[Diane's Book Blog] In the Zone Series by Kate Willoughby: Spotlight & Character Interview

On the Surface

(In the Zone

Kate Willoughby

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…

Across the Line

(In the Zone

Kate Willoughby

Calder Griffin needs to get back in shape. Sidelined last season by a knee
injury, he’s determined to return to the San Diego Barracudas and play the
best hockey of his career. This might even be the year he gets out of his
talented older brother’s shadow.

For months, Becca Chen has poured her energy into Cups, the restaurant she
owns, desperate to prove to her parents that she can succeed in the career
of her choice, not theirs. But after she spends a five-hour plane ride
flirting with charming, magic-on-the-ice Calder, she tells herself she
needs a fling.

Becca and Calder can’t keep their hands off each other, but they know the
relationship can’t last. They live on opposite coasts, and they’re both too
devoted to their careers. All they have to do is prevent their feelings
from crossing the line from lust to love…

Out of the Game
(In the Zone
Kate Willoughby

Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he
hasn’t been able to forget the woman who kissed him like her life depended
on it ten months ago. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he
can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.

Claire Marzano lost years catering to an overbearing husband, and she’s not
going to answer to anyone ever again. A hot fling is just what she needs to
get back in the game, and that’s exactly what sexy Alex offers–one wild
long weekend away, with no promises or obligations.

But that one weekend changes everything. Despite knowing full well Alex
isn’t the kind to ever commit, Claire is falling for him. And Alex secretly
imagines a future with his strong, smart “accidental girlfriend.” Until a
surprise announcement and an on-ice accident threaten to derail
everything…or cause Alex to finally ditch his old ways and become the man
Claire needs him to be.

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Character Interview

Please welcome Calder and Alex from Kate Willoughby’s In the Zone Series to
Diane’s Book Blog.

Calder: Hi, I’m Calder Griffin. The guys call me Griff. I’m twenty-five
years old. I play right wing for the San Diego Barracudas.

Alex: And I’m Alex Sullivan. I used to play left wing, but I’m older than
this wet-behind-the-ears dickhead, so I retired. [Calder punches Alex in
the arm and they both laugh.] Now I’m color analyst for the team, going on
almost a year now.

What is in your refrigerator right now?

Alex: I have no idea. Food? Ask my wife. She does most of the cooking.

Calder: My wife too. Becca keeps the fridge full of food, but she’s a chef.
She has her own restaurant called Cups in the Paseo Loco area of San Diego.
You know it? Quirky little street with a bunch of art galleries, clothing
and gift shops and hole-in-the-wall eateries. If you’re ever in the mood
for a great lettuce cup or a bowl of soup, check it out. 888-ALL-CUPS.

Alex: Jeez, Griff. Way to be smooth. Why don’t you hand out a map and a
menu while you’re at it?

Calder: Hey, I promised Becca. Anyway, the fridge at home always has a lot
of vegetables and lean meats., for whatever new recipe she’s got in her
head, or for meals for me. The freezer always has about three gallons of
ice cream or gelato. That’s my weakness. I admit it.

What talent would you most like to have?

Calder: That’s a tough one, if only because I feel like I lucked out in the
talent department. But what would be really great is the ability to heal
real fast. That would really come in handy in my business. If I couldn’t
get that, it’d be cool to be able to play the guitar like a boss.

What about you, Alex?

Alex: Okay, don’t laugh, but I think it would be fun to be able to talk to

[Calder snorts.]

Alex: Are you saying it wouldn’t? Because, think about it. You could park
your car and tell the birds not to shit on your window. Or walk your dog
without a leash because you could just tell him which way you were going.
And think about going to the zoo! Man, that’d be so great. My kid would
love that. “The giraffe says he has a sore throat, honey.” She’d love that!

Calder: Ah, what if the birds ignore you? Just because they understand you
doesn’t mean they’ll obey you. They could still shit all over your car.

Alex: That’s true. I didn’t think about that. I want to change mine then. I
thought of something better anyway. Multiple orgasms. Like women can do.
You know what I mean? The ability to come as many times as you wanted in a
night. How awesome would that be?

Calder: Pretty damn awesome, actually.

What is your biggest fear?

[Neither man speaks for a moment. Calder glances at Alex, clearly
uncertain, but Alex shrugs.]

Alex: Go ahead. It doesn’t matter.

Calder [sighing]: Well, in the back of my mind, I’m always afraid that my
next game is my last game…that something will happen and I’ll have to
retire. When you play your last game, you want to know it’s your last game,
so you can savor everything.

Alex: Yeah.

What about you, Alex? Biggest fear.

Alex: You know what my biggest fear is? That I’m going to screw up my kid.
Every day, I’m afraid I’m doing something wrong and I’m messing her up
somehow. She’s so damn perfect. And when she looks at me with those big
brown eyes, I just want to do anything I can to make her happy and make
sure she never gets hurt.

Calder: What’s wrong with that? That sounds good to me.

Alex: Yeah, but Claire–that’s my wife–Claire says she’ll never learn
anything if we shield her from everything. She’ll never learn how to pick
herself back up. And I guess that sounds logical. But easier said than
done. I’m a sucker for those big brown eyes. A sucker, I tell you.

Calder: Is that what I have to look forward to? Complete and utter

Alex [laughing]: You bet your…wait a second. Are you saying…?

Calder: No. Not yet. But we’re thinking about trying soon. After the
season’s over.

Last question, guys. What’s your most treasured possession?

Calder and Alex [simultaneously]: My wife. [They point at each other and

Calder: Not that Becca’s a possession.

Alex: No! Not at all. Shit. Are they going to see this? We could get in big
trouble. I just meant that I treasure her above everything else. Claire and
Holly. They’re my world.

Calder: Same here.

Don’t worry, boys. Your secret’s safe with me.