Book Review: Zack by Sawyer Bennett

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Title: Zack (Cold Fury Hockey #3)
Author: Sawyer Bennett
Genre: Sports Romance
Length: 294 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Synopsis
Rising star Zack Grantham has been stuck in a downward spiral of grief ever since the car accident that left him a single dad and put his career on hold. Back on the road with the Carolina Cold Fury and still crippled by emotional baggage, he’s in need of some serious help with his son. But while the nerdy new nanny wins his son’s heart, Zack isn’t sure he’s ready for a woman’s touch—even after getting a glimpse of the killer curves she’s hiding under those baggy clothes.

Kate Francis usually keeps men like Zack at a distance. Though his athlete’s body is honed to perfection, he refuses to move on with his life—and besides, he’s her boss. Still, the sparks between them are undeniable, tempting Kate to turn their professional relationship into a personal one. But before she makes a power play for Zack’s wounded heart, Kate will have to open him up again and show him that love is worth the fight.

Grace Review

This is the story of a man who struggles to move on with the weight of guilt on his shoulders. He cheats himself on the idea of something big, and maybe better than what he had before, until pain forces him to come to grips with his guilt and find a way to move on.

If you read Garrett, book 2 in the Cold Fury series, then you already know the sad fate of Zack’s former girlfriend, Gina, who was also the Mother of their son, Ben. In the previous books in this series, I loved Zack and Gina as a couple. They seemed to be the perfect couple, happily in love, although not married. So it was strange to hear in this book, that Zack didn’t make that commitment to Gina, because he felt like something was missing from their relationship. This is just one of the things that plagues him as he tries to recover from her death. Why couldn’t he commit?

With his injury healing and needing to get back to playing, Zack hires a nanny to help take care of Ben, and the household. From the first minute she walks in the door, I adored Kate and all of her dorkiness.

“Dear Lord, thank you for introducing me to my two favorite me in the world . . . Ben and Jerry.  I hope you aren’t offended by this threesome.”

From the first minute Zack meets Kate, I began to develop a dislike for him. He’s an ass towards her, as he sees her trying to replace Gina. And while he eventually recovers from this douchiness, it isn’t long before he puts his foot in his mouth again. There is a reason behind his behavior, as Kate’s guarded appearance is revealed during a late night food craving. For the first time since Gina’s death, he feels something, a longing, and it further guilts him. So he reacts in true Zach fashion, by being a jackass.

Despite the emotional roller coaster Zack puts her on, I loved how she handled things. She understood her place in the house and her priority to care for Ben. And when the physical pull between Zack and Kate becomes too much to deny, she graceful accepts his rules for their encounters.

Kate seems like the perfect solution for Zack to finally let go of Gina, but his guilt consumes him that he can’t see how he is toying with Kate’s emotions. I felt myself often wanting to hug Kate, while slapping Zack.

Should I tell him that every time he pulls me closer, he then does something to hurt me?

I understood the reasons behind his conflicted emotions, but it didn’t seem fair how he brought Kate down with him. Looking back on it, I’m wondering why he didn’t seek therapy, beyond the team ordered session. It could have greatly helped his situation and prevented unnecessary heartbreak.

Ultimately, Zack is forced to comes to terms with his guilt. With the help of his meddling team and friends, he finds a way to give Kate what she was desperate for all along. While it took him a long time to do right, I get the reasons for his distance, I just wished he had taken a different path from the start.

This book introduces a new character, Ryker, who will be featured in book 4. Based on his situation, as a divorced dad on the career downturn, I’m really intrigued to see where his story leads. And with his quick friendship to Zack, I’m sure we’ll get an update on how the new couple is moving on.

– Grace

*An ARC was provided by the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.

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Click on the image below to purchase the previous books in the series:

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