Double Review: Wicked Bond (Book #5: The Wicked Horse Series) and Max (Book #6: Cold Fury Hockey Series) by Sawyer Bennett

wicked-bond

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Bridger Payne is an enigma that no one can figure out. Wise beyond his years, eerily intuitive and sexy as hell, every woman in The Silo wants him.  None can have him.  Not the real man, anyway.  He might wield the lash for you if you ask prettily, but he’ll get no gratification from it. He’ll definitely make you scream, but he won’t think twice about you when he walks away.  Bridger carries the darkest of secrets. He’s filled with too much pain.  He’s utterly untouchable.  Until she came along.

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My Rating: 5/5 stars

My Review:

Since the beginning of this series, Bridger Payne has been a staple.  He’s always been the strong, silent type whose sex life is generally on full display inside The Silo, the sex club he is now the sole owner of.  He’s down for anything, steady and strong, and loyal to a fault to his small circle of friends.  That same small circle of friends know Bridger will be there for them, but none of them expect him to open up, chat them up, or show much in the way of emotion.  That’s just not in Bridger’s wheelhouse. 

When Maggie shows up on Bridger’s front porch, she is unconscious, beat all to hell and back, and, apparently in a crap load of trouble.  All Bridger is told by the man who drops her in his arms is that he needs to have her checked out, medically speaking and he needs to keep her hidden.  The local, and very, very dangerous motorcycle gang has a claim on Maggie and Bridger will be damned before he lets them get their hands on her again.  Or her daughter.  Wait?  What?  There’s a daughter he has to protect as well?  Where the hell is she?

Once the drug-induced and much-needed sleep finally wears off, Maggie finds herself in the care of the most stunningly beautiful man she has ever seen.  Bridger is rough and sexy, he is a man of few words, and actions that speak to the point of yelling.  He knows who Maggie is hiding from and is willing to sacrifice his own personal safety to see to her protection.  What Maggie doesn’t know, but strongly suspects, is that Bridger is attracted to her and likes her, but isn’t quite sure what to do with all those feelings.  Maggie’s situation is bound to get worse before it gets better and though she is certainly attracted to Bridger, she isn’t sure a physical relationship would be good for either of them. 

Turns out, some things are just too hard to resist and Bridger is one of those things.  The physical aspect of Maggie and Bridger’s relationship is simply spectacular, but Maggie knows there is a darkness to Bridger that is related to his sexual history.  Getting into that darkness is, at best, uncomfortable, and, at worst, a deal breaker.  Maggie is willing to make the effort and help Bridger in any way she can, but Bridger has been hardened by his past and when the feelings become all too real, he has no choice but to run leaving Maggie and her daughter in his wake.

The Bottom Line:  Bridger is the character we have all been waiting for and I am so pleased to see he got the book he deserves.  There are couple of things about this read I particularly enjoyed: 1) the mess Maggie is in doesn’t drag on for the length of the book and, 2) the surprising place and person Bridger runs to when he has no choice but to get away.  I like that I can still be surprised by plot twists and I like it even more when a series gets deep yet remains fresh and exciting.  Maggie and her daughter are not who you see Bridger ending up with, but they sure are perfect for him.  This is a sort of “it takes a village” read with many of the characters (primarily the women) from the past installments of The Wicked Horse series coming together to help Maggie and Bridger find their HEA.  If this is where the series is meant to end, Bridger and Maggie’s story is a fitting end.

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max

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The ice is a cold mistress. As the league’s most eligible goalie, Max Fournier has access to his fair share of willing puck bunnies, but right now he’s more interested in bringing home another championship than a one-night stand. A romantic at heart, Max believes in love; he’s just not great at relationships. So when he finally meets a nice girl who’s not blinded by his celebrity, he’s feeling the heat—and the pressure to save her from herself.

Between working two jobs and raising her sister’s kids, Julianne Bradley doesn’t have time for sports—or men. All she knows about Max is that he’s the sexiest customer to ever grace her gas-station counter. And he sees past her tired eyes and makes Jules yearn for things she can’t have: a glamorous fling, a passionate lover, and the time to enjoy both. Max makes her feel like Cinderella, even though Jules has enough baggage to crush a glass slipper. Luckily, he’s no prince—only a fierce competitor determined to win her heart.

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My Rating: 4/5 stars

My Review:

Max Fournier is completely healthy, injury free, and in the best shape of his life.  He’s got his eye on the prize and that prize is goalie of the Cold Fury and defending their Stanley Cup.  To achieve his goals, Max must stay focused and work harder than he has ever worked in his life.  Max is more than willing to work hard and that means remaining distraction-free . . . . . and then there’s Fate and her wicked sense of humor.

Max is by far one of the sexiest member of the Cold Fury and doesn’t lack for female attention.  What most of those women don’t understand is that Max did his time as a man whore and didn’t particularly enjoy the ride.  For the most part, Max is unaffected by all the attention he gets because most of those women are more interested in his celebrity than in Max.  To top it all off, Max tends to be a one woman, committed relationship kind of man and that kind of effort would distract from his current goalie goals.  Did I mention Fate and her wicked sense of humor??

Julianne Bradley gained and lost everything in a single day.  When her beloved sister died of cancer, Julianne lost her best-friend and confidant, and gained custody of her two nephews and niece.  In one horrible moment, Julianne became a full-time mom to three small kids and her single, care-free life was over.  Though she wouldn’t give up her charges for the world, Julianne sure would love a break from time to time.  It’s exhausting raising three kids and working two jobs so there certainly isn’t any free time for frivolous things like hot goalies and dating.  But, Max is rather persistent . . . . .

Max is persistent and while he thought dividing his focus between hockey and Julianne would hurt his game, Max finds he is playing better than ever.  Having someone to celebrate his victories and mourn his losses is better than Max could have ever imagined.  The only real obstacle to their relationship is the amount of free time Julianne has to offer Max.  Max wants more, but knows that will be virtually impossible unless something significant changes in Julianne’s life.  Max has the money to make significant happen and the feelings for Julianne to want to make significant happen.  He just has to get through her tough exterior and convince Julianne his offers of help aren’t because he sees her as a charity case, but because he truly wants to see she and her kids in a better situation.  What Max isn’t prepared for is just how thick that exterior is, how sensitive Julianne is to catty gossip, and how sacred she is to give herself to someone and risk hurting her kids. 

The Bottom Line:  Max may be the sweetest read to date in the Cold Fury Hockey series.  Sure, there is a girl in this story, but for me, the read was all about Max.  Max is a good man through and through with honest intentions and true affection for Julianne and her kids.  Once he sets his sights on Julianne, Max is determined to have her and he goes to great lengths to prove himself to Julianne and her kids.  With all that being said, Max doesn’t quite have the same heat as the previous installments of the series and I sort of missed that.  Make no mistake, there are naughty bits and there is some drama, but it isn’t quite what I’ve come to expect from this series and that left me mildly disappointed.  Only mildly J  Overall, I’m still very much enjoying this series and have now left Max behind with the knowledge that every really good series always has that one book that doesn’t quite meet the standards of all the others in the series.

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About the author and where to find her:

author - SawyerBennettNew York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.  Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, Cold Fury Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series.

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