Can't Buy Me Love
Molly O’Keefe is one of my favorite category romance authors, so I was eager to read this contemporary romance. At first I thought this was a light sports romance, when a wealthy, dying 89-year old man sends photos to his children of his gorgeous, young blond fiancée sitting on his lap. But other than that scene, there is nothing light about this. If you like your contemporary romances light this isn’t for you, but if you’re in the mood for a powerful, dark contemporary, I can heartily recommend this.
Luc Baker, the oldest man in the NHL, hopes to play one more season to win the championship, but the team doctors don’t agree. Tests have revealed he has dangerous scar tissue on his brain. Luc doesn’t care. Hockey is his life, and he has no intention of quitting.
When Luc’s sister Victoria sees the photos their father sent she insists they go to Texas to stop the wedding. Luc doesn’t want to return to the family ranch in Texas; he wants nothing to do with his father. While Luc doesn’t need his father’s money, Victoria is desperate for funds. Her husband was involved in investment fraud and committed suicide when it became public, leaving Victoria and her young son with nothing.
Tara Jean has changed a lot in her life in the last few years. She’s stopped smoking, drinking, and having sex with inappropriate men. She’s addicted to candy, but that’s about it. However, she can’t forgive herself for her past and is plagued by demons. Playing the fiancée is her shot at some security.
The romance is slow. There’s instant sizzling sexual heat when Luc and Tara meet, but they hate each other. And I’ll have to be honest, I didn’t like either of them very much initially. Oh, I was intrigued, but they just weren’t likeable. Tara and Luc had horrible childhoods, and they’re now hard, secretive, and not all that nice to other people.
Some of my favorite contemporary romances have a sports star hero. While I’ve read and enjoyed some of these books numerous times, in the back of my mind is a tiny niggle that I have to push aside. As a sports fan, I’m all too aware of the horrific injuries that occur to athletes in sports such as hockey and football, and in particular, the dangers of repeated head injuries. While it’s not pleasant to think about, this definitely touches on the horrific effects of repeated head injuries to professional athletes.
A few of the sports references threw me, including an early reference to Luc being knocked out in the third “quarter” of a game. Hockey has three periods, not quarters. I was reading an ARC, so perhaps this will be corrected.
The main characters are vivid and complex, with layer upon layer of issues and problems. By the time I closed the book I realized that I had been completely sucked into their lives. I cared for Tara and Luc. It’s the mark of a skilled author to make me like two such unlikeable characters. Victoria’s son Jacob was the easiest of all the characters to like right from the first. Like Luc and Tara Jean, Victoria also made some changes by the end of the book, and I look forward to her story this August.