Book Review: Love Hard by Nalini Singh
If you haven’t read the rest of the Hard Play series, don’t worry. You can jump right in here and not feel like you’ve missed too much… although honestly, you’re probably going to want to go back and read the first two anyway, because this series about the Bishop-Esera brothers is just WONDERFUL. Jake (Jacob) is the third brother and the hero of Love Hard, a rugby player for the New Zealand national side and a single dad to an adorable Plot Moppet. His heroine is Juliet… who he’s known since high school, when they were frenemies. He was straight-laced and she was Trouble, but they had one thing in common, Callie, who was Juliet’s best friend and Jake’s girlfriend (and later the mother of his daughter). Callie’s tragic death a few years before this story opens left them both reeling, but circumstances have kept them from meeting again face to face until now.
Jake Esera is the last man Juliet wants to get involved with, not least because her ex was an international sportsman as well and things Did Not End Well. She’d prefer to stay far, far away from the glare of the limelight, and indeed, there are several scenes here where the couple have to deal with media attention and the pressures it brings to bear on their relationship which feel very realistic. The chemistry between the couple is too strong for them to ignore it but what I really loved was the way they approached the challenges they faced with their eyes wide open, weighing pros and cons and making decisions based on more than just emotions. It was a relationship between two intelligent adults and it felt real, without forced drama, just what people in that situation might well have to deal with.
Jake’s family are absolutely awesome, and I have to admit I hope Nalini Singh doesn’t end this series with the last of the Bishop-Esera brothers, because Jake’s team-mates Leo and Viliame deserve their own stories too (among others!) Five stars for the thoroughly enjoyable contemporary sports romance.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of this title via NetGalley.