Series: Second Chances #7
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Also in this series: Catching Summer, Intended for Bristol
Also by this author: Turn of the Moon, Roped In, Resisting the Moon, Catching Summer, Intended for Bristol, Trigger, Target, Hard Stick, Aim, Christmas With You: an anthology
The Carolina Cougars keep fighting for love as the Second Chances series from bestselling author L. P. Dover continues! In Defending Hayden, a damaged football star teams up with the only woman who can take the pain away. No one’s tougher than Carolina Cougars linebacker Derek McLaughlin. But when a fatal car accident claims the life of his girlfriend, Derek finds himself caught in a destructive spiral of drugs, alcohol, and meaningless sex. But not even a string of one-night stands can ease the hurt. Football is all he has left. Then fate leads him back to the scene of the crash, and into the arms of a kind, gorgeous woman who sees past his façade to the man he once was . . . and can be again. When a chance roadside encounter brings Derek into her life, veterinarian Hayden Hunter isn’t fooled by his bad attitude: All bark and no bite, he’s hiding a wounded heart beneath that gruff demeanor. And Hayden wants to be the one to kiss it all better. Soon they both find that a dose of passion is potent medicine. But when a hidden enemy lashes out at Hayden, Derek steps up to do what he does best: put his body on the line in the name of love.
Oh Derek…You get the first part of Derek’s story in Catching Summer. He and his girlfriend were in the car accident with Summer and Evan. His girlfriend dies and Derek sort of goes off the rails. Defending Hayden starts well after the accident and after Derek has gotten his life back on track. After spending some time in Wyoming, he realizes that he needs to get his shit together. Then he meets Hayden by literally hitting her with a door. They run into each other again and he starts to feel things for her. He wants to keep it as friends but that only lasts for a few weeks. After sleeping with her he FREAKS out and pushes her away. Then the ‘win her back’ phase begins.
There was a level of insta-love that was a struggle even for me (and I love insta-love). Like previous books in the series, once the couple gets together, there is drama/danger from another character. In this case, I thought it was pretty obvious but still engaging enough to keep me turning the pages to see how would all unfold!
I liked the story overall but I didn’t love it. I liked Derek and Hayden, but I didn’t love them. The book is still well written and a nice, easy weekend read if you like your football heroes humble and your leading ladies smart and sweet!
- POV: dual 1st
- Tears: no (but I cried a lot in Catching Summer when the accident happened!)
- Trope: dead lover, famous
- Triggers: none
- Series/Standalone: Interconnected stand alones; but you really should read catching summer first!
- Cliffhanger: No
- HEA: View Spoiler »Yes, Derek and Hayden move in together and she takes over the veterinarian practice! « Hide Spoiler
New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author, L.P. Dover, is a southern belle residing in North Carolina along with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she even began her literary journey she worked in Periodontics enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.
Not only does she love to write, but she loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes, white water rafting, and you can’t forget the passion for singing. Her two number one fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime and those songs usually consist of Christmas carols.
Aside from being a wife and mother, L.P. Dover has written countless novels including her Forever Fae series, the Second Chances series, the Gloves Off series, the Armed & Dangerous series, the Royal Shifters series, and her standalone novel, Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read is romantic suspense and she also loves writing it. However, if she had to choose a setting to live in it would have to be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.
L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency.
Guilt plagued me and I felt sick. Getting out of bed, I paced the room, running my hands angrily through my hair. I didn’t want to hurt Hayden. Keeping her away would protect her from my life. She was bound to leave me anyway. I’d fuck up somehow and it would ruin her. What the hell was I talking about? I’d already fucked her up.
“Derek?” Her voice was like honey, silky and sweet. I’d imagined what it would be like to hear that voice screaming my name as I fucked her over and over. Last night had been the best night of my life, but it had scared the shit out of me. I couldn’t shake it. “Derek, are you okay?” she asked. Stopping midstep, I turned to face her, and her eyes widenened when she got a glimpse of my face. I could only imagine what she saw. So many emotions battled inside me. She held the blanket to her chest, and her lips trembled. “Please tell me this wasn’t just a game to you,” she whispered.
Swallowing hard, I sat down on the edge of the bed and reached for her. She recoiled from my touch. “None of this was a game, Hayden. Last night was fucking amazing.”
Her eyes glistened, but her jaw was firm. “Then why are you looking at me like that? Like you regret what we did.”
I wanted to touch her, but last night had been my only chance. She’d never let me close to her again. “I don’t regret it, but eventually you will. You’re not the only one who’s lost someone they cared about. I can’t go through it again. It’s best to stop this before it goes any further.”
“Any further?” she scoffed. She waved her arm around the room, her anger so thick I could cut it with a knife. “If you didn’t want it to go any further, then why did you bring me here? Why would you do that to me?”
“Because I care about you,” I said, knowing it made no sense to her.
“Then why are you pushing me away?” she cried.
Standing, I got up and walked over to the window. “You wouldn’t understand.”