Book Review: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

Posted June 1, 2020 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews / 0 Comments

Book Review: Love Hard by Nalini Singh

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Love Hard by Nalini Singh
Published by TKA Distribution on March 10, 2020
Pages: 320
Format: eBook
Source: the library

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Also by this author: Archangel's Legion, Archangel's Shadows, Archangel’s Enigma, Shards of Hope, “Fairy Balloons”, "An Unexpected Guest”, Allegiance of Honor, "The Song of the Wolf", Silver Silence, Archangel’s Heart, Archangel’s Viper, Ocean Light, "Elena's School of Horror", Cherish Hard, "Ain’t No Party Like A Bear Party", Archangel's Prophecy, "One Night At The Refuge", "Secret Things", Rebel Hard, Rock Hard, Wolf Rain, "Clean and Dirty", "Wolf School", "Naya’s Most Important Visitors", "Grocery Shopping", "A Gift for Kit", "Movie Night", "Kaleb and Sahara’s Meeting with Sascha and Lucas", "Housewarming at the Orchard", "Christmas in the Kitchen", "Stalking Hawke", "Romancing Drew", "Sunday Morning", "Rowan", "Baubles & Ben", Wild Embrace, Rock Addiction, "Music Awards", Rock Courtship , "Rock Courtship Memo"s, Rock Redemption, "Sunshine", Rock Wedding, "With This Memo", A Madness of Sunshine, "Beary Tiny Ghosts", Alpha Night, "A Wedding Breakfast", "Poker Night", "Knives and Sheaths", "Seedlings", "Star Kissed", "A Walk on the Cliffs", "Wild Cat Blues", Slave to Sensation, Caressed by Ice, Visions of Heat

Third in the Hard Play cozy romance series and revolving around the Bishop-Esera family of rugby athletes. The couple focus is on Jacob Esera and Juliet Nelisi and is set in Auckland, New Zealand.

My Take

Sweet! I adore the Bishop-Esera family. They’re raised with fabulous values and care about each other, respectful of their stepfather’s culture. Wait’ll you read about Gabe and Charlie’s wedding! Such a beautiful blend of who they are. And I just love how the whole family got around that jerk Reid.

It’s a cute conflict with Jake hating Juliet and vice versa. She’s too wild for him and he’s too staid for her, going back to their high school days. But Singh uses those wedding “hormones” to incite their interest in each other. It was too easy. Sweet, but, oy, I do wish there’d been more resistance at the start to make it more believable. Singh did try but all it did was annoy the heck out of me.

What makes it up for me is Jacob, so determined to raise his daughter well, to be with her, and make her happy. It’s too bad he’s so paranoid about the safety of everyone he loves. That’s what Callie’s death did to him. Made him so incredibly responsible. Cooking right for himself and for Esme. Hmmm, wonder if he’ll cook for me…? How he is, is how his parents raised him. You can see it when Esme talks about Uncle Danny and his friends having to plant new flowers, lol. It’s about taking responsibility, and you can see how well it works for all of them in all aspects of their lives.

Poor Juliet. It takes a bit before we learn her back history. Jeez. It takes the difference in how Juliet is treated by E.E. Designs and Reid that sparks her courage. It’s sure a contrast with all the support Jake comes to realize he had. I am curious about Callie’s family. Where are they in all this?

Ohhh, the paper roses in Charlotte’s bouquet sound gorgeous, but I am conflicted about it. Pages from romance books, which means tearing apart a book! Ack. I also love that Juliet had taken welding in high school. Lucky girl.

I love, too, that the Kiwi media leave Esme alone, partly because the family (full of athletes!) and their teammates will boycott anyone who breaches that privacy. Too bad more journalists haven’t that decency.

I hadda laugh about the underwear commercial. The actual shoot sounds like it was a lot of fun, the way the boys were interacting. More laughter ensues as Jake brags about Esme’s relationship with the team: “She’ll sit with the nutritionist and the physio and discuss plays like she’s sixty, not six.”

Singh uses a third person dual protagonist point-of-view, so we get to hear Jake’s and Juliet’s thoughts about what’s happening. I do wish Singh had done more with showing us rather than telling us so much.

Hmm, I wonder how many coaches realize that overtraining is stupid? I do love Gabe’s counsel to his brothers, to “play for the love of the game.”

Aha, Singh is prepping us for Ahora’s and Catie’s future romances … *eyebrow waggle* …

It’s definitely a character-driven tale, based on the upbringing Alison and Joseph gave the boys, which isn’t to say there’s no action. It’s there, but the focus is on family support, loyalty, and caring.

