Hard to Hold
Hard to Hold is the story of professional soccer player Logan Hart, a surprise baby named Cinnamon, and an even bigger surprise of a nanny named Isabella Bennett. The start of a new series for Katie Rose, Hard to Play, which is tangentially connected to her previous Bad Boys of Baseball one, this book is a solid choice for sports romance fans.
Logan is a soccer star at the top of his game, out celebrating with some teammates when a former one-night stand walks into their bar carrying an infant car seat. Informing him the child is his and she’s over the mom thing, the lady leaves the baby with Logan and walks out. Befuddled and overwhelmed, Logan has enough wherewithal to know to call in reinforcements while he sorts out a permanent solution.
Those reinforcements come in the form of hiring a professional nanny named Isabella. Isabella is a consummate professional with strong opinions on both how to raise a child and how parents should interact with children. She refuses to acknowledge Logan’s hesitancy to bond with the baby and instead forces him to see Cinnamon as his, regardless of his doubts about the mother’s trustworthiness.
Thus, in many ways, this book is about the forging of family. Logan and Isabella both wrestle with this idea independently before they can really deal with it together. Isabella’s pain is wrought from the fact that she is medically infertile. Desperate for a child of her own and seeing caregiving as a life calling, this is a source of trauma for her. She sees the world through this pain, especially because her last relationship ended as a result of it.
Logan has never really seen himself as a commitment kind of guy. While he was always careful to use protection with his dalliances, I got the impression that his skepticism about his being Cinnamon’s true father was as much about the fact that the mother dropped her off in bar as it was about the fact that Logan did not want to picture himself as a father.
When he hires Isabella, she comes in a bit like a whirling dervish. She sees very quickly that he has no idea what to do for the child and so takes complete charge of the situation. In her passion to force Logan to accept that Cinnamon is his daughter she makes some missteps and these decisions left me feeling a bit cold towards her as a character. For example, before Logan has a chance to tell his teammates about Cinnamon, Isabella brings her to a match and sits in the public stands. They’re found out and the connection between the baby and the player becomes public knowledge, far before Logan would have made that choice. I didn’t love that.
My other pet peeve with Isabella is that her way of handling conflict is to simply run from it. In the big conflict/climax of the story, she decides she knows what Logan is thinking without actually talking to him about it. I’ve said before in reviews that I completely understand the bravery it takes to have hard conversations with people you love that may end up hurting you more, but I have less sympathy for it on the page. I just end up muttering out loud “oh goodness gracious, woman, just talk to him. You owe him the chance to tell you what he really thinks instead of deciding for him.”
What I did appreciate is that this story deals with infertility in a way that is rare in romance novels. Isabella is unable to have children, and that reality deeply informs her entire character. She lost a past relationship over it, forcing her to be wary of her feelings for Logan, and it is a large part of the reason why she is a professional nanny. For a woman who wants a child, I cannot imagine any greater pain that being told it’s impossible, and the author deals with Isabella’s anguish consistently.
Overall, Hard to Hold is a good read with compelling characters set in a fun world. A bonus for me is that it takes place in Central New Jersey, with which I am familiar, so I had fun tracking the characters as they moved through various suburbs. I liked the introduction to Logan’s teammates and the dynamics of leadership and sportsmanship which were touched upon, and I hope to get to know more of the players in future books, as well as to check back in with this familial trio and see how they’re getting on.