WOW, talk about a powerful start to the series! My love for this book snuck up on me, because I wasn’t sure that I was enjoying it at the beginning, but I was also completely engrossed in the story. Sometimes I think the mark of a great book is when you want to throttle the characters; shake some sense into them because you’re so invested in the story that their stubbornness is incredibly frustrating. That’s exactly how I felt about this one in the first half; it’s deeply emotional and so well written, but this couple will really get on your nerves at times. Somewhere along the way, Bromberg’s skilled writing made their love story get under my skin, and by the end I was fighting back tears because it was so moving – and that’s very much a rarity for me.
The story follows Dekker and Hunter, two people who shared a sex “only” relationship for several months, until feelings became involved. They never spoke the words out loud, but something in their relationship shifted, and that sent these two commitment-phobic individuals running in the other direction. Three years later, they come face-to-face again because Dekker has been tasked with signing pro hockey player Hunter to her family’s sports management agency. Dekker is conflicted about the task, because mixing business with pleasure is never a good idea – and she’s not so sure that their relationship was ever fully resolved. If there was ever a woman to make Hunter question his feelings about relationships, it’s Dekker, but he’s already got the weight of the world on his shoulders, and he’s not sure he can take any more before he breaks.
Second chance romances are sometimes difficult for me to get into, and I think that’s why this one didn’t grip me right away – because the quality is definitely there from the start. VOLATILE describes Hunter and Dekker’s relationship perfectly; they clash every time they start to get closer, and combust during the steamy scenes. It’s a slow burn romance that focuses on the emotional connection, because these two already know they have zero problems in the bedroom. I loved how Bromberg was able to showcase the growth in intimacy, build up the tension until it was at its boiling point, and then let all of the pieces fall into place. Once you get to know these characters better, it’s much easier to feel for all they’ve been through and understand the reasons why they never just sat down and TALKED to one another. The evolution of the relationship is a thing of beauty, and I loved getting lost in the story. If this is how Bromberg writes sports romance, then bring on the rest of the series, because this was fantastic. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC (then purchased it for my collection), and am voluntarily leaving a review of this steamy slow burn romance.
In case you’re wondering: I had started reading this (and wasn’t completely sold on the story yet) when I put together my Best of June list. At the time, I thought there was no way that it would be able to surpass any of the other outstanding books on the list with such a rocky start. I was wrong. It definitely would’ve been included with my top picks had the list been created a little later. I’ve since added it to the list, which you can view here!
Hard to Handle, book one in the Play Hard series, an all new series of standalone books by New York Times bestselling author, K. Bromberg, is LIVE!
At first, the request seemed simple—sign a new athlete to the agency. Then I found out the new athlete was none other than the most wanted man in hockey today: Hunter Maddox
Gifted. Sexy. At the top of his game. And the only man who has ever broken my heart.If signing him will help save our family business, I’ll swallow my pride and do what’s asked.
But when it becomes clear his uncharacteristic antics off the ice are a hint of something deeper, keeping things strictly professional between us becomes more than complicated.
But I know better than to cross that line.
I’ll never date a client. Not even for him.
Win the Stanley Cup and do it before time runs out.
Not a small feat, but it’s what’s motivated me since the start of my career.
And time is running out.
Enter Dekker Kincade.
Feisty. Dogged. Damn gorgeous. The one I let get away.
I have no idea why she’s traveling with the team, but hell if resisting her is going to be easy.
But I have a job to do, and I refuse to lose sight of that end game. Even if she confuses me. Even if she sees parts of me I’ve hidden from the world.
I can’t lose focus. Not even for her.
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I stare at Hunter. At his shirt plastered with sweat and how it clings to his body, despite the chill of the ice his skates are standing on. He has his warm-up pants on and is without a helmet, his hair curling at the ends from the sweat.
And all I see in his eyes is anger I didn’t put there. Or maybe I did. Rejection can do that to a man . . . but there’s something more here. Something I walked in on that doesn’t make sense.
“Don’t give me that look, Kincade,” Hunter mutters as he skates over to the penalty box where his electrolyte drink sits.
“What look?” I ask.
He half laughs, half snorts and meets my gaze across the distance. “Disappointment. Disproval. Disdain. I’m the king of all of them, so save your breath—or in this case—your glare, because it’s not going to work with me.”
“Are we working on emotions that start with the letter D today?” I ask. A hint of my embarrassment and anger over how I acted last night creeps into my voice, but I mask it with sarcasm. “If that’s the case, I’m more than impressed with your answers thus far.”
He clenches his jaw in response and then skates back over to line up more pucks so he can shoot them. And he does, one after another, each shot taken with laser precision and a healthy dose of fury behind it.
He goes through the first ten lined up and then stops to catch his breath.
His talent and skill are undeniable, but so is the beer bottle in my hand.
“Just because you’re the captain and star of this team, doesn’t mean management won’t frown upon this,” I say, unable to let this go.
“Screw the management.”
“No one likes a player who’s hard to handle and honestly, Hunter, you’re becoming hard to handle.”
“No one likes unsolicited advice from someone who has no bearing on his career, either,” he counters, the rebuke stinging but deserved.
The problem is, I do care about him. Doesn’t he get that’s where my hostility stems from?
And only a crazy person would say that, Dekker.
I put my hands up in surrender to both him and my own thoughts. “You know I only want the best for you.” I take a few steps in his direction in the first row of the stands. I’m close enough to catch the hitch of his movement and to see uncertainty flicker in his eyes. It’s almost as if he needs to talk but doesn’t see me as someone he can trust. I hate that. “What is it, Hunter?”
“Nothing. It’s . . . never mind.”
But I see it, and he knows I see it. The question is what do I see, though?
Meet K. Bromberg:
New York Times Bestselling author K. Bromberg writes contemporary romance novels that contain a mixture of sweet, emotional, a whole lot of sexy, and a little bit of real. She likes to write strong heroines and damaged heroes who we love to hate but can’t help to love.
A mom of three, she plots her novels in between school runs and soccer practices, more often than not with her laptop in tow and her mind scattered in too many different directions.
Since publishing her first book on a whim in 2013, Kristy has sold over one and a half million copies of her books across eighteen different countries and has landed on the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal Bestsellers lists over thirty times. Her Driven trilogy (Driven, Fueled, and Crashed) is currently being adapted for film by the streaming platform, Passionflix, with the first movie (Driven) out now.
With her imagination always in overdrive, she is currently scheming, plotting, and swooning over her latest hero. You can find out more about him or chat with Kristy on any of her social media accounts.
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