Series: San Francisco Thunder #4
Published by Forever on January 15th 2019
Genres: Contemporary Romance, sports romance
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All Winnie Braddock wants is a quiet place to be alone and time to heal her battered heart. But the refuge she'd hoped for in her family's summer cottage is destroyed when she gets there to find Holden Hendricks literally camped out in the driveway. He made her life hell when they were kids, and despite what he says, it doesn't look like much has changed. She doesn't care if her brother hired Holden to renovate the house this winter; she wants him gone.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take. Holden knows that hockey saying all too well. After all, he could have gone pro if he hadn't messed up so much as a kid. But now he's desperate to prove he's changed for the better, especially to Winnie Braddock. As the two work together to fix the cottage piece by piece, they realize that perhaps they can give each other the new beginning they've both been waiting for-if they're just willing to take the shot.
NOW OR NEVER
by VICTORIA DENAULT
Ah! Bliss! Sports romance is one of my top favorite genres. There’s just something about these self confident, determined, cocky athletes that makes my knees weak. Add an enemies-to-lovers trope with great banter and you have my book catnip.
I loved these characters. Winnie’s grief was written in such a real manner, it was palpable how much she was hurting and trying to come to grips with the death of her dad. Reading how she struggled, cried, drank her sorrow away and lashed out at Holden, I felt her mourning to my bones. Holden is the one person she didn’t expect to get her through this but it’s him who helps her focusing on her grief and doesn’t let her drown in it. Victoria Denault shows us how abrasive and aggressive Winnie is in the beginning but transforms her gradually and realistically into a sweet, strong young woman who fights for the people she loves. And while it takes Winona a while to trust the change in Holden, once she does she’s 100% in.
Holden Hendricks is persona non grata in his little hometown in Maine. His frustration about the people’s distrust in his transformation is understandable but so is the people’s skepticism all the awful things he did.
“Coming back to this place was a mistake. I’m done. I’m finishing your cottage and I’m moving back to Boston. Or somewhere else. Somewhere people don’t know about my past so I don’t have to fucking waste my time trying to convince people I’ve changed.”
He is determined, though, and really works hard to fix the trouble he caused. I loved Holden so much. He is a good, hard-working man with a mischievous streak who, yes, falls into old habits sometimes but never causes other people harm. Once he knows why Winona is so grief-stricken he can totally relate and it’s almost a little bit ironic that she is now lashing out at him for the same reasons he did when he was young.
“I was a mean little brat back in the day, but I saw you, Winnie. I saw your kindness and your intelligence. I still see it. Difference is back then it made me feel worse about myself. Now I can just admire it.”
From the start there was an undeniable chemistry between Winona and Holden that built up to sexual tension really fast. It seems that they often fall back to square one after an argument but they actually make progress with each fight. Usually when characters fight a lot there is also a great deal of angst which has the potential to become frustrating. I didn’t feel that in NOW OR NEVER. The snark absorbed a lot of that. It also helped that after a fight they thought about it hard and apologized when they realized their mistake. When they became close the sweetness and sexiness of their relationship became my favorite thing. The way Holden treated Winnie and showed her how special she was to him was swoon-worthy as all get out.
“I was your favorite Braddock sister?”
I ask in awe because it sure as hell didn’t feel that way. “You were my favorite everything.”
Winnie and Holden were extremely relatable characters and I loved their connection so much.
NOW OR NEVER is my first book by Victoria Denault and it definitely won’t be my last. Her writing style is very fluid and captivating which made this story a really fast read. I marked so many quotes because of the beautiful, meaningful things Winona and Holden said to each other.
This book can be read as a standalone. The author gives you enough information about the previous books in the series so that you don’t feel lost, but she teases you so much that you are desperate to read them. I can’t wait to go back and read all stories by Ms. Denault. She has an undeniable talent to pull you into the story from the beginning and doesn’t let go until you’re done. The whole Braddock family snuck up on me and I really, REALLY want to read their HEAs.
“I need you.”
“You have me,” he grunts as he pushes hard into me. “You fucking own me.”