*I received a free copy of Ryker from Loveswept via Netgalley. This has in no way influenced my voluntary review, which is honest and unbiased *
Warning: This book includes mature content such as: sexual content, and/or drug and/or alcohol use, and/or violence.
The rugged men of the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team are winning hearts once again in another scorching novel from New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett.
The stakes have never been higher for Carolina Cold Fury goalie Ryker Evans. With his contract running out, he’s got a year left to prove he’s still at the top of his game. And since his wife left him, Ryker has been balancing life as a pro-hockey star and a single parent to two daughters. Management is waiting for him to screw up. The fans are ready to pounce. Everybody’s taking dirty shots—except for the fiery redhead whose faith in Ryker gives him a fresh start.
As the league’s only female general manager, Gray Brannon has learned not to mix business with pleasure. And yet even this tough, talented career woman can’t help breaking her own rules as she gives Ryker everything she’s got. She hopes their hot streak will last forever, but with Ryker’s conniving ex plotting to reclaim her man, the pressure’s on Gray to step up and save a tender new love before it’s too late.
Ryker was simply fucking fantastic! From beginning to end, I was swept off my feet by both Ryker and Gray, they were such wonderful characters to get to know, and I was cheering for them all the way!
My Ryker review:
I already enjoyed Ryker when he arrived to join Cold Fury Hockey in Zach, and in his own book, that man is just completely made of amazing! Strong, loyal, loving, he is raising his two girls on his own after his wife left him for a much younger guy. I love a dad who is taking good care of his children, and he definitely did that! Being the sole provider for them in every way wasn’t exactly easy, though, but with a little help from his friend it went very well. And don’t even get me started on Gray! Being the first female general manager of a hockey team wasn’t exactly a dance on roses, but she definitely knew how to get the job done. Strong, very knowledgeable when it came to the game, as a former olympic goalie herself, and secure in her way of seeing things, she was ready to fight to make sure Cold Fury stayed in the game. I loved that she uses statistics in a different way to decide which players she wanted to acquire, and the way she explained this to the goalie made me love her just as much as I loved him!
Of course, because she became the boss, the chemistry they both felt became forbidden. And because it was forbidden, it became even stronger! I loved the little looks they shared, and how Gray even persuaded him to come to one of the yoga-classes she was teaching – all in the name of making sure the goalie got all his stretching done so he could stay supple and strong to stop even the most incredible shots. One of the things I enjoyed the most was that while there were some players who were dead-set against Gray, she stood firm against them. And Ryker showed her only respect especially when he realized just how much knowledge she had, and how it would benefit the club.
There was a lot of tension going on, both the good kind and the bad kind. Little by little, the sexual tension between the two main characters became so hot I almost needed to take small breaks to keep from panting! There was friendship, romance and the beginning of what could become love between them. On the other hand, one of the players was a real misogynist and the way he talked about Gray was disgusting! She had the right guys in her corner, though, and they weren’t afraid to stand up for her, up to the point of using their fists to get the point across. Another person brought tension to their budding relationship as well, Ryker’s ex-wife showed up after one of his daughter’s had broken her arm, and the ex-wife wanted to re-kindle their marriage. Over a year after she left him in the dust, she thought they should give it another go, and she was definitely ready to fight dirty to get what she wanted.
As the story unfolded, both Ryker and Gray needed to make some hard choices if they wanted their relationship to work, and I loved the way they both thought through things before making important decisions. I also loved seeing the characters who were a part of the earlier Cold Fury Hockey books, the interactions between the players and their girlfriends, the way the players had become real friends, and also how the girlfriends became each other’s second family made me so happy! A professional hockey team really becomes its own little micro-cosmos, especially when the players have to leave town for games and spend time away from home.
Written in dual points of view with some chapters from Gray’s perspective and others from Ryker’s, in first person and present tense, the story felt very intimate and immediate. I am so happy there will be yet another story in the Cold Fury Hockey series, because Bennett knows how to write about these tough hockey players who are loyal and love fiercely.
Some of my favorite Ryker quotes:
I tuck an arm through my father’s feeling the strength he exudes at the ripe age of fifty-eight. I can’t help the smile on my face as I lean toward him and give a squeeze. “It’s amazing I didn’t become a narcissistic, self-centered asshole with as much pumping up of my esteem that you do on a daily basis.” Dad snickers. “As if you could ever be anything that was less than perfect.”
The second reason I’m not in the spirit stands across the room from me, the koi pond and floating Christmas tree separating us. Gray looks amazing in a cream-colored fuzzy sweater – not sure what it’s made of, but it looks so soft I want to bury ma face in it. Preferably at chest level.
I’m immediately shamed by the chastising look Ryker gives me, but he follows it up with a quick smile. “Come on, Gray. It’s a team sport, not individual. God forbid something happens to me, we need Max strong.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: