Reviewed by Kini
Jack “Ox” Oxford is used to being alone. Granted, when you screw over your friends, being alone isn’t always a choice. Playing for the Chicago Watchmen is a last-ditch effort to save his career…and right some of his past wrongs. He’s not expecting a warm reception, but he’s also not expecting a flat tire to change everything.
Recovering control freak, single mom and semi-professional chaos wrangler Lola Deacon McIntire doesn’t need an arrogant ballplayer to swoop in and save her from anything, much less her flat tire. And she definitely doesn’t need her body to betray her and decide this is the guy to wake up her rusty libido. She isn’t about to upset her sons’ lives for any man—much less one who so clearly doesn’t think he’s dad material.
Jack never thought he’d find someone who wanted to build a life with him, but the more time he spends with Lola and her boys, the more it starts to feel permanent. Even tough-as-nails Lola concedes there just might be a future here—the big, beautiful, messy future neither of them was looking for—but only if Jack will accept he deserves it.
This is the third in this series and much like the previous two, I really enjoyed it. It could be read as a stand alone, but it works better if you’ve read the previous ones and fully understand the damage that Jack has done.
Lola is a single mother of three small kids. Her husband died a few years back. She has an incredibly strong support network and isn’t on the hunt for a new husband/dad. I love a good single parent trope, especially when the other MC isn’t all that thrilled with kids and then they love the kids and the parent. It worked pretty well here, my biggest quibble in relation to the children is that Jack definitely connects better with the older son, Silas, and never really with the twins.
Jack is kind of a jerk. At least he was a jerk to Nate, the hero from book one. They played on the same baseball team and Jack slept with Nate’s then girlfriend/fiancee. So needless to say Jack and Nate are not on good terms. Jack doesn’t believe he is worthy of love. He knows he ruined the friendship that he and Nate had, but he felt somewhat justified in his reasons for being involved with Courtney. Jack has shitty parents and never learned he was worth love and that he could give love. I love a hero that learns about love with the heroine.
One of my favorite things about all of these books is the way that Doyle brings together a community of friends. It isn’t overpowering and doesn’t take over this couple’s story, but it is definitely there. It’s clear they all love each other and that is fun to read. I love when the MCs have relationships with friends/family. Because Jack is a bit of a pariah, it isn’t all great, but he does know the people of the town and that makes for some fun exchanges.
Of the three books, I think may have been the sexiest. Lola has agency over her body and sex life and I enjoyed that. There wasn’t a ton of the back and forth, should I or shouldn’t I about the sex. And any guilt she may have had seemed like it came from a place of “I don’t need to get involved with an available man” and not so much guilt or shame over the sex itself. There is a scene where Lola’s brother finds out there is a thing between Lola and Jack and isn’t happy and Lola basically tells him she’s a grown ass woman and she’ll have sex with whoever she pleases. I was cheering for her!
Overall this was a solid read. I really enjoy the community in these books. I love that the heroine has agency over her body and sexuality. I love a hero that believes himself unworthy of love and then learns from time, patience, and others loving him that he is, in fact, worthy of being loved and loving others. I believed in their love story. Jack redeemed himself but still remained flawed.
Favorite quote: “I think it’s time for you to go,” she whispered. He didn’t want to. Not because he hadn’t had the chance to touch her yet in the way he wanted to. It was worse than that. He wanted to hold her and let her cry, or be angry, or not even do anything at all. And he didn’t want to leave. Ever. “Yeah,” he said, folding the towel and placing it on a hook. “I know I should.” He threaded his fingers through her hair and tilted her head up to him. “But I’m not going to.”
My main quibbles were the twins didn’t have an active role in the story and I felt like they bordered on plot moppets. Additionally, there was a subplot about this house that Lola wanted and Jack was doing the work on. It kind of disappeared for a while and then popped back up at the end. I don’t know if there will be more in this series, but I definitely look forward to reading more books by this author.