Throat thick, she whispered, “Please don’t break my heart, Sailor” while knowing that to be an inevitability.
Making his landscaping business a success has been all Sailor has wanted for years. His focus and determination has landed him a job for the popular Crafty Corners company but it also means he really has to prove himself and work day and night to finish on time. Growing up in the shadow of her parent’s business ambitions has left Ísa with insecurities about her worth. She’s knows what its like to be second place in someone’s heart and now she wants a man that will cherish her and always put her first. Taking care of her step-siblings is also why she caves to her mother’s pressure so often even when it’s completely against her own desires.
I really struggled with the rating for this one because I am a long time fan of Nalini Singh’s books, but in the end I had to go with 3 stars. There was so much of this that felt like a Harlequin series novel, which I loved once upon a time, but now I want a bit more grit and realism in my contemporary romances. That is of course, all on me. Some of the thoughts and situations were a bit overly dramatic. The way Ísa and Sailor meet (as adults) is a bit ridiculous and in no way realistic, which granted is not always a bad thing, but it just compounded the larger issue. Then the worry that Ísa has over being first in Sailor’s thoughts was a bit overdone. She obsesses and worries over it the entire book without ever having a meaningful conversation about it and then it just resolves itself because Sailor is the perfect hero.
Sailor was pretty much the perfect hero — sweet, sexy, devoted, and willing to make sacrifices. He’s seen a relationship be destroyed by someone who doesn’t care and he’s determined to never make that mistake. When he meets Ísa he immediately knows what he wants and he’s not afraid to go after it, full steam. He also listens to and respects Ísa’s insecurities and does his best to prove that he will live up to her standards.
I always appreciate Nalini Singh’s heroines who are sweet and gentle but also strong. She does a really good job of writing innocent heroines who aren’t complete naive doormats. Ísa isn’t overly experienced and she’s very shy but she also pushes through when she finds something she really wants. Her loyalty and dedication to her step-siblings is also commendable.
The side characters were all really great and I enjoyed seeing the rest of the Bishop/Esera clan again. I loved them in Rock Hard so it was wonderful to see everyone again. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a story between Catie and Danny once they’ve grown up a bit more.
There was a far bit of repetitive language in this book that got annoying after a while. For instance, Ísa refers to Sailor and his eyes as “demon” or “blue-eyed demon” 25 times which doesn’t seem like a lot but it was often clumped together with it being said 2-3 times in just a few pages. Sailor also constantly thinks about his need to make his business a success and Ísa spends the entire time agonizing about when the relationship will come crashing down.
I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book provided by Netgalley. All thoughts expressed in this review are my honest opinion.
••• Book Details •••
Hard Play #1 • Romance, Contemporary • TKA Distribution • November 14, 2017
Sailor Bishop has only one goal for his future – to create a successful landscaping business. No distractions allowed. Then he comes face-to-face and lips-to-lips with a woman who blushes like an innocent… and kisses like pure sin.
Ísa Rain craves a man who will cherish her, aches to create a loving family of her own. Trading steamy kisses with a hot gardener in a parking lot? Not the way to true love. Then a deal with the devil (aka her CEO-mother) makes Ísa a corporate VP for the summer. Her main task? Working closely with a certain hot gardener.
And Sailor Bishop has wickedness on his mind.
As Ísa starts to fall for a man who makes her want to throttle and pounce on him at the same time, she knows she has to choose – play it safe and steady, or risk all her dreams and hope Sailor doesn’t destroy her heart.