Series: Private Practice #2
Published by Crimson Romance
Neurologist Helen Chang Frobisher is on a mission to ban hockey from Portland to prevent the kind of concussive brain injury that plagues her father. Oregon Wolves player Adam Magnus is desperately trying to secure his career and his retirement despite the team’s dismal record.
But while the two spar in public over the future of a sports franchise on the brink, in private, they battle an impossible attraction. When their no-strings-attached fling turns into the real thing, Helen and Adam must decide what’s really important to them. Will their relationship end up in the penalty box, or are they a winning combination?
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After reading Ruby Lang’s second installment in her Private Practice series, Hard Knocks, I’m looking forward to downloading her first offering in this series, Acute Reactions, and any of her future books. On its own, Hard Knocks is a smartly-written romance about two characters who find each other and discover themselves at odds at pivotal moments in their respective lives.
Adam Magnus (love the name) is a long-in-the-tooth hockey enforcer with the hard-luck Oregon Wolves, who can’t seem to buy a win on the ice. He’s been beaten up by the sport and fears his career will soon be over. With no other appreciable skills, he’s not sure what he should be doing next. Dr. Helen Chang Frobisher (quite a mouthful) is a neurologist and crusader against the ravages of CTE, or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, on the brain. You see, her father, a former doctor, is dying from Parkinson’s which she suspects was brought on by his days as an amateur boxer years ago. She feels helpless to save him and turns her frustration to the dangers of hockey on the brain.
Helen and Adam’s auspicious meeting takes place in the hospital emergency room when she is called in to consult on the treatment of him and his teammate after a postgame car accident. Their mutual attraction is instantaneous with her drawn to his striking good looks and masculine appeal and him unable to resist the exotic, intelligent and matter-of-fact beauty. Not soon after their first meeting, they were hot and heavy and immersed in what Helen hoped would be a one-night stand. But inevitably their paths cross again as adversaries in the debate about CTE and hockey. As Adam faces an uncertain career future and Helen grapples with family crisis but despite their differences over the wages of high-impact sports on the brain, they build a strong, believable friendship and passionate relationship.
This book certainly fits the sensual romance genre, i.e. all of the love scenes sizzled. But I had to keep reminding myself that it was an interracial romance, which is not necessarily a bad thing. With its witty dialogue, solid character development, and credible internal/external conflicts Hard Knocks is a keeper.
~Reviewed by Angela
A note from Laurel…
I had the pleasure of reading Hard Knocks as well and thoroughly enjoyed it. I love romances that don’t shy away from uncomfortable subjects. Helen’s crusade against CTE was interesting, but so were her coping mechanisms regarding her ailing father. And Adam’s character, although a hockey player, is not a “star” player. He struggles with his future, and thinks about a lot of the mundane things that keep regular people up at night. Both characters were not your typical perfect protagonists and I loved that about this book. Adam and Helen’s relationship is a slow build with punctuation of heat that had me page turning late into the night. What I loved most was how unflinchingly real they seemed. Bravo to Ms. Lang for proving that normal can be sexy.