This almost felt more like tragedy than romance, honestly. Love is an afterthought here – it’s ALL about the baby and the family dynamics. While I have loved the rest of the series, this has a significant tonal shift that’s jarring. There’s ZERO relationship development before these two start banging, and I was still getting used to all of the references to menopause and aging when the pregnancy storyline came into play. My heart hurt for Jake and Hanna as they realized that they’d be dealing with a high risk pregnancy JUST when their grown children finally found happiness (lots of triggers in this). But I didn’t particularly like either of them, and I kinda hate what they did to King’s HEA. This is angsty and heartbreaking, but without the relationship development pre-baby, I really struggled to connect to the (lackluster) romance.
While I suppose this would technically read as a standalone, those who have read the series will get more out of it. We were introduced to Jake and Hanna in A Secret for a Secret, as they are the parents of that couple. Well… Jake is Queenie’s dad and Hanna is King’s “Momster.” As Jake and Hanna bond over all of the activities surrounding their kids’ wedding, these forty-somethings give in to their attraction and begin to casually hook up. They both know that the family dynamics make it impossible to be together in the long run, and they live on opposite sides of the country. But when Hanna realizes that she’s pregnant, it’s a blast from both of their pasts. Suddenly, this non-couple is dealing with a surprise pregnancy that stirs up all kinds of complicated feelings about the past – and they’re a lot older this time around.
I remember really liking Jake in A Secret for a Secret, so I was looking forward to his book. Unfortunately, this just took a very different path than I would’ve liked. The baby is a HUGE part of the story, and it almost felt like the romance came in third – baby, family issues, THEN the relationship. I don’t even think they exchanged “I love you’s.” The distinct lack of romance makes the level of angst difficult to handle, and it was missing the lightness that I love about HH’s work. It even tarnished King’s HEA, and the poor guy has already dealt with life-changing secrets from Hanna. Without the swoony moments or the comedy, this just felt endlessly heavy to me. It’s technically well executed in a lot of ways, and I can almost envision the novella that this started out as. I kinda wish it had stayed that way. Regardless, this one’s probably going to be for diehard fans of HH who don’t mind a lot of heartache. For me, it was missing the charm that I love about her work. I received an early copy and am voluntarily leaving a review of this surprise pregnancy story.
Haven’t read the the series? This will read as a standalone, but is you’ll likely want to read at least A Secret for a Secret beforehand. A Favor for a Favor was on my Top 20 of 2020 list though, so I definitely recommend all three books. You can check out my reviews below for details:
I’m Jake Masterson, single dad, and the General Manager of Seattle’s NHL team. I walked away from a career as a player so I could raise my daughter. For the last twenty-plus years, Queenie has been my main priority, but now she’s getting married.
And there’s a small complication.
A beautiful, sexy complication named Hanna.
She’s my son-in-law’s older sister. Or at least that’s how they were raised. The truth is a little more scandalous than that.
I’ve been drawn to her from the moment I laid eyes on her. And I spent months trying to keep a lid on that attraction.
Until we finally give in.
It starts with one searing kiss, but quickly ends with us between the sheets—and in the shower, and the hot tub, you get the picture—and turns into months of sneaking around.
Here’s the problem: we live on opposite ends of the country. It can’t be anything but casual. And as I’ve already said…it’s complicated.
But when Hanna finds out she’s pregnant…suddenly things get real serious.
“You’re trouble tonight, aren’t you?” Her fingertips dance along my traps as she brushes past me. “And yes, to answer your question, I did, in fact, bring the red bikini.”
She disappears down the hall to the spare bedroom, where she’s sleeping tonight. Because I invited her to stay at my place this weekend rather than at King’s. It’s not that she isn’t welcome there. It’s more that she wants them to have their privacy. It also means I get more time with Hanna, so it’s a win all the way around. And I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t been thinking a lot about time alone with her this weekend.
I change into my swim trunks, pour myself a scotch, heavy on the rocks, and her a glass of wine before I make my way outside. I set the drinks on the outdoor dining table, remove the hot tub cover and check the temperature, making sure it’s not too hot.
Once I carry the drinks over and set them in the cup holders, I sink into the hot, bubbly water, stretch my arms out, let my head fall back and my eyes close. All the time I’ve been spending with Hanna is starting to get to me.
Reminding me that I’m in my forties, and very much still a bachelor. There are a lot of reasons why getting involved with Hanna on a romantic level would not be a good idea. Queenie and King’s relationship being at the forefront.
