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New Release Review! BADEN by Sawyer Bennett (Pittsburgh Titans #1)

Baden cover

After suffering a horrific injury that threatens to end his career, Baden Oulett is about to learn that sometimes a fresh start is just what the doctor ordered.

I worked my whole life to achieve one goal—play professional hockey. As part of the defending Cup champion Arizona Vengeance, I was living my dream until one split second decision destroyed it all. Instead of lacing up my skates and hitting the ice, I’ve spent my days in rehab and physical therapy just so I could walk again. When a coaching opportunity with the Pittsburgh Titans is presented to me, I find myself with a career I had never considered but which allows me to continue being part of the sport that I love.

While my injuries are physical, the same can’t be said for the woman I rescued. Suffering from wounds that can’t be seen, Sophie Winters has withdrawn from the world in fear and guilt. I didn’t know Sophie before that fateful night and have only met her once since, but I refuse to let her face her demons alone. Determined to be a friend, I support Sophie in the only way I know how… by simply being there.

Through our shared trauma, Sophie and I begin to find peace within one another. As we grow closer, what started as friendship becomes more intimate until our broken pieces become one. But can a love born of anguish endure, or will the pain of our past prove too much to overcome?

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As much as I loved the last Arizona Vengeance book ( Riggs –and OMG, I did love it!), there was a scene near the end that just about tore my heart out–when the team learns the terrible news about the near-annihilation of the Pittsburgh Titans team in a plane crash. And then we learn that backup goalie Baden Oulett, who spent that entire book trying to get his body back to NHL-level form after a horrible injury, had a close friend on that plane. Reading Baden’s book became a priority at that moment.

It didn’t disappoint!

First of all, it’s the first in a new series–Ms Bennett is letting us in on the ground floor as she rebuilds a hockey team shattered by loss. Baden’s story felt like an ideal place to start–he is connected to Pittsburgh through his friend, but also, it turns out, by the woman who’s life he saved when he suffered his possibly-ending injury. Coming from the Vengeance, he’s the perfect bridge to the new series, and since he has his own heavy drama (the loss of his friend, the loss of his career as a professional hockey player) yet he’s starting out as a stranger to the team (but not to loyal readers!) we get to ease into the tragedy of the series a little bit. I’m not going to lie–as much as I’m looking forward to Stone’s (his brother died in the crash) and Coen’s (he’s one of just three players who weren’t on the plane) stories, I know they’re going to be hard to read at times.

Second of all, hockey. Need I say more? 😉

Third, Baden and Sophie. Goodness, these two are just so sweet together! They have the polar opposite of a meet cute–their “introduction” almost literally kills Baden, and Sophie still suffers near debilitating PTSD from it as the novel begins. Their next meeting doesn’t go much better. But once Baden accepts the job as goalie coach of the Titans and decides to look Sophie up since he’s in town? Things are on an upward trajectory from there, to say the least. They both still have a lot of healing to do, but each finds that the other is the perfect person to help them through it. OMG, these two were just so cute as they went from people who experienced a trauma together to acquaintances to friends to so much more.

Baden‘s romance is a slow burn one, but it’s worth it!

Ms Bennett teases us with just enough info about the players on Baden’s new team to make sure we’re going to add their books to our TBR before we reach the last page of this book–I can’t wait to see these guys build their team and find their HEAs as they do!

Rating: 4 stars / A-

I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.

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