They call me an outcast like it's a bad thing.
An asshole byproduct of a shitty upbringing. I don't care about anything except myself and my little sister.
I will always protect what’s mine.
With one year left on my hockey contract I'm keeping my head down and my eyes on the goal.
A collision, with her, changes my entire existence.
Never fall in love with a sports star. That's what my stepfather always said. He told me athletes are complicated and moody—that the higher their paycheck, the lower their morals.
As public relations for the New York Stingers I know exactly what he means, but I can’t seem to say no to a friendship with one beautiful, damaged man.
What started out as hate turned into something else.
We tried to stay away, to keep our distance, but the pull was too strong.
Something forbidden turned into something so irresistible.
Natahsa Madison writes a lot of the friends to lovers trope, and it works...but it works particularly well in this title. Often, the hero and the heroine in her stories devolve into fights that involve penis balloons and itching powder...and while these are funny, they also detract a little from the intensity of the story. And, while I am in the minority, sometimes I think they go a little farther than I am totally comfortable with in a romance, if that makes sense. Not enough for me to not read the next title (obviously) and not enough to make me dislike the author, but a little farther than I like.
In this story, Max and Allison don't like one another. But, they are really no games, or attempts to make the other look bad. But, they are both difficult to one another, in the way that you are when you are not comfortable around someone, and in the way that allows the reader to realize there is emotion there under the dislike.
Allison is the reminder for Max of a past misdeed, of something that he knew was a bad idea at the time and has come to regret more and more as time goes on. Allison still holds a grudge, because the thing Max did? It was big. It was life changing, it was an experience that will always stay with Allison and the people it impacted. It's not something you just walk away from when it is over.
And, most importantly, while you are able to forgive him for the mistake in his past, you understand why Allison struggles to do the same. I loved this tension. it's real, it's understandable, and it lets you relate to both of the characters at the same time. Allison is falling in love with Max, and she is struggling to move past the thing in his past...while Max is falling for her, and struggling with the same event.
I seriously can't say enough about how much this worked for me. It gave a depth to not only the enemies, but to the romance of the story, to how much they loved one another to be able to put it in the past. It moved the story well.
The writing was strong, the pacing was consistent throughout. I felt the romance, the friends, and the enemies section flowed smoothly. The dialog worked and the characters were believable.
The author told me this is her favorite story that she has ever written...and, as it is the best thing she has written to date, it is not hard to see why Ms. Madison feels this way.
I recommend this title.
I loved Allison. She was smart and had SUCH determination. I admired that about her. She wasn't going to let anyone hold her back from doing her job to the best of her abilities. She stood up for herself, she wasn't afraid to go toe to toe with anyone. She's in an interesting position with her job and her family-which I won't spoil for you.
Max, oh Max. He's an ass-or so you think. Did he do some things he shouldn't have? Yes-but I'm not going to spoil any of that. He redeems himself so spectacularly. I loved seeing him grow, seeing him show his softer side. He's whip smart, truly. And he has a heart that's just so big but has been bruised in the past. I just cannot say how much I grew to love him.
The sparks between these two are hot and fly immediately-though neither of them want them to be there. The progress of their relationship from enemies, to friends, to lovers was just beautifully done. It felt authentic. I could 100% believe in how the whole situation played out. They are, hands down, my favorite Natasha Madison couple to date.
The pacing of this book was perfection. The writing flowed spectacularly. The banter, the flirting, the friendship and the love. It was all there and just so brilliantly portrayed.
If you haven't read the previous two books in this series you can absolutely start here-but there will be spoilers for the other books as the characters do overlap. But I loved this book. It's one I will go back and read again and is honestly one of my favorite books that I've recently read. I highly recommend this book!
“You may now kiss the bride,” Judge Reynolds says right before Max grabs my face in both of his hands.
“I love you,” he whispers, then his lips land on mine, gently and full of love.
My hands go to his waist as I close my eyes and take in the safety of my husband.
“I love you with everything that I am,” he murmurs against my lips. I smile and look into his crystal blue eyes.
“I love you more,” I say. He lets go of my face and we shake the judge’s hand. He grabs my hand and we walk out of his chambers while my chiffon train trails us.
Max proposed to me three hours ago. He got down on one knee and vowed to love me and only me till his last dying breath while I stood there in the middle of the shark reef in the Mandalay Bay. It took me two seconds before I nodded and got down on my knees with him, buried my face into his chest, and cried from happiness. I was completely and utterly in love with him. And not one person in my family knew. Well, none of the men knew. But this isn’t about them. This is about me, about Max, about how he took my heart into his hand and treated it like delicate crystal, making sure he bubble wrapped it to keep it safe.
Now here I am, watching my husband dressed in a black tux hold my hand and me in my two-piece lace dress. It is beaded from my collar all the way down. It ties around my neck but leaves my back bare. My arms are also bare. A gold belt ties the second part of the dress, floor-length split chiffon. My legs slip out while I walk, showing off my something blue, which is my Carrie Bradshaw Blue Manolo Blahnik.
As soon as the door to the chapel opens, my chiffon dress blows up almost like Marilyn Monroe’s, the hustle and bustle of Las Vegas almost non-existent since we are off the Strip. Someone in the distance must have snapped a picture because his flash went off.
“I think someone just took a picture of us,” I tell him while we make our way to the car that is waiting for us.
“Angel, it’s Vegas, everyone is taking pictures.” He waits for me to get in before climbing in after me. “So, my wife, where do you want to go?” Max turns to me and smiles while his thumb rubs the hand he’s holding.
“Back to our room.” I look at our hands. “I want to go back with you and lock the door and just be with my husband."
“I was hoping you’d say that.” He pulls me to him, his arm going around my shoulder, and I fit perfectly in the crook of his arm.
We watch the city lights come into focus again once we get on the Strip. Walking through the lobby, I hold on to my husband’s hand, watching his ring glisten in the light. Max unlocks the door for us. Walking in, I head for the living room that is now turned into what looks like a small reception. Gone are the couches, and in their place is a cast iron square with blush pink roses wrapped all around it. Tea lights make it across. All the furniture is gone. The only thing in this room are blush roses, which are my favorites.
“This place looks like a fairy tale.”
Max walks to me, holding a bouquet in his hands. “For you.” He hands it to me as our song “Dive” comes on.
“Dance with me?” I ask him as I walk to him.
“Every single day of my life.” He wraps an arm around my waist. I hold the bouquet around his shoulders and we hold our free hands to his chest.
He takes his phone out and raises his hand, snapping a picture of us. I’m looking at the camera while he looks at me. “Stunning,” he says quietly as his cell phone rings. “Angel, don’t freak out.” His voice is curt, tight.
I don’t have to time to say anything because my phone buzzes with a text from Matthew.
Allison, when you get this you better call me.
“Oh my God.” I look at him. “What did we just do?” He looks at me shocked, steps back, and away from me.
“Max.” I reach out to him while he dodges me.
I don’t know if he’s asking or telling. My heart hurts as his eyes go dark. He darts out of the room and the front door slams after him. As I stand here in my wedding dress, a tear rolls down my face, and I look down and see my glistening wedding band.
When her nose isn't buried in a book, or her fingers flying across a keyboard writing, she's in the kitchen creating gourmet meals. You can find her, in four inch heels no less, in the car chauffeuring kids, or possibly with her husband scheduling his business trips. It's a good thing her characters do what she says, because even her Labrador doesn't listen to her...
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