Title: Cold Fury Hockey #1: Alex
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: October 14, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, Sports, Romance
ARC Received From: NetGalley
Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy . . . not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.
As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships . . . or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.
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Two things about Alex: being "painfully honest" was appealing, and he wasn't a total ass. He was damaged by his father's actions and wore the pain of his past like a second skin, but he wasn't the Fury's Most Valuable Prick by a long shot. He just didn't know how to like something he was good at because that voice in the back of his head--the one belonging to his father, the one that found fault in every game he played--was constantly present, even when his father was not.
The person he claimed to be wasn't enough to sway Sutton's interest in him though. She might not have had any idea about hockey, but she knew and understood someone like Alex because they'd lived with an abusive addict for a parent at some point in their lives. You would think that similarity would make her feel sorry for him, but it doesn't. She sympathized with him but didn't pity him one bit. Honestly, that was the last thing the man needed. He needed to see his past didn't have to define him, that he could be whoever and however he wanted to be because that choice was his alone.
The attraction between Alex and Sutton is mutual, powerful, explosive, but there is so much that needs to be done before they can have a relationship that goes beyond sex. That chance was taken away (briefly) by process of elimination by Alex. He was grasping for straws, desperately looking for an explanation for his lack of focus, and the conclusion he came to meant his relationship with Sutton had to go.
Did I understand his thought process? Sure. The newest thing in your life is what's making your game fall to pieces so it stands to reason to get rid of it. Did it make sense? Hell. No. His life was in shambles before he met Sutton though his game was excellent. Life became infinitely better with Sutton and his game excelled even more. If that's fact, then why use her as his scapegoat? Because he was scared. Plain and simple, he was scared of what they had, of where it was going, of living beyond the bubble he'd been encased in for years.
I liked this story, liked the characters, absolutely loved the message of forgiveness and letting go. All time favorite part? The epilogue. Read it and you'll find out why I laughed and cried when I read it. Alex and Sutton's story is a terrific beginning to Ms. Bennett's Cold Fury series. I can't wait to see what kind of havoc she'll wreck in the next player's life.