Monday, June 1, 2015

review || ZACK { blog tour }

Zack by Sawyer Bennett

Publisher: Loveswept (6/9/2015)
Series: Cold Fury Hockey, book 3
Genre: Sport Romance
Source: NetGalley/Tasty Book Tours
Purchase links |amazon | bn | itunes | kobo | publisher || add to goodreads

Rating: ★1/2

New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett goes for a hat trick with the latest romance in a sexy series about cool-as-ice hockey players and the women heating up their lives.

Warning: The following contains spoilers from a cliffhanger in Garrett.

Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief that has put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury, still crippled by emotional baggage, and now a single dad, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.

Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.

about Sawyer || USA Today and New York Times Best-Selling Author, Sawyer Bennett is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series. She will be releasing her third book in the Cold Fury Hockey Series with Random House Loveswept, June 2015.

{ excerpt } .
The doorbell rings just as I’m trying to simultaneously flip a pancake with one hand and pull bacon off the griddle with another. The pancake ends up sticking, then folding in half, and my forearm hits the edge of the griddle. I swear I can hear my skin sizzle from the contact.

“Fuck!” I jerk backward, dropping both the fork in one hand and the spatula in the other, thankful that Ben is in his room playing and didn’t hear me say that. It’s a constant battle sometimes to watch my language around the kid.

Slapping at the control knobs, I turn the heat completely off the large electric griddle I had been struggling with and rub gently the burn on my arm as I head toward the front door. As I round the corner from the kitchen into the living room, I slam my bare foot into Ben’s large dump-truck toy, causing a string of curses to come out of my mouth now as I hobble onward to the door.

My front door is honey-colored oak and has a large oval glass inset with a beveled flower design. Gina had picked it out and had it installed, claiming that it allowed more light into the front entranceway. I thought it was a little too girly, but I didn’t argue with her. The house was her domain.

The glass lets me see my visitor on the other side, but provides no details because of the beveled cuts and partial frosting, which distort the person. But I know who it is.
Ben’s new nanny.

Roberta Francis.

She was Delaney’s top choice, and after I briefly scanned her application I had to sit and listen to my sister rave about her. Delaney felt she was perfect for the job in all respects. She was fantastic with children, having helped raise her three nephews for a period of time. She was also a student with a flexible schedule. Delaney actually droned on and on about this particular situation, but I tuned her out and started thinking about everything I’d need to do to get the house ready to put on the market. I was seriously considering selling it. Maybe move farther out into the country, where we could have some land and Ben could have a dog.

Finally, I just cut Delaney off and said, “She sounds perfect. Let’s go with her.”

And now, as I’m about to open the door to let a woman into my house who will have the most important of responsibilities in helping me care for my son, I’m suddenly realizing I don’t know anything about her other than her name and a vague recollection that she’s a student who helped raise her nephews.

Just fucking great. Way to be an involved and responsible parent, Zack.

The only saving grace at this moment is that Delaney thoroughly interviewed this girl, checked out her references, and was absolutely enchanted with her. I trust Delaney, so this will be fine. She’ll be great, in fact.

I wish I believed myself.

I swing the door open and get my first look at the woman who will be moving into my house and caring for my son. I’m not sure what I expected, but this wasn’t it.

Based on Delaney’s assessment, I expected her to have a superhero’s cape on, or at the very least a shiny gold halo and massive angel wings sprouting out of her back.

Instead…she’s sort of unremarkable.

She stares up at me with round, crystal-blue eyes that are devoid of any makeup and surrounded by brown plastic-framed glasses. Her hair is dark, held back with a headband and twisted up behind her so I have no clue how long it is. She’s small, barely coming up to my shoulder, and swimming in an oversized, extremely faded red NC State sweatshirt and baggy jeans that look about two sizes too big for her. An old backpack slung over her shoulder and a pair of well-worn tennis shoes complete her outfit.

“Roberta?” I ask hesitantly, because suddenly I’m thinking this may be someone soliciting something…or maybe even a homeless person looking for a meal. The way those clothes completely swallow her makes me think she’s starving underneath all that material.

She gives me an outwardly bright smile and sticks a delicate hand out toward me. Her sweatshirt is so big, her sleeves are rolled up around her wrists. “Actually…I go by Kate. Roberta’s my first name, which I was named after my daddy, Robert, but seriously…who wouldn’t hate that name? So I go by my middle name, which is Kathryn, actually. So I shorted it down to Kate, because Kathryn sounds just so…I don’t know…like a Catholic saint or something, and I’m not Catholic. I was raised Southern Baptist, but I really don’t go to church anymore, so—”

She pauses …finally, and takes a deep breath. Her smile goes from politely earnest to a sheepish grin, and she gives an apologetic shrug. “Sorry…I’m nervous and I tend to prattle when I’m nervous.”

