ARC Review + Excerpt: The Hot Shot by Kristen Callihan

Series: Game On #4
Release Date: April 17, 2017
Rating: 5/5
I won an ARC to review.
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First we were friends. Then we were roommates. Now I want more…
What can I say about Chess Copper? The woman is capable of bringing me to my knees. I know this about five minutes after getting naked for her.
No one is more surprised than me. The prickly photographer my team hired to shoot our annual charity calendar isn’t my usual type. She’s defense to my offense, a challenge at every turn. But when I’m with her, all the regrets and darkness goes away. She makes life fun.

I want to know Chess, be close to her. Which is a bad idea.

Chess is looking for a relationship. I’ve never given a woman more than one night. But when fate leaves Chess without a home, I step up and offer her mine. We’re roommates now. Friends without benefits. But it’s getting harder to keep our hands off each other. And the longer we live together the more I realize she’s becoming my everything.

Trick is… Now that I’ve made her believe I’m a bad bet, how do I convince her to give this player a true shot at forever?

I have not read any Kristen Callihan yet but my co-blogger wouldn’t stop raving about it. I keep on holding off reading Game On series even when every book friend I know tells me to stop everything and read it because I am missing a lot! So when I got lucky to read an early copy of this latest release, it was like the Universe finally told me to stop slacking and read her book. And man, I am so glad this is my first KC book! I never thought I would enjoy it so much and with this, Kristen just got another fan that would force her friends to read it. LOL.

What do you do when you professionally photograph ripped athletes? Ripped, naked athletes. Normal people would lose their shit over it, probably faint even before your models arrive but not Chester Copper AKA Chess. Having photographed most famous men in the industry, seeing naked men is like an everyday occurrence–there’s nothing special about it. This goes the same way when the football players walked in to her studio to be photographed for a calendar shoot. Even when it’s the famous NFL quarterback, Finnegan Mannus.

There’s nothing special about how they met. They got off the wrong foot since Finn came off a little too cocky for Chester’s taste and she hated him that instant already. But the attraction between them was totally sizzling especially when they both let their guards down and just be in the moment (in the shoot that is). Finn wasn’t comfortable in front of the camera and it showed but Chess put him at ease and it was like a switch was flipped because it felt like they’re in their own bubble and it was magically peaceful. While Finn already admitted he never knew what it was with Chess that made him want to get to know her more, he still tried to be friends with her. And I was so glad that even when Chess made Finn sweat for it a bit, they were great at it. Their conversations were natural, funny and you could really tell how comfortable they were around each other.

This changed, however, when Chess lost her place to a fire and Finn offered his home for her. They became roommates–still without benefits but only because Chess is a relationship kind of girl while Finn is a one-night stand kind of guy. Finn still wanted to bang her, though. LOL.

Chess is your typical I’ve-had-enough-bullshit woman which explained her rock-hard exterior. She’s fiercely independent, talented, smart woman who’s hiding a very soft core inside. I wasn’t expecting it to be that but it’s really common for most women. She doesn’t let guys come near her because of that. While she believes in forever, I am so glad she wasn’t portrayed as the cliche type.

Now Finn Mannus. Oh gosh the man just won The Game of Swoony Guys! And he’s currently holding the shiny, golden trophy. He’s so dreamy with all the swoon-worthy things that came out of his mouth and mind. He’s your normal quarterback that’s cocky, confident but Finn won my heart when he started to show the real him to Chess. That he’s not the bad bet. And it was glorious–I swear my heart melted a thousand times because he knew how Chess viewed him and he’s dead set on proving her wrong.

The drama that I wasn’t expecting was shocking but not overdone nor over the top. It was welcome, somehow, because it’s something that connected Finn and Chess in a way, which was also vital for their growth as characters.

Callihan has done a very good job at pacing this book. The scenes were never hurried, every moment was flowing fluidly, naturally–may it be their relationship as friends or as lovers. The delayed gratification was done perfectly and I swear the book was just extremely fun and romantic. And fuck hot. Callihan knew how to heat up my Kindle with scenes that made me fan myself. I love everything about it and I’m already looking forward to reread it many times over.

