Hard Hitter by Sarina Bowen is finally available for everyone to read at their leisure. And in my opinion, this is a great book to start off your reading for 2017.
Hard Hitter follows Brooklyn Bruisers massage therapist, Ari, and the Brooklyn Bruisers hockey captain himself, Patrick O’Doul. I was very intrigued by Patrick in the first Brooklyn Bruisers book (Rookie Move) so I was very excited to read Patrick and Ari’s story. And for me, this book was thoroughly addictive.
Ari has just gotten out of a bad relationship. A long, eight year relationship and she is not ready by any means to meet a man. She’s ready to be by herself, enjoy her job, and hopefully get Vince out of her life permanently. Unfortunately, Ari’s ex, Vince, is not a great guy. He hurt Ari and even though she has kicked him out of her house, he is lurking around causing trouble. Ari is scared but trying to brazen her way through things. But when an accidental phone swap with Patrick causes him to see what is going on in her home life, he becomes drawn in.
Patrick does not believe he needs anyone. He certainly doesn’t need a relationship, heck he doesn’t really even need friends in his mind. He finds himself attracted to Ari but has no plans to act on it. But when he sees what is going on in her personal life, this hockey enforcer wants to help. Soon, these two are falling fast for each other. But is it the right time for either of them?
I really liked Ari, a lot. She has a friendly, cheerful and kind vibe to her character that really drew me into her struggles. All she wants is to be successful at her job, someday have kids, and basically make a life for herself. I related to her on a lot of levels. Though she definitely has some bad drama in her life courtesy of Vince, I could not fault her at all for trying to make such a long term relationship work. I was glad she got out when she did however because Vince definitely is no Prince Charming.
That’s not to say Patrick is perfect either but come on, he’s a Sarina Bowen character! He’s a hockey player! He’s protective and taciturn and though he doesn’t want to show it, he’s very sweet on Ari. One of the main character traits of Patrick is that he really doesn’t like being touched. Ari comments on how weird it is in the book but honestly, I really, really empathized with Patrick here because I hate being touched. Just, I hate it. You basically have to be uber best friends or family with me to get a hug from me. And massages?? Forget about them. No one is touching my body like that. So for me, this was not an odd angle to the story at all. I truly think it takes a special person sometimes for that deep connection fueled by touch to be wanted. For Patrick, Ari proves to be that person.
I also really liked that both these characters respected each other’s careers. Ari saw day in and out how much stress and pressure Patrick put on his body and his mind through hockey. She truly understands and appreciates the work the Brooklyn Bruisers put in. Likewise, once Patrick is over his initial discomfort, he really comes to appreciate and truly respect the work Ari does for the team. At one point, he makes a smart remark about massage therapists and she is quick to correct him. He doesn’t do it again because he learned the hard way that Ari isn’t going to take crap from him about stereotypes about her profession.
The secondary characters create some great tension and lighthearted moments throughout the course of the book. Sarina Bowen has a swift touch in knowing just the right amount of story to give the periphery characters.
There is a lot to like in Hard Hitter. I’m going to be completely honest and say I liked it more than Rookie Move. Something about Ari and Patrick’s romance really connected for me as a reader. This title also stands alone fairly well. I’m excited for the next book in the series because I love a heroine that is a bit bitchy (Lauren) versus the more… artsy heroines (Becca) sometimes. Pipe Dreams comes out in May 2017 so get these books on your reading shelf now.
ARC provided by publisher for review.
Tagged: Sarina Bowen