Zack (Cold Fury Hockey #3), by Sawyer Bennett
Publish Date: June 9, 2015
Format: e-ARC, provided by Netgalley
Genre: adult contemporary romance
To Buy: Amazon * Barnes & Noble
Rating: 5 STARS
(From Goodreads) Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief ever since the car accident that left him a single dad and put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury and still crippled by emotional baggage, 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.
I knew Zack was going to be a really emotional book. The guy lost his wife in a tragic accident and left him alone with his young son. He and Gina had seemed so good together in previous books, so I didn't know how I'd feel about him getting together with someone new. I should have trusted that Sawyer Bennett would make his story perfect.
Zack reluctantly hires Kate Francis as a nanny for his young son. Kate loves kids, and she needs the money badly to pay her bills, so she accepts the job, even though Zack is still so afflicted by what happened and is not the best company. It's okay though since Kate prefers to not be noticed. She hides beneath baggy clothes and glasses and hair in a bun. Except Zack sees past all that, and likes what he sees. Which scares the crap out of him.
Kate, god love her, is thrust into a really difficult situation. She's brought in to play stand-in mother of sorts to Zack's son, and that hurts. A lot. But, Zack knows he needs the help and Kate knows she needs the money. So, they both do what needs to be done. Truth be told, Kate is awesome with kids. And, she's also awesome at knowing where the lines in the sand are. She seems to know when Zack is lashing out because of hurt, and she doesn't get upset with him when he directs his frustration on her. She also seems to know when to push him to open up and when to back off.
What Kate doesn't seem to know is when to say no to him. Zack is dealing with a lot - grief over losing the mother of his child. Guilt that he didn't love her as much as she loved him. But, when he's with Kate, all those seem a little dimmer. When he caught a glimpse of her in real clothes and loose hair, he felt things that he didn't expect to feel. Zack goes with it and enters into a very physical, very HOT, relationship with Kate. Zack doesn't want to put himself in a position to lose someone again, though, and that coupled with him not wanting his son to get hurt further causes him to put a "just sex" label on things. And, Kate goes along with it, even though I could see disaster from a mile away.
Zack and Kate are so good for each other. Zack gives Kate some much needed confidence. Kate gives Zack some much needed companionship. But, they both get scared when things start getting too serious. Even so, how could you get mad at Zack? How could you blame him? You can't, which is what makes this book even more heartbreaking.
But, as I said, Sawyer Bennett did a fantastic job treating Zack's story with respect, and then giving him a new woman to love. It was pretty perfect.