Title: Love Hard (Hard Play #3)
Author: Nalini Singh
Genre: Sports Romance
Publication Date: March 2020
Jacob Esera, star rugby player and young single father, has worked hard to create a joyous life for his six-year-old daughter. After the death of his childhood sweetheart soon after their daughter’s birth, all Jake wants is safety and stability. No risks. No wild chances. And especially no Juliet Nelisi, former classmate, scandal magnet, and a woman who is a thorn in his side.
As a lonely teenager, Juliet embraced her bad-girl reputation as a shield against loneliness and rejection. Years later, having kicked a cheating sports-star ex to the curb, she has a prestigious job and loyal friends—and wants nothing to do with sportsmen. The last thing she expects is the fire that ignites between her and the stuffed-shirt golden boy who once loved her best friend.
Straitlaced Jacob Esera versus wild-at-heart Juliet Nelisi? Place your bets.
Let me start off by saying that I was so, so, so excited to read this book. My expectations were high and for good reason:
- The author is Nalini Singh – She wrote the Psy-Changeling paranormal romance series that is one of my all-time favs.
- This story has both sports and romance. Does it get better than that? Yes, yes it does. It’s better because the sport is rugby and the romance is set in New Zealand. As a fellow Kiwi, this synopsis was like crack to me. I NEEDED IT.
Unfortunately, I haven’t been so disappointed in a book in a long, long while. What was set up to be an emotionally packed story of a widowed single father and a feisty woman from his past just didn’t follow through. The story was all over the place. It began at a wedding of their mutual friends and by a third of the way through the book they were still at the wedding. Now I don’t mind a little bit of drag in stories but this seemed excessive. We’d barely gotten the chance to get to know the characters amidst all the wedding chaos and majority of the emotional build-up in the story up until this point seemed related to the couple getting married. Which is great and all except they weren’t who we were supposed to be reading about.
The budding love between Jacob and Juliet didn’t seem to take place? Like… ever? They just chatted to one another and then BAM. Love hits hard. I mean, if you’re into insta-love and a lacklustre emotional plot line then you’d enjoy this book. Otherwise, it just seemed that nothing much happened and then too much happened too quickly.
While I quite liked the little bit we were shown of Jacob, his role as a single father wasn’t explored much. We met his daughter and… that was about it. Similarly, Juliet was meant to be snarky and wild and a pain in the ass for Jacob. In reality though, they seemed to get along relatively well and Juliet kept crying over the sap of the wedding. She didn’t strike me as the fierce, snarky woman I had been expecting from the synopsis. That’s not to say fierce and snarky people can’t cry at weddings. Rather I was expecting some sarcastic remarks and snark in between the crying. Unfortunately that wasn’t the case.
Overall, I just did not enjoy this book. Perhaps my hopes were too high from reading Singh’s other works. She’s an absolutely brilliant paranormal writer and still one of my favourite authors. I’ll be sticking to her paranormal stories from now on though.
This is a 2 star from me.
*Arc provided to me by Independent Publishers Group via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.