Release Day Launch, Reviews, and Giveaway: Alex: Sawyer Bennett

ALEX (A Cold Fury Hockey Novel)
Loveswept Contemporary Romance
Sawyer Bennett
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On sale: October 14, 2014

Hockey star Alexander Crossman has a reputation as a cold-hearted player on and off the rink. Pushed into the sport by an alcoholic father, Alex isn’t afraid to give fans the proverbial middle finger, relishing his role as the MVP they love to hate. Management, however, isn’t so amused. Now Alex has a choice: fix his public image through community service or ride the bench. But Alex refuses to be molded into the Carolina Cold Fury poster boy… not even by a tempting redhead with killer curves.

As a social worker, Sutton Price is accustomed to difficult people—like Alex, who’s been assigned to help her create a drug-abuse awareness program for at-risk youth as part of the team’s effort to clean up his image. What she doesn’t expect is the arrogant smirk from his perfect lips to stir her most heated fantasies. But Sutton isn’t one to cross professional boundaries—and besides, Alex doesn’t do relationships… or does he? The more she sees behind Alex’s bad-boy façade, the more Sutton craves the man she uncovers.

Alexander Crossman...He's a prick, asshole, loner. The player on the Carolina Cold Fury they love to hate...and he could care less. He dislikes the limelight, attention, adoration, and rules.The players and fans don't like him, but he is a good hockey player without even trying his best. But he is never good enough for his Dad. And that colors how he sees the game, his team, and even himself. 

But his bad attitude is about to get him a one way ticket to a clean-up-your-image PR campaign. He is assigned to work at a drug crisis center for a youth program. 

There he meets Sutton Price. She's a counselor with a soft spot for troubled youth. She had a rough start in life so understands the harsh realities of addiction, abuse, and pain. But she has also been blessed with a second chance of a loving family. She and they do not have much financially, but they care and appreciate the small things in life. She is sweet, but sassy. She is not easily intimidated. She is passionate and devoted. And she could care less who Alex is. 

Alex has been pushed to a point that the hates the game. But as Sutton begins to learn about it, it rekindles his love for it as well.

I fell hard for Alex. He had up such armor and deflected his pain so much. Sutton was the only person to pierce it. And the addition of his new team mate Garrett also helped him create a bond of friendship he needed. And Sutton's supportive family showed him what love is really like. Sutton was so strong and overcame experiences that could have sent her into the darkness like Alex. But she didn't. 

Alex was so buried under pain, guilt, and deep fears that he sabotaged himself because he could not handle all of the emotions that were swirling under the surface. He lives in self protection mode. But he began to crawl his way of the darkness and head towards the light. He began to find joy in his sport, friendship, support, caring about more than himself. But he is man that keeps his emotions and feelings locked up tight. Sharing and opening up is not something he can do easily.

Alex has been completely broken and emotionally stunted. Will he be strong enough to take a risk, let go, and move on? Or end up hurting her, himself, or both? 

This story was full of challenges, complications, pain, resentment, heart break, insecurities, and fears. It was engaging, funny, sweet, steamy, and emotional. I found myself smiling, frustrated, and times tearing up a bit. I hated to see their struggles, especially Alex as he tried to come to terms with his life and figure out how to deal with it. His issues ran deep and he was so affected by his demons. So at times it was negative or a bit frustrating or depressing, but there were also themes of faith, forgiveness, and hope as well. I could not put it down and ended up staying up too late to finish. 

This was a fantastic start to a new hockey series. I enjoyed the dual point of view. I liked the characters and felt like they had depth and showed growth. They had good chemistry and it was full of steam. There was some drama and angst, but it was not too much. I am looking forward to Garrett's story. He's a crazy, supportive, foul-mouthed, lovable man-whore. But totally adored him.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.

I am not a hockey fan. I don’t understand the sport at all. But I loved it’s addition to the story. Between Alex’s history (and career) and Sutton’s developing interest in the game, there is just enough detail that it doesn’t take the focus away from the couple, but makes a nice backdrop for the story. 

Alex was aptly nicknamed Most Valuable Prick. I did not like him in the beginning. At all. In the first few scenes we meet Alex, I couldn’t help but laugh at his ridiculous presumptions, even as I wanted to call him bad words. It wasn’t until he met Sutton that we started to see a different side of Alex the Prick. As his outlook on the game and his life started to change, he began to grow on me. While he is not my favorite of Sawyer’s leading men, by the end of the book I was definitely cheering for him.

Sutton is not a hockey fan, but she is very dedicated to her career as a counselor with at-risk families and children. When she is partnered with Alex Crossman, she knows nothing about his reputation nor about hockey, but she does know the opportunity to work on an outreach program is her dream. 

Sutton and Alex had more in common than it initially appeared. The way they handled their pasts was completely opposite, and fit with each of their characters. Sutton was far more comfortable with her past and they way it shaped her person than Alex was, and her outlook was part of what Alex was drawn to as he got to know her. I loved that connection, even as they otherwise seemed so different.

I loved the way that even as Alex’s attitudes changed, he remained himself throughout. He softened with Sutton (part of what had me warming up to him in the beginning) but he also faced the reasons he was so unhappy. 

Though the hockey is a recurring event through the book, the effects of addiction actually had a stronger focus throughout the story than the sport. As the focus on their mutual project and a commonality in their childhoods, it was interesting to see how differently they had internalized the effects of their fathers’ addictions and how those effects manifested as adults. 

At times this was a slower read than I usually find from Sawyer’s books. There was so much going on -- hockey, addictions, the outreach program, rehab, and their developing relationship -- that I had a harder time being invested in the overall story. 

While I didn't connect with the characters as I normally do in Sawyer's book, I still enjoyed the overall ride. And there were some great shining moments. Alex takes part in one of my very favorite apology attempts ever. I marked the passage in my copy with the word “Epic” and left it at that. This was a good beginning for a new series, and I look forward to the continuing series. 

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Garrett (Cold Fury Hockey #2)
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Expected February 17, 2015

USA Today
 bestselling author Sawyer Bennett hits the ice with the story of a playboy athlete whose winning ways lead him to a beautiful woman with a lot to lose.

Carolina Cold Fury star Garrett Samuelson never wants to miss out on a single minute of fun. Whether he’s playing hockey, hanging out with friends, or walking the red carpet with a new date on his arm, he lives every day to the fullest. When he meets Olivia Case, he sees someone who’s exactly his type—confident, sexy, smart . . . his next fling. But the more he pursues her, the more Garrett shares a side of himself that other women don’t normally get to see.

Olivia has been keeping a secret. While Garrett lives for the next thrill, Olivia’s not sure she’ll live to see the next day. She’s undergoing treatment for some serious medical issues, and she doesn’t have time for a relationship with no guarantees—especially one with a hot-as-sin womanizer who won’t take no for an answer. But as she gets to know the real Garrett, Olivia can’t help falling for him . . . hard. To reveal the truth would mean risking everything—but you can’t score without taking the tough shots.

Includes a special message from the editor, as well as an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

 photo SawyerBennett_zps59043f28.jpgSawyer Bennett 
USA Today Best-Selling author, Sawyer Bennett, is a snarky southern woman and reformed trial lawyer who decided to finally start putting on paper all of the stories that were floating in her head. She is married to a mobster (well, a market researcher) and they have two big, furry dogs who hog the bed. Sawyer would like to report she doesn’t have many weaknesses but can be bribed with a nominal amount of milk chocolate.

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