***The 1st standalone novel in the All In Series***
From the New York Times bestselling author of the Pucked series comes a romantic comedy about instant attraction, second chances, and not-so-little white lies.
Sometimes I need an escape from the demands, the puck bunnies, and the notoriety that come with being an NHL team captain. I just want to be a normal guy for a few weeks. So when I leave Chicago for some peace and quiet, the last thing I expect is for a gorgeous woman to literally fall into my lap on a flight to Alaska. Even better, she has absolutely no idea who I am.
Lainey is the perfect escape from my life. My plan for seclusion becomes a monthlong sex fest punctuated with domestic bliss. But it ends just as abruptly as it began. When I’m called away on a family emergency, I realize too late that I have no way to contact Lainey.
A year later, a chance encounter throws Lainey and me together again. But I still have a lie hanging over my head, and Lainey’s keeping secrets of her own. With more than lust at stake, the truth may be our game changer.
Considering that I just recently discovered the Pucked series and absolutely adore it, I couldn’t wait to get started on Hunting’s spin-off All In series. This is the perfect time to start it too, because the next installment, A Kiss For A Kiss, will be released May 27. I’m a sucker for a good series and I hate waiting for the next book so this is perfect timing.
This book follows Rook “RJ” Bowman, current captain of the Chicago Hawks NHL team. He was a minor character in the later Pucked books but didn’t play a big enough role to really matter to me, so I wasn’t dying to read this but the reviews are excellent so I wanted to give it a try. Of course, I wasn’t disappointed because it’s Helena Hunting, y’all and she’s awesome.
Despite my love for Alex Waters and Lance Romero, Rook has found a place in my heart. He’s a reformed playa who dipped out after one too many crazy puck bunnies, including an obsessive stalker type who faked a pregnancy for two months. That was the final straw after a few close calls so our former playboy is rather tame now. At least until he meets Lainey. Rook’s and his brother honor their late father’s memory by keeping up the tradition of annual fishing trips to the family’s Alaskan cabin but this year he’s on his own. His sister-in-law starts to experience pregnancy complications so his brother cancels, but he’s happy to go alone. He’s looking forward to retreating from his high-profile lifestyle for a few weeks until Lainey crosses his path.
Rook couldn’t be happier to discover Lainey has no idea who he is and he loves being just a regular guy with her. Lainey’s a home-schooled farm girl venturing out into the world on her own for the first time. She’s taken a plane for the first time, travelling to Alaska to study marine biology for her third Master’s degree. Her over-protective parents were completely against the trip but she’s determined to start becoming independent. Her enthusiasm is dampened when she arrives at the dilapidated, leaky, rodent-infested cabin that’s nothing like she was promised but she’s determined to tough it out, no matter how bad it seems.
He was loveable from the start because he was so concerned about Lainey and genuinely wanted to help her. As the situation in the cabin worsened, Rook was happy to take care of her without expecting anything in return. She’s nervous by nature so anxiety easily takes over and she frets that he could be a serial killer. Yes, she’s a woman after my own heart so I liked her immediately. Rook is determined to keep her safe and just happy to have her company, even if it goes no further. Luckily for him, it goes a lot further and they quickly fall for each other.
A family emergency requires him to leave a day early and he’s a mess. Despondent about leaving Lainey and worried about his family, Rook never gives her his cell number and Lainey doesn’t have one. He calls her at the cabin as soon as he arrives but a storm knocked out the power and it doesn’t come back on before she leaves the next day. He never reaches her and they have no way to find one another again. They’re both heartbroken and it’s worsened by the fact that Lainey left a note but Rook never got it. She’s devastated that he never called and he’s crushed that she didn’t care enough to leave contact information.
They both believe their love is unrequited and go about their lives wondering what if until fate intervenes, bringing them together once more. I was expecting a happy reunion but there was one little problem: Rook never told her he was a famous athlete, in fact he said he was an alpaca farmer so Lainey’s shocked and angry. He lied. This man isn’t who she thought he was and it only gets worse as she learns more about him. The gossip rags are full of Rook Bowman and his hockey hookers. Lainey’s so disgusted, she won’t even talk to him.
Luckily for them, her best friend intervenes and eventually convinces her to at least hear him out. The pictures and rumors are years old after all, so Lainey finally relents but she’s got an even bigger secret to reveal, one that will change everything. I’ll admit that I saw this twist coming a mile away, but despite expecting it, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story, rooting for these two the entire time. Lainey’s grown up a lot since moving to Chicago and distancing herself from her smothering family but she carries a lot of guilt for needing her own life. Rook wants nothing more than to prove that she met the real him in Alaska and can be the man she needs.
I can’t say much about his course of action without spoiling the whole plot but it’s a sweet, funny, heartwarming story, one I very much enjoyed. We get to know their families and I’m looking forward to the next installment, featuring Rook’s sister Stevie. She has a minor role in this book but is a fun, likable character. While I’d love more Rook and Lainey, I know that’s not happening so I’ll move on, but having this insight into the characters makes me want to re-read Little Lies, which is a next-generation standalone about the children of the Pucked and All In characters. I think it will tell a different story now that I have the background on everyone so I’m putting it on my list again for a second run. A Lie For A Lie was a fun read and I highly recommend it.
A Lie For A Lie on Amazon.
All In series on Amazon.
Little Lies on Amazon.
All of the books in the series can stand alone or be read as a series but I encourage any interested readers to start at the beginning.