Release Launch/Blog Tour/Giveaway: Zack: Sawyer Bennett

ZACK (Cold Fury Hockey #3)
Sawyer Bennett
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Expected June 9, 2015
New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett goes for a hat trick with the latest romance in a sexy series about cool-as-ice hockey players and the women heating up their lives.

Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief ever since the car accident that left him a single dad and put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury and still crippled by emotional baggage, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.

Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.

Excerpt 2
As soon as I get out of the club and into the silence of my car, I dial Delaney.

She answers on the first ring. “You scared the shit out of me. Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I murmur as I start the engine and wait for my Bluetooth to connect. When I hear the subtle click telling me she’s on speakerphone, I put the car in drive and say, “Just driving around…thinking.”
I hear her blow out a gust of sympathetic frustration, but her voice is gentle. “Okay. Just get home.”
“Is Ben okay?” I ask.

“He’s fine. Sleeping. Have you gone over the applicants I picked out for you?”

My hands tighten on the steering wheel, and a tiny pain shoots through my wrist, a pain I’d never admit to the team doctors, so I ignore it and tell her, “Not yet.”

“Tomorrow,” Delaney says sternly. “You have to make a decision tomorrow.”

“I know,” I mutter, realizing that the time for dragging my feet and procrastinating is over. “I promise. Tomorrow.”

“Okay,” she says softly. “That’s good.”

I don’t say anything else, my mind already starting to shut down. I abhor the thought of culling through her final recommendations for a nanny for Ben. Because that means this is final…that Gina is really dead and Ben’s mommy is definitely not coming back. In my mind, it’s putting the final nail in her coffin.
“I love you,” Delaney says, almost desperately, into the phone.
I bite my lip…hard, and feel my tooth slice down into the delicate flesh. “Back at ya,” I say, my voice harsh and raspy.
Words of love to my older sister—the woman who has been my rock-solid support the last four months since Gina died—unable to materialize. I disconnect the call and stare blankly out the windshield. I’m practically on autopilot as I drive home.
Out of the silence of my car, an unbidden, sarcastic snort bursts forth from me, and then I start snickering to myself.
What a fucking joke.
My five-bedroom house on Marchand Street feels like a prison, the walls closing in on me and causing me to seek out strippers named Candi Apple at midnight. I can’t escape my memories there, my guilt devours me as I look at Gina’s pictures throughout the house, and every day, rather than rise above my pain, I get swallowed up in it a little deeper. I hate that fucking house now, and I’ve pretty much resolved myself to sell it. Maybe moving will help leave the ghosts behind and give Ben and me a fresh start.
If it wasn’t for Ben…
Beautiful, blond-haired, blue-eyed Ben.

The spitting image of Gina.

My little boy, who seems to have bounced back fine after losing his mother, giving me toothy grins and cuddling with me on the couch at night. If it wasn’t for him…

