Bad-boy pro-hockey player Esa Saari lives for hockey and not much else, and he doesn’t see why becoming the guardian of his niece has to change things—no matter what the cute-but-demanding nanny has to say about it or how much she’s getting under his skin.
Blades star Esa Saari’s world is turned upside down when he becomes the guardian of Nell, his 8-year-old niece, and knocked sideways when he realizes he has a thing for Michelle Beck, the nanny he hired to care for her. For a man who’s always appreciated the smooth glide of an uncomplicated life, he’s finding it harder and harder to remain detached and disinterested, especially with Michelle encouraging him to step up, participate more and to be honest about his emotions with the sweetly fragile girl. Esa was raised in an emotionally distant home, and he’s never stopped to consider an alternative. That is, until now, when even he notices that Nell is looking to him for support and comfort. Michelle is a guiding light for both of them, and together, the threesome forms a protective cocoon against the world. But when Esa acts on his blazing attraction for the nanny and she responds, their cozy world will be ripped apart by a slew of negative factors, and their fledging relationship will be tested by family, friends and his very public lifestyle and negative reputation. Martin has penned an emotionally touching romance set in the tough, raw world of professional hockey, and her characters are realistic and appealing, with relatable, coherent arcs that make sense and show appreciable growth (though a touch less vulgarity in the dialogue would have been welcome). Even when Esa and Michelle make irritating, troublesome choices, they make sense for the flaws and struggles of the personalities involved, and we cheer for them as they overcome their mistakes and vulnerabilities.
A sexy, successful contemporary romance, with chemistry, heat and a feel-good, affecting happy-ever-after ending that its intended audience will approve.