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.
My Rating: 4½/5 stars
If you have been following the Cold Fury Hockey series, you knew going into this read it was going to start out hard and so very, very sad. Sad, angry and, hard is exactly where this book starts . . . .
Zack Grantham never married his long-time girlfriend Gina and since her death in a car accident, Zack has spent a lot of time considering the why of that issue. He loved Gina, he certainly loves their son, Ben but there was always something that kept Zack from taking that last step, the final commitment and now that Gina is gone, the guilt is damn-near unbearable. The months since Gina’s death have been a hazy sort of nightmare with nothing but rehab for his injuries and time with his son. It is only Ben and the promise of the upcoming Cold Fury season that has kept Zack going. But, with the start of the season and no Gina, Zack is going to need help caring for Ben.
Kate Francis is last damn thing Zack needs in his life. With her newly earned Psych degree, no money, no home and, a can-do attitude, Zack and Ben Grantham are exactly what Kate needs in her life. Zack’s life is a mess and some young chippy running around his house and trying to take Gina’s place just isn’t going to work. Except, Kate isn’t some young chippy; oh, she’s young but she is also very blunt, very enthusiastic and, very clear that she has no intention of trying to take anyone’s place. Faced with the need to have a nanny, Kate’s attitude and, Ben’s response to Kate, Zack lets her in the front door but he certainly isn’t happy about it.
For weeks, Kate and Zack dance around one another with Zack flinging cold comments and stares at Kate and Kate letting them slide right off with a smile and a cheerful comment. In her most private moments, Kate admits to herself that Zack is beautiful man but his attitude, though completely understandable is not the attitude of a man interested in a girl. That is, until the night Zack finds Kate in her barely-there pajamas in his kitchen looking for ice cream. Normally, Kate’s stunning body is covered by baggy clothes and her exquisite face is hidden behind huge glasses but that night, she is totally uncovered and Zack finally feels something. What he feels for Kate only increases his anger and his guilt but as the days go by, Zack is helpless in the face of Kate, her hidden beauty and, his feelings. Knowing Kate wants him just as much as he wants her, the two strike a deal, sex only and no strings attached.
Sex with Zack is unlike anything Kate has ever experienced and for a time, keeping her feelings out of the equation is totally doable. Zack runs hot and cold and has a very nasty habit of sending some seriously mixed signals. Clinging to the happy and sweet moments, Kate hangs in there with Zack as he struggles to begin building a new life for himself and his son. Though his actions are often tender and sweet, his words are cutting and one day, Kate finally has enough and makes the heartbreaking decision to walk away.
The Bottom Line: This was a one sitting, screw you morning, stay up all night to finish it read for me. Zack’s story is so sad and his road to happiness with Kate is not any easy one but it is a damn good read! I was very, very, very, very glad to see that Kate is not the typical girl who tells a man she can do no-strings-attached sex all the while hiding an intense love that she is sure can bring the man around. Kate does develop feelings for Zack but she is never under the illusion that her feelings can fix Zack. Though she wants to be with Zack and a part of his life, Kate has pride and self-respect; she is in no way a helpless girl or love drunk fool. Kate isn’t in to fooling herself and so, she waits for Zack to pull his head out of his ass. Zack is hard to love at times but you understand that under all the hurt, the anger and, the guilt he is a good man trying to make his way following the death of a loved one. He doesn’t always make the right decisions but he is a good man and when he finally realizes what he has, the pieces all fall into place. As with each of the previous reads, Zack had me from page one and by the end, I was one-clicking the next read, Ryker.