Counting stars

Marek by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #11)

Sawyer Bennett doesn’t just tell stories, she makes you question what you think. Every damn time!

As a total romance junkie I’m all about the hero, especially a bad boy.  But when the hero despite his gorgeousness and bad boy ways, isn’t redeemable and actually isn’t even a decent guy, what do you do?  Is it a bad book because the hero isn’t hiding a heart of gold or misunderstood or suffered a dreadful childhood?  Usually, there’s plenty of angst to overcome and the journey cements the hero in your heart, not so here.  Regular guy, fantastic life, just pretty much zero emotional intelligence and pretty selfish.

And then, there’s our heroine.  All will be forgiven, she’s going to be our star. Nope.  She’s as awful and dim witted as him.  And for all the comments about her parenting skills, she’s a pretty rubbish mother. We learn in the previous book that she hid his child from him and his family.  And for no good reason at all, plain spite.  How nasty.

What was she planning to say when her child asked about her father?  And when her child realised that the financial difficulties they faced were unnecessary how would she explain it?  The epilogue makes it clear that all along she knew that his was an open door.

So, do you judge a book by how much you love the hero and heroine?  Well, this book shows me that with Sawyer Bennett it’s all about purpose. Don’t be fooled by the ice rink, Ms Bennett always writes purposeful dynamic fiction. This is one of her better books – an excellent farewell to the Cold Fury.

I might not have loved the story, but I couldn’t put it down.  Neither character are ingrained on my heart, but they’ve got my brain buzzing.  If you’re still thinking about a book well after you’ve finished it – you know it’s a cracker.

Nice guys and gals arent actually the most compelling characters.  We all know that.  But us romance fans, maybe we like it too simple.  Usually a great hero gets 5 shiny stars from me, and the ones I don’t like are heading towards the one star. But this one is a 4 and a half from me.

And for me that’s a big deal. How would you have rated it?

PS this isn’t stand alone you have to read the fantastic Reed first.  Ms Bennett is now leaving Cold Fury, those Arizona boys need to up their game!

Squidgies and heart rubbing

Van by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #9)

Five very shiny stars for this one.

Why the shiny? Well, this is the story of two people who have kind of lost their shininess or gloss.  She’s made some not so good decisions and has ended up lost in life, with her family’s disappointment ringing in her ears.

For him, he feels the weight of his family’s history.  And it’s certainly not shiny.  He saw others judge him as a child and found him lacking, through no fault of his own.  Not only is he distrustful of opening up to others, he actually doesn’t know how.  The simplest social interaction is hard work.  I found him to be a heart breaker, even though he isn’t trying to be.

Van gave me the squidgies right in the middle of my chest.  I rubbed my heart pretty constantly as I read.  He’s a hero you want to fix, you want to wrap up in your arms or even cook roast chicken for.

Sawyer Bennett is at her cracking best when she not only tells a story but has something to say that she’s passionate about.  Here she reminds us that we aren’t our parents, that we can’t judge someone by their DNA.  You don’t have to walk the road your parents did, but boy does it take strength to confront that.  Ms Bennett tells it so so well.

There’s also a wonderful reminder about secrecy. Of course, we all want to keep hidden our shame secret, but does that give it power? Or does keeping it secret enable you to be who you really are?  If no one knows your past they can’t judge you.

As for the romance, totally there and totally unconventional.  Here’s one of my favourite bits:

“That’s right. Don’t assume,” I tell her. “Ask if you’re confused. But Simone . . . you know the worst about me. You took my cock bare. I’m man enough to admit that I’ve got my feelings tied up now too. I sure as fuck don’t know what any of it means, and I’m totally out of my element here. I don’t know what we are, but you are anything but a lay to me”

Brave, ballsy and beautiful that sums Van up both book and man.

Gold digger?

Max by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury #6)

I love this series.  It’s adorable, thought provoking and feel good reading.  How Sawyer Bennett consistently writes great characters I just don’t know.  Add in that she creates real believable drama that you’re invested in and it kind of blows me away.  Purely fabulous writing.

Of all Ms Bennett’s heroes I imagine that Max is probably the one that most readers will forget.  I admit I’m probably guilty of that.  But having re-read it this week, I can say Max is the sweetest of the Cold Fury stories.  The word heart warming is over used but it’s totally appropriate. In fact heart-warming nails it!

Max asks a simple question how do you prove a negative?  Julianne is accused of being a gold digger.  Is she?  It’s an easy charge to make, especially when a girl struggling financially ends up with a super rich guy.  But just because she’s poor and he’s super rich, does money have to the central tenet of their relationship?  How does she prove she’s not gold digging for his money?  And how do they both move past it so it doesn’t dominate their daily life?

I really felt for her. And for him. It’s a lovely story, that has far more depth than it first seems. Wonderful.

I must also thank Ms Bennett for having not one but TWO new Cold Fury books on the horizon.  Clearly, they’ve been downloaded as this is one series that just gets better and better.

And I haven’t even mentioned the cover!  Who is he?!

The not so bad boy

Roman by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury # 7)

This is one yummy read, inside and out.

It’s offical the Cold Fury series is my favourite sports romance ever.  Number seven? I was expecting a bit of a hump.  No way!

Sawyer Bennett is the undisputed Queen of sports romance.

Roman Sykora is a bad boy, he’s not really a patch on Alex (#1).  But unlike Alex he is a happy bad boy and uninterested in what others think.  As long as he delivers on the ice, he’s not worried what the gossip pages say.  He’s been alone for a long time, he’s self-sufficient and happy in his own skin.

And then he falls in love. Words fail me, it’s just so wonderful.

Here’s this guy who hasn’t ever belonged, never did the family thing but isn’t full of angst, falling for a girl who desperately craves what she has never had. A family.  But not with him, but a father and sibling she doesn’t know.  It’s simple and complicated.

There’s a scene towards the end where he serenades Lexi, and I longed to be her. Oh, it makes me smile even now.  It’s the most romantic thing ever!

We also got a few extra story strands. Gray Brannon (Mrs Ryker) appears and wow is she a judgemental pain in the rear, and with a very short memory when dealing with Roman.  Her dad Brian has his own little romance going on. Loved that!


Thank you netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.



More than a second chance


Hawke by Sawyer Bennett out March 15th

First up, I adore Sawyer Bennett’s writing, she’s so much more than my go to sports romance writer – she sets the standard. And Sawyer’s standard is damn high.  As for the Cold Fury boys and gals, well she can’t write them quickly enough for me!

The blurb will tell you that this is a second chance romance. Yep, it is. But it’s a hell of a lot more.

As young lovers, there was no doubt about how much Hawke loved Vale. Ms Bennett made sure his feelings oozed from the pages and yearned to be a young Vale.

Then wham – it was over. So, it’s a second chance romance and the story of how they are reunited.

I wasn’t the same.  She wasn’t the same.  What we had was different now…”

Yet, the real story isn’t how they get back together (as cute as that is) but the impact their first love had on their journey from teens to adults. It’s kind of heartbreaking. You can see how the pain they suffered led to choices they might not have made. Equally, as adults learning about their own history leads to real personal development.

I’m falling in love all over again, and it’s just beautiful to me

It was beautiful to me too.  Thank you Ms. Bennett for capturing the essence of a second chance like I’ve not read before.

She must have dated a real lot, because Sawyer Bennett writes men like few romance writers.  For me Hawke is probably along with Zach my least favourite of her men, yet thanks to her wonderful writing I loved the book. Watching him struggle with all these emotions and a new understanding was simply gorgeous!

As for the cast members great to see Captain Alex and Ryker in their new roles. Loved Vale’s dad and when is it Max’s turn?!

Oh and about that cover, I’m not into bearded blue eyed men but I couldn’t stop staring. Wow!


Thank you to netgalley for an ARC in return for an honest review.

More Ryker please!


Ryker  by Sawyer Bennett (Cold Fury series)

Ryker is loveable – bit fragile but loveable.  What was his idiotic wife thinking?!  (no spoiler as that’s in Zack’s book!)

Its taken me until book 4 to realise that Sawyer Bennett is all about the big picture – she’s got a message to share and this is her medium.  And boy does she do it well!

Its a great romance, all the typical fare you expect and want from a sports romance.  The hockey scenes are fab.  I could fill any number of paragraphs about Ms Bennett’s great writing and her story telling, she’d deserve it of course.

