Tuesday, March 10, 2020

Release Day Review: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

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Love Hard
(Hard Play #3)
Nalini Singh
Release: March 10, 2020
Goodreads Amazon
ARC provided by the publisher via Netgalley
Jacob Esera, star rugby player and young single father, has worked hard to create a joyous life for his six-year-old daughter. After the death of his childhood sweetheart soon after their daughter’s birth, all Jake wants is safety and stability. No risks. No wild chances. And especially no Juliet Nelisi, former classmate, scandal magnet, and a woman who is a thorn in his side.

As a lonely teenager, Juliet embraced her bad-girl reputation as a shield against loneliness and rejection. Years later, having kicked a cheating sports-star ex to the curb, she has a prestigious job and loyal friends—and wants nothing to do with sportsmen. The last thing she expects is the fire that ignites between her and the stuffed-shirt golden boy who once loved her best friend.

Straitlaced Jacob Esera versus wild-at-heart Juliet Nelisi? Place your bets.

You might have noticed that we love Nalini Singh here. But somehow, I've gotten behind on her contemporaries. I did, however, love Rock Hard, which features Charlie and Gabriel. Love Hard starts out at their wedding so it seemed like a perfect place to pick the series back up.

At the end of Rock Hard I kept thinking that I wanted to meet the rest of Gabriel's rugby playing brothers. Jake, the second youngest of the four, is a professional rugby player. (Yay!) There's just enough rugby on the page to make me realize that I know absolutely nothing about rugby, but I don't think it detracted too much from my enjoyment of the story. The universal elements of sports romance - the connection to Jake's teammates, his work ethic, the trappings of fame and fortune - kept me in the story.

Other than obviously being a sports romance, I'm sort of at a loss to describe the tropes in Love Hard. It's not a second chance romance, though there are elements of it. It's not really enemies to lovers or best friend's ex either. It's kind of a mash up of all of those things that subverts the reader's expectations. I kept waiting for some big conflict to break up Jake and Juliet because that's what happens in romance novels. In fact, Juliet kept waiting for it too. The twist is that Jake refuses to let those external factors, ex-husbands for example, affect them. The result is a low drama story that still managed to have me in tears at times because as much as it has fluffy feel good elements, it also brings up loss and betrayal in both of their pasts.

I try to focus on the warm fuzzy parts though, especially the fabulous Bishop-Esara family. I wonder if they'd adopt me? I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of them when the final brother gets his HEA, as well as catching up on the book I missed. (It's on my Romanceoploy TBR this year.)


My reviews of other books in this series:
Rock Hard

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