Jacey Vaughn has a newly minted MBA when her father dies unexpectedly
and leaves her his NHL team. Well-versed in business but not so much in
hockey, Jacey navigates this new world with a few stumbles. She
definitely doesn’t plan on falling for the team captain. At the first
hint of scandal, a local Las Vegas reporter latches on, and Jacey finds
herself in the newspaper with headlines that hurt instead of help.
Jacey’s determined to keep her father’s legacy alive and make the team
successful, but while she has no problem denying her feelings to the
media, she can’t lie to herself.
Carter Phlynn has known nothing but hockey his entire life. Drafted
into the NHL at age eighteen, winning the Stanley Cup is all he’s ever
wanted. Nothing has ever disrupted his focus. Not until he meets his new
boss. Jacey gets under his skin like no one else, and while dating the
team owner would be a disaster for his career and reputation, he can’t
get her out of his head. Carter has never had a relationship last more
than a month, but the more he’s around Jacey, the more he can’t picture
his future without her.
31st: End of the Night
leaned against the taxi window, legs crossed. She tried to make herself as
small as possible to accommodate the two extra-large hockey players beside her.
Carter took the middle seat to shield her from the one-hundred-proof Kevin
Scott. On a good day, the six-foot, four-inch left wing could charm with the
best of them, but tonight his auburn hair looked like crazy porcupine quills,
and the dark circles under his eyes weren’t from costume paint. The Eau de
Bourbon cologne didn’t help. Shortly after Carter had angled him into the cab,
Kevin’s head lolled back, his eyes closed, and the snoring began. At least the
cab driver’s loud, Simply Sinatra radio station drowned most of it out.
really know how to show a girl a good time, Phlynn.”
you call me Phlynn? We are so moving in the wrong direction.”
kind of want to kill Scotty. Is that a normal, ownerly feeling?”
head dropped onto Carter’s shoulder, eliciting a disgusted wince from the
captain. Carter pushed him back against the door. “Oh, he’ll pay for
interrupting our date. There’s an afternoon practice tomorrow. He sleeps
through it, Nealy skins him alive. He shows up like this, he’ll wish he was so
though she’d already sort of known, it was different to hear him say it.
stared at her a minute, his expression unreadable. For a brief second, she
thought he’d take it back, say he misspoke. The hope in her voice was
embarrassing enough to make her consider tucking and rolling right out into the
street. Then his smile flickered back. “I know these aren’t the most romantic
circumstances right now, but the night started off pretty well.”
crept up into her face as the first hot kiss replayed in her mind. He’d caught
her mid accusation, and once the shock wore off, her Id came out to play and
shoved Super Ego Jacey in the closet. She couldn’t remember ever letting go
like that. Her pulse sped up at the memory.
curled his fingers into hers and kissed each knuckle slowly. His lips felt warm
and smooth as silk against her skin. She shot a nervous glance at Kevin, but he
was dead to the world. And Carter didn’t seem to care one way or the other. He
turned her hand over and kissed the pulse point at her wrist. “Night’s not over
hip-checked Super Ego Jacey back in the closet and threw away the key. I am
so gonna regret this.
they dropped Scotty off at his house, only the cabbie’s occasional,
rear-view-mirror glances kept Carter a gentleman. Jacey looked like a sexy
super villain in the glowing horns and that dress. The glittering black flame
hemline kept inching up her legs. The black wig looked hot, but he wanted to
take it off and run his fingers through her soft curls while he kissed the
responsible out of her. Arms folded under her chest, he could see her mentally
wrestling with something. He’d bet anything its name was Madden.
trust him, right?”
brother you still picture with braces and acne.”
don’t…okay, maybe I do. It’s just…”
Cove. Here we are!” The cabbie turned the music down and slowed the car to a
stop in front of their neighborhood gates. Carter handed over the fare and tip
then helped Jacey out. She’d been relaxed around him all night, and he couldn’t
get over it. The no-nonsense woman who’d turned his life upside down step by
step actually had a soft side.
key-fobbed them in and offered his arm. She took it without reservation, and as
they fell into step, he felt something hit the back of his leg. Her devil tail.
For a minute, he stared transfixed as it swayed from her backside. A sharp poke
to his stomach snapped his head back around.
your mother ever tell you not to leer at a lady with a pitchfork?”
let me think. ‘Wear a helmet. Homework before hockey. Stop picking on Shane;
he’s smaller than you.’ Nope, must have missed that one. And I was not leering.
