Undefeated by Melissa Cutler (Bomb Squad #2)

Undefeated by Melissa CutlerAvailable: Now Amazon/B&N

Type: Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Penguin InterMix

My Copy: Sent

Reviewer: Pam

Welcome to Destiny Falls, New York, home of Bomb Squad—an ice hockey team full of rugged military heroes. The team’s battling a losing streak, but the season’s biggest game changer is one player’s second chance with the one who got away… Yoga instructor Marlena Brodie is always up for a challenge, and her new job of snapping Bomb Squad out of their rut is definitely that, even though it means being in close contact with Liam McAllister, her high school crush gone bad. She can feel the damage pouring off of him—but also a wild and sexy strength that calls to her.

The Army turned Liam McAllister into a man, but as a combat medic, he saw far too much to ever be whole again. He’s not interested in the civilian world beyond his job as a carpenter, but he never stopped wondering what might have been with Marlena—and it isn’t long before she’s crashed through his carefully constructed walls. He longs for a new beginning with her, but to be the man she deserves, he’ll have to step out of his defensive zone and score the most important play of his life…

This is the second in the series about wounded warriors that play for a local hockey team. The series centers around this team but it is also about the obstacles and pressures they have endured since they came home from their various places of combat. Undefeated is a very emotional book, the hero and heroine both have issues and struggle to overcome before they can move forward.

Marlena Brodie is a yoga instructor and masseuse and has lived in Destiny Falls most of her life and along with her best friend Olivia they spend their spare time cheering on the Bomb Squad hockey team. Olivia’s brother Liam was Marlena’s high school crush but now she usually steers clear of him since he broke her heart years ago.

Liam and Olivia are twins and use to get along like most brother and sisters, but when he came home from the army he was a changed man. He has severe PTSD and is in therapy several times a week along with PET (Prolonged Exposure Therapy) sessions that are helping him deal, he now knows his triggers and is learning to cope with them. He has been aware of Marlena since high school and now he is ready to pursue the reason he often thinks about her. He purchases a yoga/massage package at an auction but when he goes to his first session, it does not go well, he comes off too strong and apparently sets off triggers of her own that she never knew she had from a painful experience in her childhood.

This is good, I enjoyed it immensely. It is not so much about hockey but more about the friendships and relationships the team forms together and their emotional healing with the help of some very courageous women.

Marlena is a great heroine, she is well liked and friendly and gets along with most people. Unfortunately Liam and her have history together and she was surprised when he paid for an auction causing them to actually have to talk to each other. And what a interaction it was, the altercation was so hateful and mean between both of them I was taken back. I immediately did not like Liam and wondered how I was going to continue with the story. However almost as soon as I thought that, things started coming into focus, we learned of Liam’s back story and it got better, much better. I loved him by the end, a true tortured hero that redeems himself excellently.

Liam is a broken man, he came home several years ago but has trouble connecting socially with others and is going through intense therapy that basically relives the most painful times he has encountered. When he talks about his sister and their relationship it is heartbreaking as he has lost the connection they had when they were younger and the author really expresses the sadness from Olivia, she is desperate for a bond with him but that just pisses him off and he pushes away. Marlena often finds herself in the middle of these two and it is hard on her.

Their relationship is intense, it is a push and pull of emotions and she often does not know where she stands with him. There have amazing chemistry but it was hard for them to connect other that physically because of the baggage they each carry. Not only do they have to get over their own issues but there is family that constantly trips them up. However soon we start to see a deep relationship build and the author portrays this brilliantly.

The pace of the story works well, Liam and Marlena’s relationship starts off badly but things change quickly and the narrative flows keeping readers interested until the end. Secondary characters are extremely important, the story includes many of the team members of the Bomb Squad who are like brothers, each has experienced similar hardships and they have each other’s backs, but they will also tease each other incessantly, I love the camaraderie. This is the second in the series but can easily be read as a standalone as the author does a great job of catching the reader up. This is a wonderful story full of raw emotion, family issues and of course an amazing romance.

I give Undefeated by Melissa Cutler 4.25 stars!

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