Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Book Tour for Marek by Sawyer Bennett (REVIEW)

A woman’s big secret is finally revealed when her first love returns on the day of her wedding to another man with readers witnessing all the emotional fallout.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Marek by Sawyer Bennett, along with my impressions of this angst read, then add this eleventh installment in the Cold Fury Hockey series to your bookshelf.

When the Carolina Cold Fury’s hottest young star gets blindsided by an ex with a scandalous secret, it’s game on.
Marek Fabritis is used to delivering blows, not receiving them. But when he gets tipped off by an anonymous email about his ex-girlfriend, the news leaves him ice cold—and it’s not because Gracen Moore is getting married to a total jerk. It’s the fact that Marek has a three-year-old daughter he never knew about. Now he’s going back home, not to play knight in shining armor but to make damn sure that no man takes what’s his. For the first time, there might be something more important than hockey.
Gracen Moore has always loved Marek. That’s why she let him go, so he could pursue a career in the NHL. And that’s why she never told him about Lilly. Only now does Gracen realize that she made an unforgivable mistake. But is that any reason for Marek to crash her wedding and make an epic scene? If the spark that still smolders between them is to be trusted, maybe. Still, Gracen’s not getting her hopes up. Because she knows better than anyone that appearances aren’t always what they seem...




Through ten books I’ve found myself captivated by the men and women of the Cold Fury hockey series, gotten caught up in their HEAs, and finally feel like an honorary member of their sports family.  With this eleventh installment, while there’s still a sense of family, I found myself struggling with connecting to this tale full of anger and regret.  From the moment past lovers reunite there’s an unending battle being waged over mutual hurts that often interferes with their rekindling romance, frustrated me, and ultimately put a shadow on my overall enjoyment of this story.  Despite the emotional battle going on between them though I still found myself rooting for this couple who’ve kept themselves from HEA long enough.

Gracen and Marek were once young lovers who never thought anything could tear them apart.  The day he went off to gain fame, desiring to be unencumbered by anything, is the day her heart was crushed though which set her on a path of self-destructive choices.  Being a single mother she thankfully had her parent’s support, but her decision to not inform Marek of the pregnancy fuels his anger and her guilt and permeates the first half of this story as a big wall keeping them apart.  Gracen repeatedly beats herself up over her secret, allows Marek to be cruel, and it took a long time before she finally stood up for herself.  Sticking up for herself had her sometimes being cruel to Marek in a frustrating tug-of-war that disappointed me too.  Not only is her relationship with Marek complicated, but so too are her reasons for marrying her hometown banker.  Theirs is an engagement based on blackmail, a connection that turns dangerous and creepy, and which ultimately made no sense from the moment she agreed to wed.  By again keeping quiet she put herself and her family in danger.  The moment she opens up to Marek is the moment where a weight has been lifted off her.  When it comes to thoughts of the future though she refuses to put her heart completely on the line, worried that once again she’ll be left behind.  By keeping her heart hardened it’s like she’s purposely sabotaging their future which saddened me.  While it diminishes the heartwarming moments between them a bit, it in no way diminishes their erotically-charged encounters. It’s those encounters that ties them together and kept me glued to the pages. On a whole Gracen’s an admirable heroine doing the best she can.  She’s a devoted mother, selfless when it comes to family, but not always the best decision maker as she always just wants to handle everything on her own.  She isn’t my favorite heroine in this series, sometimes hurtful in her words and deeds, but I was definitely rooting for her after all the emotional adversity she caused herself.

Marek was drawn to Gracen the moment he saw her as a young teen and for five years they were inseparable.  The only thing more important than Gracen is hockey and his wanting to be a success had him making a regrettable decision to leave her behind to keep focused on the sport and his future.  Gracen’s life went on without him, having a daughter without him, and all of it fuels his anger and forces him into becoming an adult.  On the outside their years apart seemed to be full of fun and women, but in reality there were many moments he missed Gracen.  Being given the chance to start over is a miracle that doesn’t go smoothly though.  Seeing his daughter Lilly gives him a sense of pride while being with Gracen offers him endless temptations that requires him to finally put the past to rest.  It’s a rocky road of cringe-worthy words and deeds, heartfelt talks and scorching interludes full of heart and soul, that I give him credit for initiating.  Marek may have acted overbearing early on, acted like the injured party, but he was desperate to keep his newfound family close.  He ultimately stepped up to do the right thing and his matured actions and words had me cheering.  With a single grand gesture he proved to Gracen and Lilly how much they meant to him and it was the sexiest thing I’ve ever seen a hero do.  While he’s not the greatest hero at times, I still admire his never giving up and all the other imperfections that made him larger than life.

On a whole this was a story that kept me glued to the pages.  The main couple is flawed, having issues over communication and their dwelling over the past, but I still felt fully invested in their HEA.  Theirs is a journey full of angst, emotional intensity, hurtful words, but it’s ultimately a journey based on the love that started when they were teens.  Their romance was an intense one balanced with scorching interludes that made me blush at times but I also enjoyed those quiet moments seeing them as a family.  I don’t normally care for children in romances but Lilly was a delight.  She was a charmer who brought out a softer side to the usually self-assured Marek.  Around her he wore his heart on his sleeve and wanting to be a family pushed him to work with Gracen instead of being at war with her.  Alongside this combustible main couple was the steady support of Marek’s teammate Reed and his wife Josie.  Josie was a good friend and sounding board to Gracen while Reed didn’t allow Marek to wallow in his BS.  Reed called him out and forced him into manning up.  Reed forced Marek into putting childish hurts behind him to be an adult and the kind of father and man Lilly and Gracen needs.  The crux of this story was based on emotions and past hurts, so readers who don’t normally read sports romances won’t find too much time spent on the ice.  His teammates were there in support with an intriguing glimpse given of Holt and his obvious attraction to his interior designer that has me counting down the days until the next installment. By the turn of the final page I was left satisfied despite the sometimes frustrating actions of the main couple and I look forward to joining this unconventional family on and off the ice again soon.

My rating for this is a C+/B-

*I got this book from NetGalley for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Since the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released multiple books, many of which have appeared on the New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists.
A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.
Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active daughter, as well as full-time servant to her adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or even better, both.
Sawyer also writes general and women’s fiction under the pen name S. Bennett and sweet romance under the name Juliette Poe.

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