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Instructional program for women unexpectedly facing the totally dishy guy from their past. Everyone welcome!NHL coach Mark Diego’s plan to spend his off-season volunteering in his hometown goes awry when he learns that not only is he coaching teenage girls, but that the program is coordinated by energetic (and five feet two inches of trouble) coordinator Rainey Saunders, his childhood friend—and the woman he could never stand to see dating any other guy….When their tempers flare, Mark and Rainey discover their fireworks don’t just burn angry—they burn very, very hot! But that’ll just sweeten the victory. Because Mark always plays to win. And with Rainey, he’s planning on playing very dirty, too…
As a contemporary romance author, Jill Shavis is one of my favorites. I know that when I read one of her books I’m going to meet some great characters, there will be some smokin’ sex, and the characters will overcome their obstacles to be together. What I love is the path to their happily ever after will have twists and turns and there will be some great banter along the way. Jill is just one of those authors who continually makes me smile when I read and let’s face it, if you aren’t enjoying a book enough to smile then why read it? When I first read the synopsis, I wasn’t sure if I would like this book because I’m really not a hockey fan but as it turns out this book was more about softball and baseball which was the icing on the cake for me.
This story takes place in California following the devastating wild fires. The town has been decimated with many families displaced, businesses in shambles, and much rebuilding left to do. Rainey runs a recreation center in the town where many of the underprivileged youths hang out. The center has fallen on hard times, it is short on money, short on staff, and may be forced to shut down if they can’t find a new location. Rainey’s boss and life long friend, Rick, has promised her some help for her summer baseball and softball leagues. What Rainey doesn’t expect is the help to be in the form of her childhood crush (and Rick’s big brother), Mark. Mark is now a well known and highly liked NHL Hockey coach and he brings along two of his young players who must provide some community service following a fight after loosing the Stanley Cup.
Rainey is a completely likeable although fairly neurotic heroine. She’s smart, sassy, down to earth, and she has an obvious love for her job and the kids she works with. Reading about her life long crush and awkward teenage moment with Mark really made me understand why she didn’t want to get involved with Mark as an adult. Of course sometimes those pesky hormones overrule the brain and in this case, that was nothing but the truth.
Mark….what can I say about Mark? Seems like the whole world loves this uber alpha male but to paraphrase Rainey he is awfully full of himself. Does that make him any less likeable? Not really because we see many layers to him throughout this story. We know he helps his family, he’s committed to charities, he gives his time to others but we also know he has no interest in a long term relationship. His “love life” displayed for the world to see and Rainey feels he has no plans to change the way he lives his life.
They sparks fly right away in this book and in no time these two wind up having hot sex against the door. Rainey realizes immediately that she needs to set the parameters for their relationship because she already knows it means more to her than it ever will be Mark. But right from the start, Mark is experiencing feelings and emotions he’s never wanted to have. There are so many obstacles in their way but the more time they spend together the more they both realize that what’s going on is more than a month long fling. Both being fairly stubborn neither wants to admit their hearts are engaged which leads to some entertaining and interesting discussions as well as some oh so sexy moments.
Besides the really well written love story between Rainey and Mark, there are some other areas of the books I feel the need to mention. I absolutely love the interaction with Mark and the teenage girls. I found myself laughing over and over as he listened to what they discussed and how he had such a hard time with their choices when we all know he was the exact type of boy these girls were discussing. I also loved that he took a vested interest in the girls and in the recreation center in general. I enjoyed the relationship between Mark and his two wayward players. He set out to teach them a lesson and I think it was one they not only learned but embraced. We see so many real life sport heroes who screw up and get a slap on the wrist, I for one liked that these guys did not get away with their bad behavior. Then there are Rainey’s friends Rick and Lena, I loved them so much I rushed to Jill’s website to make sure I hadn’t missed their story. Apparently I didn’t, but now I want their story. I have to know how they got together! I also love the obvious love and respect between Mark and Rick and their father.
For this being a Harlequin Blaze offering, I found so much depth in this story and I found it a truly enjoyable read. It’s truly a feel good story with great character development, fantastic relationships, and of course that happily ever after everyone wants in their life. Jill Shavis never ceases to deliver and with Time Out she has once again delivered a home run or what’s that hockey term…..a hat trick?
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