(Hellion’s Angels #2)
Blurb: Neve Angel’s life is all work and no play, but she wouldn’t have it any other way. One of Denver’s top sports reporters, she’s fought hard to make it in a male-dominated world, and she won’t back down from a fight with anyone–not even the Hellions’ gruff head coach, Tor Gunnar. Her hostile relationship with the icy Scandinavian is the stuff of local legend.
Tor Gunnar hates dealing with the media; at best, they are a nuisance and at worst, a distraction. And no one distracts him more than the scrappy, sexy reporter who gets him hot under the collar. When he wins a not-so-friendly bet with Neve, he decides it’s high time they either kiss or kill each other, and invites her as a date to an out-of-town wedding.
But what happens when enemies become lovers? Will they be able to smother their sizzling attraction, or is it time to start playing for keeps?
SASCHA DARLINGTON’S REVIEW
I’m giving you a preamble here. If you aren’t interested and just want to read the review, skip down to the bold subheading “Real Review.”
If you follow me, you know that things in Saschaland have been a bit topsy-turvy lately. More turvy than topsy or maybe it’s the other way around. Anyway, when I sign up to do book tours, I mark it on two calendars. One hard copy and one electronic calendar. I consider this a fail-safe. I checked my hard copy calendar yesterday and noticed that my next review was for November 30, which I had already started reading (I’m am so behind on everything). When I signed onto my computer this morning to begin work, I had an alert about a review scheduled for 11/28. I checked. I was on the schedule. I checked my library. I had never received the book.
Okay. What to do? I hate to let an author and the pr folks down. I contacted Pure Textuality. If they sent me the book, I couldn’t guarantee that I could do a review, but I’d try to get the book read.
So, why is this important? Because I’ve frequently said that the measure of how good a book is (to me) is how long it takes to read it. I finished Head Coach in a couple of hours.
Let’s just say: ooh, la la!
Lia Riley is a good writer. Why? Because she has written a novel that is as equally entertaining as her first novel in the Hellion’s Angels series, but the characters and events are totally different and the events diverge from those in her other novel from the series. This is what you hope to read every time you pick up a novel in a series, but instead find that the author has found a formula, which they just regurgitate. Riley doesn’t. This is a new story. It involves characters from the previous novel. But they’re like real people–unique.
I knew when I read Mister Hockey that a novel with Neve and Tor would be sensually explosive because of the animosity between them. And you get a hulking swede with a petite hellcat and sparks are gonna happen. They did. The steam in Head Coach fogged up my glasses and I wasn’t even wearing them.
I really liked that neither Neve nor Tor were players. It had been a long, long time since either had been intimate with anyone so when they come together it’s like a thirsty person finding water.
There was a touch of supernatural, hinted at, but never fully shown, which was unfortunate. I thought more could have enhanced the story and added more magic. The novel wouldn’t have suffered from more added to it by any means.
The end came a bit too quickly for me. Surprisingly quickly I felt. Maybe it was just because I wanted more. I would have loved more Neve and Tor interaction. I would have loved more of Tor making silly puns, presenting another side of his character. Yep, my feeling is that the end came far too quickly. I don’t mean that from the standpoint that oh, I would have liked more because this is fantastic. But, no, all of a sudden it’s the end and I didn’t expect it. There should have been more.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4 out of 5 butterflies
Stuck in a Rut?
The billboard’s tacky font splashed across the image of a blonde woman dressed in a corset, high-waist underpants and garter belt. Neve Angel scowled through her windshield at the rest of the tagline.
Shimmy into a Whole New You!
BEGINNER Burlesque Classes at The Twirling Tassels
“Humph.” Neve tucked an escaped strand of hair back into her bun. Ms. Blondie could pop an egg in her perfect pout and suck it. Since quitting figure skating at the age of eighteen, she had developed an allergy to glitz and glamor, favoring low-key personal grooming.
Fake lashes were out.
Foundation contouring? Negative.
Waxing? Please. She wasn’t a masochist.
These days the word pragmatic carried far more value for her than pretty, thanks very much. Flicking on the radio, she relaxed her shoulders as a familiar guitar riff filled her ’78 wood-paneled Jeep Wagoneer. She had an unabashed love for classic cars and classic rock, and Tom Cochrane was a guy who knew his stuff. Life was a highway, except forget the part about driving it “all night long.”
Or driving anywhere for that matter. Satan would ice-skate through hell before this insane gridlock budged.
A silver Prius inched forward until it practically dry-humped her bumper.
Meep! The driver leaned on a wimpy-sounding horn.
Honking under these conditions was a ballsy move, akin to sitting in the last row of an airplane and standing when the cabin crew disarmed the doors—a good way to tempt ordinary citizens to commit murder.
The driver beeped again.
“Use your eyes. There’s nowhere for me to go!” Neve glanced to the rearview mirror and gazed at the distinctive red cursive on the Prius’s license plate.
A California driver. Surprise, surprise. She’d bet the loose change in the bottom of her purse that this chick was a Bay Area transplant, relocating her traffic problems to Denver along with skyrocketing home prices. The whole West was getting Californicated, from Nevada to Montana, Texas to Colorado.
