Nalini Singh’s contemporary romances are among my favorite. They each are like a beautiful cupcake that is beautiful and sweet, but also a nutritious and with a memorable flavor.
Daniel Esera and Caiti River met as teens when their older siblings, Sailor Bishop and Isa Rain, started dating (and later married). They immediately struck combative sparks and have been nemeses ever since. Caiti was folded into the larger Esera-Bishop clan giving them plenty of opportunities to bicker. They are not out to destroy each other though, keeping their rivalry to pranks and ego puncturing on social media. Most people think they are secretly in love, so when circumstances compel them to fake date, they don’t have to work hard to fool the public.
When Caiti sees Daniel in distress at a club, she recognizes he is in a situation that could hurt his career. Photos of her holding him steady look romantic, putting Caiti’s sponsorship deals in jeopardy if it looks like a one night stand (that old double standard). Caiti and Daniel are both athletes. Caiti is training for the Paralympics and Daniel is a professional rugby player hoping for a spot on the National team. Their long frenemy-ship, common experiences, and shared foe, plus a couple of days snowed in together and their fake dating transitions easily into real dating (no one is surprised).
Kiss Hard is a sweet and fairly low stakes romance. The two have to relearn how to relate to each other as a couple and navigate family dynamics, mental health challenges, and building trust in a long distance relationship. It was really nice to spend time with characters who were not, even at their worst, going to inflict intentional harm.
This is the fourth book in a series, but it can be read as stand alone-ish. You don’t have to know what happened in earlier books, but the intertwining lives of family and friends is a part of the charm of this series. If you have read earlier books, it’s nice to see how other couples’ relationships are flourishing.
CW: involuntary drugging, discussion of the accident that resulted in a double amputation, past parental trauma, parent’s heart attack, a few hospital stays.
I received this as an advance reader copy from TKA Distribution via NetGalley. My opinions are my own.