I was admiring.”
We grew up together. Closest thing to a brother I’ve had.”
did Madden do? I mean, aside from sleep with the enemy. You were about to say.”
Carter directed his gaze to the sidewalk lit by the fancy streetlamps. He
didn’t want to put more pressure on her by staring. She didn’t pull away, but
he could feel her tense up.
don’t have to answer that…”
always had a head for numbers. Mix that with poor impulse control, and you get
a world-class gambling addict. Twelve-step programs for Madden were more like
thirty-six steps. But supposedly, he did it—quit. I knew Vegas would be bad for
him. He ran up a huge debt with a loan shark. To a normal person, the answer to
debt isn’t more gambling. To an addict…”
get the picture. He keeps making it worse.”
not a bad kid. He has a good heart. But I think we’ll have to sell the house. I
was going to anyway, eventually. It feels more like a Hollywood set than a
home. We’ll pay his debt, and then I’ll make sure he—”
stop.” Carter stilled and gave her no choice. She faced him, her expression
curious, and it broke his heart a little. “You didn’t ask for any of this, did
you? You probably had some job lined up with a Fortune 500 company. Then your
father passes and leaves you with a basically new hockey team to run all by
yourself. The way you talk, I can tell this isn’t the first time you’ve assumed
responsibility for your brother. Why do you do it?”
else would I do? My father is the reason I had the chance at the best
education, made the best contacts. This team was his soul, and he left it to
me. I can’t walk away from that. I won’t. And Madden…he’s the only family I
have left. Yes, he’s a screw-up, but I’m not giving up on him. He needs me; I’m
there. It’s who I am.”
passion in her voice and the certainty in her eyes touched him. What would it
be like to have someone feel that way about him? Shock set in as he realized he
wanted to be on the receiving end of that devotion. It was a scary thought and
one he immediately questioned, but the answer remained the same. Any man would
be lucky to have Jacey on his side.
stepped forward. When she didn’t back away, he cupped her jaw and kissed her.
It started out soft, but when she didn’t protest, he deepened it. A few seconds
went by before she returned it, tentative. He pulled back just enough to rest
his forehead against hers and looked into her half-lidded eyes.
was that for?”
smiled and leaned up to kiss him this time. He slid his free arm around her
waist and hauled her closer. It elicited a surprised purr from the angelic
devil woman, and the sound stole his last scrap of reason. “Your street’s one
block over. Mine’s around the corner, and it’s still relatively early. Do you
want to come over for a while?”
fully expected her to say no. Jacey, the list-maker, the pro/con weigher, the
only person who could define Type A better than he could would never agree to
it—especially on a work night. He could see the mental war on her face, and
every silent second made his heart beat harder. Had he gone too far? They’d
more or less obliterated the boss-employee professional boundary tonight. But
if she said yes, they were likely to do something they couldn’t take back or
don’t know what this is. I know professionally that I shouldn’t, but tonight,
as crazy as it was, I relaxed for the first time in a really long time. I like
being with you, God help me.”
last part sounded so resigned that he had to laugh. “Gee, thanks.”
know what I mean.”
brushed a light kiss to her lips, the corner of her mouth, then the base of her
ear. “I like being with you too. Let’s go work on that relaxation some more.”
GIVEAWAY: For an e-copy of this book from the author, what do you enjoy most about sports romances?
Thank you to
Katie Kenyhercz for reaching out for a review. I have been sitting on this one for a while, but I finally read this on Memorial Day here in the States. I had been waiting to read this one until after I had finished Graduate School and boy am I glad I did. I love hockey romances almost as much as I love watching Hockey!
Right from the start, Jacey and Carter have a bit of sexual tension between them. They shouldn’t because Jacey is the owner of the team that Carter plays hockey for. Carter turns down an offer to another team when he meets Jacey and his agent doesn’t understand why. Frankly, neither did Carter or his best friend and fellow teammate.
When a reporter starts making a name for herself at the expense of Jacey, Carter, and the team, she puts herself out there to out an end to it. That is until the reporter uses her connection to Jacey’s brother and causes the NHL and other team owners to call an emergency meeting to determine what to do about this situation. Afterall, there isn’t a woman owned team that isn’t backed by her husband.
It has been a while since I was captivated by a sports romance that way I was with this one. I look forward to more book by this author!