I just blink at her, completely shocked silent. I have no clue what to think about this strange woman…no, girl, I think, because she looks so fucking young.

“How old are you?” I ask, my eyes glancing suspiciously at her hand still extended toward me.

“Twenty-three,” she says. “Didn’t Delaney tell you about me? You knew I was coming today, right?”

“Um…yeah, she did. I guess I didn’t hear her mention your age,” I mutter.

Kate takes a small step forward and pushes her hand farther toward me, giving me a pointed look. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Her voice is soft, with a moderate southern twang. I can’t remember if Delaney told me where she was from or not. Fuck…I can’t remember anything she said.

I reach out hesitantly and shake her hand. It’s tiny and her bones feel small, but she grips me surely. “Yeah…uh, nice to meet you too,” I say absently.

Our hands break apart and we just stare at each other.

{ review } .
I have been loving every single minute of this series.

That said... this one wasn't my favorite... but I still really liked it. (I don't know, I liked Alex a lot, but then Sawyer came and brought her A-game with Garrett, and I just fell head over heels for that playboy). So basically, because I loved Garrett's story so much, Zack fell a little short for me.

But just a little bit. Not a lot. Just a little.

In GARRETT, we got to know Zack and Gina pretty well. We learned that Gina, while not married to Zack, was part of the fold like any other wife. She was still his significant other, just not his wife. Zack loved her dearly... he just didn't marry her. At the end of GARRETT, Zack and Gina get into a pretty terrible accident, leaving Zack with a mere broken wrist, but Gina dead.

Now Zack is a single parent and is having a terrible time getting through the grieving process. Guilt eats the poor man alive. He's learning to be a more hands-on dad, but as he's getting closer to being medically cleared to re-join the team, he's in need of someone to watch Ben, his son.

Unable to process that getting a nanny means that Gina is really, honestly not coming back, his sister Delaney does all of the work. When she narrows it down and suggests Roberta, Zack goes with it.

But the Roberta he opens the door to is not a Roberta who looks like, well... a Roberta.

Kate, given name Roberta, hides herself behind baggy clothes and glasses after having unfortunate advances made when she was a young teen. She's more comfortable hiding behind them. But because of this, Zack doesn't take her seriously. When she comes into the house and takes over without any qualms, and then Ben is excited to see her again (they met during the interview process), Zack is torn -- he doesn't want her nannying his kid. He doesn't want her in his house. He wants someone else there.
And it makes me fucking hate her as she impinges on my memories of Gina.
I don't honestly think any nanny would have been good enough initially -- watching his son bond with another woman was a terrible thing in Zack's mind.

Since the accident, Zack has felt nothing for the opposite sex, and the man certainly has tried. Imagine his surprise when the not-so-sexy nanny shows up in his kitchen late one night in minimal clothing and shows exactly what she's been hiding, and he feels the first stirrings of desire...

I love books where you have a super sexy person, and a fairly plain Jane person, and they fall for one another. While that's not always necessarily the way it goes in real life, I enjoy watching people fall for personalities -- and Zack fell for Kate's personality. He wanted to be annoyed with her bubbly attitude and her need for goofy nicknames, but they grew on him -- just like Ben starting to call him 'daddy', which, hello, is still super cute for a young child.

Zack was, in a word, a bastard when it came to Kate initially. And as his feelings grew when he didn't want them to, he was sure to put Kate in her place -- both out loud and in his mind. And then there was Kate, who was bubbly and fun-loving from the get go. But when Zack finally breaks her down one too many times, she leaves. She says she will, so she does.

What I think I loved most about Kate was that while she was the bubbly, do-gooder kind of gal, when it came down to it, she had Zack's back. She stood up for him and backed him up when the time called for it.
"Who in the fuck do you think you are to lay judgement on Zack?" --Kate
Ah, words that I wouldn't have imagined coming from her mouth...

Anyway. I did enjoy this story. Like I said, Garrett and Olivia have top-spot in my book of these Cold Fury relationships, but Zack and Kate's was very special in it's own way. Sawyer has a way with taking tough issues and making them into great stories; I think she did very well with the brokenness of Zack and making him whole again.

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{ previous reviews in series } .
ALEX review here } .
GARRETT { review here } .

{ giveaway } .

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