Today we are thrilled to be sharing an excerpt of A FAVOR FOR A FAVOR by New York Times bestselling author Helena Hunting.
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When I joined Seattle’s NHL expansion team, I thought it was the start of something great. But nothing ever goes the way you expect. Take my introduction to my new neighbor. She came rolling in on the hot mess express at midnight, making a racket while she tried to get into my team captain’s apartment. Did I mention that he’s married to a woman who definitely was not her?
Imagine my surprise when I end up with an injury that has me out of the game for weeks, and she’s the one to offer to help me. I should probably add that she’s not the captain’s mistress. She’s his sexy, pastel-haired younger sister.
So we come up with an arrangement: she rehabs me so that I can get back on the ice sooner, and she can add a professional athlete that isn’t her brother to her client list. Seems simple enough. As long as I can keep my hands to myself and my hormones in check.
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“Say you were taking a woman to a formal work function. Would you get her flowers or something?” I’ve gone on my fair share of dates, had a few relationships, but I’ve never been one for hearts and flowers or any of that bull. I’m thinking I might need to do that with Stevie, though, since she’s been screwed over pretty hard.“Is this a date or a favor for a friend?”
“I guess she thinks I’m doing her a favor.” At least that was the impression that I got when I offered to go with her.
“Is that actually what you’re doing?”
“Yes and no.”
“Can you give me a little more to go on?”
“Her ex is going to be there and I don’t want her to go alone.”
“You don’t want her to go alone because you’re worried he’ll be a jerk or he’ll try to take advantage of her?”
“Sure, yeah, that’s part of the reason.”
“Instead of me dragging the information out of you, why don’t you lay it down for me?”
“Hold up, we’re back to Rook’s little sister?”
“Who else would I be talking about?”
“I thought you said there isn’t anything going on between you, and now you’re taking her to some kind of work function? That’s not a favor; that’s a date. Does Rook know?”
“It’s none of his damn business.”
“I’m not sure he’ll see it that way.”
“Well, he doesn’t have control over her or what she does, or what I do.” I’m agitated now. “She’s not going to that thing alone. I don’t trust that ex of hers, and I don’t want her to end up in a situation she doesn’t like.”
Kingston tips his head to the side. “Dang.”
“You like her.”
“Well, yeah, I like her.” What’s not to like? She’s gorgeous, and she’s funny and feisty; her body is rockin’; and she’s fun to be around, super chill, and genuinely selfless.
“Like you actually want to date her, though.”
I shrug, because what am I going to say? The answer to that is yes, I want to date her, but the timing needs to be right. “I don’t want the ex thinking he has another chance.“
“You really love complicated situations, don’t you?”
“They just tend to find me, is all.”
“When’s this event you’re supposed to take her to?” King asks.
He frowns. “We get back at noon on Saturday.”
“It’s in the evening.”
“You better hope our flight isn’t delayed.”
I hadn’t considered a delay. The only reason that would happen is if the weather isn’t good. “It doesn’t start until five. I should have plenty of time to get home and throw a suit on.”
Kingston nods and taps restlessly on the edge of the pool. “So would you call this your first date?”
“We hang out all the time.”
“‘Hang out’ meaning what?”
“Other than PT sessions, we watch hockey, eat pizza, stuff like that.”
Kingston blinks several times in rapid succession. “That’s it?”
“I pick her up from work a lot.”
“Have you ever bought her flowers before? Brought her any gifts?”
“I brought her over an aloe plant once. But, like I said, it hasn’t been like that.” I don’t get why he’s so hung up on the flowers.
“Again, please try not to take offense, but are you sure you haven’t inadvertently put yourself in the friend zone?”
“How do I know if I’m in the friend zone?” I haven’t had a lot of friends who are girls. Actually, I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend who’s a girl who isn’t related to me. And I only have two female cousins, whom I see a couple of times a year at family functions. They’re significantly younger than me, so mostly I avoid them.
It’s Kingston’s turn to blow out a long breath. “If you put your arm around her and she gets all snuggly but doesn’t try to take it any further, it could mean you’re in the friend zone.”
I don’t know what my expression must be, but the panic I feel inside quite possibly reaches my face. I feel like it should be obvious that I’m interested. A guy doesn’t spend endless hours with a gorgeous woman who combines weird pizza toppings for shits and giggles. But then again, I haven’t attempted to make a move on her since the almost-kiss. And any conversation I’ve tried to have with her about it has been shut down. In fact, she wants to pretend it didn’t happen. I hadn’t considered that this might be because she actually didn’t want it to happen at all. She seemed just as into it as I was. Or maybe I’ve been misreading the whole thing. “If I’m in the friend zone, how the hell do I get out?”
Reviewed by Sharon Thérèse at KFF
Diving into A Favor for a Favor, book two in the All In Series which can be enjoyed as a standalone is as always with Hunting’s books, easy-peasy. However, if you read A Lie for a Lie #1 first which just happens to be one of my fave 2019 reads, you’ll get to meet Stevie’s brother, RJ and learn about the NHL team’s camaraderie. Hunting has yet again delivered a laugh-out-loud romance that has me snorting into the middle of the night! So be warned, if you pick the book up late evening, you could possibly cause a disturbance!
“You’re welcome for making sure you weren’t murdered last night.”
“Buy a pair of pants!”
Ooh. My. Gawd! Stevie and Bishop’s impression of each other was not good from the word go. Not surprising either. She’d irritated this bear of a man at daft o’clock and he wasn’t in any mood to cover up. Yep, he loves his sassy underwear! To top the lot, he jumps to conclusions without having the facts and being the cocky guy that he is, rubs her up the wrong way…no pun intended, of course!
‘I don’t know that I hate him, but I definitely don’t like him.’
How could I not fall for Stevie? She’s no pushover and Bishop and I kinda liked this, but their slow-burn friendship isn’t going to be plain sailing. No love lost between Bishop and RJ won’t help matters and as far as physical therapists go in this sport, it’s still a man’s world, so Stevie’s got to prove herself. She’s very, but very good at her job and her first patient is…guess who? I really liked observing how little by little, they began to feel more at home with each other. She’s Bishop’s hope, the woman who will help him get back on the ice. Hmm, now to see if they rock their professional boats or not because all said and done, work ethics have to be complied with.
“You’re being awfully cagey about her if she’s just a friend. Don’t think I can’t tell you’re trying to hide her.”
Bishop is all kinds of grumpy and it took me a while to understand how he ticked. One thing is for sure, he’ll bend over backwards for his younger brother who he feels is his responsibility. Hunting delves into an illness hard to live with, her references accurate and enlightening. But who fell out of favour with me this time around which is weird seeing as I really connected with him in A Lie For A Lie was RJ. He has so much attitude in this book that I could have gladly strangled him!
“You can’t date a hockey player.”
“Are you kidding me?”
Great side players and although Stevie wound me up a tad with a past issue, I got eventually got her drift when it all came back to bite her. I liked the pacing of this light-hearted book with a touch of angst—you’ll see what’s bothering these two loveable characters by reading it, and the banter on all levels is fabulous! The narration from a dual perspective in present worked perfectly in this thoroughly enjoyable enemies-to-friends-to-lovers rom-com with all its amorous obstacles cleverly portrayed. Bravo Hunting!
ARC kindly provided by Montlake Romance in exchange for an honest review.
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of PUCKED, Helena Hunting lives on the outskirts of Toronto with her incredibly tolerant family and two moderately intolerant cats. She writes contemporary romance ranging from new adult angst to romantic sports comedy.
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