Esa Saari is a hockey player for the New York Blades with a bad-boy rep both on and off the ice. But when he suddenly becomes the guardian of his eight-year-old niece, Nell, he knows his excessive lifestyle is about to get body checked.
So he hires a live-in nanny. Her name is Michelle Beck, and she gets along great with Nell. What surprises him, though, is that he instantly hits it off with her, too. Getting romantically involved would be a bad idea, but he’s finding it impossible to ignore the intense connection between them.
Michelle, however, takes her job very seriously, and must decide whether to listen to her head or her heart. And Esa’s got to decide if he can give up his bad- boy image for the love of a good woman…
*Blurb from Goodreads*
I love sports romance books more than anything else. They are my all-time favorite trope, and I am constantly on the lookout for new books within the genre. I had yet to try out Martin, so when I recieved this book in the mail, I couldn’t wait to try it out.
Esa has been living the life of a bachelor for a long time, but now that he has custody of his young niece, his life is changing in ways he never expected. Knowing he can’t care for a young girl himself, he hires a live in nanny to help take care of Nell. But Michelle isn’t what Esa expected. Not only is she sexy in a way that Esa never expected, but she also forces him to reevaluate his life, especially now that Nell is in it.
Michelle is used to working with difficult celebrities. Esa isn’t much different, except for the fact that for the first time ever, Michelle is attracted to one of her clients. If it weren’t for Nell, Michelle would never even consider putting up with someone like Esa, but they really seem to bond over the little girl, and soon Michelle finds herself warming Esa’s bed along side his heart.
For as much as I love sports romance books, there was something missing with this one. I never really connected with the romance in this book, and found the relationship between Esa and Michelle to be somewhat superficial. I never really felt their draw to each other, never really felt what exactly it was that kept them together. As much as I wanted to love them, they just never really seemed like a couple to me for some reason.
That being said, I had a love-hate relationship with Michelle and Esa. I loved Michelle and hated Esa. I thought Michelle was such a sweetie. She obviously loved and adored Nell, and was willing to put up with so much BS from Esa to be in Nell’s life. She cared for her family and her friends and she was an absolute saint for all she put up with. I would have never made it in her shoes. Despite how much I adored Michelle, Esa was the complete opposite. He was a little cold and emotionally detached. He never seemed to want to deal with anything touchy-feely, and treated Michelle like crap in the beginning. I wanted him to change, and while he definitely made an effort, I never really felt as if he warmed up to Michelle OR Nell.
I have read other books that deal with a hero gaining custody of a niece or nephew, and while I think it can be done really well, I didn’t really like it in this context. Esa was so attached to his bachelor lifestyle, that having a kid cramped his style, and he wasn’t afraid to admit it. He never really connected with Nell, and while an attachment did eventually grow between them, it was SLOW to develop. I wanted there to be a little more between them, and was kinda disappointed that it took so long for Esa and Nell to connect. Plus, I never really did get the kind of emotional response that I’m accustomed to with these kinds of stories.
All in all I thought this was a very lackluster romance. There wasn’t anything special about Esa and Michelle’s relationship. If anything, I had a difficult time trying to determine WHY they were even in a relationship in the first place. I wasn’t a big fan of the hero, and had it not been for Michelle, I don’t think I would have finished this book. I’m willing to give Martin another chance, mainly because of my love of sports romances, and I can only hope her other works pull me into the story more than this one did.
I give Hip Check a C-