Publisher: Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept
Date of publication: October 23rd, 2018
Series: Aces Hockey
Major Misconduct—Book 1
Off Limits—Book 1.5
Top Shelf—Book 3
Back Check—Book 4
Big Stick—Book 7
Game On—Book 8–expected publication date January 15th, 2019
A brooding hockey hunk learns to embrace life—and love—from a single mom who takes the world one puck at a time.
Big move . . . Jodie’s motto is “Don’t wait for the perfect moment – take the moment and make it perfect.” And that’s just what she decides to do when she moves to Chicago with her two-year-old daughter. Now all Jodie needs is a place to live, and her best friend’s boyfriend has just the answer.
Big stick . . . Nick Balachov has zero interest in socializing, partying, or flirting now. It’s not that he doesn’t like women. He loves them. It’s just that hockey, casual hookups, and hanging out at home are enough for him these days. Now Nick has a big problem – because the woman living in his empty coach house is a major distraction.
Big deal? The more Nick tries to keep his distance, the more Jodie needs him – around the house, that is. First, he helps with the snowstorm, then the power outage. Nick even finds himself trying to impress her little girl. What the hell is wrong with him? Jodie represents everything Nick doesn’t want. But maybe she’s just what he needs. . . .
I want to clue you all in for my first paragraph. Usually, when I say that, it is because the book has made me bawl my eyes out or it sucks. Well, in this case, it is neither. This clue is about the timeline of the book. I am going to assume that most of you have read the earlier books in the Aces Hockey series. Big Stick’s plotline coincides with Playing Hurt’s. Actually, Big Stick starts off with what was mid-book for Playing Hurt. What clued me in? The party where Nick met Jodie was one of Chase and Jordyn’s first dates. Then little hints of their relationship showed up in Big Stick. Like when they broke up and Nick had that talk with Chase. It was mentioned in this book after it happened. So, if you are reading Big Stick and happen to see Chase and Jordyn’s names come up, don’t be “WTF“. The author chose to start Nick and Jodie’s story around the same time. It was also a smart move on the author’s part. That would make me look into buying the other books in the series.
Playing Hurt is Nick and Jodie’s story. Nick is a loner. He is a grouch. He hates little kids (his words, not mine). He wants to be left alone. Nick is still dealing with the death of his brother, 3 years later. A death that he feels responsible for. He figures that he is better off keeping to himself. Then he meets Jodie. Jodie is the complete opposite of Nick. She loves to socialize. She is the complete opposite of a grouch. She likes to surround herself with people. She also has a 2-year-old daughter. After a disastrous run-in at a party hosted by Hallsy and Kendra, Jodie is left with the wrong impression of Nick. When Jodie decides she is outstaying her welcome at Hallsy and Kendra’s apartment, Nick makes her an offer. Live in his coach house for minimal rent until she can get on her feet. What could happen? Well, hot monkey sex and falling in love. But can it last? Can Nick decide that he needs Jodie and her daughter in his life or will he let them go?
The two main characters, Nick and Jodie, were complete polar opposites. Since this is a romance novel, they were going to get together. But man, they were like night and day. Nick was serious and kept to himself. Jodie was not serious and loved to socialize. If this was going to be a real-life couple, I would say that their relationship wouldn’t have lasted for very long. But it did. The author, somehow, made them being opposites work in their favor. He was able to come around to being more social and she tried being a bit more serious.
I will say that I loved Jodie’s daughter. I wanted to reach through the screen and squeeze her. Her reaction to Nick was hilarious. “A big giant” was one of the best lines in the book. I also loved her “face fur” comment. That sounded like something one of my kids would have said about their father. I did feel bad for what happened to her in the book. I would have had the same reaction as Nick.
Jodie and Nick had some serious chemistry going on. Sparks flew when they first met. I had a mental bet going on with myself (so sad, huh) about how long it would take for them to start having sex. I lost the bet. They actually held out longer than I thought they would have. Speaking of sex, it was hot. So very hot. My only complaint is that they went bareback so soon after becoming “friends” (hint). I eye-rolled at that. Other than that, I enjoyed the sex scenes. The butt play scenes were my favorite. Only because few authors go there. It’s like its taboo to do it.
I like how the author chose to discuss Nick’s issues. Suicide and depression are hard to write about and I thought she did a great job at handling it. Aleks story was heartbreaking and Nick’s guilt over not being there for him was even more so. I liked seeing Nick coming to realize that to get on with his life, he needs to get over Aleks death.
The end of the book was great. I had thought that Nick was a jerk to end things the way he did with Jodie. I understood that he was scared to death but still, he could have had more finesse. I loved the talk that Hallsy had with him. Love, love, loved it. It was stuff that Nick needed to hear, no matter how hard it was to listen to. I am not going to talk about the end of the book. Let’s say that I was pretty happy with what happened. What Zyanna asked Nick in the epilogue made my heart melt.
I gave Big Stick a 4-star rating. This was a sexy, fun read with some serious topics discussed. The author handled the topics of depression and suicide tactfully. She handled the aftermath tactfully too. I loved the ending and the epilogue.
I would give Big Stick an Adult rating. There is explicit sex. There is language. There is mild violence. There are also trigger warnings. They would be suicide and depression. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 or who is triggered by the trigger warnings read this book.
I would reread Big Stick. I would also recommend this book to family and friends. I would give a heads up about the trigger warning.
If you or anyone you love is depressed or thinking of suicide, please don’t. Contact a friend, a doctor or call the National Suicide Hotline (1-800-273-8255). You matter your life matters.
I would like to thank Random House Publishing Group, Loveswept, and NetGalley for allowing me to read and review Big Stick.
All opinions stated in this review of Big Stick are mine.
**I chose to leave this review after reading an advance reader copy**