Hard Hitter Book Review *Sarina Bowen*
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…
Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen is a solid Sports Romance set in the world of hockey. Patrick is the team captain of the Brooklyn Bruisers, and more of a loner than the rest of his teammates. On the surface he acts like everything is great, but he has some personal issues. He grew up in the foster system, and always has to be on guard against bullies. He doesn’t like to be touched, and hasn’t had many personal relationships with women. His family is his team. But lately things are coming to ahead for him. He’s fearful he may get traded, and he’s having some back pain. He’s forced to go to the team’s physical therapist, Ari who he’s attracted to. But he feels if he goes to her for help, he’s weak.
Ari loves her job, but her personal life is in shambles. She threw out her long time boyfriend who may or may not be mixed up with drugs, and perhaps even in the mob. He’s causes her big problems, and is practically stalking her. She escapes in her work, which involves teaching yoga to the players, and massage therapy. Patrick is the only one who seems to have issues with her, but eventually she figures out why when she gets him on her massage table and helps him relax. From that he turns to her for more help, but then lines are crossed because he wants her touch in an entirely different manner.
These two end up having an affair that Ari wants to keep quiet for many reasons which involves her unstable ex-boyfriend, and her fear of getting fired for being romantically involved with Patrick. He tries to convince Ari that everything will be okay, but then he’s the target of blackmail from her ex because of some business he did with the man in regards to illegal pain medication that could get him thrown out of the hockey league forever. These two have to work together to fix their problems in the hopes of still being employed, and possibly have a future together.
Hard Hitter is an enjoyable romance with a nice main couple. The love scenes here are well written and steamy, and both Patrick and Ari are engaging. I really like the secondary cast, especially Patrick’s teammates who are all great guys and worthy romantic heroes who will surely have their own books in the future.
Fans of hockey romance with lovable characters, and an undercurrent of drama and tension will want to check this one out. (Berkley)
Final Grade: B
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