REVIEW: “Van” by Sawyer Bennett

“Van” is a wild, emotional, sweet, intense, and sexy Hockey romance.  This is a stand alone novel in Sawyer Bennett’s Cold Fury Hockey series.  However, the Hero and Heroine were introduced in the previous installment, “Lucas”.  That previous book gives you a fun “third-party-point-of-view” of Van and Simone’s chemistry and relationship.  In “Van” you’re ‘on-the-inside’ and the difference is more gentle.  But rest assured you have a big, stoic, and very Alpha Hero in Van.  Simone’s impetuous, passionate, stubborn, obstinate, and confident.  This intelligent French-Canadian minx brings down the teams surly enforcer wearing him down into submission.  Make no mistake, Van isn’t a submissive he’s afraid of his rough sex ways.  With good reason.  That’s the intriguing backstory that hooks you and makes Van such a compelling Hero.  The highlights of the book lies purely in Simone’s tactics in getting Van to notice her and succumb to her.

Simone was attending an Ivy League university.  She was pursuing a degree for a medical career that was her father’s dream, not hers.  She decides to drop out with only a semester left, leaving her family stunned and outraged.  At first her brother Max takes her in but with a wife and two kids Simone was crowding them.  Therefore she decides to move in with her other brother Lucas.  Lucas is a rookie on the Cold Fury, the same hockey team for which Max plays.  Unfortunately Lucas shares the small house with another rookie the moody and broody enforcer Van Turner.  Simone doesn’t even get a room for herself just sleeping privileges on the sofa.  However the minute she meets Van she feels drawn to him and she must have him.  Simone then shamelessly flirts, outrageously solicits, and pursues Van with a single-minded fervor.

Van’s childhood began normally then when he was seven years-old it took a dark turn.  His very charismatic father was arrested for the rape and murder of several women.  Van’s mother believed in her husband’s innocence.  During the summer trial she brought Van to the courtroom everyday since he wasn’t in school.  There an eight year-old Van heard all of the horrifying and disturbing evidence.  Then his father was found guilty.  He emerged as a true sociopath preening in the attention and bragging about more victims.  A few days after his father’s conviction Van’s mother committed suicide.  His Aunt Etta took him in and unfortunately children are cruel and sometimes adults don’t know how to handle things.  School became unbearable for Van and he lost not only both of his parents but his friends as well.  Etta got custody of Van, changed his name and they moved across the country.

Van took the trade with the Cold Fury for a couple of reasons.  One of those reasons is in a prison cell in Virginia with cancer.  Van has never wanted anything to do with his father before but with a ticking clock he’s looking for something.  There’s a fear that he’s ‘a chip off the ol’ block’ and could wind up hurting women too.  Van wants to remain anonymous and luckily the prison officials go by his original name.  But his fear of being recognized is high.  Unfortunately his father doesn’t put Van’s fears to rest; in fact he raises them.  Van knows better deep inside but his insecurities get the better of him.

Lucas’ life turns stressful.  A ‘one-night-stand’ comes back into his life pregnant with his baby.  Her parents were not ideal leaving her with abandonment issues.  Even though her and Lucas’ relationship seem to be going well she breaks up with him.  Lucas is devastated.  One night, to keep Lucas from ‘moving-on’ with a blonde at a bar Simone kisses Van in front of Lucas.  She declares they make out all the time.  Van can’t believe she did that and leaves to go home.  When Simone gets home, without Lucas, Van decides they might as well live up to the hype.  He takes Simone to bed and have no-holds-barred sex.  The next morning he tells Simone now that he’s had her she’s not “shiny any more”.  He’s no longer interested in having sex with her.  Simone doesn’t believe him however the word “shiny” becomes a super sweet endearment later on.

Simone lies to her family about where she’s working to make money to re-pay her parents for her college tuition.  Everyone thinks she’s working a third shift at a call center.  Actually she’s waitressing a bar wearing a uniform that’s about the size of a bikini.  Van sees her and wants her to quit but she needs the money.  When Simone tries to work at a strip club Van sees her there and all but carries her out.  Needless to say Van’s feeling of possessiveness is a turning point.  Although Van the relationship is strictly sex Simone insists Van declare they are exclusive.  As in all romance novels strictly sex usually leads to feelings but Van is determined to ignore his.

When Lucas and his girlfriend reunite Van and Simone have the house to themselves and don’t have to sneak around.  But it’s touch and go when Simone learns of Van’s true identity.  Simone asks him to tell her the whole story and surprisingly he does.  What surprises Van is that Simone isn’t fearful of him, nor does she judge him when he finishes his story.  She’s sympathetic and refuses to let him walk away.  Simone accepts him and is willing to give him the time he needs.  Their ‘relationship’ is discovered and therefore become a legitimate couple.  However his story gets out on a national level and it’s then that Van walks away from Simone.

“Van” is steamy, emotional, and funny.  The Hero and Heroine are complete opposites and it works beautifully.  Simone is a pip.  She’s strong, almost fearless, and goes after what she wants.  Van.  Simone is an incredibly refreshing Heroine.  Van is the brooding, hulking Hero who’s a teddy bear around the woman he adores.  He isn’t good making small-talk and when he and Simone are officially a couple he sticks close to her.  Simone becomes his ‘social skills’.  It’s freaking adorable.  The scene when Lucas discovers Van and Simone together is hilarious for the props and setting alone.  Sawyer Bennett hits every emotion right in the ‘sweet spot’ in “Van”.  Van’s backstory is incredibly moving and compelling which makes the storyline riveting.  The Cold Fury Hockey series is first rate and each book a great read.

I’m giving “Van” 5 Lightning Bolts and a Storm Warning.

This novel was provided, voluntarily read, and honestly reviewed.

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