No, I don’t even want to think about where I’d be if it wasn’t for Ben. Let me just appreciate the fact that I have the most wonderful child in the world, and it’s only because of him that I at least have some sort of desire to want to feel again.
While I can’t seem to feel outside the bounds of pure and unconditional love for my child, it doesn’t mean I want to be this way. I’m smart enough to know that Ben will look to me for guidance on how to live this life without Gina, and I’m savvy enough to know that if I don’t get my shit together, for his sake, I stand a really good chance of fucking his head up.
So I try the only way I know how—by seeking out the Candi Apples of this world—and dig down deep for something to interest me in this life outside of my child and my hockey career.
Taking a deep breath, I pull onto the outer belt line that circles around Raleigh, and let it out slowly. Yeah, tomorrow I need to start the process of removing my head from my ass. I also know the first step is to do as Delaney says and make a choice from the final applicants and hire a nanny for Ben. Once I start back at practices next week, I’ll need someone to help me with him.
Delaney has been down here in Raleigh for the past week, interviewing prospects and checking out references. She’s narrowed it down to a choice of three, and while I really don’t want to care about whom to pick, I know that for the sake of my son, I need to be satisfied the person I do choose is right for the job. I trust Delaney implicitly, but I also know that I need to show some interest . . . at least for her peace of mind. The day after tomorrow she’ll head back to Manhattan, where she works as a financial analyst, and I can’t let her leave with undue worry over me and Ben.
It pisses me off that I have to hire a nanny. It feels like I’m replacing Gina . . . hiring a new mommy for my boy. Deep down, the rational side of me knows this isn’t true. While I’ve been able to handle Ben just fine on my own for the last four months while I recovered from my wrist injury, there is no way I can be a single parent to Ben when much of my career is spent on the road. I will need someone to be with him full-time when I’m gone, and it has to be someone trustworthy.
So I’ll do my duty tomorrow and give the applicants thoughtful consideration. Then I’ll make my decision and start the process of introducing a new woman who will become a provider and mother figure to my son.
That thought causes pain to shoot through my chest, and while I know it’s unfair, a little part of me already hates this woman because she will be taking Gina’s place in that respect.
It has been four months since tragedy struck Zack Grantham's life. He lost his love,  is now a single parent, and recovering from a wrist injury, but his emotional recovery is not occurring as quickly. The only thing he lives for is his young son, Ben and to get to play hockey again with his team, The Cold Fury. Otherwise he feels dead inside, numbed by pain, memories, and guilt.

When his sister helps choose a new nanny for his son, Zack is not sure what she has got him into. Kate is blunt, sassy, way too chipper, nerdy, and a bit weird. She hides her beauty under baggy clothes and is not on the prowl for a man. She needs the job badly and is willing to deal with a cranky, depressed, moody boss. 

Her quirky behavior, silly nicknames, and disheveled style just made her completely "adorkable". She really was goofy and geeky and in some ways childlike, but she was also mature, smart, independent, and dedicated. Her life had been challenging and she knew how to work hard. She appreciated any little thing and was incredibly giving. But she had such a bright spirit and the light about her that Zack was drawn to even when he didn't want to be. 

Zack was a mess. He was suffering from grief and so much guilt for various reasons. But he was a wonderful , hands-on father and a good friend to those he cared about. Since the accident and his loss he really had been dead inside and just hadn't really been inspired by anything other than his son and the chance of getting back to playing hockey. 

But despite his doubts, and resistance, Kate begins to worm her way in with her hidden beauty, dorky sense of humor, and charm. He begins to feel more alive and finds passion, but also puts up boundaries. He is afraid to feel, afraid to hurt her, full of guilt, and unable to truly move on. But he really was only willing to give a small piece of himself and did not want any emotional attachment and was sure he could compartmentalize it. He knew he didn't have anything to give and so he made sure she knew there could be no emotional attachment. I thought she was quite understanding about his needs and issues. But it is a situation that is easy to cross over the line and eventually someone was going to get hurt. 

This was really a journey of self realization for Zack and him needing to deal with his issues, regrets, and and to really own his own feelings. He had so much guilt and so many insecurities about his past and his own feelings that he really had to face if there was a chance of healing and moving on. Sometimes I wanted to shake sense into him. He was one of those guys that could be a total ass and clueless, and could totally frustrate me, but I could not help but like him too. He had a vulnerability about him and was so lost, but also so scared to hold onto something. But he certainly was not a fast learner. 

I loved getting more with the other couples Alex and Sutton and Garrett and Olivia from the first two books, and also meeting his new teammate and friend, Ryker who will be the subject of the next book. I am already intrigued by his story and I liked the camaraderie he built with Zack. I adored Kate's relationship with Ben. Her personality was so conducive to dealing with children (and sullen men too).

I really like this series and the hockey team aspect of it, but I also enjoy the fact that Sawyer Bennett writes such interesting characters with depth and complicated back stories. Each of the books has unique characters that have had challenging situations to get through that weren't easy, but find ways to persevere with those around them for support. Due to some of the subject matter, this one could have come off much darker and more negative, but the humor and the fact that Kate was so goofy and upbeat helped balance it out. It was an emotional, humorous, sexy, sweet, and heartwarming story of second chances, true love, and the value of friends, family, and living life to the fullest.

