Series: Cold Fury Hockey #3
Published by Loveswept on June 9th 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Sports
Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief ever since the car accident that left him a single dad and put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury and still crippled by emotional baggage, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.
Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.
I did not expect this book. I didn’t expect Zack at all. My heart broke for him when Gina died at the end of the 2nd book. I was expecting this book to be a really difficult, weepy read. I waited until I had a free weekend and a full box of tissues to read it. I was expecting several hundred pages of Zack falling for Kate and hating himself for it, racked with guilt because of Gina’s death and guilt for moving on. That’s not… exactly what we got. Zack certainly did feel guilt, but it was over Gina’s actual death, and the fact that he felt like he caused it, and that he felt like he hadn’t done enough for her when she’d been alive. He’s coming to grips with the fact that while he had absolutely loved Gina, it hadn’t been completely, and it hadn’t been as much as he thought she had deserved. He’s not really feeling guilt for actually moving on. He’s feeling guilt because he’s so able to move on already.
When the book picks up, it has only been about four months since Gina’s death. Zack hasn’t been playing hockey because he’s been recovering from his own injuries. But the team doctor is about to clear him, and he needs to find someone to take care of his four-year-old son, Ben, while he practices and or away games. Enter Roberta “Kate” Francis. Zack’s older sister Delaney found her through a service, and Zack agrees to Kate’s hiring without even meeting her. When he does, he’s a bit taken aback. She’s not what he expected. She’s young, dorky, and makes herself as unattractive as possible. She and Ben, however, are love at first sight.
I’m always a little leery of nanny stories. Whatever you call it, it’s a boss/employee relationship. Typically a live-in boss/employee relationship, too. And the kids’ feelings are way more involved than they are if a parent just starts dating. There’s a lot more involved in this relationship than just the two people. By definition, you’re going to royally screw up your kids if/when the relationship goes south.
And there was no way this one wasn’t going south. Zack was in no way ready for this relationship. And, as Kate so rightly pointed out early on, you can call it ‘just sex’ all you want, but if it’s completely monogamous sex with or without “feelings”, it’s a relationship of some kind. Kate is completely open about her desire for a white knight to look beyond the baggy clothes, huge clunky glasses, and tight buns in her hair, but so far she hasn’t had any luck. She tells Zack that she’s ok with a sex-only, no-feelings relationship when they start, and that if she gets to a point where she’s not, she’ll let him know. It’s pretty clear that she’s going to get to that point.
Kate was a great heroine. She was really funny and dorky. Not afraid to speak her mind, not willing to not go after something she wanted. I felt so bad for her; her inevitable heartbreak was clear on every page. There was no way she was going to get out of this without that heartbreak.
Zack… Zack was a little harder to like. I get that he was beating himself up over Gina. He was driving when they had the accident, he was wearing his seat belt and she wasn’t. He feels responsible for her death, he feels like he didn’t give her enough when she was alive, he’s falling for Kate, his son is falling for Kate. It’s a lot to deal with. I understand. But, wow. He could be really cruel to her. There were several times he said things to her that I didn’t know I would be able to forgive. His apologies were always heartfelt and genuine, but it bothered me that when he started to feel bad, his first impulse was to lash out at Kate. And a couple of times, he used her affection for Ben to get back into her good graces, which I also didn’t like.
This was ultimately a story about remorse, guilt, moving on, and hope. It may not have been what I was expecting, but it was still wonderful. I love this series. The next one, Ryker, will be out next month and after meeting him and seeing how his story is shaping up, I can’t wait to see it.