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Love Hard (2020)

by Nalini Singh

Series: Hard Play (3)

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438462,419 (4.1)2

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Showing 1-5 of 8 (next | show all)
Love Hard is book #3 in the Hard Play series by Nalini Singh. I’m a huge fan of the author’s contemporary romances and have been reading this series since she started writing it. For this installment, we have Jacob Esera, rugby star, single father and bane of Juliet Nelisi’s high school existence. Jacob was in a relationship with Juliet’s BFF Calypso, who unfortunately, passed away shortly after their daughter was born.

Now I’m a sucker for a good single dad story. And then you add in hot rugby players and a redemption story, and SOLD. Juliet had a reputation has a bad girl in high school but has fought her way into a great career and a life far different from her teenage years. Juliet and Jacob reunite at Jacob’s brother’s wedding and the sparks fly immediately. I was unsure how I felt at first because it felt a little wrong for Juliet to be crushing on her former enemy/BFF’s baby daddy but I got over it quickly. I enjoyed the banter between the two characters (I’m a sucker for witty banter) and how they fought their relationship for so long.

I think Juliet showed a lot of growth during the course of the story but in a nice change of pace, so did Jacob. What I especially liked was the two of them helping each other overcome demons, preconceived notions and their past to form a great relationship.

While this is #3 in the series, each book can stand alone. I gave this installment 4 out of 5 stars. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy.

**Crossposted to my blog*** ( )
  Stacie-C | May 8, 2021 |
Listened to audio narrated really well by Justine O. Keef. I enjoyed the Australian reading, the narrator really brought the characters to life. The daughter is adorable and the narrator brings a wonderful charm to the character.

He's a rugby player and a single father, who lost his high school sweetheart to meningitis. He's become a serious man, with a huge need to keep those he loves safe from harm.

Juliet is a divorced VP, a force of nature and loyal to a fault. She's the wild to Jacob's calm, with a heart of gold.

They knew each other in school, her best friend was his high school sweet heart and mother to his daughter but didn't really care for each other as teenagers. Now they're all grown up and find a simmering heat between them.

This is a heart warming romance as these two share the loss and the memories of the past, and learn more about each other as they are now and help each other heal. Watching Jacob and his family take Juliet in, showing her what family, love and loyalty is all about and her bringing Jacob back to living life makes for sigh worthy reading. Great feel good romance.

If you like my reviews I hope you will follow my blog. https://wyldheartreads.wordpress.com/
( )
  wyldheartreads | Dec 14, 2020 |
Oh how I love Nalini Singh. This one is no different. Such a sweet, heart-warming story. ( )
  jpeterman | Jul 10, 2020 |
3.5 stars

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Juliet and Jacob knew each other in highschool but only tolerated each other for the sake of Calypso, Juliet's bestfriend and Jacob's girlfriend. When mutual friends bring them back together, Jacob is a now a single father and Juliet has managed to become vice president of a lingerie company. They get thrown even more together when Jacob's celebrity as a star Rugby player has him modeling for Juliet's company.
These two still rub each other the wrong way but now the friction is starting to cause sparks.

Love Hard is third in the Hard Play series but also has a strong connection to Rock Hard from the Rock Kiss series. The first 20% of this story deals heavily with the wedding between Gabriel and Charlotte (Rock Hard), Jacob is a groomsman in the wedding because Gabriel is his brother and Juliet is a bridesmaid because of her friendship with Charlotte. I've read Rock Hard and absolutely loved it, so I delighted at revisiting this couple but the focus even started to get a bit long for me, I'm not sure how new readers to both series would feel about all the characters that they would have no prior connection to. This could be read as a standalone but you'd miss emotional connections to characters that could dampen some enjoyment.

Jake “Golden Boy” Esera and Juliet “Bad Influence” Nelisi? Nope. Nope. Triple extra nope.

There is little flashback to Jake and Jules in highschool but the author does it right by just having our characters think back and discuss their relationship back then and reminisce sweetly about Calypso. Calypso was the mother of Jake's little girl, they had her in their teens and Calypso ended up getting a bacterial meningitis infection and passing away soon after giving birth. There was absolutely no romantic feelings between Jake and Jules when they were in highschool and the way the author had them growing close and developing attraction in the present was done perfect. They already have an emotional connection because of their mutual love of Calypso and I love how that brought them together instead of worried angst to keep them apart.

I also liked how the author developed Jake's character, Jules knew him to be a pretty straight and narrow guy in highschool while she pushed the boundaries because she didn't have a caring home environment. Jake comes from an extremely loving and supportive family and Calypso's death makes him want to become even more of a control freak but because of therapy and his support system, he recognizes that about himself and actively checks his impulses. Jules lost her parents young, spent time with an uncaring aunt only to be moved in with grandparents that put their issues with her parents on her for the majority of her young life. These character foundational developments clearly showed why Jake was sweetly more open at times and why Jules kept her walls up more.

That night she dreamed of tracing the coils and shapes of his tattoo with her tongue, fantasized about licking sweat from his skin after a hard game of rugby, and woke at midnight to the impression of his strong body pinning her to the bed while he smiled down at her. “Oh hell.”Juliet was in trouble.

I loved these two together, they had a great ease to how their characters flowed together and delicious heat to their tension. The story did at times though, butt them out too much as the focus went on the great Esera-Bishop family members; their greatness can eclipse. I did enjoy the slight drama that came from Juliet's ex-husband and how that tied in threads of how Juliet didn't want to get involved with another sports athlete and allowed to show Jake's caring and protective side, he was seriously sexy in how he treated and supported Jules through it all.

They might’ve scratched the itch, but in doing so had turned it into a chronic ailment— because now they knew how good it could be between them.

This book had sections that I loved sinking into and others that dragged but Jules and Jake were characters that I enjoyed separately and together. The time that Jules let Jake know how his supportive family made it easier for him to be the more open person and the way Jake supported Jules but ultimately let her make her own decisions, made the romance flourish in the story. I also liked how they couldn't battle their sexual heat anymore, came to an agreement to scratch the itch once to get it out of their system, but didn't drag out the stubbornness on adhering to that when after they slept together, they both admitted to themselves and each other there was deeper feelings involved. Singh always does a great job on making characters feel real, the little additive of Jake not being a morning person and Jules delighting over that because he showed a normally hidden grumpy side was enchanting. If you're looking to immerse yourself in a big loving family, the Esera-Bishop clan, and their friends, is well worth reading about as Singh delivers on the emotions and love. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Apr 22, 2020 |
It took me a long time to get in to this, but then I raced through it. Likely it happened when the enemies turned to love (which felt like it happened on a dime),but I then enjoyed it immensely. ( )
  spinsterrevival | Apr 6, 2020 |
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