The Hot Shot has easily slipped in to my list of top favorite this year with the characters’ easy banter, combustible attraction, fuck-hot sexy moments and romance that’s real and heartfelt. Highly recommended to everyone who loves a sports romance that’s light and very sexy. You wouldn’t want to miss it.


CHESS

Grumbling, I toss on some black lounge pants and my oversized Tulane t-shirt and head to the drugstore.

My head throbs by the time I get there, and my insides are writhing. I rest my hand against my lower stomach and grab a basket before calling James to complain.

“I swear,” I tell him as I grab a bottle of painkillers. “It’s like this entire day has been cursed.”

He snickers. “Curse. Get it? Curse?”

I roll my eyes, even though he can’t see me. “Laugh it up. Meanwhile, it feels as if someone is playing Battleship in my uterus.”

“Poor Chessie bear. At least we know why you were in such a foul mood.”

A flush washes over my cheeks. “Yeah.” Lie. Lie. Lie. A tub of salted caramel gelato makes its way into the basket.

“Tell me you’re getting some gelato,” James says.

I smile. “Just grabbed it.”

“Salted caramel?”

“You know it.”

I find the feminine products aisle and search for my brand. “I’m going to go home, take a long bath with my gelato, and forget this fucking day.” Forget Finn. “And then I’m going to go on Amazon and buying a freaking year’s supply of tampons so I don’t have to make these kinds of emergency runs anymore.”

A low, deep chuckle rumbles from behind me, and all the tiny hairs lift on my arms.

“But you’ll still need your gelato,” a familiar—fuck me, seriously?—voice points out.

My insides swoop even as my cheeks burn.

“Who is that?” James asks in my ear.

I slowly turn on one heel. “The plague,” I say, glaring up at Finn Mannus’s smiling face.

“From asshat to plague.” Finn scrunches up his brow. “I’m not sure if that’s a step down or a tie.”

“Who is that?” James nearly yells now.

I don’t take my eyes off Finn. “I’ll call you back.”

James’s squawks of protest cut off as I hit the end button.

“Are you stalking me, Mannus?”

Finn a rests his hands low on his lean hips. “Having a healthy amount of conceit myself, I have to admire yours, but no, buttercup. My buddy Woodson lives a few blocks away. It’s poker night. I’m stocking up on beer.”

It’s only then I notice a twelve pack tucked under his other arm.

“And tampons?” I ask, with a pointed look around the aisle we’re standing in.

“Not tonight,” he says easily. “Though we used to keep a pack of them back in college. Light flows were perfect for stopping up bloody noses.”

A snort escapes me. “Now there’s a visual.” Somehow, I’ve taken a step closer to him. He’s freshly showered, the golden brown strands of his hair still damp at his temples. And I wonder if he’s just come from the gym or practice. “So back in college you went and bought these tampons?”

“Nah,” he says with a cheeky smile. “I’d ask one of the girls hanging around to get me some.”

“Of course you did.” My nose wrinkles with annoyance.

“Give me a little credit, Chess. I’d buy them now if I had to.”

“Hmm…” I eye him, trying not to return his smile. If only because it’s more fun when he teases. “So why are you in this aisle now, if not for potential nosebleed needs?”

“That’s easy.” He steps closer, a warm wall of muscle and clean scent. “I heard your voice.”

For a second I just blink. “You recognized my voice?”

His gaze darts over my face as if he’s trying to get a read on why I’m gaping at him. “Not to be…ah…rude, but you’re loud when you talk on the phone.”

“Yeah, but… You recognized it.” We’d only just met. It occurs to me that I’d recognized his both times he’d snuck up on me. Then again, his voice is distinctive, flowing like hot honey when he’s relaxed or hammering down like iron to rock when he’s taking command of a situation.

A soft flush of pink tints the tips of his ears. If I wasn’t staring at him, I might have missed it. He shifts his weight. “Was I not supposed to?”

“No. Yes.” I shake my head and laugh. “I don’t know.”

He grins then. “You’re cute when you’re flustered.”

“I’m not flustered.” I am.

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