5 star book review for ‘PUCKED’, Helena Hunting’s latest contemporary romance/humor novel, now on sale. Plus read an excerpt now.
[Some Spoilers; For Mature Audiences]
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
As I’ve mentioned before, I can be quite critical of contemporary romance stories. Whereas with other genres it can be easier to suspend your disbelief, contemporary romance must strike a balance between some level of believability and fantasy that allows the reader to lose themselves in the novel and enjoy the ride. This balance can be even more challenging when bringing in humor. With that said, every once in a while, I have the fabulous pleasure of coming across a book that takes my expectations and totally slam-dunks them. Let me tell you, PUCKED by Helena Hunting *is* this book!
I’ve loved Helena’s work for years and in this case the summary was intriguing. Who wouldn’t want to read about a smart, quirky girl and a gorgeous hockey player? But within the first 5 minutes of reading PUCKED had me doubled-over and cackling with laughter so loud that I’m pretty sure my neighbors were concerned. This story was HIIIIIIILARIOUS! At the same time, it wasn’t fluff. PUCKED was super sexy with enough drama to draw the reader in. Plus the characterization was superb…you’ve never met a leading lady/man quite like Violet Hall and Alex Waters. But once you make your acquaintance, you’ll be so pleased you did.
We begin with Violet Hall, an accountant living in Chicago. She’s a self-proclaimed nerd with a love of numbers and literature, who also happens to be immersed in the world of hockey. Violet’s step-dad is and NHL scout and her step-brother Buck is a professional hockey player. She actually even dated a hockey player a little while ago…and it’s these experiences that lead her to a few conclusions about the whole hockey player breed. First, they’re not very smart. Second, they’re whores. And finally, she wants NOTHING to do with them. Buck is the perfect example—he’s just been traded to the Chicago Blackhawks for sleeping with his former coach’s niece in a public bathroom.
As a result of this recent development and her parents’ desire to support Buck’s new move, Violet finds herself in Atlanta front-row at a Hawks away game. She has no expectations of enjoying herself…until she comes face-to-face (LITERALLY) with Alex Waters, the Hawks’ team captain. Alex seems to throw Violet’s prior conceptions about hockey players into disarray—he’s obviously HOT, but Alex is also smart, sweet, and pretty quirky himself. This is a good thing, right? Well, he still has public persona of being a player and Violet has no intention of being made into a public spectacle. However, she just can’t seem to help herself where sexy/sweet Alex is concerned.
Like I mention before, I don’t think I’ve met a heroine quite like Violet. She’s……WACKY, with no filter whatsoever. If Violet is thinking it, she’ll likely say it, especially if she’s nervous. And some of the things that go through Violet’s mind are completely absurd. But I adore her…she has a great sense of confidence that makes her particular brand of crazy really endearing. This is probably what ends up drawing Alex to her. He’s successful, famous, and attracts a lot of women. But puck bunnies aren’t Alex’s style…especially since he’s a bit of an oddball himself with his own case of foot-in-mouth syndrome.
From their first meeting, there’s an easy attraction between Violet and Alex. A conversation about Shakespeare and Tom Jones evolves into a mouth-fucking session, and before you can say “misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players”, they’re in his hotel room. He’s quoting Tolstoy (you know how sexy literacy is), then Beaver meets MC and we’re all pucked:
…Alex is the best kind of tease. He nibbles at the juncture of my thighs, drawing out the anticipation before his mouth is finally on me. It’s a been a long time since anyone has given me face-to-pussy resuscitation. I don’t remember it being anything close to this incredible…
…As the heat and the need expand to consume me, he draws one of my legs up, changing the angle. I gasp when he hits the beaver button and then choke on a laugh and end up sounding like a dying animal.
“You okay?” Alex strokes my cheek. It’s one of the most intimate gestures I’ve ever experienced in the middle of being sexed by anyone.
