by Nalini Singh
Series: Hard Play #1
Publisher: TKA Distribution
Publication Date: November 14, 2017
I received an advance review copy of this book from Publisher. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh kicks off her new Hard Play contemporary romance series with a sizzling story that’ll leave you smiling…
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.
There is something just so wonderful about Nalini Singh’s contemporaries. I love that they’re usually set in New Zealand, that rugby usually plays a part, and that both the hero and heroine will be strong and smart. They also have a certain delightful quirky humor that I think of as distinctly Kiwi – think of much of the humor in the latest Thor movie, if you’re not sure what I mean. This book has all of this in spades!
Ísa is wonderful, realistic and just so sweet. I loved “devil Ísa” – especially how much she reminded me of Ísa’s mother, who frequently had me in stitches. I loved how both Sailor and Ísa were career-focused, but they also realized the importance of family. Though they are driven by different things, both see their careers as an opportunity to protect or preserve their families. Both are shaped by childhood hurts, and part of the joy of this book is watching them process and, to some extent, overcome that. Though there is an age difference – Ísa is five years older – it’s not overdone. The main result is reinforcing that they are in different stages of their lives – Ísa is ready to settle down and concentrate on family, while Sailor is concentrating on growing his business.
Another wonderful characteristic of Ms. Singh’s books is the friendships. Some of my favorite parts of the book are Ísa and Neyna’s interactions. The secondary characters aren’t just there to act as a foil for the main characters, but have their own lives and journeys that they’re going on.
I was torn by how Ísa chose to handle the resolution of the final conflict. Without going into spoilers, while her actions were understandable, it was very frustrating as it felt like she was shortchanging herself and her personal growth. It all resolves satisfactorily though, so I’ll categorize that as a minor quibble in the scheme of things. If the end had resulted in a typical romance novel misunderstanding and giant blow-out, I think I wouldn’t have been as willing to overlook it.
My one WTF moment – what are “soda-commercial-worthy abs”? I did some googling and watched a few Kiwi soda commercials, but didn’t see any swoon-worthy abs. Guess it’s just something that got lost crossing the ocean!
Oh, and if you’ve read the Rock Kiss series, you’ll be happy to know that the T-Rex (Gabe Bishop) makes some pre-rugby-injury appearances here.
Overall, sweet and happy! Of course, I’m hoping for many more books in the series, especially Neyna and Raj’s story. Highly recommended!