He carries a big stick. And he’s not afraid to use it.
On the ice, I’m Kellan Carter, powerhouse enforcer for the Charlotte Strikers. Off the ice, I’m just a regular guy. The last thing I want is to get mobbed by a bunch of groupies who are only after me for my fame and money. My ideal woman knows how to enjoy a little good, clean fun—and maybe some not-so-clean fun too. That’s the kind of girl I’d never let go.
When Kristen Robinson, the gorgeous, down-to-earth bartender I’ve been crushing on, agrees to let me take her out, I’m thrilled. We have an amazing night together, culminating in the most electrifying kiss of my life—and that’s it. Kristen tells me we can’t see each other again, but I know that kiss meant as much to her as it did to me. What I don’t know is that Kristen has a dangerous secret. . . .
I’ve proved to Kristen that she can trust me with her body and her heart. But when her past comes back to haunt her, I need to prove that she can trust me with her life. And I might have to get my hands dirty after all.
** Hard Stick is an action-packed romantic suspense. Just to warn you, the story line does NOT center around hockey. The main character plays but a lot of the book is set outside of the rink. **
“So what happened to Maddox? I couldn’t help but notice his face.”
Dallas and Braeden glanced at each other and chuckled. “Kellan fucked him up in practice,” Dallas replied.
I gasped. “Why?”
He finished off his beer, and I could tell he was feeling it by the lazy smile. “It’s what he does. Maddox was being a dick and Kellan put a stop to it. It’s why he’s our captain.”
“Wow, that’s craziness.”
I ran his card and held it out to him, but he grabbed on to my hand. “You haven’t agreed to go out with him, have you?”
“Who? Kellan?” I asked. The girls gawked at me and snorted.
He nodded. “Yeah.”
“Just asking,” he said with a shrug. He put his arm around the blonde and they started for the door. “It’d be nice to get the five hundred dollars.” They stopped and he smiled at me over his shoulder.
“What are you talking about?” I demanded.
Braeden sighed and smacked Dallas on the back of the head. “Stop fucking with the girl.” Then he turned to me. “It was just a stupid bet.”
“Stupid?” Dallas laughed. “You put three hundred on it, so I don’t want hear that shit.” In a drunken haze, he smiled over at me. “Just do us a favor and don’t go out with him until after the weekend. We made a bet that he couldn’t get you by the end of the week.”
Braeden hit him again. “What the fuck? Shut the hell up.” He pushed Dallas out the door and they all followed him. So Kellan agreed to the bet? That was mighty bold of him.
I could hear steps on the hardwood floor behind me. “You all right?” Chris asked.
Turning on my heel, I smiled. “Yep.” If Kellan was trying to win the bet, he wasn’t trying very hard. But then again, maybe five hundred dollars was nothing compared to the money he earned. I used to make a good living, but at least I was able to retrieve the money I had in the bank before my supposed death. Having that money helped, especially since I didn’t make nearly as much working at the pub. Hopefully soon I’d be back to doing what I loved.
“Why don’t you go home? I can finish up here,” Chris offered.
“You sure? I don’t mind staying.”
He shook his head. “Go. You do enough here as it is.”
I hurried behind the bar and grabbed my purse. “Thanks, Chris. After all the training Aylee puts me through, I’m exhausted by nine o’clock.”
“I can imagine.” He laughed. “I know not to mess with you now.”
Aylee taught me many self-defense techniques and how to fight. Before, I had no clue what to do if someone attacked me. After everything that happened with Mitchell and Cole, I had to make sure I was ready for anything. At least now, I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore.
I waved goodbye to Chris and then walked out the door. The night was cool and I breathed in the clean air; the smell of rain was near. We needed it after the long, dry summer we had. Looking over at my car, I didn’t realize there was a truck parked next to me with someone leaning against it. It wasn’t just any someone, either.
“Where were you tonight?” I asked, looking straight at Kellan’s smiling face. He had on a pair of jeans that hung low on his hips with a snug green T-shirt that showed off his perfectly sculpted arms. Why did he have to be so sexy? Not to mention, he had perfectly straight, white teeth, which I thought would be a rarity among hockey players.
“So you missed me, huh?”
His smile was infectious and I caught myself smiling back. “I wouldn’t say missed, but I was curious where you were. I saw what you did to Maddox.”
He shrugged. “It had to be done. Maddox has a large fucking head and needed to be brought down.”
I held up my hands. “You don’t have to explain. I, of all, people know what kind of head he has.” It was the size of the entire country.
Chuckling, he stepped forward, his gaze roaming over my body. “You seem different tonight. It’s not very often you smile.”
I hadn’t had a reason to, but I couldn’t tell him that. “Maybe it’s because I know something you don’t.”
“Oh yeah? What’s that?”
“Uh, I don’t know, perhaps something about a bet?”
Hard Stick is another great story from L.P. Dover! Kristen was a perfect mix of strength and vulnerability while Kellan was a great mix of cocky, confident and sexy without being a jerk.
As the author notes at the end of the blurb, Kellan may be a hockey player but this story is not centered around his time on the ice; instead, Kristen is the primary focus. As the story opens, it is obvious that she is stuck in an abusive relationship with a possessive, obsessive and downright psychotic man. As events unfold, I was horrified by what happened to her best friend when he tried to help her. She finally makes the decision to disappear and she turns to her friend Jason Avery for help. For those who have read No Limit, you will recognize that name!
Fast forward one year and Kristen has successfully been able to start a new life in North Carolina with Jason and Aylee’s help, but she is still constantly looking over her shoulder in fear that Mitchell will find her. She can’t take a job in interior design again because it would be an obvious place for Mitchell to search, so she is a bartender at the local hangout for the Charlotte Strikers hockey team for now. One of the guys in particular catches her eye, but she is done with womanizers, cheaters and players so she resists his advances.
Kellan may be a player on the ice but he is completely over it in his personal life. Kristen intrigues him with her down to earth personality, her beauty and her complete lack of interest in his fame and money. He sets his mind to convincing her to go on one date with him despite his teammates’ bet against him, and he can be very persuasive when he puts his mind to it! Kristen has a difficult time trusting anyone after her last experience with men and with her need to protect her real identity but she finds she wants to trust Kellan.
As they get to know each other, a more lighthearted and fun-loving version of Kristen emerges, and Kellan surprises her with how much they actually have in common. When she decides to take the risk of letting him in, she doesn’t regret it and things certainly get hot and heavy! Of course all good things cannot last forever, and eventually her fears are realized leading to a tumultuous last few chapters. I wish I could say the way that Mitchell finds her was a surprise but it was pretty easy to guess. All in all, Hard Stick was still a great read and I am looking forward to more of the Breakaway series!
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.
She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.
Dover has written countless novels, including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, the Society X series, the Circle of Justice series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.
L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency and Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management for dramatic rights.