Kristen Hope Mazzola continues her Shots on Goal series with a Friends-To-Lovers novel focusing on romance and rough dirty sex. “Playoff Beard” slightly overlaps events which occur in “Low Blow” although it’s absolutely a stand alone romance. The heroine’s Jordan Bates a Bartender extraordinaire who travels training novice bartenders in bars all over. She grew up with New York Otter’s team captain, Gavin Hayes. He introduced his fellow rookie, goalie Will Crosby, to her ten years ago. He had a girlfriend at the time but she’s held onto an unrequited crush on him ever since. Jordan was there for Crosby during one of the worst days of his life. He needed someone to listen to him and was unable to face his teammates. Crosby spilled every secret and she sympathized admiring his loyalty. They’ve remained friends ever since; even though everyone sees the combustible attraction they refuse to acknowledge.
Five years ago Crosby thought he and his wife were having a bouncing baby. She tricked him into signing the birth certificate before he found a paternity test proving he wasn’t the father. Crosby immediately demanded a divorce in the hospital room, hours after the birth. He suffers the humiliation of telling his teammates, who were supporting him in the waiting room, the embarrassing news. Unable to remain home he goes to a local bar to drown his sorrows. The bartender is Gavin Hayes’ friend sits and listens to the ugly story. Crosby also confides some history about his relationship with his soon-to-be ex-wife. Jordan provides an ear to listen, sympathizing with Crosby’s situation and reassuring him that he’s a good and loyal man. After that Jordan and Crosby become close friends over the next five years.
Jordan agonizes over than the more than friendly feelings she has for Crosby. She’s certain he she sees her as just a friend. Similarly Crosby suffers the shame of his thoughts about the filthy things he wants to do to Jordan’s body. Both second guess what they say to the other and re-examine conversations to determine if there are signs of interest. All of their friends tease them mercilessly about their “friendship”. Jordan and Crosby tell them they’re just imagining things. After a disappointing loss the team congregates at a bar near the arena. Crosby has a few fortifying drinks and finally and boldly grabs Jordan and kisses the heck out of her. The team and their wives and girlfriends cheer loudly with some yelling, “it’s about time.” For Crosby the nerve-wracking portion begins, asking Jordan out on a date.
Crosby takes her to a pricy restaurant and during their conversation he confesses that he’s an aggressive lover. He enjoys a lot of extreme stuff. Crosby’s concerned he’s scared Jordan off but he’s pleasantly surprised when she confirms they’ll be extremely compatible in the bedroom. With that knowledge they decide to forego the fancy restaurant, grab a pizza, and get freaky at Crosby’s place. They fall into an easy and sexy relationship. Jordan discovers Crosby’s the Master of Sexting while the team’s on the road. The major bump in the road is Crosby being able to handle Jordan’s brothers and father. Jordan is the only girl in the family and her brothers are bone-breaking protective. Her father is not above having others break his bones if Crosby sullies his little girl. We have to see if this couple can navigate their way to their HappilyEver After.
“Playoff Beard” is a satisfying romance which is sexy and easy to enjoy. Crosby and Jordan are extremely engaging and lovable characters. I love Crosby’s plethora of nerdy fun facts and words of the day. Their Steam Level’ high with their adventurous sex lives. One of my issues is a pet peeve; I really dislike using the term “Daddy” sexually. I find it icky and would have preferred using “Sir” more. Kristen Hope Mazzola dangles some loose ends which bothers me a lot. Crosby’s ex-wife made him sign her baby’s birth certificate; I kept waiting for her to pop up. Jordan has a sister-in-law who’s a notorious and suspiciously outrageous shrew; what’s up with that? This left me waiting but nothing develops from those potential ticking bombs. Perhaps they’ll show up in upcoming Shots On Goal books. This is a great series I continue to enjoy keeping up with!
I’m giving “Playoff Beard” 4 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.
This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.