But she’s fun. And sexy. And we get each other.
A minute later, the sound of the sliding door opening and closing and the slap of flip-flops against the deck have me cracking a lid.
“You better not be sleeping already!” she calls out.
“Not sleeping, just waiting on you.”
I watch as she pulls the tie on her robe and the terry fabric slips over her shoulders, revealing that red bikini I’m such a fan of. Hanna is all curves. Amazing curves. The kind I’ve fantasized about putting my hands on plenty of times over the past several months. And with us spending a lot more time together, it’s been hard not to give in to the constant draw.
I rise from the water and hold out a hand as she climbs the steps. Her fingers slip into my palm, sending a jolt down my spine and a stirring inside my swim trunks.
“Could you try to be a little less beautiful all the time?”I tease as I help her into the tub. “Could you try to have more of a dad bod?” She drags her fingers down my abs, brows waggling, a smile on her gorgeous face. “You are definitely good for my ego, Jake.” She pats me on the chest and sinks into the water on the opposite side of the tub from me.
Which is probably a good thing since I feel like we’re playing with fire tonight. The kind I wouldn’t mind pouring a gallon of gasoline on just to watch it burn brighter.
“That was a great engagement party. I think the kids had fun, don’t you?”She stretches her legs out. Her toes skim the outside of my thigh and I barely resist the urge to run my hand up her calf.
I don’t know what’s in the air tonight, but things seem…different. Heightened.
“Yeah. It was good,” I agree. She pokes me with her toe. “Then why are you frowning? You’ve been off all night. What’s going on?” With all the planning and talks we’ve been having, Hanna and I have gotten to know each other better. And she can read me pretty easily.
“I don’t know. On one hand, I’m happy for King and Queenie and I know he’s going to be a great husband to my daughter, but I spent all these years raising her, and being there for her. They’ve been living together for months, but for some reason, it’s all kind of hitting me. It’s real now.” I take a sip of my scotch. “It’s different from when she went away to college, and even when she moved out of the pool house and in with King. There’s this hole I didn’t expect.”
“It sounds like empty nester’s syndrome.” She moves to the spot beside to me, where the glass of wine I poured her sits.
“Is that what this is? I’m all morose and shit.”
She chuckles and props her elbow on the edge of the tub. “You need to look at it with a fresh perspective, that’s all. You’re not losing your daughter. It’s different with girls. Sure, she’s found her partner in life, but she’s always going to be your baby girl. And the two of you are so close.”
“I don’t know what to do with all of this freedom,” I admit. “My entire life up to this point has been revolved around raising Queenie and my career.”
“Which means you did your job. And that’s a good thing. Think about it, Jake. This is the great part about having a kid young. Sure, you lost out on the freedom of your twenties, but in some ways, this is even better. You’re in your forties. You have a great job, you’re in incredible shape.” She twists and pulls her knee up so it rests against my thigh, her arm extending along the back of the tub, fingertips skimming my . “You have all of your hair.”
“I’m definitely grateful for the last one,” I joke.
“You have great hair.” She runs her fingers through it. “It’s sexy.” She bites her lip and then shakes her head. “Anyway, what I’m saying is, you’re in the prime of your life. Most people in their forties are raising teens, or maybe their kids are getting ready to go to college. You’ve done all that. Now you can just live. You can date. Have fun. Do whatever you want.”
“Fun would be good.”My gaze drops to her lips. “And I’d like to do whatever I want.”
“Me, too.” Her bottom lip slides through her teeth. “Like right now I could kiss you.”
“You definitely could.” I skim her thigh under the water with my fingertips.
She nods. “There’s nothing stopping us.”
“So why aren’t your lips on mine yet?” I ask.
Hanna shifts again, her wet palms come to rest on either side of my jaw, and she presses her soft lips to mine.
I slip my hand under her hair and wrap it around the back of her neck. For a moment, I question whether this is a good idea. But when our lips part and our tongues meet, I forget all the reasons why it might not be.
I groan as I sink into the kiss and our tongues tangle. She tastes fruity, like the wine she’s been drinking. She straddles me and settles in my lap, her breasts pressing against my chest.
She breaks the kiss for a moment and our eyes meet. “I’ve been thinking about this for months.”
“I’ve wanted to know what your lips taste like since the first day I met you.”
About the Author:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
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