The horn beeped a third time. She fisted her insulated travel mug and then took a careful sip. Madam Prius better thank her astrological chart that Neve had hot coffee within arm’s reach because otherwise things could get ugly.
A minute passed.
Blessed silence reigned.
After blowing up her bangs, she pulled an everything bagel from the flimsy paper bag on the dashboard, cramming it into her mouth. In a parallel universe, Alter-Neve woke with ample time to prepare a nutritious breakfast, perhaps an acai bowl topped by sliced bananas and kiwi fruit or Greek yogurt and granola, Instagram-worthy concoctions bursting with enough omegas and fiber to make any Prius driver water their home herb garden with organic tears.
But in this world, Einstein Bros. and a dark roast had to do the job.
She brushed stray poppy seeds and flecks of dried garlic off her charcoal pants with a muffled sigh. Charcoal, i.e., dark grey . . . not black. Her somber closet palette might be as cheerful as a funeral home, but it never required expending mental energy at seven a.m. trying to coordinate funky colors or mix and match patterns.
From her roadside perch, the burlesque model appeared amused, as if she knew Neve ate the same humdrum breakfast day in, day out and dressed in the same humdrum wardrobe. Or that while she might have an impressive LinkedIn profile, that didn’t translate to a social life worth posting over.
Neve poked out her tongue at the model’s image. This low-maintenance duckling had grown up to be . . . if not a preening swan, a confident duck.
She had a good—scratch that, great—career as a sports columnist for the Denver Age covering the hockey beat, and her life was too consumed by deadlines to bother with extra fuss. Work was the priority, and as for her biological clock . . . well, it could keep right on ticking. She had another baby to grow, her side hustle, a podcast—Sports Heaven—that kept climbing iTunes rankings; she had even been featured in their New and Noteworthy section last month.
Rut-shmut. By any measure, Neve was doing great in her career and living her best life. Except her smirk faded as she glanced to the console clock. She’d risk missing the puck drop if traffic didn’t improve soon.
Hopefully, the Hellions would get a much-needed win tonight. After their recent back-to-back championships, it appeared the team’s days in the sun had fallen into one serious shadow. The roster had been shaken ever since the unexpected retirement of captain Jed West last summer. This season had started as a big disappointment for Denver fans, and worse, whispers of NHL labor disputes were gaining traction. For the past few weeks, trusted sources had even uttered the dreaded term lockout—a word that kept her up at night restless and fretting.
Fingers—and toes—crossed that the powers that be would navigate through the negotiations and get the league back on track. During the 04–05 lockout, the whole season was cancelled—the worst possible outcome. Stadiums sat empty. Fans grumbled. Refs and arena workers forwent paychecks.
She shuddered, mentally elbowing away the terrible idea. Hopefully this time around, cooler heads would prevail.
And as for the Hellions, there was another place where cooler heads needed to prevail. Maybe if their goalie would practice a little Zen meditation and quit getting players sent to the penalty box every damn ga—
Meep! Meeeeeeeeep! Madam Prius hit the horn as if she’d face-planted on the steering wheel and died.
Tension migrated from Neve’s neck, making the slow climb to her temples. The first throbs of a headache emerged. Between lockout worries and this racket, she might spontaneously combust. To release steam, she rolled down the window and flipped the Prius the bird before grabbing her phone off the passenger seat.
Ignoring the new—and so far unlistened-to—mindfulness podcast her friend Margot had recommended, she clicked on Byways, the popular navigation app that relied on community-sourced traffic updates to create the fastest routes. It needed to get her moving before she found herself arrested for disorderly conduct.
She plugged in the Hellions stadium address and an avatar of a pitchfork blinked from a quarter mile ahead. Her tummy performed a flawless triple-axel jump.
She took a deep breath and issued herself a stern reminder. There had never been any official confirmation that Rovhal30 was even male, but in her mind, he was six feet of strapping sexiness, lounging behind the wheel of a black Subaru Outback—a ginger-haired Ewan McGregor doppelgänger. Not Trainspotting Ewan either. Not even Moulin Rouge! Ewan. No . . . straight-up Obi-Wan Kenobi Attack of the Clones Ewan, with the shaggy hair and delicious beard.
One thing was for certain, the pitchfork avatar meant that Rovhal30 was a Hellions hockey fan.
Or a devil worshiper who lives in his mom’s basement hand-feeding his pet bull pythons.
The pitchfork didn’t budge. Rovhal30 was stuck in this traffic too. She sucked in her lower lip, debating: To message or not to message? That was the question.
No point glancing to Burlesque Blondie for advice. The model would just shimmy her tassels in a “you go, guuuurl” affirmation.
Eenie, meanie, miny . . . ugh. Fine. She was doing this.
GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS: Three winners will receive an ebook copy of Mister Hockey. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Avon Romance. Giveaway ends 12/1/2017 @ 1159pm EST. Avon Romance will send the winning copies out to the winner directly. Limit one entry per reader and mailing address. Duplicates will be deleted.
About Lia Riley
After studying at the University of Montana-Missoula, Lia Riley scoured the world armed only with a backpack, overconfidence and a terrible sense of direction. She counts shooting vodka with a Ukranian mechanic in Antarctica, sipping yerba mate with gauchos in Chile and swilling fourex with stationhands in Outback Australia among her accomplishments.