Pipe Dreams
Sarina Bowen     

Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Brooklyn Bruisers
Book: 3

A goalie has to trust his instincts, even when taking a shot to the heart…

Mike Beacon is a champion at defending the net, but off the ice, he’s not so lucky. A widower and a single father, he’s never forgotten Lauren Williams, the ex who gave him the best year of his life. When Lauren reappears in the Bruisers office during the playoffs, Beacon sees his chance to make things right.

Lauren hates that she’s forced to travel with the team she used to work for and the man who broke her heart. There’s still undeniable sexual tension running between her and Mike, but she won’t go down that road again. She’s focused on her plans for the future—she doesn’t need a man to make her dreams of motherhood come true.

Lauren plays her best defensive game, but she’s no match for the dark-eyed goalie. When the field of play moves to Florida, things heat up on the beach.

One of Mike’s biggest fans doesn’t approve—his teenage daughter. But a true competitor knows not to waste the perfect shot at love.

Other books in the series:

We meet both Lauren and Mike in Rookie Move, the first book in the Brooklyn Bruisers series. As first impressions go, Lauren’s isn’t a particularly good one. She doesn’t come across as friendly with the other women, cool, blonde, sophisticated, and very unhappy. She works for Nate, the owner of the Brooklyn Bruisers, in his Manhattan office but claims to hate hockey. Yeah, there’s a story behind that. I’ll get to it in a little bit.

In Hard Hitter, second book in the series, you learn a bit more about Mike Beacon, the goalie. An unplanned pregnancy kind of forces his hand and he marries his high school girlfriend when he was nineteen. The marriage isn’t a happy one but before they can divorce, his wife is diagnosed with terminal cancer. And then there’s Lauren. She comes across as a little friendlier, interacting with the women more.

In Pipe Dreams, we get the whole story of Lauren and Mike’s ill-fated relationship. I knew it would be fantastic and I was right! Okay, long story short, Lauren and Mike had been attracted to each other from almost the moment he joined the team, back when his now 13-year-old daughter was a toddler. For eight years they remained strictly in the friend zone. He’s not a cheater and she doesn’t mess with married men. But then his wife cheats on him and he leaves her. They file for divorce and Mike and Lauren finally give in to their long simmering attraction. Their relationship lasts for almost two years and then his wife is diagnosed with terminal cancer. For reasons I won’t get into, he feels compelled to go back to her and leaves Lauren high and dry.

Usually, I’m not a huge fan of long or multiple flashbacks, but Sarina Bowen makes very good use of them in Pipe Dreams. I wanted to get a firsthand look at how things unfolded and then fell apart between them. It also gave me a much closer look at Lauren, a heroine I quickly grew to like (a lot) and with whom I empathized. Mike hurt her a lot and it was heartbreaking to read how she left him sobbing voicemails as she tried to get him to tell her what she’d done wrong and why he’d left her. It’s easy to understand why she has her heart on lockdown and she’s reluctant to let him have another go at breaking it again. And here’s the thing, she wants to be a mother and at thirty-one, she wants that sooner than later and sets plans in action to make it happen.

On top of being good-looking and sexy, Mike is a good and decent man. There simple isn’t much not to like about him. He refuses to tolerate homophobic name calling and speaks out against it (his daughter’s violin teacher/babysitter/house guest is a gay man). He’s a great father and he’s still in love with Lauren. When work circumstances throw them in regular contact, you can imagine how that goes. The sheets are hit, and they’re hit hard. But getting back together isn’t going to be easy.

I liked the way Ms. Bowen handles Lauren’s interaction with Mike’s daughter Elsa. Elsa makes it clear she doesn’t like Lauren in ways I found typical of a teenage girl. Keep in mind that Elsa’s still dealing with the death of her mother. Poor Mike is in a difficult situation—again—he loves his daughter but he’s in love with Lauren and is determined that things between them will work come hell or high water.

I enjoyed catching up with the couples from the first two books, and it was really nice to see what happened to Nate and Becca. I thought maybe they’d get their own book but I can’t see that happening now. Wouldn’t mind a novella to see how it all played out. Nate totally intrigued me. I think he’d make a great hero.

That said, Pipe Dreams is an engrossing read that packs a wonderful emotional punch and hot love scenes. I loved watching Mike and Lauren finally get their happy ending. This story comes with a high recommendation, especially if you love an excellent second chance at love romance.

~ Beverley