This is such an incredibly sweet story! So positive and wonderful. It turns into such a life of laughing and success.

The Story

It’s Gabriel and Charlotte’s wedding day!

T-Rex vs Mouse. They both won.

It certainly brings Jake and Juliet back into each other’s orbit, giving them each the chance to see the person behind what they each remember.

Floor it, baby!

The Characters

Juliet “Jules” Nelisi, former wild child classmate, scandal magnet, is a friend of Charlotte’s from their shared pastry class. And she’d been Callie’s best friend in high school. She’s been divorced for the past six months. Aleki is a cousin who now runs a legit security company.

The strait-laced twenty-four-year-old Jacob “Gearhead” Esera, a.k.a., the Saint, star rugby player for the Harriers and squeaky clean single father, has a six-year-old daughter, Esme, a.k.a., Boo, who used to be enthralled with cars. Calypso “Callie” Simpson had been Jake’s girlfriend in high school and had been Esme’s mom. Rachel, a hard-driving investigative reporter, was his last girlfriend.

The Bishop-Eseras are…
Jacob’s blended family, his and Danny’s father and Gabe and Sailor’s stepfather, Joseph Eseras, is Samoan. Alison is their mom. Danny is the youngest and on the same team as Jacob. It seems Danny’s interested in sports psychology as well as law.

Sailor Bishop and Ísa Rain (Cherish Hard, 1) have been married for eight years now. Eight!?! Emmaline is their daughter and Esme’s best friend. Harlow and Catie (she of the prosthetic legs) are Ísa’s siblings. Joseph Connor is Sailor and Ísa’s newborn.

Gabriel “the Bishop” Bishop, a.k.a., Gabe and T-Rex, and Charlotte “Charlie” Baird (Rock Hard, 3) are getting married. Uncle Tama has a car that won’t start. “Trixi Kitten” is Jake’s great-aunt’s cat.

Aroha is another of Charlotte’s friends from pastry class and a bridesmaid. As is Detective Mei Lee. Molly, Charlotte’s best friend, is the matron of honor (Rock Addiction). Fox is Molly’s rock-star husband. Thea Arsana is Molly’s sister and a brilliant publicist who represents Fox’s band.

Nayna Sharma and Raj Sen (he’ll be an usher at the wedding; Rebel Hard, 2). They have a little boy. Harry is Gabe’s best friend from his pro-athlete days, although he’s a pilot now. And he seems to be falling for Aroha.

E.E. Designs is…
…where Juliet works as their new vice-president of Operations and Supply, and Everett Echert is Juliet’s boss; Rufus is his lifelong partner. Iris Truett, the chief operations officer, is Juliet’s immediate boss who intends to retire in three years.

Kalia Nguyen is the photographer. Wesley is the CEO of a company that owns half the billboards in Auckland. Kseniya is the model in New York. Zuli is a lawyer with Jin, Beckstead, and Partners in London. She’s also Oliver’s fiancée.

The Harriers are…
…the rugby team of which Jacob and Danny are members, Gabe’s old team. Lincoln Graves is the coach. Other rugby players who signed the same underwear commercial deal include Leopold “Leo” Naughton who drives a yellow Porsche 911 and is with a new woman every night of the week; Viliame “Vili”, a Fijian-Kiwi winger who drives a Ferrari F8 Tributo; and, Christian “the Viking”. I think Christian is on the Southern Blizzard team. More teammates include Ambrose (Bria is his pregnant girlfriend), Piri, and Oliver, who is the team captain.

Darren, a former lawyer, is Jacob’s agent. The Southern Blizzard are the Harriers arch-rivals.

Reid Mescall, Juliet’s cheating sports-star ex, had been a control freak. Lisa Swan is the girl with whom he’d been cheating.

Back in high school
Mr Boucher, a.k.a., Mr Bozo, is a bully of a teacher. Paul Sweeney, a fellow student, had been a bully. Jiro got the same treatment as Sweeney.

The Cover and Title

The cover is a black-and-white photograph of Jake in faded blue jeans and no shirt — the better to show off that intricate tribal tattoo on his right bicep, shoulders, and upper chest. He’s plunging forward with two hands on the oval rugby ball against a dew-dropped and hazy background. A great way to indicate effort without sweating, lol. The title is in white distressed script across Jake’s lower chest with the series info in white over his left front pocket. The author’s name is in violet across his legs with a testimonial in black between her first and last name.

The title is what Esme, Jacob, and Juliet do, Love Hard. As does every other member of the Bishop-Esmera family!

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