By Samantha Whiskey
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Gage McPherson was the Seattle Shark’s best Grinder, until he shattered his shoulder last season. Time heals all wounds…but the heartbroken single dad has more than his share of trust issues. The playboy only lets one girl close to his iced-over heart–his pint-sized daughter who’s the center of his world. She’s the only thing more important to him than hockey, and he trusts no one with her…except me.
We’ve been friends since we were kids, and I love his daughter like she’s my own, so what’s the easiest solution to help Gage out? Move in and be his live-in nanny for the season. As far as she goes, the arrangement is perfect. But her drop-dead-sexy father? Frustrating on every possible level.
There is a thick, professional line drawn between us by his own hand, and despite understanding the terms, my body is practically begging him to cross it. Our chemistry is off the charts, but one misstep, and we could hurt the one person we love most. This game is all-or-nothing. Can I risk my heart on a guy who is known for the shut-out, on and off the ice?
So here’s the deal after reading Grinder: Gage McPherson is my new book boyfriend – sign me up and paint me red, where can I find me a guy like this?
For some reason, I wanted to tread lightly when reading this book, perhaps afraid that the shoe would drop at some point, but it was like coming across the scene of an accident – as much as you don’t want to stare, you can’t help seeking out every gory detail. Gage? He’s too good to be true, even though he sleeps with puck bunny after puck bunny in an effort to fill the void in his heart and keep his mind off his best friend-turned-nanny Bailey. Bailey? She’s a strong, independent woman – who’s actually got a brain in her head – who has always wanted nothing more than to be a mom. She accepted the job as Lettie’s nanny after graduating from college while seeking a permanent position at an art gallery and quickly falls into the role, head over heels enamored with the spunky little girl.
The lifelong best friendship Gage and Bailey shared was overshadowed by the potential for so much more: do they explore the chemistry and comfort they have together, the feeling that it’s just “right” between them, and risk the chance that Gage’s daughter Lettie would be crushed if they end up breaking up?
Debut author Samantha Whiskey is a masterful storyteller, and it’s easy to fall right into the characters and be tuned in to their emotions, feelings and insecurities. It’s refreshing that these two admit their feelings and start working at building a relationship, but it’s not long before the elephant in the room – Gage inadvertently punishing Bailey for his ex’s inability to be a good person, good partner or good mom – threatens whatever happiness they might have. The barriers start popping up, and one secret in particular threatens their future together. Even though their love is palpable, Bailey does her best to move on, only to have fate intervene.
The storyline and sub-plots were well-constructed and clever, the characters were realistic and easy to identify with, and the HEA was both surprising and satisfying. Readers will be awed by the romance, in-depth characterization and unquestionable chemistry, and steadily paced solid storyline.
I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
“And…us?” she asked, holding her breath.
“That’s up to us,” I answered. “To me, we’re together. I’m not hiding that from anyone unless you tell me I have to. I know since you work for me, it’s kind of a tangled situation, but if that’s an issue, then you’re fired. You can have a one-million-dollar severance package if you want it.”
She laughed with a watery smile. “Gage, I don’t want your money. I don’t care about it, or the hockey, or the fame. I just want you.”
I kissed her softly. “Then you have me.”
Lettie’s tiny hand took mine. Shit. What had she heard?
“I’ve decided that I don’t like you,” Lettie said to Helen, her voice curious, but even. “You’re mean, and Bailey says I have to be nice to mean people because they need it the most, but I don’t like you. You’re not my friend. You’re not my daddy’s friend or my Bailey’s friend, so you shouldn’t be at my party. You make people sad.”
Helen stared at our daughter, paling. “But…don’t you want to get to know me?”
Lettie looked at her long and hard. “You left…and your face doesn’t move when you talk. That’s enough. But thank you for coming to my party.” She annunciated every word as clearly as possible, with a great deal of thought.
And she remembered her manners. Hot damn.
Her little hand squeezed mine tightly, and when I offered my arms, she took them. I lifted her against my chest.
“You’re just like your daddy,” Helen said, sadness radiating from her eyes.
“He’s a badass,” Lettie said with a nod.
I didn’t bother correcting her.
Original review posted on Amazon and Goodreads on July 7, 2016.