Pucked, by Helena Hunting

pucked

Grade: B

Doing it at: 14%

Catnip: Hockey Players; Teammate’s Sister; Trouser Snake; Canadians; Beta Hero

Shame Scale: There is A LOT of penis talk in this one, I loved it, but was scared to read it on the bus.

Fantasy Cast: Henrik Lundqvist; Kat Dennings

What do we taste like: He tastes like chocolate, and more faintly, coffee liqueur

Book Description:

With a famous NHL player for a stepbrother, Violet Hall is well acquainted with the playboy reputation of many a hockey star. So of course she isn’t interested in legendary team captain Alex Waters or his pretty, beat-up face and rock-hard six-pack abs. When Alex inadvertently obliterates Violet’s misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players, he becomes much more than just a hot body with the face to match.

Suffering from a complete lapse in judgment, Violet discovers just how good Alex is with the hockey stick in his pants. Violet believes her night of orgasmic magic with Alex is just that: one night. But Alex starts to call. And text. And email and send extravagant—and quirky—gifts. Suddenly, he’s too difficult to ignore, and nearly impossible not to like.

The problem is, the media portrays Alex as a total player, and Violet doesn’t want to be part of the game.

I bought Pucked as a present to myself during a bad day at work, you can generally judge how stressful my life is by how many books I’m popping into the family library. Currently I’m at book buying level, “Hey Cleone, would you like some Xanax?”, but the upside is that I got Pucked out of this. I’m into hockey player romances, I’ve read the whole Chinook series, by Rachel Gibson and loved them (Gibson is pretty great in general). I also was recently clued in to the existence of Henrik Lundqvist, and I like any opportunity to think about him.

Pucked is funny, you guys. The heroine, Violet, is awkward and goofy and bad at controlling the words coming out of her mouth. As the girl who once ended up talking to her video store District Manager about my underwear, I can relate. Spending time with her inner monologue made me LOL more than once:

I further my own embarrassment and his by cupping my breasts and squeezing. “They’re nice for real ones, huh?”

Cockblockers are everywhere tonight, thwarting my attempts at poor decision making.

Alex is sweet, he’s a perfect beta hero, not too controlling, great manners and sense of humor; but still manly enough that its easy to imagine him manhandling you into bed. The silliness gets a little over the top at times, but this book is so fluffy and the author clearly likes all the characters so much that I just rolled with the silly.

Violet’s stepbrother, Buck the Yeti, is a pro hockey player who has recently been traded to a new team due to some …indiscretions … that were very publicly broadcast. Violet likes him enough, but in general she thinks that hockey players are man-whores with less than stellar IQs. So, when Alex Waters, team captain and legendary player, starts chatting her up at the bar after a game she doesn’t want to like him. But he’s smart, and funny, and really flipping hot. To add to all that appeal she realizes that the reason he looks so damned familiar is because she was “jilling off” to his milk ad earlier in the day.

I don’t know why it’s so hot. I mean, milk isn’t really a sexy drink, but whatever.

Which is how she ends up ” mouth fucking” him outside the bar, Violet has described the kissing as such and I LOVE it. And that’s how later that night she ends up having hot, funny, unexpected sex with him in his hotel room after he’s stripped her out of her Spiderman pajamas and shown her his monster cock.

Now, spoilers to follow, scroll from hot hockey gent to hot hockey gent if you want to be surprised!

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After the mouth fucking and trouble-walking-the-next-day-banging,  Alex woos her hard. He’s sweet, unsure if she likes him, and really wants to get to know her better. Both in a mouth fucking and a personality way. Violet tries to resist because she really doesn’t want to date another slut hockey player. The internet is full of rumors about how many ladies he’s bagged and she doesn’t want to become one of many. She works in finance, she wears superhero underpants, she’s a GOOD GIRL. She doesn’t want to be some Puck Bunny. But Alex is calling, texting, emailing, and sending her adorable gifts – like a stuffed beaver wearing a Waters jersey. Violet isn’t made of steel. Plus there’s the hot sex that she wants to have more of, like stat.

Violet and Alex start hooking up every time he’s in town, having dirty fun sex and really enjoying each others company. Alex is uncut and Violet nicknames his monster cock Snuffie after Snuffleupagus, which is adorable and made me giggle. Everything is going well, they’re falling hard for each other and even getting caught screwing in the locker room by his entire team doesn’t mess up the good thing they’ve got going (locker room sex is on my to do list now in case you were wondering).

