FicCentral received a free copy of this book from Random House LLC (via NetGalley).
Series: The Boys of Summer #2
Publisher: Loveswept on January 27, 2015
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance (Adult)
Katie Rose’s Boys of Summer series returns for a delicious double-header—with the story of total opposites who are drawn to each other like moths to a flame.
Nikki Case is no fan of baseball. Her ex gambled away a fortune on the sport, and now her PR firm has tasked her with cleaning up the league’s most notorious bad boys. The New Jersey Sonics are known for wild womanizing and booze-fueled brawls, so Nikki expects the worst. Her first stop in the battle to win hearts and minds is star hitter Jake Baldwin—a legendary ladies man so smokin’ he threatens to melt her tough-girl armor.
Although his teammates prank her without mercy, Jake admires the way Nikki gives as good as she gets. She may be the queen of frost, but there’s kindling beneath those sultry curves—and he’s just the man to ignite it. But when a PR nightmare lands the Sonics in headlines across the country, Nikki is ready to walk. Only then does Jake realize how important she is to the Sonics’ success—and that winning the love of a good woman is no game.
This book includes mature subject matter that may not be appropriate for readers under the age of 18.
Nikki’s definitely not a baseball fan, not after her ex-husband gambled away their future on the game. But since she’s become a success in PR, she’s not about to pass up the career opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to turn around the baseball team with one of the worst reputations in the league.
Jake’s never met a woman he couldn’t charm. Between his star status and his looks, women practically throw themselves at him. All except that PR rep that’s taking away their beer, making them shave, and ruining all their fun. But he’s not one to back down from a challenge, either, and with the team egging him on, he’s determined not only to win over Nikki but to also win her heart.
I knew this story would be fun, but it was so much more than I expected!
The team isn’t thrilled that they’re being made to clean up their act, and they make that clear from the moment Nikki is introduced. Fortunately for Nikki, she’s got backup in the form of Pete, their head coach. Jake, used to strolling in to practice late, misses the message at first, and his troublemaking teammates immediately challenge him to a wager, one that sets him up to try to make Nikki fall in love with him. But Jake doesn’t really need prodding once he sets eyes on the “sexy librarian,” and he’s even more intrigued when, despite his most charming efforts, she doesn’t fall at his feet.
Despite Pete’s support and Nikki’s expertise, she’s having a hard time of things. The guys on the team go all out on the pranks, trying to show her that she can’t control them and ultimately drive her away. But the more Jake gets to know her, the more he sees a point in her work, and while he’s never been a fan of being on his best behavior, he tones down his bad boy persona and turns on the flirting. Of course, Nikki knows a liaison of any kind with the playboy baseball star could not only get in the way of the job but also damage her reputation. However, it’s been too long, and she’s not sure she can resist a man like him. Besides, the job is only temporary, and she’ll be moving on to another project soon enough, so it’s not like she has to throw her heart into their bed as well. What starts out as flirting soon becomes a fling, but even that is not enough. Neither of them are looking for something long-term, but they’re getting in deeper than they expected. And after plenty of denial, they both have to face that they’re falling for each other.
By that point, Jake had forgotten all about the little wager, and frankly, so had I. It was mentioned when the guys were all giving each other a hard time, but that was the extent of it, so it seemed like it wasn’t a threat. Of course, as these things always do, the truth reared its head at the most inopportune time, forcing both Nikki and Jake to really take stock of what was important to them and face each other.
Too Hot to Handle was such a fun read that I pretty much flew through it. Jake was confident but not annoyingly arrogant, and he was very considerate of Nikki, even as he was up-front about not wanting anything serious. And it turns out he was just a great guy at heart, anyway, even if he was a bit rough around the edges. The chemistry between these two was great as well, and I love that neither one of them were initially looking for a serious relationship — it made things much more interesting than if one were in denial while the other was starstruck. It was, of course, a little predictable in that the betting thing is a fairly classic contemporary romance story line; however, this wasn’t your typical case of one character trying to prove something or get something over on the other. It’s more of a sweet, fun, super-hot romance between two characters who weren’t expecting to fall in love, and their journey to happily ever after is wonderfully entertaining.