By L.P. Dover
No one’s tougher than Carolina Cougars linebacker Derek McLaughlin. But when a fatal car accident claims the life of his girlfriend, Derek finds himself caught in a destructive spiral of drugs, alcohol, and meaningless sex. But not even a string of one-night stands can ease the hurt. Football is all he has left. Then fate leads him back to the scene of the crash, and into the arms of a kind, gorgeous woman who sees past his façade to the man he once was . . . and can be again.
When a chance roadside encounter brings Derek into her life, veterinarian Hayden Hunter isn’t fooled by his bad attitude: All bark and no bite, he’s hiding a wounded heart beneath that gruff demeanor. And Hayden wants to be the one to kiss it all better. Soon they both find that a dose of passion is potent medicine. But when a hidden enemy lashes out at Hayden, Derek steps up to do what he does best: put his body on the line in the name of love.
When you start reading DEFENDING HAYDEN, make sure you have your tissues handy because it starts with Derek reliving the nightmare where his pregnant girlfriend was killed in a car accident. Six months have gone by but he has not yet been able to move on. Needing to get away from everything that reminds him of his loss, he leaves town for a destination unknown. He returns two months later and quickly bumps into Hayden, and it’s from this point the story really starts.
I liked Hayden a lot and thought she was a smart and easygoing woman with a huge heart. She has doubts about why a famous and wealthy man like Derek would be interested in a nobody like her, but she doesn’t dwell on those doubts; she quickly accepts that he likes her and rolls with it. There was no drama with this woman at all. I liked Derek as well, but I didn’t connect with him like I thought I would. He suffered a terrible loss, but apart from the nightmare at the beginning, his loss and his feelings about it are hardly mentioned again. It’s like all the healing he had to do was done behind closed doors.
DEFENDING HAYDEN is told in dual POVs and it’s said that it can be read as a stand-alone. Technically that’s correct, however a lot of information about the previous couple and past events is presented at the beginning, done so to explain some of the players involved and how Derek lost his girlfriend. As someone who hasn’t read the previous books in this series, it was information overload. Other than that, what are my thoughts about this book? I liked it. I did. It kept me engaged and I was able to finish it fairly quickly. However after a few days, my initial thoughts go to what I didn’t like about it. I thought their feelings of love came in too quickly considering they hadn’t spent a great deal of time together. We’re told they love each other, but I for one didn’t feel it. The conflict between Derek and Hayden has been done many times before and I’ll admit it evoked a sigh and an eye roll. When things started to go wrong for Hayden, it was very obvious who was behind it, and I could be wrong here, but I don’t think an NFL player’s girlfriend would be allowed to stand with the team during a game. I know I’ve listed quite a few dislikes, but as I said, I did like this story, just not as much as I was hoping too.
Defending Hayden (Second Chances # 7)
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