Emma was mad—at herself. She’d revealed her biggest weakness to Tanner of all people. And for what reason? Heaven only knew. She sure as heck didn’t. He wasn’t the One, and she had no business telling him her secrets because he didn’t really care.
“Are you okay?” Tanner stared at her, his mouth set in a grim line, while a lone muscle jerked in his jaw.
Emma shook her head. His concern wrenched another bout of sobs from her. How stupid and ridiculous and weak? She was crying over karaoke for heaven’s sake. Except she knew it was more than that. She was crying because she wasn’t strong enough to follow her dreams like Avery or willing to give up the safe and known for the dangerous and unknown. Emma liked everything lined up in neat little lines, liked her life mapped out, all the way down to her someday wedding dress she’d clipped out of a bride’s magazine and stored in what she called her Notebook of Dreams. Tanner was in there, too, as her dream man—the guy she measured every other guy against. Of course, she didn’t really know him, only his public persona as a guy who did lots of charity work and was known for his easygoing, generous lifestyle with a lot of partying thrown in.
“Oh, man, sweetheart, I’m sorry.” He wrapped his strong arms around her. She stiffened briefly, but couldn’t resist him no matter how hard she tried. Emma relaxed into him, letting his warmth seep into her cold places, comforting her in ways she’d only imagined. She’d certainly never been comforted by her parents as a child. Izzy tried, but Izzy wasn’t exactly into warm-fuzzies. Yet, this man she barely knew made her feel better with just a hug because he was good at this. Really good. She reminded herself she meant nothing to him. He was not the One, she repeated over and over in her head. Only her heart had donned noise-cancelling headphones and was picking out wedding music.
Sniffling, Emma pulled back. “No one in my family knows I sing karaoke, and they can’t know.”
“Why?” Confusion spread across his handsome face.
“We have a pact—my sisters and I.”
“A pact? Not to sing karaoke? Seriously?” His brow creased in confusion and made him look so adorable, his expression helped staunch the flow of tears.
“No. We have a pact to never follow in our parents’ footsteps and become entertainers. We’ve lived that story of being on top, crashing to the bottom, and spending the rest of their lives trying to get back to the top again. The drugs, the drinking, the late nights, the complete and total disregard for anything but the music, especially your children.” And why was she telling him all this?
“Oh,” he seemed at a loss for words. “But you sing at the parties you crash?”
“Because Izzy approves of it?” he guessed, and Emma nodded slowly. “So you come here once a week to sing?”
She nodded again, surprised at how perceptive he was.
He rubbed his chin as if deep in thought then refocused those deep green eyes on her. “Your secret is safe with me.”
“Yeah,” he said softly, his voice deep and husky, a voice that instantly made her panties wet and brought forth thoughts of steamy nights and naked bodies.
Oh my. Her hands flew to her mouth as she inwardly cringed at her wayward thoughts.
He patted her back, wrongly assuming it had to do with her broken dreams. He had no idea he was a large part of them. The DJ called him to sing, and she sat back, relieved to have a reprieve and happy to have an excuse to watch him without coming across as a stalker or a desperate woman with an even more desperate crush.
He had to be the hottest man in the room. Judging by the other women hungrily watching him, she wasn’t the only one who thought so. Tanner picked up the mic, nodded to the DJ, and grinned straight at Emma, making her feel as if she were the only woman in the large bar. She expected harsh music or even rap, only he pulled another surprise out of his bag of tricks.
Tanner’s gaze held hers captive as he started to croon a classic country ballad made famous by George Strait. It happened to be one of Emma’s personal favorites, and Tanner sang “The Chair” as well as George Strait had himself.
Emma couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t form a coherent thought as Tanner expertly wound a cocoon around the two of them with a song he sang as if he sung it just for her. His voice rolled over her like a warm ocean breeze, gentle and mesmerizing.
The man could sing, and Emma went from a crush to being hopelessly, undeniably in love with the man before he got to the chorus.
“Don’t look so shocked,” Tanner said after he sauntered back to his seat and sat down next to her. With a satisfied smirk on his face, he sipped his beer, the same one he’d been nursing all night.
I wasn’t all that crazy about the hero and heroine for a good half of the book–Tanner was a self-absorbed jerk, and Emma had definite head-in-the-sky doormat-on-thepground tendencies going on. Fortunately they both change for the better, and in a pretty believable way, too. Tanner had the potential within him to not be a jerk, and he eventually brings it out and polishes it up nicely. I’m still not sure how I feel about Emma and her dream, but I do agree with the choices she makes in the end.
Like book 5 before it ( Melting Ice: Seattle Sockeyes Hockey ) this one works okay as a standalone if you haven’t read the others in the series, though several other characters pop in and out a lot and some things from other stories come up here and there and you may feel a bit behind the times in parts. Two of Emma’s sisters and Tanner’s older brother starred in two of those books (Melting the Ice and Crashing the Boards ), so knowing their stories would be particularly helpful but isn’t strictly necessary.
The last Wolfe brother, Zeke, is clearly being set up for a future book at the end. Since one of the parts in this one that I really liked is the development in the relationship between Tanner and Issac–probably because their two books are the ones in the series that I’ve read–Zeke’s story has definitely piqued my interest, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for it.
Rating: 3 stars / C+
I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
be read as standalones, you’ll most likely enjoy reading the other books in the
Game On in Seattle sports romance series:
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