What DOES screw things up is Alex trying to keep their relationship secret because he’s trying for a big endorsement deal. Not cute, hockey God.

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Pucked was a fun read, it was everything I want in a romance: funny and hot and sweet. Hunting gave us our HEA without too much back and forth. There was the proper amount of groveling from Alex when he makes a boneheaded mistake. With a pretty Rom-Com worthy public proclamation.  This is a solid B read; with summer finally upon us I urge you to take this one with you for reading in the sun and swooning over guys who have solid skills with their … sticks.

Amazon

Where Sea Meets Sky, by Karina Halle

Where Sea Meets Sky

Grade: A

Doing it at: 6%

Catnip: Tattoos; Artists; New Zealand; Canadians; Quarter-life Crisis; Existential Angst; Volkswagen Camper; Emotional Unavailability; International Romance; Sex En Plein Air

Shame Scale: Moderate. It’s definitely not one for reading in public. There’s loads of blush-worthy sex so you don’t want to be reading on the bus *Ahem Cleone.*

Fantasy Casting: Douglas Booth; Shay Mitchell

Book Description:

“Joshua Miles has spent his early twenties spinning his wheels. Working dead-end jobs and living at home has left him exhausted and uninspired, with little energy to pursue his passion for graphic art. Until he meets Gemma Henare, a vivacious out-of-towner from New Zealand. What begins as a one-night stand soon becomes a turning point for Josh. He can’t get Gemma out of his head, even after she has left for home, and finds himself throwing caution to the wind for the first time in his life.

It’s not long before Josh is headed to New Zealand with only a backpack, some cash, and Gemma’s name to go on. But when he finally tracks her down, he finds his adventure is only just beginning. Equally infatuated, Gemma leads him on a whirlwind tour across the beautiful country, opening Josh up to life, lust, love, and all the messy heartache in between. Because, when love drags you somewhere, it might never let go—even when you know you have to say goodbye.”


I loved this book. It gave me feels, and I almost never get feels anymore. It’s a book written about early twenty-somethings that actually manages a realistic voice, and captures that feeling of being set free into adulthood without a map. I could relate to it. It felt nostalgic, like reading about my ten-years-younger self. AND there was a satisfying romance with tons of two person push-ups.

Josh (Vera’s little brother from ‘Love in English‘) meets Gemma at a Halloween party in Vancouver (Josh’s home town), where he’s dressed like Khal Drogo, and she’s Vampire Leila, from Futurama. Gemma is on her last day of a backpacking trip around North America, heading back to New Zealand the next day. They click, they bang on a pool table, then they bang all night in Josh’s mom’s house – where he lives because for once this is a realistic book about twenty-somethings – and they discover that they actually really like each other. They’re both struggling with that quarter-life crisis ennui, and Gemma tells Josh that he should get out and travel, have a life-changing experience.

Flash-forward, Josh can’t stop thinking about Gemma and decides to quit his crappy job and take off to New Zealand for a few months before he starts art school. He somehow manages to find her, even though he doesn’t know her last name – only that she works at a gym, and they both realize the sparks are all still there. Gemma unfortunately did not find her trip to be a life changing experience – she’s fallen back into the same job and the same shitty meat head boyfriend she had been trying to get away from. She invites Josh along on road trip around New Zealand in an old VW Camper that she’s about to take with her cousin (who stars in Halle’s next one), and then to make the book fun, her dickhead boyfriend decides to come in a show of territoriality. All the forbidden feelings and jealously stuff that you would expect show up for a while, but since this is a romance, you’re basically just waiting for dickhead to take off so they can get to the point. Aka beach sex.

On top of that, this book read like a love letter to New Zealand and it made me want to drop everything and book a trip. The descriptions of the country and the places they visited were insanely evocative. I’ve always thought that the only reason to go to New Zealand was to see sheep, get skin cancer, and to travel the path to Mordor and climb Mount Doom. But apparently New Zealand is a goddamn paradise with glowworm caves and volcanos and loads of teal blue beaches.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I bought my first Karina Halle book because I liked her book covers. I am a marketing woman’s dream. I adored The Pact, decided to try Love in English, and obviously enjoyed Where Sea Meets Sky. I’m putting her on my automatic pre-order list, because everything I’ve read so far has been golden. Lots of listless characters, no dicking around about the dicking, and gorgeous international themes woven throughout. I’m feeling curious about her older series and you’ll probably be seeing them on here in the near future.

Check it out on Amazon: