Score one for the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team as a stone-cold badass melts for a woman who makes his blood run hot.
As one of the league’s toughest enforcers, Van Turner is ruthless on the ice. He plays hard because it’s the only way to channel the rage boiling inside, and a reputation as an A-hole is better than everyone knowing the truth. Van has spent his entire life running from a secret that’s kept him from getting involved in relationships—or accepting lucrative deals with East Coast teams. Then the Carolina Cold Fury makes him an offer he can’t refuse . . . and Van meets a woman he can’t resist.
Simone Fournier is the stubborn one in her family—and that’s saying something, considering her brothers are two of the Cold Fury’s biggest stars. Simone gets what she wants, and what she wants is Van. Still, there’s a part of him Simone can’t reach, no matter how hard she tries. In private, he’s all fire and passion. In public, he freezes her out. Van may want to push her away, but Simone won’t let him go that easily. Because this time, she’s playing for keeps.
4 stars — I received a free copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.
OK, I had a lot of different feelings about this book. I’ve only read one other story in the Cold Fury series (Max’s), but I’ve been wanting to read more and have been slowly collecting them. I can honestly say that at least this time I didn’t find the concurrent story (Lucas’s story) to be distracting from this story. So that was an improvement over Max!!
The characters were a bit tricky for me…I had one particular bad sticking point with Simone that I will get out of the way early. There were moments at the beginning of the book where I felt like Simone was sexually harassing Van. And no, I’m not kidding. Just because he is bigger than her and can physically stop her does not make me feel better about it. And I know that this is fiction, and a bit fantasy at that, and that we understand that Van is into her from reading his POV. But she did not stop at no, she pushed at him, and if she had been a guy, that would not have been acceptable. So I was bummed about that. If that’s not something that bugs you, then no worries. If it is, then be aware there is some at the beginning. The great part is that once they get together, it kind of all mellows out and we finally get into more of the story, their relationship, etc.
So with that out of the way, I was actually pretty wrapped up in this one! While it did have that rocky start, the characters really intrigued me and they were different in a refreshing sort of way. I think Van was really hard to portray, and so occasionally I wasn’t totally sold on who he was…I couldn’t always get in his head, b/c…well, he’s a bit messed up. I did enjoy the odd backstory we got for him, and I did appreciate how the events of his childhood shaped him into the closed off guy he was. I appreciated that there was a lot of dimension to his “a-hole” character, and that there was purpose and reason behind it. And for the most part I bought into his growth, his setbacks, and his final come to jesus (or Simone as the case may be).
And then there’s Simone… Simone was a force all unto her own. She was extremely confident, intuitive, stubborn, and ridiculously comfortable in her sexuality. I felt like she represented a nice change in the usual heroines we see in romance novels, in that she openly embraced and LOVED sex, could understand sex for the sake of sex, was quite OK with all her kinks… There was no shaming, not even with the Hooters-type job, or the brief foray into stripping. Like I said, refreshing. The other part of her that was refreshing was her strength of character when put up against Van. She knew what she wanted, and she would not be intimidated. She didn’t let him get away with crap that so many other heroines do. But at the same time, she wouldn’t allow herself to be walked on. All things I really appreciated, even if they are not traits that I personally am strong in. Like I said, she was not without flaws by any means…and she enraged me a bit at the beginning. But as the story progressed I just ended up liking her more and more.
As for the relationship, there was definitely a lot of chemistry between them. This is very close to erotica, in that there were a LOT of sex scenes, and for a good chunk of the book it was really more about the sex than anything else. But I was shown glimmers of emotions, and so I held on. And then when the relationship started to take a turn, I appreciated that. I felt their connection. So in the end I was OK with it. It’s not the way a romance usually progresses for me, but I can appreciate the change every now and then.
So yeah, despite the rocky start, I really ended up enjoying myself for the rest. And quite frankly, that kind of surprised me (in a good way). I do wish there was more hockey…these are very sports light books. But that’s the good ole Canadian coming out in me, I’m sure.