What do you get when you put together a big ass hockey player who doesn’t like to be touched with a determined masseuse determined to heal him? Sarina Bowen turns up the heat in the second book of her Brooklyn Bruiser’s series, Hard Hitter.
Ari Bettini has no desire to date. With her stalker ex hounding her, Ari falls into her work as the personal masseuse for the hockey team, the Bruisers. That is, until Captain Patrick O’Doul comes in with his quiet and steady presence to shake up her world.
Patrick O’Doul is the main fighter on the ice and when a hip injury requires therapy, he is put in the capable hands of the beautiful Ari. Which wouldn’t sound so bad if he didn’t hate to be touched. Under Ari’s gentle hands, O’Doul unravels and finds she just might be the healing he needs. If only her ex and Patrick’s past didn’t entangle them both in trouble.
The Bruisers hockey team is on their way to the playoffs, and they need their captain in top shape. Thank goodness for Ari who knows something’s off the moment Patrick lands on her massage table. I loved her! She has such a kind heart, and she knows just how to lower O’Doul’s guard and put him at ease. Not only does he eventually accept her touch, but he wants it just for him!
“Does Castro really propose to you every time you touch his feet?”
The question was so unexpected that she let fly a peal of laughter. “Yes, he does. We could be married a hundred times over by now.”
His back rose and fell with a chuckle. “God. Tell him to get in line behind me.”
“Why, Patrick O’Doul”—she gave his calf a pretend slap—“I’d almost think you liked this.”
“It’s tolerable,” he grumbled.
And that’s how she knew he was feeling better.
O’Doul, however, stole the show because behind his gruff and broody exterior, he is secretly the biggest romantic. Ari is running gun shy after her ex – whose dark past comes to endanger Ari – and O’Doul is exactly who she needs to break through her no-relationship barrier.
I loved how realistically this happens and with O’Doul opening up to her. He allows her into spaces – both physically and emotionally – that he doesn’t let anyone else enter.
He’d been in a scuffle tonight—the first one in years where he wasn’t wearing skates. And that wasn’t the only odd thing about the fight. It was also the only one in years he was certain had a real purpose to it.
The passion combusts between them, and it is the first time Ari experiences a truly loving (and smoking hot!) touch. Ari lets O’Doul in, and let’s be honest, it isn’t hard to do with his candid personality.
“What regrets? I have none,” he rumbled. “The problem is that I already get boned up on your massage table. Next time you put your hands on me at work I’m gonna start moaning like a porn star.”
“Might have to get out a gag for you,” she teased.
He let out a sleepy groan. “Doubt it’ll work. Probably just turn me into a submissive.”
There’s one scene where O’Doul turns the tables on Ari – quite literally – and boy! are readers in for one blazing treat.
Hard Hitter is a wonderful sports romance with just enough heat and more than enough heart. A solid four star read. Make way for these sexy hockey stars. Or, you know, jump in front of them. It would be no hardship.
Hard Hitter releases January 3rd!
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