Published by: Random House: Flirt
Publication date: September 5th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Romance, Sports
In a standalone hockey romance that tugs at readers’ heartstrings, a broken ex-pro learns to live and love again—all thanks to the complicated, wonderful nurse who gives him a second chance.
Brianna Collins needs to break away from her overbearing family. Her parents expect her to “fix” her brother after a series of concussions derailed his hockey career. Unfortunately, no doctor will give him clearance to play, and she’s finished with being the person they rely on to perform a miracle that will never happen. For Bree, a six-month nursing assignment at a hospital in Charlotte, North Carolina, is the perfect escape.
Luke Daniels, former forward for the NHL’s Charlotte Aviators, has spent close to a year rehabbing a career-threatening injury—and distracting himself however he can. Worlds collide when Luke realizes that the girl from his latest one-night-stand happens to be the new nurse at the hospital where he volunteers in the pediatric unit. What’s more, Bree’s the only person who makes him excited about life again.
Despite her initial reservations, Luke can’t help pursuing sweet, beautiful Bree. Then he realizes it was her brother whose career he ended with an accidental hit, and he falls back on the thing that’s always helped suppress his demons: alcohol. But if Luke doesn’t kick his old habits, he just may lose the one thing he loves more than hockey.
Don’t miss any of Sophia Henry’s exhilarating Pilots Hockey novels:
DELAYED PENALTY | POWER PLAY | INTERFERENCE | UNSPORTSMANLIKE CONDUCT | BREAKAWAY
Praise for Sophia Henry
“Sophia Henry’s hockey novels are fun and flirty, warm and sweet, with relatable heroines and swoon-worthy hockey heroes. They’ll bring a smile to your face and warmth to your heart.”—USA Today bestselling author Kelly Jamieson
“What are we toasting?” I ask Luke as we inch closer to our friends.
“It’s not an occasion. The Russians toast to everything. Gribsy brushed his teeth this morning! Hey!” Luke lifts an invisible glass. “Varenkov blinked. Hey!”
I giggle. “Life is meant to be celebrated.”
“She’s exactly right,” Aleksandr says, handing me a shot of clear liquid, which I assume, without trying to sound stereotypical, is vodka, given the present company. “But the toast is always the same. “Za zdaróvye! Which means—”
“To your health,” I finish.
Luke flinches at my words as if they’re offensive, but Aleksandr’s eyes widen and his lips pull into a smile.
“You speak Russian?” Aleksandr asks, in English, thankfully.
“No, but one of my father’s best friends is Russian, so I’ve heard the toast before.”
No reason to mention that I had broken up with Arkady Stepurin, the son of dad’s aforementioned best friend, a few weeks before making the decision to become a traveling nurse and get the hell out of California. It’s much simpler to reference dad’s connection instead.
Despite coming up through the USA hockey system, and playing in the NCAA after that, Dad has friends in every league and every country. He and former Anaheim defenseman (now assistant coach) Igor Stepurin became close quickly. Igor played with the Ducks his entire career and Dad knew guys on the team. Those connections, along with their mutual interests in outdoor activities like hiking and water sports, created a friendship that’s still going strong.
As their bromance blossomed, Mom and Anna, Igor’s wife, were thrown together whether they liked it or not. But Mom is an opportunist—in the best way possible—and she roped Anna into being the “face” of multiple Healthy Girl advertising campaigns. That business relationship helped seal their friendship. When we moved to our current house, Igor and Anna bought the place next door the day it went on the market. The Stepurin family and ours are intertwined in so many ways.
Which made leaving town an absolute necessity after finding out Arkady had cheated on me when he traveled to play at away games. It’s not like I was head over heels in love—or all that surprised—but no girl ever likes to be used, and having been together two years, ours had been my longest relationship. Betrayal is going to hurt no matter what, but—to add another layer to the almost incestuous relationship—Arkady is also my brother Mason’s best friend.
In hindsight, I never should’ve gotten involved with someone who was so tied to our family. But how could I not? Falling for the literal boy next door is straight out of a romance novel. Though I’ve used the last few years to focus on my career, I’ll be the first to admit I want the love story someday.
But not with a hockey player. I’d sworn them off after Arkady.
Dad and Mason gave me an insider’s eye into the mindset and priorities of a professional athlete. His career—and quest for being the best—comes before everything else. And if a woman wants to be with him, she has to want to be there for the ride. She has to understand that he will be gone most of the time. He will have complete focus on the game, a borderline cockiness, and the selfishness—maybe even loneliness—that comes with that profession.
That’s not the life I want. I want someone who can have a career, but always put our relationship first. A job should be the means to have the kind of life you want, not what you put ahead of everything and everyone. It may be my own selfishness shining through. I have dreams and I don’t want to sacrifice those for someone else. In my ideal relationship, we should be able to grow and pursue our life goals together.
I totally understand why mom didn’t want to be a hockey wife.
Award-Winning Author, Sophia Henry, is a proud Detroit native who fell in love with reading, writing and hockey all before she became a teenager. She did not, however, fall in love with snow. So after graduating with an English degree from Central Michigan University, she moved to the warmth of North Carolina for the remainder of her winters.
She spends her days writing books featuring hot, hockey-playing heroes. When she’s not writing, she’s chasing her two high-energy sons, watching her beloved Detroit Red Wings, and rocking out at concerts.