Kiss Hard- Review
By Nalini Singh
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Series: Hard Play #4
Publication Date: May 3,2022
Source: Received an ARC in exchange for an honest review
New York Times bestselling author Nalini Singh brings you a sinfully playful contemporary romance between two sworn enemies turned partners in crime…
Daniel Esera is a young god on the rugby field, a sexy and charming man who’s got the world at his feet. There’s just one problem: his sudden potent attraction to his number one nemesis–Catie River. No. Just no. Not happening.
Catie River is on her way to Paralympic gold, and she’s not about to allow Danny “Hotshot” Esera to derail her plans. Too bad her body isn’t cooperating. Even worse? Her heart might be coming along for the ride. No. Nope. Never.
The pair are united in their desire to remain enemies… until a stranger’s reckless action threatens both their careers. Now, the only way out for Catie and Danny is to pretend to be in a relationship. How bad can it be? They’re adults in full control of their hormones and their hearts. There will be no kissing. No PDA. And definitely no falling in love.
Let the games begin.
TW: character drugged by date rape drug in beginning of the book
I really don’t want this series to be over. Nalini Singh is my absolute favorite author and she really knocks it out of the park with her contemporary stories. We’ve been waiting for Danny’s story since he was introduced in Gabriel’s book and for Danny and Catie since Isla and Sailor’s book. And man oh man, it did not disappoint. The chemistry between these two, the nemesis to lovers as they called it, just hit every mark. And Nalini truly excels at the New Zealand setting in her contemporary books.
Danny and Catie have known each other since childhood and have always had an enemies and pranking relationship with each other. But it’s more of the friendly, joking, nemesis relationship than an actual bullying or hate relationship. And with their families so closely entwined, they spend a lot of time together. (Catie’s sister is married to Danny’s brother.) So when they get stuck into a situation where the way out is a fake relationship, neither are thrilled. Especially when they start looking at each other in a different light and realizing the attraction between them.
I love the appearances of my favorite Nalini Singh characters like Gabriel and Charlotte in this book and the family dynamics are just great. Even for Catie, who has a rough relationship with her dad, everything is just handled with such care. Because of her feelings of abandonment, Catie was slow to move into a real relationship with Danny. But once they decided to make their fake relationship real, there was low outside conflict throughout the rest of the book. Despite that, their support for each other, even before they were together, is my absolute favorite part of the story. Both Danny and Catie are professional athletes and they took that very seriously. Through all of the strain that can put on a relationship, they really stood by each other and made the other stronger.
This book is really about growth. Danny and Catie are only in their early twenties and they both grow a lot over the book. Danny, especially, truly finds himself over the course of this story. He’s been stuck in this role as sport star and country golden child and the pressure of that is getting to him. He’s makes the difficult decision, especially as his relationship with Catie is growing, to go play rugby internationally and to learn more about himself. Catie too has a lot of growth throughout this book. Her family relationships, with the exception of her sister, are tough, and she learned to close herself off a lot. In addition to that is her relationship with her prosthetic legs. She realizes through the course of the book that Danny just sees her as Catie and she is able to overcome some of her relationship fears around that. I’ll admit that my knowledge of prosthetics are limited but I feel that Nalini handles this topic with grace and in a way that doesn’t define Catie.
I did feel the ending of the book was rushed a bit. I wanted more time to see them grow in their relationship. But honestly, I feel like every Nalini Singh book is too short because I just want to live in her words and worlds a little while longer. It seems like this is the end of the Hard Play series but I desperately hope Nalini Singh either continues the series or gives us more contemporary stories!