Pucked Off by Helena Hunting
by Helena Harding
Book 5 in the Pucked series
I’m NHL defenseman Lance Romero, AKA Lance “Romance."
I’m notorious for parties and excess. I have the most penalty minutes in the league. I get into the most fights. I take the most hits. I’m a player on and off the ice. I’m the one women with no inhibitions want.
Not because I like the notoriety, but because I don’t know how to be any other way.
I have secrets. Ones I shared with the wrong person, and she used them against me. Sometimes she still does. I should cut ties. But she makes it difficult, because she’s the kind of bad I deserve.
At least that’s what I believed until someone from my past gets caught up in my present. She’s all the good things in this world. She lights up my dark.
I shouldn’t want her.
But I do.
I should leave her alone.
But I won’t.
Pucked Off by Helena Hunting is the fifth book in her Pucked series. It centers around Lance Romero, a defenseman for the Chicago team, and Poppy, a woman from his past. Lance is well known for his hard partying ways, and ending up in the penalty box. But partying helps him forget the memories he wants to. Memories he shared with someone who he wanted to be more to him, but she didn't want the same. Someone who messes with his head. Lance is in a bad way - until he meets Poppy. Poppy, from a past he chooses to forget. Poppy, who is good, and kind, and gentle. Everything he feels he doesn't deserve. Everything he should stay away from. But he can't.
This is another book in this series that I liked. It wasn't all about sex. If you have read my reviews before, you know I love a good smutty romance, but some of the books in this series have been too much. Not even in the act, but the conversation. I do like a plot with my dirty romances, so I did enjoy this one. It's been obvious for a few books now that Lance has been messed up, and finally getting a reason behind it is nice. Understandable. Sad, because of how his past bleeds into his present and darkens it. But one of the things I was interested in was learning what the hell was going on between him and the trainer, and we finally get an answer - and fuck, I was not suspecting that. I found Lance's book on the whole unpredictable, which I liked. Written well, interesting plot (I finished this book in a day, because I found myself not being able to put it down), and the romance is sweet. Which is what Lance needed. Lance has been in self-destruction mode since we met him, and Poppy, with her gentle and sweet approach, is just what he needed. A balance. Their connection in the past was sweet, and I felt it blended itself into the present in just the right way. And while you would expect Lance's book to be cover to cover sex, it isn't. The notorious playboy, with his hard partying and constant sleeping around, needed a romance.
Helena does a good job individualizing her characters and couples. While Violet and Alex are weird and ridiculous, Miller and Summer are laid back and sweet, and Randy and Lily are intense and literally always having sex, Lance and Poppy are sweet and intense. They balance each other out. And my absolute favorite part of this book, was how important consent is. Their whole "want or let" thing was lovely. Such a simple, short and sweet way to ask for consent. I loved it, and as you learn more about Lance, you learn why consent is so important. My only complaint with this book was that I felt that the storyline with Tash felt unfinished. With how obsessive she is and how she loved to toy with Lance, I feel like she wouldn't have given up so easily.
Pucked Off is a great addition to the Pucked series. It adds a taste of sweet romance to a series that can sometimes be too much. With well-written characters and some actual depth to them, Helena Harding can write some great, character driven romance. Romance with serious storylines, but still manages to be hot. If you are reading the Pucked series, don't skip this one. It's great!
Lily: “Sorry, buddy, I know you want to sleep. I just need confirmation that you know who I am and where you are and then you can go right back to dreamland.”
Randy’s girlfriend, Lily, pries my eyelid open. I bat her hand away from my face.
Lance: “Fuck! I’m awake. Jesus.”
Lily: “Such a sweet mouth you have. You’re welcome for making sure you’re not brain dead.” I’m sure the smile he gives me has melted many a panty off a slutty bunny. Mine stay right where they’re supposed to, wedged up my ass.
Memory: Lance: “Has anyone ever kissed you before, Poppy?”
That time I didn’t lie.
Lance: “I should be sorry I’m gonna be yer first, then.”
He lifted my hand, and I felt his hot breath on my fingertips, then softness as they brushed against something. It was his lips, I realized.
My voice didn’t sound like it belonged to me.
Lance: “Because I’m going to take something you can’t ever get back.”
His words were old. Sad.
Poppy: “What if I tell you it’s okay to take it? Would that make you feel better?”
Lance: “Not really.”