But what steals the whole book is Ryker himself and his attitude as a single dad to two little girls when faced with a  career dilemma for him and Gray.  Quite simply we need more Rykers.

It was moving but refreshingly not overly sentimental.  I hope that every girl/woman reading this takes his message on board and thinks about it.  There are Rykers out there – just not enough and few are recognised.

Thanks Sawyer – we need more from you too!

Challenging my views

Zack #3 Cold Fury Sawyer Bennett   (possible spoilers!)

I downloaded Zack’s book whilst I was reading Garrett’s.  But the scene for Zack’s story was revealed in Garrett’s book, and its not a story theme I’m comfortable with, at all.  In fact, I decided not to read it.

Its a personal thing, but I have an issue with men who seem to move quickly through their mourning to their next relationship.  I find it disrespectful to their dead partner and difficult to read.  The problem was that Ryker’s book is looming, so I decided to motor through Zack’s book so I’d have enough of the basics to enjoy Ryker’s book (like who the hell is he?!).

But damn that Sawyer Bennett she wasn’t going to make it easy for me!  As usual I was suckered in by Ms Bennett’s fabulous characterisation and story telling.  I felt for Zack, even though I knew what was coming and I didn’t feel it was quite right.  Is five months a respectful mourning period?  Should we advocate dressing in black forever more?  Who knows?

In a way that’s the point – who knows what’s right and what’s right is different for everyone.  What was challenging was Gina was a young mother and it was an accident, Zack had no prep for what he should do.  Should you sell the house you shared?  Is that right for her child? What about her clothes?  How many photos are respectful? and how many are creepy?

The fact that Zack and Gina weren’t married was the kicker for me and a genius move from the author.  He struggled with it.  So did I.  I would have liked to have understood how much Gina’s death impacted his view of marriage.  Did it make him more open for marriage?  More likely to commit?  Or was it simply a different person?   What does that say about his relationship with his child’s mother?  He didn’t go there, and I wonder if he didn’t think about it or didn’t realise it.

Twenty-four hours later I’m still thinking about it.   For me, this is the quality of Sawyer Bennett’s writing.  We all know the way romance is rubbished – hell, I’m even guilty of it “need a trashy romance for my holiday”.  Sure this is a romance, but when you’re still thinking about it a day later, its certainly not throwaway rubbish.  There are so few writers who can do what she’s done with the first three of the Cold Fury books.  Roll on Ryker…

Again like with Garrett, to be really honest it was the epilogue that I wanted to change.  It was all going so well, until Zack articulated aloud his views on marriage to Kate.  I just wish he’d kept them to himself, it still would have been a HEA, but I would have felt that Zack got it right.  No doubt, most people will disagree?  Either way she’s fast becoming one of my fave writers.

Here’s what I said about Garrett’s epilogue:

Skip the epilogue

Garrett #2 Cold Fury Sawyer Bennett

Sometimes you just need an easy ronseal romance.  You want a book that just does what you expect (like ronseal!).

Well, I got that and a whole load more with this one.  Sports star finds girl and gets his HEA books are a dime a dozen, but this was actually pretty brilliant.  In fact, I loved it.

Garrett was great, unlike every other manwhore I’ve ever met he wasn’t hiding behind some great tragic childhood.  In fact, he was a pretty stable and happy chap and a fantastic ice hockey player too.  Nope, he just liked sex and he didn’t have a reason to say no.  His and Olivia’s romance was totally believable, it was simple – he changed because he wanted to change.  There was no endless angst waiting to be sorted.  And thank god for that.

Olivia was very likeable, as I’m trying to avoid spoiling the secret in the book’s blurb its hard to say more.  But her story is more than your usual romantic heroine.

Sawyer Bennett writes a cracking story, and creates romance that was simply more.  I can’t stop thinking about it – especially the ending.  And that sadly let it down.  Why oh why did we need that ridiculous epilogue?

We got a real ending that suited both of them and the story and it shone with integrity.  It warmed my heart and made me smile.  Sadly, the epilogue just ruined it.  What on earth is a writer the calibre of Sawyer Bennett writing such silly fluff for?

So my advice is download it (the first book Alex is pretty okay too!) but don’t read the damn epilogue and you’ll enjoy it a whole load more.