* * * *
He’s a fighter in the rink, but he’s about to learn that playing nice can help you score...
As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O'Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of hard hits, O'Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He conceals his pain from his coach and trainers, but when his chronic hip injury becomes too obvious to ignore, they send him for sessions with the team’s massage therapist.
After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini is in need of peace of mind. For now, she’s decided to focus on her work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O'Doul is easy on the eyes, but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O'Doul heal, but as the tension between them turns red hot, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good...
*Source: advance e-galley from publisher provided in exchange for an honest review
It's been a bit of a tough week and I wanted to throw myself into something that's familiar, so that would be a world of hot hockey players who are aggressive on the ice and surprisingly sensitive off the ice.
Patrick has always put himself through the wringer during all their games. That's his role - to take the hits without complaints. But after years of being roughed up, his body needs some tlc. In comes, Ari, the team's well-respected yoga instructor and massage therapist. Patrick is forced to see her as part of his rehabilitation but it unnerves him to have anyone touch him. It confuses Ari but she's willing to work patiently with him to help him get better. Spending time with each other is what they need. He's not used to companionship and she could use a friend after a disastrous break up with her shady boyfriend. Unfortunately, things get complicated between them thanks to the ex-boyfriend whose interference could unravel their relationship and careers.
What can I say? I'd be hard-pressed to come across a Sarina Bowen book I didn't like. In Hard Hitter, I enjoyed seeing Ari work to reclaim herself after being in a long-term relationship, and an unhealthy one at that. She faltered a bit but I had to admire her for the courage it took to stand up for herself. Once again, kudos to Bowen for addressing a sensitive issue with such finesse. And Patrick? It's different to see someone who's such an alpha morph in to this sensitive, wannabe boyfriend seeking out romantic advice from his teammates. Really! They're funny! And of course, the sexy times are as scorching-hot as ever which include some fun props ...ahem...massage table.
Hard Hitter is an excellent follow-up to Rookie Move. Aside from Ari and Patrick, there are a couple other subplots of interest in the background that I got excited about. This sports romance has it all - the good guy, the bad guy, the tough girl, best friends, laughs and lots of heat.