Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
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…
Every time I hear Sarina Bowen is going to release another hockey romance I get so excited. I love the interconnecting series and players she has created. When I finished reading Rookie Move and read the preview for Hard Hitter, I knew it was going to be an exciting story.
Hard Hitter reintroduces the reader to two characters met in Rookie Move, but it can be read as a standalone novel. Ari is the Brooklyn Bruisers’ team masseuse who is enjoying being single after leaving a turbulent relationship. Patrick is the hockey team’s grumpy captain. When Patrick is forced to visit Ari for help with an injury, they begin to develop an attraction to each other. Soon their massage sessions are moving beyond the Bruisers’ massage room and into the bedroom.
As soon as I start a book by Sarina Bowen, I’m immediately drawn in by her writing. It’s fantastic. She has a way of making me instantly connect with her characters. I fall in love with them and can’t get enough of them. I felt that instant connection with Patrick and Ari. Ari was a breath of fresh air. Her positive attitude and upbeat personality brought a lightness to the story. She had her moments of negativity, but there was always hope underneath. Patrick was a different story. He was standoffish and reluctant to let anyone in. His history and what it brought to the story intrigued me. I wanted to know more about him.
Ari and Patrick’s relationship wasn’t a smooth one. The drama from both of their lives invaded their thoughts and prevented each other from truly letting the other in. I liked that the drama made their love story interesting and exciting, but it also made their connection feel weaker at times. I could understand why Patrick was quickly falling for Ari. She seemed to make most of his problems magically disappear. I didn’t always get what Ari saw in Patrick beyond their sexual attraction. It took him a long time to give her all of him.
Those little relationship things aside, I really enjoyed reading Hard Hitter. It was filled with action, lots of romantic moments and tons of sexy hockey players. Every moment is entertaining and I was left excited for what is next to come in the series. I can’t wait for Pipe Dreams and Lauren’s story. I’m really, really hoping Bowen continues this series for many books to come.