The sex is AMAZING…gloriously erotic and passionate. I wouldn’t be who I am without highlighting a few more my favorite sexy times scenes:
His answer comes in the form of his hips sinking into mine. Holy hell, am I ever full. Of unfiltered monster cock. I moan like crazy and bury my face against his neck…Alex’s lips press against my temple
“Eyes on me, baby. Please. I wanna see your gorgeous face when you come for me.”
Then, of course, there’s the angry, hot locker-room sex:
Hooking her leg over my shoulder, I kiss my way from her knee up the inside of her thigh, nipping a little on the way. She tries to be quiet, but her hushed whimpers are my favorite sound in the world…
“Is this okay, baby?”
I can tell it is. I still want her breathless, panted words. The ones that make me ache for the warmth of her body…
But this is just sex, right? Violet is determined to keep Alex in the one-night stand (OK, more like seven or eight-night stand) category, but he has different intentions. When it comes to Violet, Alex is persistent, possessive, and so generous. However:
As much as his persistence irritates me, I’m beginning to like the awkward tone and his inappropriate comments. Especially coming from a man who seems so self-assured on the ice—and in bed. I curb the warm fuzzies. He’s still a player.
How does Violet rectify these two sides of Alex she knows: the quirky, considerate man with his Canadian-isms and elephantiasis of the cock who buys her boobs lovely gifts and eagerly introduces her to his family and childhood friends vs. the renowned player of the Waters Hat Trick fame who may just see Violet as another hockey hooker?
So there’s a little, tiny bit of angst…mostly a result of a boneheaded move from Alex, but please believe the HEA is an odd combination of sweet, sexy, and kooky you’ll come to love and expect from these two.
I had a blast reading PUCKED and recommend it to contemporary romance lovers who are in the mood for an eccentric leading lady, a gorgeous (yet bashful) leading man, and a side of hilarity with HOT, HOT sexy times.
Thanks to Helena, I also have an excerpt from PUCKED to share. Check it out below:
I pull my sweater over my head, not accounting for static, and my T-shirt sticks to the woolly outer-layer. Face covered with fabric, I scramble to pull the shirt into place. The silence at the table is telling. Once I wrestle free of the sweater, I’m met with a number of wide eyes focused on my chest. I look down. Right. My bra is visible through the pale pink cotton, and now everyone at this table, including Buck, has seen it unfiltered by the shirt.
Buck leans in and whispers, “Put the sweater back on.”
I play dumb. “Why?”
“Everyone can see—” He motions toward my chest without looking.
I wave him off. “It’s not that obvious.” It’s totally that obvious.
He shoots me one of his glares. It’s meant to be threatening, but it makes him look constipated. I leave the sweater off to irritate him. It’s effective. His face turns an interesting shade of red.
“I need another beer.” He slams his mug on the table and eyes me as he gets up and goes to the bar, despite the half-full pitcher of beer on the table.
I’m about to put the sweater on again when Waters turns to me.
“Hi, I’m Alex.” He’s all pretty smile and white teeth. They’re probably fake. Those eyes are something else, though, even if he is sporting the makings of a black eye. I try hard not to look directly at him, afraid I’ll be ensnared by his rugged, handsome face.
“I didn’t realize Butterson had a sister.”
Even his voice is familiar, satin smooth and deep. He takes a sip of his drink, leaving behind a milk mustache he quickly wipes away. It’s then I realize where I recognize him from: the milk advertisements. Sweet Lord, I’ve been jilling off to him. My mortification reaches new heights, causing me to say something more insane than usual.
“I’m his stepsister. He likes to keep me a secret since he wants to go all Ophelia on my ass.” My eyes widen at my terrible joke. Though, if he’s anything like Buck, he won’t get the reference.
“Butterson would make a crap nun, eh?”
