Today we are celebrating the release of LUCA by Brenda Rothert. This is a contemporary romance, standalone, and it is the second title in the Chicago Blaze hockey romance series.
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Author: Brenda Rothert
Publication Date: 23 April 2019
Publisher: Silver Sky Publishing
Series: Chicago Blaze, book 2
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports
Age Recommendation: 17 and Up
Rating: 4 Stars
~ I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review ~
I only have one love now—the home furnishings business I’m building into an empire. Maybe money and success can’t love me back, but they keep what’s left of my heart safe. One-night stands are my way of scratching the occasional itch I get for something more. And no one’s better for that than a sexy as sin hockey player I’ll never see again after one very hot night together.
I used to love two things: hockey and women. But now my nieces and nephew are my top priority, because I’m raising them after tragedy stole their parents. Somehow I balance single parenthood and my career as a forward for the Chicago Blaze. There’s no time for women, until I get knocked on my ass by Abby Daniels. She’s everything I’ve ever wanted, but her devastating past may end us before we even get started.
I fell in love with Luca after meeting him in Anton's book and knew that his story would tug at my heart strings, little did I know how much. The story of Luca's becoming an over night parent to his nephew and nieces and the woman that he falls in love with will have you weeping gentle tears and smiling with joy as they all heal land become a family.
I have to say I actually get nervous when a book involves children because I have found too many authors are unrealistic in the expectations of a child's age appropriate behavior or in the relationship that they hold with the parent. Book parents and children always make me feel like the worst mother on the planet, so it was really nice to see that even though the children in this book are awesome, they have age appropriate attitudes. They deal with their grief in ways that you would expect to see in a child, not an adult. It's wonderful to see them being bright shining stars but also to see the hard moments and I think it is important to the entire story line that we get that. If Brenda had written these children any differently the story would not have felt authentic, so I greatly appreciate that from her.
Luca is just an amazing character all around. I loved the opening scene with him having a 'spa day' right before practice and the grief he gets from his team mates for his nail polish. It's been a little over a year in the story since the kids came to live with him and while they have found their 'groove', I loved seeing him still struggling to live a life by his own terms and yet trying to be the very best 'mom and dad' that he can be. I loved that not once does he ever attempt to replace their lost parents, but instead tries to help them all find a new normal. There is a part in the book that (well honestly there were many, but this one sticks out) really touched my heart and that was when he thinks about how strong he seems to be on the outside, but it's only becuase he cries in his room at night when he won't be seen. We need that coming from our strong male heroes, we need it to be shown and said that being strong doesn't mean you don't cry. We accept that this is an accepted fact from women/moms, but the world needs to know that it's okay for men/dads too, that they have feelings and they don't have to hold them in ALL the time. It's something we recognize should be accepted but we rarely ever see anyone put it out there and well, I truly loved having that moment in this book. Luca is honestly one of the easiest to connect with hero's I have read in a long time. He has this quiet easy way about him, but you know underneath the surface all of his feelings run deep and he gives his all to every part of his life.
So right now as I have raved I know you are wondering, why not 5 stars then Malissa? Well, some of that had to do with the heroine. Here is the thing about Abby, I liked her....but I don't really like her until the end and so much had gone on that by the time we got to the end I couldn't love her the way that I did Luca. She is so closed off, and I get it, her trauma is beyond anything I can imagine and honestly she is a really great person when it comes down to it, but it takes so long for her to finally open up that we miss a lot of chances to love her. I just wish we could have gotten to the point of her opening up a little bit sooner so that we could have had more time to truly discover how amazing she is. In the end we get the real her but once that happens the book is over and I was left wishing for just a little more time with all of them. I am hopeful that we will see them all in future books though and that will give me that extra push I needed to fall madly in love with Abby, because deep down I know she is one heck of a character! Sidenote: I am going to need a story for her personal trainer, mmkay.
