Patrick was utterly perfect and delicious!!!
I noticed that for me to really love a book, I need to fall in love with one of the characters. More often than not I really like them, but something is usually missing. I can’t even put my finger on what it is that makes me fall in love. It just happens.
Patrick was one such character. He was incredibly kind, introvert, quiet, but caring. The combination was irresistible to me. I love the less flashy guys. When a guy is quiet but strong in character. Flawed but not overly damaged. Human, as in making mistakes, but not too stubborn to acknowledge those. Redeemable. And just a GOOD guy. That is a combination that draws me in like a bee to honey.
Lately most romance books I read have alpha males, that are über-protevtive, aggressive, not taking no for an answer kind of characters. The good guys rarely make it anymore. I believe Dallas in Wait For It by Mariana Zapata was one of those good, genuine guys that women should fall in love with.
And I’m so glad I found another one in Patrick.
Hard Hitter was a wonderful story, wrapped around characters that were genuine and likable.
Patrick O’Doul, captain of the Brooklyn Bruisers, was a bruiser himself. His job was to go out on the ice and beat people up. He was an enforcer that silently dreaded his job’s violent site. O’Doul kept those feelings buried deep inside him. Too deep, to the point that he hated physical contact.
He was a side show, like one of those circus freaks who used to bite the heads off chickens in front of a jeering crowd.
For Ari Bettini, touching was part of her job as the team’s massage therapist. When Patrick was forced by his coach to participate in massage therapy sessions because of an injury, the involuntary time on Ari’s massage table allowed her to get to know the quiet captain more closely. And for him to accept and trust her touch.
One night, when both needed a different kind of comfort, their status quo was suddenly changed.
But even so their night together was incredibly passionate, all Ari could offer Patrick was friendship. She just recently came out of a long-term relationship, that ended in a very messed-up situation that she was still trying to distance herself from. She wasn’t in the right position to start anything new. But she acknowledged that Patrick was different and her feelings for him could easily turn into something “big”.
Patrick, never really interested in a relationship before Ari, liked what he saw. He suddenly appreciated the thought of having someone to share his place and bed with. Patrick wanted suddenly more than a casual hook-up. He wanted Ari.
But he also understood and accepted her decision and need for friendship. He didn’t steamroll her, he respected Ari’s wishes.
“We still can’t date, though.” “Okay.” She lifted her head. “Okay?” She’d expected him to argue. He palmed her head and brought it back down onto his chest. “I’ll take what I can get, sweetheart. Now get some sleep. I’ve got a game tomorrow.”
Patrick was willing to be friends, to give Ari the space she thought she needed. He cared too much about her to give her up entirely. I loved him for that!!
What a wonderful book Hard Hitter was. I can’t say it often enough.
Patrick and Ari had such wonderful chemistry. The quiet but deep kind of magnetism that sneaked up on people. No insta lust or insta love. Instead attraction turned into more over time. From business acquaintances to friends to lovers. Their love was not explosive, it simmered and grew under the surface. It felt more natural and genuine that way.
“Fuck no. You’re the only one who gets to touch me.” “Okay,” she said, pressing on his shoulder, asking him to lie flat again. “It was only a suggestion. I was trying to make you more comfortable.” “Not possible,” he muttered. “I only want you, Ari. For this and all things.”
And how much did I laugh when Patrick recruited his teammates to come up with ways to woo Ari. Oh, this couldn’t have been any better. I chuckled and smiled my way through it. Laughed out loud when those jocks talked about what could work and what didn’t. OMG, the hilarity was wonderful.
“Okay, listen.” He slapped the table. “Jimbo!” The younger man looked up from his pancakes. “Whaddaya need?” “Get out the parking tickets. Every player gets one.” “What? Why?” Castro griped. “Everyone here owes me an idea. You all have five minutes to write down the best way to romance a woman. If your idea is decent, you don’t owe anything to the kitty. If your idea is shit, it’s a twenty dollar fine.”
But Hard Hitter also almost brought me to tears. I hated how Patrick felt about the aggressive and violent site of his job. I never thought that hockey players could have an issue with that part of their jobs. Years and years of violence. Expecting the next hit, worrying about career ending injuries.
I thought that bringing Patrick’s inner turmoil to the forefront, made this hockey story stand out from all the other ones. And it made Patrick so much more endearing to me.
Hard Hitter was a definite HIT for me!!!