Review: Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen

Reviewed by Joanna

O’Doul is the captain and enforcer of his ice hockey team, the Brooklyn Bruisers, which means he gets paid $2 million a year to brawl on the ice. He’s 32, so nearing the end of his career, and has a few recurring aches and pains that need treating. This is somewhat of a problem as O’Doul doesn’t like to be touched.

After a shaky start, he finds he can make an exception for Ari. Ariana is the club’s massage therapist and yoga leader. She’s zen and chill and super professional, but the captain with the cut eight pack gets her hot under the collar.

Problem is, Ari’s just out of an 8 year relationship, and with emotional baggage and a ticking biological clock, doesn’t want to leap into another. Her ex is a dodgy nightclub owner, and dude is not happy about being dumped and keeps trying to get back in her house. Things get worse when he finds out that she is getting close to Doulie, and there’s more than one reason for this.

This is a hockey novel, with lots of players we’ve already met in the previous book, and a few from the Ivy Years series too. The sporting aspect was strong without being boring or too detailed, and the camaraderie and sense of team was there in spades – something I love about these novels. The team is like a family and O’Doul needs to get over his stand-off nature to truly appreciate that. His guys love him but he doesn’t let them in. Aw.

There are lots of cool background details too. The Bruisers are under the control of a young super clever billionaire called Nate Kattenberger, the inventor of Katt Phones. I find him with his hoodies and $800 sneakers endlessly interesting.

This is a mature romance with drama coming from outside sources. If you’re looking for angst or big-love, you won’t find it here. Ari is far too peaceful for anything like that anyway. Not to say the romance and HEA weren’t there – they are, but it’s on the cuter side e.g. Doulie petitions the team for ideas on how to win over a girl. The guys are a mixture of helpful and useless in their suggestions. When one suggests lingerie, he gets shouted down as sizing is apparently scary. Doulie thinks this:

“Jesus. There was more risk in romance than he realised.”

There a good dose of hot sex as you’d hope with an alpha guy built for lovin’.  Plus Ari brings her own special brand of kink to the table.

“You know what tantric is?”

He shook his head. “Don’t know my own name when you’re on my cock.”

“Think—yoga sex.”

Overall a great story in a familiar setting and I raced through it with a big smile on my face. Can’t wait for the next one, there’s at least two other couples ready to go.

Rating: A

Click to purchase: Amazon

Hard Hitter
by Sarina Bowen
Release Date: January 3, 2017

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