THE HOT SHOT
GAME ON Book 4
By Kristen Callihan
Release Day: April 17th
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?
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.”
“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.
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal , best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.
THE HOT SHOT
Game On #4
✬✬✬ 5 GOONIES STARS ✬✬✬
Chess is a photographer and she landed a job which requires her to take pics of the New Orleans football team. In. The. Nude. On a regular day the bodies of models, athletes or actors are shapes and shadows. Today she has Finn, quarterback of the team, before her lens and while he rubbed her the wrong way from the start, she does everything to ease his discomfort.
Finn isn't happy about the shoot, he hates being reduced to his body. He is a bit of a jerk towards Chess and he'll probably be the first to admit it but when she shows him kindness he opens up and his flirty side comes out to play. Despite their issues and misgivings in the beginning they connect during the shoot.
She isn’t the sweetly pretty or stunningly beautiful kind of woman I usually spend time with. She’s severe, elegant. It would be easy for me to say she isn’t my type. But I’m fairly certain that goes both ways. And I’m beginning to think my “type” has just changed.
They become fast friends and underneath their affection for each other there is an undeniable and irresistible attraction. But Chess doesn't do hookups and Finn doesn't do relationships so they are at an impasse.
“Pay attention, Chester. I said I want to know you. I don’t get to know my hookups.”
“So were going to… What? Be friends.”
He looks almost boyish then. “Yeah. We are.” His eyes spark. “Fair warning. I’ll still be picturing you naked half of the time. So get used to a bit of leering.”
I snort. “You just had to go and ruin the moment, didn’t you?”
“Probably should get used to that too.”
When Chess loses her home Finn doesn't hesitate and gives her a place to stay...and himself a place to come home to. So what, if he has been lying to himself all this time? What if what he wants with Chess is EVERYTHING? How can he convince her that he isn't the player she thinks him to be?
“I love coming home to you,” he says with a content sigh. “I have from day one. But now…” He glances down at me. “It makes it all worth it.”
When I say that I loved the two main characters of this story it's an understatement. There are no words to express how good and real they were.
Chess is strong, she doesn't show her belly to anyone except her best friend and often times not even to him. She is good at deflection but Finn is good at reading people and most of the time he knows exactly what she is doing and why. I loved that he was one step ahead of her most of the times.
“So don’t come at me with this, ‘we’re best friends’ bullshit when you want to use it to drive me away.”
Chess yearns for something real and profound and Finn gives her everything she needs at any given time. She needs his friendship and she has it, and when she is ready for more, he gives her that too. He goes by pure instinct where Chess is concerned and gets it right most of the times. He has a quiet kindness and thoughtfulness about him, the one that doesn't require a thank you. For Finn it is what it is. I am utterly in love with him.
“I’m crazy about you,” he says softly. “I don’t need time to figure that out.”
“I’m crazy about you too,” I whisper. “I’m just scared.”
Before I can blink, he leans in and gives me a firm kiss. It’s more tender than sexual. I need that more right now. How does he know to do that?
Where Finn goes by instinct, Chess is all reason and logic. She needs to feel safe and she does with Finn. But there are realities which might become insurmountable obstacles. And when they are finally being addressed they can make or break a relationship, depending on how you approach them.
Finn's and Chess' relationship develops at a deliciously slow burn. Their friendship and witty banter are my most favorite things in this book. Kristen Callihan is the Queen of hilarious inner monologues and funny dialogues.
“You know, if you colored your hair black, you’d make a pretty good young Elvis.”
She blinks up at me. “Do you know ‘Hound Dog’?”
“‘ Jailhouse Rock’?”
“Now, Chester, ‘Don’t be Cruel’.”
They are also insanely hot together. Their chemistry is off the charts.
I'm sorry for going nuts with the quotes but I have so many favorites, I can't decide which one I like best.
There are books that touch me profoundly. The Hot Shot is one of those, it hits close to home and as we all know these are the stories that stay with us for a long time. I was not prepared for this book and it packed quite a punch. I didn't cry buckets but the last 15% were so angsty and emotional, Chess and Finn had my heart in such a tight grip, I teared up. A lot.
I adore Kristen Callhian's writing style, it's magical. It draws you in from the first page and doesn't let go until you're done. And even after you close the book the story resounds. These wonderful characters just won't let go.
I also love that it's located in New Orleans, which is one of my favorite cities in the US. I can see every street, every place vividly in my mind.
The side characters are pretty amazing too and I'm very much looking forward to Jake's story. I've read some really good books already this year but The Hot Shot will make my Best of 2017.
She smiles up at me, and my chest suddenly hurts. Ink black hair spread out like a fan on the sheets, bottle green eyes glinting with happiness, pretty pink mouth smiling wide, she’s the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen.
“Oh, fuck, Chester Copper, I’m so gone on you. There’s no coming back from it.” I kiss those candy lips. “Haven’t you figured it out?” I say against them. “Every time I call you Chester, I’m saying I adore you. I fucking adore every part of you.”