The two of them together are an absolutely wonderful couple. Their strength together is what makes this book as beautiful as it is, I adored the fact that while they have some communication issues (sigh, Abby) they are in general totally open with each other about their wants and needs. There are no games and annoying 'high school' behavior. They are adults and they act that way. Also, the steam factor....woah! Let me just reiterate that Luca has it ALL going on, ALL of it, haha!
Luca is a great addition to the Chicago Blaze series. It is a book that will tug at your heart, maybe cause a few teary eyes, so have tissue handy just in case, and leave you with a warm fuzzy feeling when you flip that last page. We're two books in with right now only one more that I know of but I really am not ready for this series to end, so buy them, read them, review them so we can get Brenda to write more of them!
~ HAPPY READING ~
“Hold still, Uncle Luca.”
My niece Emerson gives me her best glare, but she’s five and cute, so it makes me smile.
“I’m trying,” I tell her, checking out the dark purple polish she’s trying to brush onto my nails.
It’s not my inability to hold still that has more nail polish on my skin than my nails; it’s her technique. My “MANicure”, as my two nieces like to call it, started with my ten-year-old niece Cora and was then passed off to Emerson.
“I found yogurt!” Cora says as she breezes into my bathroom. “It’s got strawberries in the bottom, but that’s okay. This face mask will make you smell good, Uncle Luca.”
I try not to roll my eyes. It’ll be better than the last face mask they whipped up in the kitchen, which had butter in it and was a bitch to scrub off in the shower.
“I have to leave for practice in twenty-five minutes,” I remind the girls. “And I still need a shower. So you have ten more minutes to beautify me.”
“Will you paint my nails, too?” Cora asks me.
I was shit at painting nails when I first became the legal guardian of my two nieces and one nephew a little over a year ago. With practice, though, I’ve gotten pretty damn good at it.
“How long ‘til Gram and Gramps will be here?” Emerson asks, still painting my thumb nail even though she’s looking at me.
“About four hours ‘til their flight lands, then maybe an hour for them to get to the house.”
Her toothless grin of excitement makes me ignore the nail polish I can feel on my knuckle.
“Emerson!” Cora yells. “You ruined it! That looks awful.”
Cora picks up the bottle of purple nail polish and Emerson’s happy expression drops away.
“Give it to me,” Cora huffs, holding out her hand for the handle to the polish. “I never should have let you do it.”
“Hey, now.” I give Cora a sharp look. “She was doing her best.”
Cora’s eyes flood with tears. Emerson edges closer to me, because she knows what happens when Cora gets upset.
“He won’t let us do spa days if you mess it up!” Cora cries, glaring at her younger sister. “You ruined everything!”
“You didn’t ruin anything,” I tell Emerson. “And Cora, I never said we wouldn’t do this again. We can do a big spa day after my road trip, okay?”
Cora wipes her eyes and nods, still crying. It kills me to see her like this. As the oldest, she carries more of the weight from the deaths of her parents than her siblings. We’ve been in counseling for more than a year now, transitioning through the death of their mother, my sister-in-law Danielle, to the kids’ new life with me as their guardian. The clinical terms for what Cora struggles with—anxiety and controlling tendencies—are easier for me to handle than her breakdowns.
The tension leaves the room and Emerson starts my massage, which is pretty much just her karate chopping my shoulders, while Cora slathers strawberry yogurt onto my face.
“Is your shoulder better?” Cora asks me.
“Yep, it’s all good.”
“Think my mashage helped?” Emerson asks from behind me.
She can’t pronounce some words, and I kinda hope that’ll last longer, because it gets me every time.
“It definitely helped,” I tell her.
I tweaked my shoulder at practice yesterday, and Cora noticed me wince when I was taking out the trash last night. She worries about every sinus cold and bruise I get. I can’t blame the kid. Her dad, my brother Matt, died serving in Iraq and her mom passed away from cancer a year later.
“Hey, let’s get your nails painted, Cora,” I say after glancing at my watch. “I’ve only got five minutes til I have to hit the shower.” I turn to Emerson. “Can you go get the nail polish remover, peanut?”
“Okay.” She races from the room, brown curls flying behind her.
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