I swear he’s made an accurate reference to Shakespeare. Stunned, I make direct eye contact. Or I try to. His eyes keep bouncing between my chest and my face, so that’s a challenge. Normally, I’d be put out by his blatant ogling, but I’ve asked for it with the sheer shirt and the ostentatious bra.
I further my own embarrassment and his by cupping my breasts and squeezing. “They’re nice for real ones, huh?”
His eyes shoot to mine. Busted.
“I uh—I didn’t mean to—I wasn’t—”
This is one of the most entertaining interactions I’ve had with a member of the opposite sex in ages. I make a snicker-snort noise and look away. Buck leans against the bar, talking to a girl whose skirt is so short it’s abundantly clear she’s not wearing underwear. I nudge Alex with my elbow. His arm is like a rock. “Check out Buck’s friend.”
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. Cooter-flasher leans forward and gives our table an even better view.
“Is that—am I looking at her beaver?”
Mid-swig, I choke on the mouthful of beer, sputtering and coughing. After I recover, I ask jokingly, “‘Beaver’? Are you Canadian or something?”
Those vibrant eyes move to mine. God, he’s awfully pretty. And close. He’s really close. Likes inches away, rock arm brushing mine close. I can even smell his cologne or deodorant—whatever it is, he smells yummy. He’s silent for what seems like a long time. Or maybe it’s because I’m staring. Or the question may have stumped him. My experiences with Buck—and the one hockey player I dated previously—have led me to the assertion that hockey players aren’t notoriously intelligent. I’m aware this isn’t a universal truth. But Buck certainly reinforces my perceived stereotype: he’s definitely not a rocket scientist. He’s not even a rocket scientist’s assistant. However, I’m almost positive Alex made a literary pun a moment ago. Waters could very well be an unexpected anomaly. I’m intrigued.
“Yeah, I’m Canadian.”
“Does everyone in Canada call pussies beavers? Like the Brits call them fannies?” I can’t believe I ask him this. I’m barely buzzed; otherwise, I’d blame it on drunkenness.
He blinks a few times. “Did you say ‘pussy’?”
It’s possible his helmet wasn’t up to code and he sustained a head injury during the fight. There’s a sweet bruise on the side of his chiseled jaw. His nose is crooked with a decent bump from what I imagine could be multiple breaks. It’s not ugly, though. It’s sexy, in an I-fuck-people-up way.
“No, I said ‘pussies,’ plural, as in more than one.” I’m making a complete ass out of myself.
To avoid saying something worse, I excuse myself so I can pretend to smoke. I grab my bag and sweater and leave the beer. Based on the crap coming out of my mouth, I don’t need to add any fuel to that fire.
Buck grabs my arm as I pass him. “Hey, what’s with you and Waters?”
Alex is shrugging into his jacket. Maybe he’s leaving. Too bad; he was fun to talk to and nice to look at.
I sigh with irritation. “It’s common courtesy to strike up a conversation with the personsitting next to you, or did you miss the rules of social etiquette in kindergarten?”
“Rules of what?”
“Never mind. What else am I supposed to do? Ignore him? I was being polite.” And Alex is entertaining.
“Yeah, well, I don’t know these guys that well yet and he’s got a rep. Be careful who you get friendly with.”
“I wasn’t giving him a handy under the table. We were talking. I’m going for a smoke.”
Leaving him with the Beave, I head for the door. The temperature has dropped in the past half hour, so I pull on my sweater. Finding my smokes, I pop one between my lips and search for my lighter. I can’t find it anywhere.
“Need a light?” I pull my head out of my purse to find Waters holding a pack of matches.
“Are you following me?”
He shrugs and gives me a grin that could obliterate my panties. If I were dumb enough to allow myself to be affected in such a way. I’m not. Mostly.
“I thought you might like some company.” He flips open the matchbook and tears one
I purse the cigarette between my lips. Alex strikes the match and curves his palm to protect the flame. He watches while I inhale, the embers burning orange as I take a shallow drag and cough.
