Series: Hard Play, #4, #4
Published by TKA Distribution on 3rd May 2022
Buy on Amazon
Daniel Esera is a young god on the rugby field, a sexy and charming man who's got the world at his feet. There's just one problem: his sudden potent attraction to his number one nemesis--Catie River. No. Just no. Not happening.
Catie River is on her way to Paralympic gold, and she's not about to allow Danny "Hotshot" Esera to derail her plans. Too bad her body isn't cooperating. Even worse? Her heart might be coming along for the ride. No. Nope. Never.
The pair are united in their desire to remain enemies... until a stranger's reckless action threatens both their careers. Now, the only way out for Catie and Danny is to pretend to be in a relationship. How bad can it be? They're adults in full control of their hormones and their hearts. There will be no kissing. No PDA. And definitely no falling in love.
Let the games begin.
From time to time I’d venture into Nalini Singh’s contemporary word outside of her Psy-changeling series for a breath of fresh air. ‘Kiss Hard’ is one of those times and as always, I find myself taken aback–in a good way–at the threads of warmth that always shoot through her family-type romance stories, where snarky humour and familial cosiness (though this might be an Antipodean style of writing, perhaps?) seem key to her contemporary series.
That ‘Kiss Hard’ was pitched as an enemies-to-lovers type story was one that sunk me well and good. But Danny Esera and Catie Rivers aren’t exactly enemies; they’re more frenemies who have grown up together and like taking pot shots at each other while always being in each other’s corner instead of hostile foes hell bent on total destruction as I’d expected (and honestly, hoped for).
That relationship hasn’t and shouldn’t change given how comfortable they both are with throwing shade at each other at every given opportunity, god forbid really, until a compromising event makes the both of them look at each other in a different light.
Even as frenemies, their chemistry sizzles; as lovers, it’s taken a notch higher in a slow-burn that starts by fake-dating and undeniable mutual attraction. Still, I think the standout here really is Singh’s bold portrayal of Catie and her disability–an elite athlete who’s also a double-amputee–written in a manner so well-balanced that she’d never felt like a character that was over-compensating or self-pitying in any way. It’s also for this reason that I felt more for Catie more than Danny who seems a little more of a stereotypical player with a heart for people he calls his own.
Family ties take equal priority in their low-angst drama in getting together, though the inclusion of so many secondary characters (who also have stories of their own) can be a distraction at times. They are the checks and counterbalances in Catie/Danny’s growing relationship, yet also the anchor that grounds them both in reality. It isn’t necessary to read the rest of the books in this series, though the strong ties written about here and the years that flow between these books seem to suggest that you might actually need to for a complete picture of the Bishop/Esera clan. Feel-good vibes are aplenty, interspersed with some sober reality bits, and if you like written-in-the-stars-type of stories, ‘Kiss Hard’ carries that tinge of kismet of two people who are meant to be.