Book Review, Romance Review, Romance Serial

Review: Pucked Up by Helena Hunting

Pucked Up - Helena Hunting
Pucked Up – Helena Hunting
Pucked series book 2

Miller “Buck” Butterson has been banging his way through life ever since a puck to the face fixed his messed up front teeth. After five years in the NHL, deflecting goals on the ice and scoring them with puck bunnies, Miller has decided he’s ready for a girlfriend. A real, non-bunny girlfriend to take on dates, and not jump into bed with after five seconds of conversation.

Miller thinks he’s found that woman in his teammate’s sister. Except, unlike team captain and all-around nice guy Alex Waters—who happens to date his stepsister, Miller’s media reputation as a manwhore is well earned. Beyond that minor detail, Miller doesn’t know the first thing about relationships or the time and effort they require.

Miller learns—eventually—that if he wants to make Sunshine “Sunny” Waters fall for him, he’s going to have to do a whole lot more than show her his stick skills in the bedroom.

I was head-over-heels for Pucked and never expected the next book to live up to the first but I was thrilled. This book is follows Violet’s stepbrother as he pursues Alex’s sister, Sunny. His actions in Alex and Violet’s story kind of led me to think he was going to bang his teammate’s sister for payback but that’s not the case at all.

Miller “Buck” Butterson is the biggest sweetheart, I might like him more than Alex except that won’t last because by the time I got to the third book, I was all about Randy Ballistic but that’s for another day. We’ll just say that Helena Hunting may write the greatest characters ever. My love affair with Violet and Alex waned somewhat with Miller’s story because they interfered too much between him and Sunny. They both meant well and it came from a place of love but more than once, I wanted to scream at them both to butt the hell out already.

Sunny’s best friend, Lily LeBlanc, also figures prominently in this story and I felt the same way about her, but quickly came to love her in a future book as well. I’m getting ahead of myself, though. Miller won my heart quickly because he’s a genuine, likable guy and so naïve that I felt sorry for his troubles. Unlike Alex’s fake playboy persona, Miller’s been a notorious slut for years, availing himself of endless puck bunnies.

He wants Sunny to know she means something to him and he’s not interested in anyone else, but his high-profile lifestyle continually works against him. Whether it’s the media photos of him surrounded by his teammates dates or being assaulted in a compromising position for a picture during a porno carwash fundraiser, Miller can’t catch a break. Even when he’s trying to do the right thing, like raise money for breast cancer research, he gets himself into trouble through no fault of his own. And since his reputation precedes him, nobody ever gives him the benefit of the doubt.

Things are tough for Miller because it’s not just Sunny he has to win over, it’s also her parents, her best friend, Alex and Violet. Sunny wasn’t my favorite because there were a lot of times she took bad advice from the people she loves, much to her own detriment. She came off as immature and unable to think for herself, so I was frustrated with her but that changed as I learned more about Sunny. She’s insecure because she’s young and sheltered and doesn’t have the life experience to make these decisions on her own. The only thing she’s trying to do is protect her heart.

It’s easy to not love her initially because Miller’s a very sympathetic character. His mom died of an inoperable brain tumor when he was a toddler and he grew up bullied because of his looks and because people thought he was stupid. In reality, dyslexia made school nearly impossible for him and the right help was just never available to him so he got his diploma but just barely. A hockey accident in his teens also got him new front teeth and he went from being bullied for his looks to having girls falling all over him. His identity and self-worth got all wrapped up in being popular with the ladies and now nobody bothers getting to know the real Miller.

One interesting departure from the first story is that there’s no dual POV, which I love in a romance. I was initially annoyed at this and wondered if that was the reason for my initial dislike of Sunny, not being able to understand her fully since I wasn’t seeing into her head. But by the time I was really into the story, I decided that it actually worked best here. I learned everything I needed to know about Sunny eventually even without it. Also, Miller is such a complex character that using dual POV would have meant sacrificing some of what we got from him and since I loved this story exactly as it is, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

A terrible remote couples camping experience with her ex-boyfriend finally opens her eyes. Once Sunny realizes that nobody can make these decisions for her, she takes charge of her life and things improve for the both of them. They’re one of the most adorable couples I’ve ever read and I’ll throw in a teensy spoiler here to say that they’re featured pretty prominently in Randy’s book, the third in the series, so I was thrilled about it and hope to see that continue through the rest. This book is as steamy as the first and Hunting does a fantastic job with the heat.

Last review I wrote “This is one of my favorite books ever and reviews for the rest of the series will follow but for Pucked, I can’t recommend it enough. I love this book.” Now I have to amend that to say my favorite series ever because I’m into book four and loved every one of them equally so far. One very appealing thing about this series to me is that each couple has different obstacles. Although Miller and Alex’s situations seem very much the same, they really weren’t similar at all. Another thing is that some of the later books revisit the couples. Book 4 is Violet and Alex again then book 5 revisits Randy and his girl so I’m excited to get to the rest. Book 6 is Lance’s story, which I expect to be a real doozy, based on what we know of Lance thus far and book 7 is Charlene and Darren’s story.

All of the books in the Pucked series can stand alone or be read as a series but of course I have to encourage any interested readers to start with Violet and Alex’s story because it’s just so good. It’s important to note that Forever Pucked is book 4 of the series but it’s the sequel to the first book, so a continuation of Alex and Violet’s story. Squeeeee! That makes me seriously happy. Likewise, book 5 is the sequel to book 3 and there’s a crossover novella with Helena Hunting’s Clipped Wings series called Get Ink, which is available separately but has also been included in Pucks & Penalties.

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