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What I've Been Reading

Hello everyone! How have you guys been? I've been doing my fair share of romance binge reading, as you'll see in this post, and trying to keep up with my blog schedule. In terms of my reading, I recently binged a Seattle Sharks hockey romance series which will all be reviewed below. Once I get on a genre kick I won't touch anything else until I'm finished. I've also been stockpiling posts in an attempt to, for once in my life, get ahead of the curve. It's been nicer than I expected to be able to breathe each post day without rushing to finish writing a post.

With that, let's get into the reviews.

Disclaimer: This blog post will contain affiliate and referral links. I may earn a small commission to feed my book hoarding tendencies if you use these links to make a purchase. This in no way impacts my opinions of the books listed - they are all my own.

Title: Grinder

Author: Samantha Whiskey

Genre: Romance

Description: Gage McPherson was the Seattle Shark’s best Grinder, until he shattered his shoulder last season. Time heals all wounds...but the heartbroken single dad has more than his share of trust issues. The playboy only lets one girl close to his iced-over heart—his pint-sized daughter who’s the center of his world. She’s the only thing more important to him than hockey, and he trusts no one with her...except me.

We’ve been friends since we were kids, and I love his daughter like she’s my own, so what’s the easiest solution to help Gage out? Move in and be his live-in nanny for the season. As far as she goes, the arrangement is perfect. But her drop-dead-sexy father? Frustrating on every possible level.

There is a thick, professional line drawn between us by his own hand, and despite understanding the terms, my body is practically begging him to cross it. Our chemistry is off the charts, but one misstep, and we could hurt the one person we love most. This game is all-or-nothing. Can I risk my heart on a guy who is known for the shut-out, on and off the ice?

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

I started the Seattle Sharks romance series with the first book which focuses on the romance between Gage and Bailey. They are, in my opinion, the perfect couple to kick off this series of intertwining standalones. Their book is painfully angsty and sweet in equal measures with a definite spoonful of domesticity. The stakes seem higher as neither person is willing to give an inch in some regards which can put them at a bit of a standstill. Of course, the most intriguing part is seeing the couple meet somewhere in the middle in a good-old-fashion romance HEA.

Gage and Bailey start the book in a war of cool professionalism which slowly changes as the relationship between them, and subsequently, the one with his daughter, grows to be more than a simple job for the heroine. She begins to see them as a family long before she ever confesses her feelings to Gage. They all become a unit even without the later declarations of lust and love which only solidify this truth. It's heartwarming to watch her adoration for both Gage and his daughter that is founded on unconditional love.

The first book in my view was the most seamless and lifelike. It felt like a natural storyline, mind you it was still pretty tropey, that evolved in completely authentic circumstances. It also, being the first book, built the characters and situations from the ground up with no reliance on outside information. I personally found this one, while the others received the same rating, to be my personal favorite simply because of the way it introduces us to the rest of the players to come.

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Title: Enforcer

Author: Samantha Whiskey

Genre: Romance

Description: I've got three months to prove to her this fake relationship is real...

As the Seattle Sharks number one Enforcer, nothing means more to me than hockey. I live and breathe the game.

But when my short-temper gets me into one too many late night brawls, Coach threatens to bench me if I don’t clean up my act. It’ll take more than me changing my nightlife—the media needs this bad boy to go good.

Paige Turner—the gorgeous, off-limits best friend of my bro’s fiancée—has the solution.

About to take over as acting CEO of her family’s multi-billion-dollar corporation, she’ll have to sign a morality clause basically kissing any wild-life she wanted goodbye. Her proposition?

I, Rory Jackson—the panty dropper and bed hopper of the Sharks—give her an exclusive relationship for three entire months. Her wholesome image will only brighten my dark one in the press’ eyes, and I can help her check off some wicked naughty tasks on her very specific dirty-girl bucket list.

If I screw up and get arrested again, she’ll lose everything she’s worked her entire life for, but what terrifies me most? At the end of the three months, I won’t want to let her go, and with that morality clause—she can't keep me.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

I actually read the second book, Enforcer, last of the three because I wasn't sure if I'd be interested in it. I couldn't have been more wrong. The book is the most cliche of the three with too many tropes to count, including fake dating, in the most adorable way. It ended up being such a cute and fun read with plenty of drama to keep you on your toes. This is a book I would definitely recommend to anyone interested in a good hockey romance.

Paige and Rory are equally strong characters with wills never meant to be bent. I enjoyed reading about a heroine who is powerful and knows what she wants. She never allows her relationship with Rory to dull that fire inside of her even when the world comes crashing down around them and she has to change her plans spur of the moment. It never matters what fate throws at her, or even Rory himself, she keeps cool and carries on like she must when her problems begin to mount.

Generally, it can be hard to have a sequel live up to the first book but I think Enforcer did pretty well in that regard. It's a book that is in some ways very different from the first and in others identical. I liked the continuing thread of characters from the first book making a reappearance because it let you see the HEA from an outside viewpoint. Getting into Paige and Rory's heads was also a nice change of pace as their relationship, from start to finish, is so different from Gage and Bailey's.

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Title: Winger

Author: Samantha Whiskey

Genre: Romance

Description: One night.

It was supposed to be one wild night with my friend—a fiercely sexy chef.

Now I can’t stop thinking about her.

Can’t stop craving her flavor.

And that was before I found out our no-strings night resulted in two little pink lines.

As the number one Winger for the Seattle Sharks and the last man standing in our bad-boy trio, the only lines I’m familiar with are red and blue.

But while hockey is my life, Jeannine branded herself on my heart. She’s in so deep I couldn’t cut her out even if I wanted to.

What do I want? Everything.

She wants to do this on her own—she’s never needed a man. The little bundle swelling her gorgeous body isn’t going to change that.

I’ve got three months to change Jeanine’s mind—to prove I’m ready to trade the nightlife for dad-life, but for once, my reputation off the ice isn’t helping me score the girl. The harder I try, the higher she builds her walls.

The thought of losing them both is more terrifying than a career-ending injury.

Our clock is running down, and if I can’t prove that I’m all-in for her and our baby, our chance at forever will end in a shut-out.

This time I’m playing for keeps.

Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5)

Winger was honestly the book I was most excited to read before starting the series. Surprise pregnancy books are my jam on occasion and I was in the mood for one then (spoiler alert though pregnancy is a pretty common theme throughout all of these books). I think the third book took the cliches of the second book and melded it with the realistic nature of the first in a perfect combination. It's in the middle of the spectrum between the two books that are in some ways polar opposites.

When you read the first two books, Jeanine is immediately a standout character from each one. She is the loud, boisterous, fiery best friend of Bailey and Paige who steals any scene she's in. Seeing her on her own adventure in Winger was a long time coming for anyone who has made it this far into the series. We also get to learn more about Warren who was a previously sidelined character that comes into his own in this book.

The book was ridiculously domestic through most of it and featured its fair share of shenanigans as Jeanine and Warren navigate their new relationship. I thought the book had some of the funniest, most witty banter in the series as the duo verbally spar on almost every page. But, at the same time, it was also the most vulnerable and delicate - a counterpart to everything else. It shows a relationship brought together by uncertain circumstances that blossoms in the most unconventional sense.

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