up and show some attitude. The truth is that I love my writing, but I don’t think it’s for everyone. I write romances, but they’re always about hockey. Oh, and cats. I didn’t notice until I had finished about six stories, that there were cats in every one of them. That’s why I asked Ali to review my book, and not because she’s crazy about sports. In fact, given that she’s a Cali girl, I’m pretty darn sure she hasn’t even seen a hockey game. But—cats! I figured I’d get at least one star for cats.

Then, Ali got sick before reading my book. So I don’t even know what she will think of it. But in the interest of buttering up Ali for a good review helping a sick friend, I volunteered to create some blog content. I’m going to review the books of two great authors I know personally. Yeah, so chances are good that I’m going to give the books good reviews, but you’ll have to read on to find out for sure. And I interviewed the authors as well, so you can get a sense of what fun people they are.

In keeping with Ali’s book review balance, one of the writers is traditionally published and one is indie. And yes, the books are hockey romances. It’s the play-offs, and trust me, the guys will be hot.

First up, today’s author is Kate Willoughby. She is the author of ten traditionally-published books, but more importantly, she’s just written her first hockey romance, On the Surface. I met her on a blog hop that was like that first day of class when you looked around and everyone was dressed in preppy pink and plaid hairbands, except this one other girl with black eyeliner and an attitude. Your eyes met, you bonded, and that was that. That’s me and Kate! We bonded over hockey and a love for romances that are about relationships and not just sex.

Bio-ImageThe 411 on Kate is fairly simple. Here’s a quickie bio that she sent me:

Kate Willoughby happily writes her hockey romances in Southern California. She is married and has two sons, a dog, and a betta fish. When she’s not writing, she’s watching hockey. When it’s not hockey season, she whines a lot.

But you want to know more, right? The Substitute Reviewer has got you covered! I did a special, All The Things Inbetween exclusive interview for you. Here’s my Q & A with Kate Willoughby.


Q: I know you’re a huge Los Angeles Kings fan, Kate, but you’ve admitted you’re a recent convert. Was there one incident that made you fall in love with hockey? And why should readers find hockey players, er, attractive?

A: I fell in love with hockey because of Rachel Gibson’s See Jane Score. If you haven’t read it, do. It’s funny and sexy and gives a reader a backstage pass into the world of professional hockey. I read that book knowing very little about the sport, but that didn’t matter. Gibson made it easy for non-hockey fans to enjoy the book. In writing my own hockey romances, I’ve tried hard to follow her example.

As for why readers should find hockey players “attractive,” I think it’s not so much their looks, because most of the time they’re covered in bulky gear. No, for me, it’s the character. In general, hockey players are humble, hard-working men. They don’t like the limelight. The hockey culture has groomed them to be this way. From day one, it’s all about the team. When interviewed about a stellar performance, they deflect and talk about the team effort. When asked about a poor showing, they do the opposite—they accept the blame and focus on where they can improve as an individual. It’s this type of behavior that makes them ideal romance heroes.

Q: Wow, falling in love with hockey because of a novel, that’s my personal dream come true! Kate, I know that you’re a proponent of more mature romances. I’m not talking senior citizens, but characters in their thirties. Why do you think romance is sweeter when the main characters have had some life experience? Or perhaps, you’d like to metaphorically kick YA/NA in the goNAds?

A: I prefer to write about “older” protagonists because of fear. No, really! I’m 51 years old. I haven’t been considered young in a long time and the challenges that face young people these days are, in many ways, different than they were in my day. See? There’s proof. I use phrases like “in my day.”

Q: All right, Kate, our final question is a game. The game is called Marry, Date, or Dump. (The game is not normally called this, but I’m going politically correct here. I don’t want to get Ali’s blog banned while she’s away.) I’m going to use three members of the Los Angeles Kings. For those non-hockey fans, I will add a few descriptors. Here are your choices:

1.The completely gorgeous Alec Martinez. He’s a defenceman with a wicked shot and a modest demeanor. Kate sent me a shirtless photo of him with the Stanley Cup that has the Genius Bar guy still trying to clean the drool out of my iMac.

2. The team captain, Dustin Brown. Kate will kill me if I insult him because she owns his jersey and is a huge fan. But Kate lives far away from me and doesn’t even know my home address, so here goes. Dustin Brown shows leadership through hard work and community service. He’s built like a fireplug with the face of a five-year old. He’s also the dirtiest player on the team, making late hits with intent to injure.

3. Drew Doughty. Yeah, Kate, you knew I was going there because he’s my fav King. He’s a good-natured slob, a boy-man, the butt of team jokes, who may not be the sharpest tool in the drawer. He’s also the team superstar, a defenceman who plays huge in big games, and is supremely confident. He’s sorta cute, if you squint.

Okay, go.

A: Because I could conceivably be these guys’ mom, I’ll pretend for the duration of this game that I’m their age so no one gets squicked out. Including me.

Drew Doughty. You were very accurate in your description of Drew. He’s a superb player, but as you said, he’s a bit of a boy-man. He giggles. He needs a haircut. He stood up his family for breakfast in Sochi and they were all, “That’s Drew for you.” So, to me he’s more like that pesky younger brother than he is boyfriend or husband material. I feel like after sex, he’d spring out of bed and say, “Hey, wanna play Xbox?” So, sorry, Drew, you’re off the island.


