by Stacey Lynn
Book 3 in the Nashville Steel Series
When a fake relationship feels a little too real…. I’m in a Tight Spot.
I’m not a nice guy. I’m too rude. Too gruff. I want to be left alone and stay in my lane as one of the best tight ends in the NFL. Too bad management has a sudden problem with my image and all the fines I’ve been racking up.
Now I’m told I need to settle down, shape up…or they’re shipping me out.
Except no playbook could have prepared me for the Hail Mary pass they threw at me:
Enter Hailey Parillo. My fake girlfriend. She’s the Sunshine to my Grump, the Sweet to my Sour and the Smile to my Scowl. As ridiculous as it is, she agrees to play this fake game with me, for something in return:
Lessons in seducing a man and losing her virginity.
I almost balk at the idea, but I've got a career I don't want to lose in a city I don't want to leave.
AND little did I know this is the most important game of my life.
Left at alter/cheating ex, toxic family members
After receiving arcs for the first two books in this series, but not this one, I was always planning on getting back to this series and reading it.
When I was accepted for an arc of the fourth book - Risky Game - I knew I had to read this one first.
While each book is written as a standalone, and I could have easily read Risky Game without reading this one, I just can't do that. It would bother me.
I really enjoyed Tight Spot!
I am always a sucker for a grumpy/sunshine romance, and Stacey Lynn made Dawson's character just the perfect amount of anti-social grump. He wasn't a jerk, but he was standoff-ish. He was kind and caring with Hailey, and that's all that really matters to me.
I also really liked Hailey's character, because of her independence. Starting a business, loving what she does, making her own money and buying her own house. I love that! I love that Dawson found her that much hotter because of it.
The story was fun and entertaining. I don't always love a fake dating trope, but I liked it in this one. I don't typically enjoy the virgin trope either, but it didn't bother me in Tight Spot. It felt a bit more organic than other stories. Not your typical "I just didn't want to until I met you" type stories.
Honestly, my favorite part of this book was Dawson and him setting boundaries with his family. As someone who believes wholeheartedly that just because someone is your biological family, doesn't mean they should automatically be in your life. Spoiler coming - I loved Dawson finally putting his foot down with his sister, and his choice to cut her out of his life. Blood doesn't mean you should just accept someone's toxic behavior at the price of your own mental health. Dawson coming to terms with this, and communicating his issues with his father, and finding out the truth of his childhood - well, that was the best part of the story. It also shines a spotlight parental alienation. The amount of similar stories I have heard of this happening is terrible, and so heartbreaking.
The only think I didn't like in the book was the end. I love a happily ever after, but I don't think that every happily ever after needs marriage and/or a baby. And - spoiler incoming - while there is no pregnancy or baby at the end of this book, it seems like as soon as they jumped into the relationship, they are already talking about throwing away birth control and having babies.
I have kids, and I don't love that trope.
Many don't. So I find it weird that every book in this series has had children or pregnancy involved. Especially when it's a sports romance.
All in all, I really enjoyed Tight Spot. Dawson is the perfect grump, Hailey is sunshine personified, and the chemistry works between these two. Nashville Steel is a fun series so far!
Crystal: "I don't need help. I need someone to give a shit about me."
Dawson: "Then maybe you should start by giving a shit about yourself and being a decent human being."
Steam poured out of her, so damn angry I could feel it from across the room right before her chin started shaking.
Crystal: Why does no one love me?"
Dawn: "Because you don't love yourself and never bothered trying."
Hailey: "I don't think a new long-term relationship is the right thing for me."
Meredith: "And a Tinder hook-up is?"
Hailey: "I hate you. Maybe?"
Meredith: "You haven't passed third base, Hailey. Tinder guys would eat you alive."
Hailey: "Well, maybe I want to be eaten."
I never should have trusted Davis or Mason's Google abilities. Yeah, they were my teammates, but they were idiots. I'd always suspected. Now it was confirmed.
Assholes. All of them.
Hailey: "You're leaving me now? When this guy is supposed to call me on Monday?"
Meredith: "You're right. I'll text Tuevo right now and tell him we have to cancel the plans he spent months making all because you might be going on a date with some new guy. My bad."
Dawn: "How's your week going?"
Better now. So much better now.
Hailey: "Um. Hi."
I glanced at both of them.
Misty: "You already said hi, dummy."
Hailey: "Thanks, Mist. This is Dawson. Dawson, my ex-friend, Misty."
I elbowed her, but she didn't let go of Dawson's hand.
How awkward. They were shaking hands, Misty was swinging her feet, and Dawson's fingers flexed in her grip to get her to let go, but she held on.
Hailey: "Let him go, Mist. You have Ryan."
She scowled at me.
Misty: "Had to ruin my fun, didn't you."
Hailey: "This is embarrassing."
Dawson: "What? That you might not have had sex, but you liked reading about it? Nothing embarrassing about it."
He flipped through the book and my cheeks turned the color of a fire engine.
Dawson: "They're tabbed."
His thumb brushed along the pages, and the tiny pink and blue stickers I'd put on some of the spicier parts flickered along with him.
Dawson: "Wanna explain why?"
Hailey: "Not particularly."
Dawson: "Pick one you want me to read."
Hailey: "Excuse me?"
Dawson: "You want to learn shit, you honestly have ideas of what you like. Pick one, something simple and small to start. Show me what turns you on, Hailey."
He stepped back, putting space between him and the shelf that would now, forever be renamed in my head as The Shelf of Doom.
Then I took one trembling step forward.
Dawson: "I've had a lot of time to think about what I could finally do with you here."
Hailey: "You have?"
Dawson: "More ideas than probably all the books you have tabbed and highlighted."
My cheeks flamed at the words. The teasing.
Hailey: "That's a lot of ideas."
Dawson: "Ready to get started?"
Hailey: "I'm being beckoned."
Eden: "Might as well crook his finger and growl 'woman' like some caveman."
I bumped my hip into hers.
Hailey: "I like those kinds of growls."
Jasper flung himself at Cole, completely ignoring me.
Jasper: "I wanted to come say good night."
Cole planted Jasper on the couch next to him, and wrapped an arm around his son, kissing the top of his head.
Cole: "You brush your teeth and take your shower?"
Jasper: "Yep. Eden made me do it."
Eden: "I'm such a monster,"
she playfully mumbled, standing close to me.
Cole: "Feeds you vegetables, takes you to school, makes you clean your room, she's horrible."
Cole teased his son.
Jasper: "She's the best."
Jasper smiled before turning a pout toward his dad.
Jasper: "And it's not nice to call people named, Dad."
Cole ruffled his head and gave him a gentle shove.
Cole: "I'll work on it. Get to bed. Love you."
Jasper: "Love you too,"
He climbed off the couch and came to me.
Jasper: "Love you too, Mr. Butler."
I held out my fist.
Dawson: "You too, kid. Sweet dreams."
Cole: "That look right there on your face, tells me all I need to know, Dawson. You are the man for her. Now you just have to be the man she needs."
I choked out.
Cole: "Deal with your shit. Figure out exactly what has always held you back from getting close to people and then figure out a way to change it."
Dawson: "Easy then."
Cole: "Nothing worth having ever is."
He has a point there.
Dawson: "How many?"
Hailey: "You want kids?"
I turned to face him. I'd assume he wouldn't.
Dawson: "Never thought about it until right now, but Davis and Cole look like they're having fun.
I chuckled and kissed him as I laughed.
Hailey: "You'd be a great dad."
Dawson: "You think?"
Dawson: "How many are you going to give me then?"