Hard Play, Book 3
Heat Factor: I’m going to resist this…maybe I don’t want to…please put your hands on me
Character Chemistry: He asks her to be his wings!
Plot: Famous single parent meets a sexy former acquaintance
Overall: So satisfying
Every time I was enjoying this book, I thought, “Jake has a New Zealand accent,” and that made everything 1000% better than it already was. If you are already in New Zealand, this might not impress you. I am not, and I very much enjoyed the setting. I mean, Jake is a famous rugby player. How fun is that?
Our protagonists went to high school together and both have Samoan heritage, but their paths diverged sharply before they graduated and it seemed like that was that. AND THEN…
Jacob–Jake–Esera is a famous rugby player. He impregnated his high school girlfriend, who then suddenly and tragically died. He has a wonderful, loving family, but since his girlfriend / daughter’s mother died so unexpectedly and he’s been a single parent his entire adult life (I mean, he’s 24 so we’re not talking a ton of adult life, but let’s not nitpick), he’s extremely cautious and reserved.
Juliet Nelisi is a badass executive who works for a design company. She was the Queen of Detention in high school, so much so that she was sent to her grandparents in Samoa to straighten out her bad behavior. She does not have a wonderful, loving family, but she’s doing just fine, especially since she kicked her deadbeat, cheating, pro-cricket-playing husband to the curb.
This isn’t a second chance romance. These protagonists knew each other in high school, but they were only friendish with each other because Juliet’s best friend was also Jake’s girlfriend. When Juliet was sent away, they mostly forgot about each other. Then Jake’s brother married Juliet’s pastry-making buddy, and WHAM! “Jacob Esera vs. An Aggravated Ghost in Stilettos” (The chapter titles are absolutely delightful.) It’s nice that they have some history, so we’re not having to dive into a brand new relationship, but they still have to realize they didn’t know each other then all that well, and they definitely don’t know each other now.
Singh has crafted a story with enough reasonable drama to keep the tension at the page-turner level while still allowing her protagonists to be emotionally mature adults. I absolutely loved that when Jake asked Juliet questions about her past, she was honest with him. She didn’t necessarily share every single detail, but she also didn’t lie or misdirect like her experience was no big deal. Or like it was something to be ashamed of. There’s a nice combination of both external- and relationship-related pressure points preventing an easy peasy romance.
And when Jake and Juliet talk about the possibility of a relationship, they consider real pressure points, but they don’t automatically discount the possibility of working through them. Juliet got a bad reputation in the sports news world when she was married, and Jake has a squeaky clean image. And she doesn’t want to be back in the tabloids now that she’s moved on with her life, but Jake is so famous that anything about his personal life would be news. Jake also has a daughter to consider, and he doesn’t want to be introducing women into his life if he’s not serious about them. But UGH, the heart wants what it wants! I love a romance with a bit of one-sided courtship. Don’t get me wrong, they try to bang it out before they realize that’s not going to work. (For real though, does that ever actually work? If you’re just burning to get into someone’s pants, is one time ever going to be enough?) But they catch feelings real quick, and Jake decides Juliet is his shortly thereafter. She just has to get on board.
I’ve never read Singh before, so a note on her writing style: It’s a polished confection of verbal delight. Please see chapter titles. I’ll give you another freebie: “Jake Takes Off His Clothes (No Other Enticement Necessary).” There are so many good ones, but they are more fun in context. Anyway, good writing. But Singh does tend to use sentence fragments to evoke a sense of closeness to the feelings or situations that are happening. It’s not frequent and almost not noticeable, but the fact that I did notice it at all was an indicator for me that Singh has a somewhat unique writing style.
I voluntarily read and reviewed a complimentary copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. We disclose this in accordance with 16 CFR §255.
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Sounds delightful, doesn’t it? Looking for more smut with similar attributes? Might we suggest…
I need a partner who will love me AND my kid
6 thoughts on “Review: Love Hard by Nalini Singh (2020)”
I couldn’t find this book at my library but I grabbed another of the hard play series and it was soooooo good. Thanks for giving me a new author to read!!
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You’re welcome 😀
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