Defending Hayden (A Second Chances Novel) by L.P. Dover

Title: Defending Hayden 

Series: A Second Chances Novel

Author: LP Dover

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Release Date: June 28, 2016

Publisher: Random House 

Cover Design by: Mae I Design and Photography

Photo Taken by: Regina Wamba

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.

review graphic EJ

 By Melody’s Love 4 Books
Rating: 5 stars
Also posted on Netgalley

In the aftermath of an accident, which claimed the life of Brianna, the pregnant girlfriend of Derek McLaughlin…a linebacker for the Carolina Cougars…he loses himself to grief and ends up going downhill fast while drinking, using drugs, and scores of women. A split decision causes him to abandon the team for parts unknown. He ends up at a buddy’s ranch in North Dakota and after several months, he is starting to come back to himself. Finally, he knows he has to go back and face everyone especially his team and see if he still has a career.

My heart broke for Derek. He was such a lighthearted guy in Catching Summer and to see him lose the love of his life as well as himself made me cry lots of ugly tears. I was thrilled when he decided to come home and get his life back.

After he arrives, he literally bumps into Hayden Hunter, a veterinarian at Stonebrook Animal Hospital. It causes her to drop her phone and break it so Derek loans her his until she can get another one. I was immediately excited because I knew things were about to start hopping 🙂 In a twist of fate, Derek helps Hayden with an injured dog and though it’s only a friendship at first, something starts between them. Neither want to get hurt so they hold on to the friends label like their lives depended on it, but you could see the sparks with each encounter between them.

In the meantime, Hayden has a fellow doctor named Jeremiah who is intensely interested in her. She only sees him as a friend, but it’s very obvious that he wanted more…way more. He seemed really creepy to me and when Hayden and Derek finally give in to what’s growing between them, it freaks Derek out and he takes off. Of course, this hurts Hayden and sets the stage for Jeremiah to slip in or so he thinks. Derek realizes what a huge mistake he made and begins his bid to get Hayden to forgive him only to see she and Jeremiah kissing. What he doesn’t know is that the kiss was only one-sided.

After a while, Hayden does forgive Derek much to Jeremiah’s dismay and that’s when the accidents at the animal hospital begin. In the process of being given the business by the retiring vet, her ethics and skills are called into question when unexplained deaths occur among the animals she is treating. Adding insult to injury, she is told that her “mistakes” are giving the hospital a bad name and is put on suspension as well as having the option for taking over away from her.

Like a champ, Derek sticks with her and I was so happy that he had gotten over his initial freakout and was being the man she needed. Unable to sit back and let her reputation be maligned or have any more deaths occur, Hayden goes looking for answers against Derek’s will and knowledge. She ends up in a terrible situation and the real bad guy is revealed. The events that follow are terrible, but they also served to bring Derek and Hayden even closer together.

There’s a lot more to the story, but you’ll have to one-click to get it because I’m not telling 🙂

I love this book from start to finish. Derek and Hayden were so awesome together and I admire the way Ms. Dover brought them together. She honored Brianna’s memory by having the couple get together slowly…I don’t know…to me it just seemed more respectful that way. That’s not to say that once they were together, they weren’t on fire because there was major passion and chemistry between the two.

Reading Defending Hayden was a delight and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of second chance romances. L.P. Dover is a master at this type of story. I can’t wait to see what’s next from her. I give this book 5 stars and it will be a definite reread for me in the future.

“Sexy and emotional with characters you will root for, Defending Hayden is a great addition to the Second Chances series!”—Elisabeth Barrett, author of the Return to Briarwood series

“Defending Hayden is a smart and heartwarming story that is impossible to put down. Throw in a sexy football player and some lovable animals and you’re all set.”—Stina Lindenblatt, author of This One Moment

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.”

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Before she began her literary journey she worked in periodontics, enjoying the wonderment of dental surgeries.

She loves to write, but she also loves to play tennis, go on mountain hikes and white water rafting, and has a passion for singing. Her two youngest fans expect a concert each and every night before bedtime, usually Christmas carols.

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, the Society X series, and her standalone novel Love, Lies, and Deception. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense, but if she got to choose a setting in which to live, it would be with her faeries in the Land of the Fae.

L.P. Dover is represented by Marisa Corvisiero of Corvisiero Literary Agency and Italia Gandolfo of Gandolfo Helin & Fountain Literary Management for dramatic rights.

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