“Shit!” Tears spring to my eye as I eye toke the smoke. Swearing like a sailor, I cover my eye with my palm.
“You’ve got a dirty mouth, eh?”
“Only when I try and smoke with my eyeball,” I say between coughs.
Alex tosses the matches on a table and pats my back until I stop hacking up a lung.
“Butterson doesn’t seem too happy.”
Through the window I spot Buck and the Beave. She’s not pulling the selfie business, so he doesn’t seem to mind her hanging off his arm while he glares in our direction. He’s being a colossal douche tonight.
“Screw Buck.” I take a fake drag of my cigarette.
Dimples appear in Alex’s cheeks as I exhale a cloud of smoke and choke back another cough.
“Do you even smoke?”
I debate lying and decide against it. “Not really. I do it as a way to escape awkward social situations.”
“So you came out here to get away from me?”
“Not you in particular.”
His tongue peeks out to sweep across his bottom lip. He’s got a nice mouth, even with the split in the corner. Remembering the way he took out the Atlanta guy makes me warm all over. Thoughts such as these are bound to get me into trouble. Hockey players are bad news. Especially ones as hot as he is. He’s looking at me expectantly. Dammit. He must have asked a question. My mind is wandering like a squirrel on Red Bull.
“Sorry, what?” I flick the ash on my cigarette.
“You were reading during the game—what book?” He sounds genuinely curious and a little offended.
“Tom Jones. I have to finish it for my book club on Tuesday.”
Wow. Do I ever sound like a winner. He must have been watching me while he was in the time-out box.
“Fielding at a hockey game? Kind of cerebral with beer and violence, isn’t it?”
I blink as if I’ve been high beamed with a flashlight. Alex knows who wrote Tom Jones, and he’s used the word cerebral in the appropriate context. I was right; he did get my Shakespeare reference. Alex Waters has singlehandedly obliterated my misapprehension regarding the inferior intellect of hockey players—with one sentence. In doing so, he’s become infinitely hotter than he was five seconds ago.
“You’ve read Fielding?” I take a step closer. My voice is low, as if I’ve switched into phone-sex operator mode.
It’s adorable. He’s wearing an expression I’m familiar with: panic merged with fear. I sport the same one when I inadvertently revealed my extreme nerdiness. Most nights I would much rather be at home curled up with a book or playing solitaire than out at a bar. Hence the excessive beer consumption and the fake smoking crutch.
“I think literacy is sexy,” I whisper.
“Me, too.” His dimples make an appearance.
I have one of those rare moments where my brain fritzes and I do something completely out of character. It’s so outside of my personal code of conduct that I’ll probably relive the incident over and over trying to figure out what flipped the switch. For the time being, I’m blaming the beers, jetlag, and his accurate literary references. I grab Waters by the shirt and pull his face to mine. His mouth is soft and warm. The stubble on his chin scratches my skin, and I like it. I shove my tongue into his mouth. Well, that’s not true. I slide it across his bottom lip, touching the barely healed split, and he parts for me. Soft, warm, and wet meet more soft, warm, and wet. He tastes like chocolate and, more faintly, coffee liqueur. His hand runs a hot trail along my side, and he pulls me tight against him. He’s all hard edges and heat, and I can feel . . . holy . . . there’s a massive bulge pressed against my stomach.
After far too short a time, he breaks the kiss, trailing his lips across my cheek to my ear.
“Do you want to get out of here?”
“Buck will kill you.”
“I can take him.”
You know you want more! PUCKED is now on sale, so make sure to add this gem to your Goodreads TBR list and then buy your copy today!
Amazon (USA): http://amzn.to/1yVRBlU
Amazon (Canada): http://amzn.to/1HzrVwQ
Amazon (UK) : http://amzn.to/1EmydPm
Amazon (Australia) : http://bit.ly/1HvHMOn
Many thanks to the author for the opportunity to read an advance copy. CONGRATS Helena!