AlecAlec Martinez. Hm. Very hot guy. Humble, like I said hockey players typically are. Not afraid to fight. I like that too. Although his name is Martinez, he doesn’t speak a word of Spanish and doesn’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo. I’m Chinese, but fourth generation, so I’m pretty far removed from the family’s culture as well. Kate Martinez. Yeah, it has a nice ring to it and our kids would be Mexinese, but there is Dustin Brown to consider.

First, let’s me make something clear. Dustin Brown is not a dirty player! I would agree that he plays a very physical game. He goes out there and bangs people up, but his intention is not to injure. Hurt, yes, injure, no. I think that’s an important difference. You want the opponent to feel the hit. It should be painful. It should make the opponent pass the puck more quickly than he usually would—perhaps sloppily—because he doesn’t want to feel 210 Dustin Brown pounds slamming into him. That’s the way the game is played. However, I would swear on a Bible that Dustin does not try to cause injuries that will take guys out of the game. And no, the Hertl knee-on-knee was not intentional no matter what the Sharks fans say. I could show you video proof. (Melanie’s note: See, I told you insulting Dustin would get her all upset. My home address remains shrouded in mystery, just in case.)

Now, would I date him? Assuming he didn’t have a wife and four adorable kids? Absolutely. Would I marry him? Sure would. Would I have to get used to the fact that he’s missing several front teeth? Ah, that’s a yes. But that’d be a small price to pay.

So, in summary. Doughty, no rose for you. Alec, go get the massage oil out of my nightstand. Dustin? Put your teeth in and let’s pick a date.

Thanks Kate, for being a good sport. And by the way, I think Mexinese kids would look adorable.

Come back for our next post where we review an actual book of Kate’s! And if you like my goofy humour and Canadian charm, you can find me at my blog or on Twitter. See Ali, I’m self-promoting!


Kate Willoughby Web Tracks:

Website | BlogTwitter | GoodreadsPinterest | Instagram


Kate Willoughby on All The Things Inbetween:

Sin Bin – On The Surface by Kate Willoughby


On The Surface by Kate Willoughby

On The Surface Synopsis:

NHL player Tim Hollander lost his temper one time and threw a water bottle at an abusive fan. After “Bottlegate,” he’s traded to the San Diego Barracudas, where he’ll need to keep the bad publicity to a minimum while proving he can still compete with the younger guys on the ice.

Erin Collier is a pediatric nurse who’s never seen a hockey game, but gets in line for Tim’s autograph at a PR event in hopes of impressing the doctor she has a crush on. When an obnoxious fan gets pushy toward Erin, Tim rushes to defend the pretty stranger, throwing a punch in the process.

Grateful for the rescue, Erin agrees to stand by Tim during the resulting press conference and host him at a hospital charity event. Their chemistry is palpable, and soon their lives are intertwined. But Erin doubts a hockey player is capable of anything resembling a real relationship. And if Tim can’t get her to see beyond what’s on the surface, they’ll never last longer than a single season…


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Purchase On The Surface:

Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo | Google Play | Carina Press

Meet Your Interviewer: Melanie Ting

Fresh Air by Melanie Ting

“I’m Mel, and I don’t want you to read my book. Hmmm, maybe I should rephrase that a little: I don’t want you to read my book unless you are sure it’s exactly the kind of book you would like.”

Errrm… Yes well, that is the introduction Mel originally sent me and why I became her fairy godmother; her PR sucks. Mel doesn’t know that while being sick all I do is click through books like they are channels on book TV and I’ve started Fresh Air. It’s really pretty damn great. She’s a great storyteller and from the reviews and interviews she’s contributed to All The Things Inbetween she’s once more underestimating her own talents.

Hailing from the Great White North, where people are nice, say ‘aboot’ and ‘eh’, have the fabulous luxury of Timmy Ho’s–Mel receives free healthcare and returns the favors afforded to her by writing about the national sport of Canada: Hockey. She blends humor and sports with a good amount of practical romance to give her readers the romance you might have with an athlete rather than that you would see in Hollywood (Toe Pick! Will anyone get that reference?).

Mel, this is how you sell yourself.


Melanie Ting’s Web Tracks:

Website | TwitterGoodreads | Amazon Author Page


If you are interested in becoming a book reviewer or helping me with All The Things Inbetween contact me at Ali is Amazekittens and I will have my cats talk to your people. There are wicked, wondrous benefits to such arrangements as the ones we would have. I am awesome at not replying to mail timely, not getting to my to-do-list, and forgetting to eat. I pay in pics of kittens.

All The Things Ali Web Tracks: Google+ | Twitter | Pinterest | Instagram | Shelfari | Goodreads | | Stumbleupon | LinkedIn | Camp NaNoWriMo 2014 …And I am always looking for new friends on Bingo Blitz, everyone but kittens need apply.

Reader, writer, gamer, nerd, and kpop lover; Ms. Ali Cat lives deep in her own imagination within the grand city limits of San Diego, CA. A proponent of afternoon naps, kitten cuddles, and hashtags, she will be voting: #COFFEFFORPOSITIVECHANGE in the next presidential election.
He Said, She Said – Gabfest and Gossip: Kate Willoughby
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