He dropped my hand, and I felt his fingers in my hair, tugging gently on the end of my ponytail, then moving down to my shoulder. I was wearing my sister’s top. It had thin straps, ones my mom wouldn’t approve of. It was too big on me, and it came down too low.
Poppy: “Why not?”
Lance: “Because I’m not sorry the way I should be.” Lance: “Okay. So two dates, one coffee and one dinner, in whatever order you’d prefer them.”
I have to force my face to stay neutral.
Poppy: “One date. Dinner or coffee.”
Lance: “I think we need to do some negotiating. If I have to give up massages from you forever, it’s only fair that I get more than one kick at the can here.” Poppy: “You asked me if I’d ever been kissed before.”
Lance: “And what did you say?”
Lance: “And what did I say?”
Poppy: “That you should be sorry, because you were going to take something from me that I couldn’t get back.”
Lance: “But I kissed you anyway.”
Poppy: “You did.”
Lance: “That was selfish of me. That kiss belonged to someone special.”
Poppy: “It felt special at the time.”
Lance: “I’m glad. And I’m still not sorry the way I should’ve been.”
Lance: “For taking something that didn’t belong to me. I wasn’t sorry then. I’m still not sorry now.”
He remembers. She’s not innocent anymore, not like when we were kids. She’s given someone else her other firsts, but that kiss—that still belongs to me. I want her to look at me the way she did when her sister dragged her out of the closet all those years ago: like leaving me was the last thing she wanted to do. Lance: “You should throw out all your clothes and start wearing my shirts.”
He makes a C with both hands and holds them up in front of his face.
Poppy: “What’re you doing?”
Lance: “Making a mental picture for when I’m whacking off later.” Poppy: “I don’t need to fix you, Lance. I’ll take you as you are. I just want you to be happy.” Violet: "If he knew we were here he’d probably shit a pot of gold.”
Violet shakes her head vigorously.
Lily: “He’s Scottish, not Irish, Vi.”
Lily rolls her eyes. I think I might like her despite all of this.
Violet: “Whatever. It’s the same part of the world. Just like Canada and the US are almost the same.”
Lily’s eyes nearly pop out of her head. She looks so horrified.
Lily: “Not even fucking close.” Poppy makes a surprised sound, and she looks away from me to him as he tries to shove her hair into his mouth.
Lance: “Someone’s learning early how to get a girl’s attention,”
Poppy: “You’ve been coaching him, then?”
Sunny: “Oh! Logan! Ta-ta! Don’t eat Poppy’s pretty hair!”
Sunny says, but I doubt he hears her over the noise. I lean over Poppy as she tries to free Logan’s fingers. He’s got a solid grip, and he’s working hard to get his fist in his mouth. I take the end of her ponytail in one hand so he’s not yanking so hard on it, then wiggle my pinkie in until he’s gripping that instead of Poppy’s hair.
It’s a million words all rolled into one. The weight of silence and time apart eases with that one softly uttered word. I can feel myself smiling.
Lance: “That’s my thing. Can’t have someone smoother taking my move.”
She turns and looks up at me, our faces only inches apart. It wouldn’t take much to erase the distance, but I don’t. We’re not alone, and I’m not yet invited into her space like that.
Poppy: “He’s a little too aggressive about it to be smooth,”
Lance: “So it’s still my thing?”
She nods solemnly.
Poppy: “Still your thing.” Lance: “I want to kiss you.”
Poppy: “You already are.”
His smile grows and his lashes lower as he dips in close.
Lance: “I mean your pretty lips.”
Poppy: “Then you should do that.”
I wait for the gentle, warm press.
Lance: “Want or let?”
Poppy: “Need.” Lance: “Poppy Leigh O’Connor, you’re the most precious, perfect person in my world. Yer my sunrise and my sunset. Marry me so I can spend every day loving you for the rest of my life.”
I flip open the box, hoping she can see the ring in the semi-darkness. The coats are obstructing the light. Because she is who she is, Poppy drops to her knees with me and takes my face in her hands.
Poppy: “You didn’t even phrase it as a question.”
All I know is it’s not a yes. She giggles. The sound is pure and sweet.
Poppy: “You didn’t make it a yes or no question.”
Lance: “You’re really gonna gimme a hard time about this? Now?”
Poppy: “Of course, I’ll marry you.”
#secondchance #oppositesattract #rich #athlete #squad #trauma #playboy