Type: Contemporary Romance
My copy: NetGalley
The Carolina Cougars keep fighting for love as the Second Chances series from bestselling author L. P. Dover continues! In Defending Hayden, a damaged football star teams up with the only woman who can take the pain away.
No one’s tougher than Carolina Cougars linebacker Derek McLaughlin. But when a fatal car accident claims the life of his girlfriend, Derek finds himself caught in a destructive spiral of drugs, alcohol, and meaningless sex. But not even a string of one-night stands can ease the hurt. Football is all he has left. Then fate leads him back to the scene of the crash, and into the arms of a kind, gorgeous woman who sees past his façade to the man he once was . . . and can be again.
When a chance roadside encounter brings Derek into her life, veterinarian Hayden Hunter isn’t fooled by his bad attitude: All bark and no bite, he’s hiding a wounded heart beneath that gruff demeanor. And Hayden wants to be the one to kiss it all better. Soon they both find that a dose of passion is potent medicine. But when a hidden enemy lashes out at Hayden, Derek steps up to do what he does best: put his body on the line in the name of love.
In Defending Hayden, we get Derek McLaughlin’s story. After suffering unimaginable loss, Derek feels he has lost everything and has no reason to go on. Derek finds himself drowning in drugs, alcohol and one night stands. Anything to keep the hurt at bay.
Derek knows this is not what Brianna would want for him, but he does not know how else to handle his grief. When it becomes too much to bear, he walks away from his life. When he returns, the grief is still there, but his decision to move forward and his resolve to do better in Briana’s memory help him take the necessary steps needed.
Not ready to take on life full force, he decides to step back in slowly. His friends and teammates are there for him. Then one day his smacks right into his future, without knowing it.
Hayden Hunter is living her dream, sort off. After being hurt and betrayed by two people she should have been able to trust in, she decided she needed a change in her life. The position at the local veterinarian hospital is just what she needs. There is nothing else she needs and love is the last thing she is looking for. Until the night it crashes right into her.
Somehow Derek and Hayden continue to run into each other and slowly get to know each other. Determined to be friends, they soon realize their compatibility and chemistry is too strong to fight. But can Derek fight his demons to accept a future with Hayden? Can Hayden open up to a man like Derek and give him her heart?
I loved Derek in Catching Summer and the loss and grief he feels breaks my heart. Seeing his world torn apart is heart wrenching. He is strong, determined, possessive and a big sweetheart. He just lost his way for a bit. Seeing him interact and get to know Hayden was sweet and heartwarming. Even as he questions his feelings for her and his ability to love again, we see him come to terms with what happened to him.
Hayden was strong, loving and sweet. She had been hurt, betrayed and devastated in the past, but was still willing to give love a chance. She was scared, but also saw Derek for who he was and what he was trying to overcome.
As Derek and Hayden find their way together, Hayden’s world is turned upside down. Now with new threats at every corner, will they be able to survive and find the future they want?
A great, quick summer read!
I give Defending Hayden by L.P. Dover 4 stars!