Any Man of Mine
Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
Publish Date: April 26, 2011
WHAT HAPPENS IN VEGAS . . .
DOESN'T ALWAYS STAY THERE.
Autumn Haven's Las Vegas "to-do" list said to catch a show and play the slots—not wake up married to a sexy jerk like Sam Leclaire. The first moment she saw him eyeing her like a luscious piece of the dessert buffet, her usually responsible self told her run. And she did—right into the wildest fantasy weekend of her life. But Monday morning jolted her back to reality and before she could say "pass the coffee" Sam was gone.
Now a successful wedding planner, Autumn she hasn't clapped eyes on the heart-breaking hockey superstar for over two years... until she organizes his teammate's "Special Day," where Sam makes a BIG play to pick up he left off! But she has vowed any man of hers plays for keeps. Is Sam the man for her or does she banish him to the sin bin forever?
As Any Man of Mine opens, the Chinooks hockey team's former Captain, Ty Savage, and the owner, Faith Duffy, are getting married (they were the Hero/Heroine in book 4, True Love and Other Disasters). Their event coordinator is Autumn Haven, ex-wife of Chinooks player Sam LeClaire. Sam hasn't seen Autumn in years, except with regards to their son, Connor. As the story progresses, we learn that Sam and Autumn hooked up in Las Vegas when they were both young and under mental and emotional stress. They got to know each other and impulsively got married after only five days. Sam panicked and left the next morning. He had his attorney contact her for the divorce, and later, after she had Connor and informed his attorney, he demanded a paternity test. Once it was acknowledged that Connor was his, Sam took care of the financial aspects of raising him, but for the most part is not an active participant in raising him.
Sam decides he wants to be a better dad, not turn into the kind of father his own father was, so he starts spending more time with Connor, and subsequently, more time around Autumn. Autumn has seen this behavior before and doesn't think it's going to last, but Sam is determined to make a change. Autumn is bitter, and as you read their history, you see that it's completely understandable. But as Autumn and Sam confront their pasts, perhaps things can change as they grow to understand their own actions as well as each others'.
My thoughts: One of the great things about Rachel Gibson's writing is her ability to pull the reader into her character's heads. As I read Autumn's side of the story I was mad at Sam for being such an ass. As I read Sam's side of the story I felt bad and was frustrated Autumn didn't give him a a second chance to redeem himself.
I love the reunited lovers storyline, and Any Man of Mine does it well. Sam is definitely a tarnished hero; he was really a jerk to Autumn after he left her in Vegas and kind of remained that way over the years. Autumn was rigidly self-reliant after the Vegas debacle, bitter and determined not to need anyone. The way these two clash was totally believable, and as they worked towards a more friendly demeanor I was mentally cheering them on.
Rachel Gibson is excellent at adding humor throughout the story; the scene where Sam caught Autumn wearing a Sidney Crosby Penguins jersey for Halloween was one of my favorites. She also deftly turns up the heat as Autumn and Sam's relationship progresses; the sexual tension between them was nice and hot.
As an aside, I liked that Connor was a realistic character and not written as some exceptionally talented child...he was a regular kindergartner (and wasn't even good at hockey!). I actually liked him and thought he was a cute kid.
Although Any Man of Mine is part of her Chinooks hockey series, the focus was more on the emotional development of both Autumn and Sam; it was just the right blend of personal growth, sexy romance, and hockey action.
This book was received via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.