by Kate Meader
(Rookie Rebels #2)
Publication date: December 10th 2019
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance,Sports
Theo Kershaw is the luckiest guy alive.
Roaring back from a life-threatening injury, he has the world at his skates as defenseman for his new team, the Chicago Rebels. Everyone adores his big personality, his on-ice talent, and his killer smile. Everyone but his prickly neighbor – or so he thinks. One chilly Christmas Eve, Theo will learn that maybe the girl next door isn’t such a hater after all …
Elle Butler is the most embarrassing person on the planet.
How else can the ex-military-now-bartender explain her crush on the hot jock who lives across the hall? True, he has gorgeous green eyes and perfect cheekbones, but the filter between his brain and too-sexy mouth is permanently malfunctioning. Yet she can’t stop checking out his Instagram antics or sneaking looks at him when he’s in her bar. So. Mortifying. Running from a past filled with damning secrets, Elle’s determined that this guilty pleasure remains buried in her deepest fantasies.
Because she couldn’t possibly indulge with the Theo Kershaw or make a mistake that draws attention to her under-the-radar life. And she especially couldn’t be a mom to a pro-athlete’s baby … could she?
There he stood in a Santa hat and snug boxer briefs with … were those dinosaurs?
She blinked, covered her mouth, and giggled. “Nice underwear.”
“Gift from my gran. Now, you.”
That wasn’t how this was going to work. She pushed off from the counter, where she’d had to lean to catch her breath and save herself from melted-knee syndrome, and moved in close. Her hand strayed to his chest, brushed across one copper-pennied nipple.
“I’m not an exhibitionist like you.”
He shrugged. “I’m not ashamed. You got it, you flaunt it.”
Easy for him to say. She was no prude, but she wasn’t able to compete with the level she saw before her. Nothing sculpted or honed about her body. She’d kept fit in the military but hadn’t been maintaining her regimen as diligently since leaving. Stripping in the unflattering light of Levi Hunt’s kitchen was not on the menu.
He seemed to sense her confusion. He placed a hand on her hip, the other at the nape of her neck.
“I’m not sure.”
“We don’t have to do this.”
It wasn’t that she didn’t want to. It would be wonderful, she was sure of it. A clearing of the pipes. A beautiful male body used as the gods intended. But that was it: she would be using him—and she’d been making a concerted effort not to do that to people. She came from a long line of takers, and while she had no doubt this would be a mutual exchange of pleasure and bodily fluids, she still felt weird about it.
“You’d be okay with me changing my mind?”
“This is your show, Ellie.” But even as he said it, his cock twitched. She felt its sad poke against her stomach. Not a happy penis.
She looked down at it. Covered by the head of a cartoon T-rex, it was still impressive.
“Sorry,” she whispered.
Theo laughed, the sound slightly pained. “Yeah, you should definitely apologize to my dick. The big guy’s never gonna forgive us for getting him all worked up.” He kissed her softly, which was much more than she deserved for being such a tease. “Not a big deal. You want me out of your hair?” He tangled a finger in one of her errant curls.
“Don’t you have to head home?”
“Not for a while yet. But if you want to be alone, I can make that happen.” He waggled both eyebrows. “Or I could make Christmas lunch.”
“We just had breakfast.”
He waved it off. “Merely the appetizer.”
“You mean you’d actually cook for me after I led you to the brink—”
“Hardly the brink.”
“And made your dick cranky.”
With his hands still cradling her hips, he held her back a few inches and peered down at his groin. “You cranky, bud?”
“Oh, God.” That was Elle, not Theo’s penis, speaking.
He continued conversing with his chatty dick. “A little? Don’t worry, we’ll have some alone time later. A few happy, holiday tugs and you won’t even remember the mean lady who looked a hung-like-a-gift horse in the mouth.” All smiles, he met her astonished gaze once more. “We’re good.”
Were they? Was she crazy to turn down an offer like this? Her ovaries certainly thought so.
She stepped back, struck by the notion that leaving his arms was a mistake. That she might like to stay wrapped in them for a while longer and that she’d missed out on not just great sex, but self-care with a wonderful guy.
He’s not for you, Eloise.
Normally, I’m not a fan of all-caps-shouty-like writing, or of excessive punctuation, but trust me–Theo deserves all that and more 🙂
I mean, he was a ton of fun in Levi’s book ( Good Guy ), but here in his own? In all of his live-Instagramming, special pants to fit his hockey butt-wearing, putting up with his kind of crazy grandma, and sexy bantering with Elle-oh-Elle Butler glory? It’s magic!
Elle–aka Sargent Cupcake–was pretty wonderful too, keeping Theo’s ego in check (while secretly binging on his IG feed, and maybe becoming a little too attached to his glutes…and lats…and abs…and pecs…) and giving just as good as she gets throughout. Together? They make magic…and maybe a little something else 😉
Instacrush isn’t all sexy banter, though. Both Theo and Elle had past/family issues that they need to work though individually before they can really be a couple. Even though their actual experiences growing up were drastically different, they have some really similar issues, including doubting their worthiness and lovability. I liked how Kate Meader had them work through their problems, resolving them realistically and not always taking the story in directions that might have made her job easier but instead choosing ones that made her characters do the work.
Because that ending? Made everything that went before it worth it!
Now, please tell me Gunnar’s story is going to be soon… 🙂
Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A
I voluntarily reviewed an Advance Reader Copy of this book.
About the author:
Originally from Ireland, USA Today bestselling author Kate Meader cut her romance reader teeth on Maeve Binchy and Jilly Cooper novels, with some Harlequins thrown in for variety. Give her tales about brooding mill owners, oversexed equestrians, and men who can rock an apron, a fire hose, or a hockey stick, and she’s there. Now based in Chicago, she writes sexy contemporary romance with alpha heroes and strong heroines who can match their men quip for quip.
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