By Sarina Bowen
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…
HARD HITTER is the second book in the Brooklyn Bruisers series and was an enjoyable read. I liked both Patrick and Ariana and I thought the connection between them was caring and sweet. Patrick doesn’t like to be touched, which makes his sessions with Ariana difficult because as the team’s massage therapist and yoga instructor, it’s her job to touch people. I really liked how she worked on him slowly, building up his trust and allowing him to enjoy and greatly benefit from their sessions. This of course helped to coax him out of his shell, allowing him to embark on his first ever relationship with her and become a much more likeable character.
I loved the scene where Patrick gets the entire team to submit their ideas on how to woo a woman. I thought it showed exactly how important Ariana was to him but it also was a nice bonding experience for the team and gave them a chance to see a softer side of their captain. I also liked hearing about the men who taught a young Patrick to fight back and was disappointed we didn’t hear more about them, because meeting them was a huge turning point in his life. Are they still alive? Is the gym still there? Does he visit during the off-season?
Unfortunately, there were a few things in this story that irked me a bit. Both Patrick and Ariana are dealing with some heavy situations which seemed to detract from the relationship, and I felt like most of the book was spent waiting for the other shoe to drop. One thing that I couldn’t wrap my head around was why Patrick was the captain. He didn’t seem like a good fit for the role given how anti-social he was, and he’s the team’s enforcer which is normally a low-level position within the team. Another thing I couldn’t figure out was why Patrick didn’t like to be touched. I know everybody handles life experiences differently, but unless I missed a shocking revelation about his past (like sexual assault), I just can’t see how being beaten up as a kid would cause you to hate being touched by people as an adult.
HARD HITTER is told in dual POVs and while it’s part of a series, it can be read as a stand-alone. The entire story takes place in a three and a half week period, with the epilogue taking place three months later. The next book in the series is PIPE DREAMS and will be about Nate’s Manhattan Assistant and Ice Queen, Lauren, and the team’s goalie, Mike Beacon. Although, I really can’t wait for Nate and Becca to get their story. How Becca is oblivious to all the signs is beyond me.
Hard Hitter (Brooklyn Bruisers # 2)
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