I was gifted a copy in exchange for an honest review.
Oh my. When I was reading Garrett and reached the point where Zack’s story changed, I was gutted. This was a story that I knew would bring me to tears, though I couldn’t have guessed exactly how.

Zack Grantham is a mess following the death of his long time girlfriend and the mother of his son. He is grieving. He feels guilt. But he feels little beyond those two emotions, and can barely function, let alone parent. His sister, Delaney, steps in to help out, but when she has to return to work, Zack knows he has to hire a nanny to help out during the upcoming season.

Kate Francis is determined to get out from the poverty of her childhood, and returning to her father’s trailer is the last resort she is not long away from reaching. Her last chance at independence is as a live-in nanny. And she is a rabid Cold Fury fan, so when she learns her new employer is Zack she knows a little of his backstory.

She is quirky and funny, always trying to make those around her laugh. I loved her blunt honesty and habit of saying exactly what she was thinking. She started out seeming nerdy and dowdy, but learning the why behind her physical appearance had me rethinking that first impression.

I knew this was going to be an emotional story. With the unresolved guilt Zack was still feeling about Gina, there was a lot of dark feelings that needed to be worked through. At several points, I found myself outright crying as I followed his journey.

But for all the tough emotions, there was chemistry through the roof between these two. Not only does Zack have his issues to deal with, but Kate carries her own baggage that has to be put aside before they can act on the attraction between them. There were a few moments where it felt close to insta-love simply because of where Zack had been inside his head before they met, but they way the relationship progressed kept that feeling closer to lust than love in the early stages.

And while I’m on the subject of chemistry and attraction, this book has one of the best fade-to-black scenes I can think of. Usually fade-to-black scenes cut just before things get really good. This one hits at the height and is just the perfect blend of heat, sexiness, and leaves just a little bit to the imagination.

As the third in the Cold Fury series, there are plenty of returning characters to make this feel comfortable. Kate befriends Sutton and Olivia quickly, and especially leans to Sutton for advice on handling Zack. Garrett and Alex play roles as Zack’s friends, and Ryker, Cold Fury’s new backup goalie gets a deeper introduction as he and Zack realize the similarities in their stories despite differing circumstances.

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

ALEX (Cold Fury Hockey #1)
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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.

GARRETT (Cold Fury Hockey #2)
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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.

RYKER (Cold Fury Hockey #4)
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Pre-order: Amazon/B&N/GooglePlay/Kobo
Expected Sept, 8, 2015
The rugged men of the Carolina Cold Fury hockey team are winning hearts once again in another scorching novel fromNew York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett.

The stakes have never been higher for Carolina Cold Fury goalie Ryker Evans. With his contract running out, he’s got a year left to prove he’s still at the top of his game. And since his wife left him, Ryker has been balancing life as a pro-hockey star and a single parent to two daughters. Management is waiting for him to screw up. The fans are ready to pounce. Everybody’s taking dirty shots—except for the fiery redhead whose faith in Ryker gives him a fresh start.

As the league’s only female general manager, Gray Brannon has learned not to mix business with pleasure. And yet even this tough, talented career woman can’t help breaking her own rules as she gives Ryker everything she’s got. She hopes their hot streak will last forever, but with Ryker’s conniving ex plotting to reclaim her man, the pressure’s on Gray to step up and save a tender new love before it’s too late.

USA Today and New York Times 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. Her husband works for a Fortune 100 company which lets him fly all over the world while she stays at home with their daughter and three 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.

Sawyer is the author of several contemporary romances including the popular Off Series, the Legal Affairs Series and the Last Call Series. She will be releasing her third book in the Cold Fury Hockey Series with Random House Loveswept, June 2015.

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*Loveswept is hosting a Month Long Giveaway including Loveswept Mug, Flirt Mug and Select Ebook Bundle  (Rafflecopter links in Media Kit)

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