This time I’m combining two reviews, both of books in Sarina Bowen’s Brooklyn Bruisers series. I did this because I loved both books and totally want to talk about them and I really didn’t want the reviews to be spaced out with weeks between them trying to remember to post a review. It was also whilst reading these I remembered I totally have a thing for sports romance so why haven’t I read more. I will want all the recs below please so I can do some reading catch up.
Published: 6th September 2016
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports Romance
A brand new sporty, sexy series from USA Today bestselling author Sarina Bowen.
Georgia Worthington and Leo Trevi were the golden couple of their high school. He was the hockey team captain, she was a tennis star. Until graduation, when tragedy pulled them apart.
Five years later, everything's coming together for Leo. His dreams of playing professional hockey seem to be coming true as he's called up from the minors to play for the NHL's newest team. The only problem? The team's publicist is the woman who broke his heart.
As she tries to prove herself as the senior PR specialist for a major NHL franchise, the last thing Georgia needs is the distraction of her former flame. But when Leo arrives at the press conference that can make or break her career, Georgia realizes that the man she put her on ice might still be able to melt her heart.
I haven't read some good old romance in a couple of weeks and this book has reminded me of that fatal error. I also haven't read enough of Sarina Bowen's books and that is a seriously fatal error I will be remedying swiftly. I had only read the first in her NA series and her books co-authored with Elle Kennedy and I seriously need to read her back catalogue.
What made this book so great? Well, turns out I am a major fan of sports romance. I forget this until I read another awesome sports romance and this one was great. Ass into the fact it's a second chance romance and I am there.
I will say this felt very similar to Bowen's NA books and I know this is more of an adult romance but if you're trying to transition from NA to straight up romance then this is that middle ground. It does have some of the elements that are so frequently seen in NA, such as a tragic backstory, but much like Elle Kennedy managed to write a romance which sensibly handled a woman who had been raped and her handling that past trauma so does Bowen in this book. Georgia may have been raped and that affected her life but it is handled so sensibly the impact it had on her.
I think I loved this book because Georgia this relatable character who is trying to make a life for herself and thinks she's got a pretty good handle on things until her ex is back in her life in the most shocking way and her attitude towards Leo is crazy. I didn't get how she wasn't climbing him like a tree but, you know, I did get why she was hesitant. I like when the biggest obstacle between a couple is themselves and that was definitely the case with Leo and Georgia. It was Georgia putting up barriers and her realising that was awesome.
I do think the reason I enjoyed the book quite so much was Leo, though. He wasn't a player or a bad boy, he was this really sweet man who had his heart broken when he was young and viewed seeing Georgia again as a second chance for them as he never really stopped loving her. He was so sweet and patient and sure he acted rashly but he was so hot doing it and his heart was always in the right place.
This was a fantastic start to a series I cannot wait to continue. Bowen has proved she is an awesome romance writer and not one to be overlooked.
Published: 3rd January 2017
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Sports Romance
He's a scrapper in the rink, but he's about to learn that playing nice can help you score...
As team captain and enforcer, Patrick O’Doul puts the bruise in the Brooklyn Bruisers. But after years of fighting, O’Doul is feeling the burn, both physically and mentally. He hides his pain from the coaching staff, but when his chronic muscle strain becomes too obvious to ignore, he’s sent for treatment with the team’s massage therapist.
After breaking up with her long-term boyfriend, Ari Bettini needs a timeout from men. She’s focusing only on work: rehabilitating the Bruisers’ MVP. O’Doul is easy on the eyes but his reaction to her touch is ice cold. Ari is determined to help O’Doul heal, but as the tension between them starts to simmer, they both learn that a little TLC does the body good…
I actually bought the two Brooklyn Bruisers books not because I wanted to read more Sarina Bowen (I know, for shame) but because I kept hearing about this book on the Smart Bitches podcast. I was first mentioned at the beginning of this year and they specifically said about O’Doul not liking to be touched and having to see a massage therapist and I was totally there. As soon as I knew the hero didn’t like to be touched I wanted to read so I bought these two books because I wanted to read Hard Hitter but hate reading series out of order. As soon as I realised I was enjoying Rookie Move I was even more excited to start reading Hard Hitter and God damn it was a hit too.
As I said, the premise of the book is that Patrick O’Doul is a hockey player, the enforcer (so basically the guy who gets into the fights on the ice when someone steps out of line on the other team), and he is currently suffering from pains from his job so gets referred to the team's massage therapist, Ari. Ari has recently gone through a tough break up and very much against dating and wouldn’t dream of compromising her job so the chemistry between these two is obviously off the charts. Like, fan yourself hot off the charts. You definitely can’t complain about a lack of chemistry with this romance, but the romance isn’t the sole reason I loved this book.
I loved this book because I loved Patrick. He has all kinds of issues he seriously needs to work on but he is a little trier and I adored him for that fact. He was forced into the massage therapy but he begins to enjoy it because he begins to trust Ari. But that’s not the only thing he works on. He has spent so much time having to be alone (and pretty much liking it that way) so even though he works as part of a team he never lets others in and he works on building solid connections 10 years after originally joining the team. Like he never lets people in his apartment but then he lets in Ari, and then Ari, Becca and Georgia and then really it’s a slippery slope from there. Just those little things of him growing and realising no man is an island essentially was brilliant.
I did like Ari a bit less because she was fast to jump to conclusions even though she really should know better. Yet she is willing to give others the benefit of the doubt. I know she’d been burned by her ex so I forgave her judgey mc-judgerson moments because I got where they were coming from. She had a few trust issues and a whole heap of doubt about herself and it was good seeing her figure herself out (with a few pushes from those around her) but I definitely took my time warming up to her.
In the end, this book worked for me because it was sports romance (seriously, I have a strong urge to see a proper hockey game now and I haven't had that urge since I watched The Mighty Ducks as a kid). I adored the romance in it and Patrick is a star, I love him, I want to keep him in my pocket the precious little cinnamon roll that he is. I love that he is this majorly tough guy but inside he is all squishy and soft. So yes, this book was all Patrick all the time for me. It is still a totally brilliant book ignoring his brilliance as well.
So there you have my reviews for the first two Brooklyn Bruisers books, I am now ready for Pipe Dreams (although, where is Becca’s book. That’s the book I want ever since the first book where it was blatantly obvious her and Nate were meant to be with his awkward blushing and total awesomeness).
Have you read these books? What did you think? And please recommend sports romances to me and remind me I need to read all of Bowen’s back catalogue.