Honestly, this book was a struggle for me. It's no wonder it took me a week to read it, I simply couldn't connect with Bess, our MC. I didn't LIKE her, I didn't understand her and her way of thinking and near the end I didn't BELIEVE her. Yeah Sarina made everything happen in a perfect kind of way both her and Mark but if Bess was a "real person" and this wasn't a book promised to have a "Happily Ever After" I can guarantee her relationship with Mark would have ended and badly.
We've met Bess Beringer. She is Dave's little sister. Though Dave was part of the "Brooklyn Bruisers" hokey team he found his own HEA with Zara in "Bountiful" (part of the "True North" series), and now it's time for his sister a sports agent to find her own. Spending time with Dave and Zara she makes a 5-year plan when she realizes her 30th birthday is near and though she has the career she has always wanted and is fairly secured financially she is still missing two key elements and time is running short at least on one of those – having kids. But her nicely laid plans are smacked when she meets the new add to the team Mark "Tank" Tankiewicz. Seeing him a day before her birthday reminds her of the last birthday she celebrated with him 9 years ago. They were both young not thinking things through when Bess was made to realize what a bad decision it was to have a relationship with him.
For Mark, seeing Bess at a party he doesn't even feel like attending, bring hope for a better night than the previous ones and maybe the next to come. His life couldn't be more complicated. His wife divorcing him might not be a real shock to him, being transferred to his team's worst opponent is. They don't like him, they don't trust him, and they don't know how to work with him making the practices horrendous so he can't imagine the games would be any better. There are rumors as well, but he isn't interested enough to even pay attention to those. They can say whatever it is they want. It's all lies.
Bess couldn't say no to Mark 9 years ago and she can't say no to him now. She might be a successful business woman today, looking for a REAL partner to raise a family with, but she has always had her soft spot for Mark and so they find themselves tangling in the sheets against her better judgment - too many times to count. For Mark it's BLISS having Bess in his life. After everything he has went through in the last few years, playing with a new team and having a hard time connecting with them on and off the ice, everything he shares with Bess makes him happy like he hasn't been for SO LONG. But he isn't sure what he can actually offer Bess so he keeps quiet about it until she puts it on the table and things take one hell of a turn from there.
There were enough hints for me to understand where this thing was going. Mark's reasons mostly. He is SUCH a sweet and caring guy. I truly adored him and hoped he could find a way to his own happiness after everything he went through. But see, both him and Bess kept their past hidden. Bess had her own sad life story, growing up without a mother, being abused by her father. Dave has always been all of her world and it's no wonder how close they are and how much they care for one another. But though people around her know about her past, she has never confined in Mark about ANY of it. So when he keeps his own silence about his marriage and why it fell apart and what happened with his team she doesn't poke him about it.
For me, it felt like they were just having a lot of fun together but never actually putting themselves out there. They might have had a few heartfelt conversations, especially about Mark's agent and Bess's first boss who was in a very dire state, but for me it meant something was missing. Sex is great, but it doesn't build a relationship. The real talk came eventually but when it did I couldn't for the life of me believe Bess. I COULD and DID believe Mark. He wanted Bess so much and he would have agreed to have her anyway he could. But Bess's decision on that spot was simply unrealistic. She was breaking all of her rules and as I said, if this wasn't a novel life would have made her resent him in the long run even though Sarina made a beautiful solution for them. I just think it would have been better for all of these solutions to come into their discussion before Bess made promises it's obvious to me she wouldn't and couldn't be happy with on the long run.
It would be obvious for anyone who actually knows me what my problem is with Bess and this book specifically. Though I'm older than Bess I never wanted to have kids. It was never a priority or an interest so while I'm looking for a relationship, I don't feel there is a looming clock over my head. Bess is melting to the floor over every and any kids she sees. She is also HIGHLY jealous of any parent she meets (including her brother). This is not a behavior I vibe with. There are many people around me who have things I wish and hope for. It doesn't really matter now what these things are. I'm HAPPY for them. I don't choke up because they have something I want. I smile and send a whisper on the wind to one day have "that" (whatever that is). Yet even with that she makes the wrong decisions in every turn. She doesn't do ONE step in her 5-year plan. Going on a few dates with guys she should have been able to dismiss on the phone before meeting them doesn't count.
I’m sorry for this review. Really. I've been a HUGE fan of this series, and naturally of Sarina but that's what happens when a character, especially a FEMALE characters turn into someone I can't for the life of me connect, relate with or understand. This is my own personal problem I can more than guess many people (and espeically women) wouldn't relate with (they would probably relate with HER). So that's on me. I really did enjoy getting to revisit the team, the couples, old and new. Seeing how things are and how they progress as well as more of Eric Bayer also a former Brookly Bruisers player and the MC from "Moonlighter" the new spin off series "The Company" who is now Bess's employee.
I kindly received this ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.
This book will be out in just a few more days - 12 May 2020 - Pre-Order it through the links below.