Release date: January 11, 2016
Neurologist Helen Chang Frobisher is on a mission to ban hockey from Portland to prevent the kind of concussive brain injury that plagues her father. Oregon Wolves player Adam Magnus is desperately trying to secure his career and his retirement despite the team’s dismal record.
But while the two spar in public over the future of a sports franchise on the brink, in private, they battle an impossible attraction. When their no-strings-attached fling turns into the real thing, Helen and Adam must decide what’s really important to them. Will their relationship end up in the penalty box, or are they a winning combination?
by Ruby Lang
Sensuality Level: Sensual
Ruby Lang is the pen name of non-fiction and short-fiction writer Mindy Hung. She lives in New York with a small child and a medium-sized husband. Find Ruby Lang at www.rubylangwrites.com, and on Twitter @RubeLang.
An excerpt from Hard Knocks:
What a day for seeing the sights, Helen Chang Frobisher thought as she entered the exam room and took in the two mountain ranges facing her.
In the chair: the Alps. On the table: the Andes.
Of course, Portland never lacked for scenic views, but the two physically imposing gentlemen in front of her were a different story. They turned their boulder-hewn faces toward her and squared their chiseled shoulders. Alps stood up, but Andes just closed his eyes again. Clearly, he was her man.
Lacerations to the forehead and scalp, her brain noted as her heels clicked forward.
Andes was in a hospital gown. Alps was wearing a nattily tailored suit, but she doubted he was a businessman. Both men were too large, too craggy, too … panoramic, she thought briefly before putting on her doctor face.
They had been sewn up. The chart indicated minor contusions on the blond one she’d dubbed Alps. Dark-haired and dark-eyed Andes, however, had clearly taken a harder hit.
“Dr. Frobisher, I thought you’d be interested in meeting these gentlemen,” Dr. Max Weber yelped. He flapped his clipboard excitedly.
She hadn’t even noticed her colleague next to the huge men, so preoccupied she had been. He was practically dancing.
“Their minor car accident is our special treat!” Weber said. “Dr. Frobisher, I’d like you to meet—but wait, you probably already know who they are.”
Max looked eagerly at Helen. Blond Alps, the one who wasn’t white-faced in the bed, came slowly toward her. She looked way, way up into his eyes. Smarter than the average landmass, she thought, meeting his alert, interested gaze. He cleared his throat. “Dr. Frobisher,” he said, “I’m Adam Magnus and that lump over there is Serge Beaufort.”
He put out his hand, and she took it, her slender fingers immediately lost in his palm. Out of sheer bloody-mindedness, she was tempted to squeeze with everything she had. She took in his close-cropped blond hair and the Slavic cheekbones. His eyes were that color that everyone said was blue, but which she privately thought of as ghostly and white. But there was a disarming sprinkling of freckles across his nose—a nose that had been broken once or twice. Farm boy meets gladiator, she thought, trying once more to fit him into neat categories.
She caught another glimmer of amusement from him and ignored it.
A nurse had wrapped a bandage around Alps’s forehead—Adam Magnus’s, she corrected herself—and there was a little blood on his shirt. Minor head wounds had a tendency to bleed a lot. Still, what the hell was wrong with her colleague, Weber? He was fluttering around the patients like a drunken Southern belle. She flicked her gaze back at Magnus.
“You should probably sit down, Mr. Magnus,” she told him.
“I’m fine,” he said. He was still holding her hand. “Dr. Weber and the nurses in the ER already worked their magic.”
“Dr. Frobisher,” Max screeched, “you don’t know who these gentlemen are? Serge Beaufort is the goalie of the Oregon Wolves, and Adam Magnus here is the enforcer. He’s the guy who makes sure everyone stays clear of our other players.”
“That’s great,” said Helen extricating her hand. She moved closer to Andes. She still wasn’t sure why she was here. Maybe something had shown up on a CT scan. “And the Wolves are …”
“They’re our hockey team.”
“Portland has a hockey team? No offense,” she added, with a quick grin to the patients.”
Andes barely registered her words. Alps quirked her a wry smile.
Helen felt her stomach tighten a fraction.
Adam Magnus was kind of gorgeous, if you went for the gigantic, lethal bodyguard look.
Well, not usually.