Riggs (Arizona Vengeance) – book review


by Sawyer Bennett
Release Date:  October 26, 2021
Publisher:  Big Dog Books, LLC
Book #11 in the Arizona Vengeance series
Number of pages:  322
Kindle Edition
Source: Amazon Pre-Order
Contemporary Romance/Sports
Ages 17 and up
CW: child abuse, domestic violence, plane crash

Known as the team loner, Riggs Nadeau gives his all on the ice, but nothing extra off it. A beautiful stranger is about to cause chaos in his very structured world.

As a professional hockey player, people think I live a charmed life. On the surface, I do. But they don’t know the horrors of my childhood, or the real reason that I have custody of my seventeen-year-old sister, Janelle. And that’s exactly the way I like it. They may think I’m a prick because I don’t like to share, but that’s fine. They don’t know me, and they don’t need to.

In an effort to help Janelle get settled in Phoenix and stay out of trouble at school, I set her up with a job at Clarke’s Corner, the local bookstore owned by the girlfriend of a teammate. It’s there that she makes friends with Veronica Woodley, the extremely annoying, arrogant, money-hungry divorcee who I don’t want anywhere near my sister. Janelle insists I’m completely wrong about Veronica, but I refuse to accept that. I have to keep reminding myself that that the gorgeous blond with legs for days is off limits.

Through a series of events, I start to see Veronica for what she really is—an amazing woman who has survived her own hell to come out even stronger. I have to admit, we’re more alike than not and the attraction between us burns hot.

Maybe I was all wrong about my ability to love and commit, but when the past comes back to haunt me, can I be the man that Veronica, and Janelle, deserve?

When it comes to the Arizona Vengeance, other than Baden, I have been most curious about Riggs as of late. Since he’s come to the team, he has really kept to himself. Riggs has even gone so far as to discourage his teammates from engaging in conversation with him. On top of that, his teenage sister lives with him. I knew there had to be a heartbreaking story behind it all. Turns out he not only has a rough past, but he’s such a great guy that he doesn’t share any of it in order to protect his little sister. Problem is, it’s not working out so great for either of them to keep themselves apart and bottle everything inside.

If you’ve been reading along with this series, you’ve already met Veronica. She first showed up in Wylde as she’s Clarke’s best friend. She works at Clarke’s bookstore part time, but there is a lot in her past that she needs to overcome, too. Veronica is a very proud woman and doesn’t like to show her weaknesses, especially because she feels her weaknesses kept her down in the past. Because Veronica was married to a rich man and has the clothes and accessories that she received while living that lifestyle, Riggs doesn’t have a great view of her. In fact, he’s a bit rude to her and she doesn’t correct his assumptions so things have spiraled to a place where these two don’t have much respect for each other. She views him as an uncaring jerk and he thinks she’s a gold digging shrew.

Enter Riggs’ sister Janelle and the fact that she not only gets a job at the bookstore, but she becomes fast friends with Veronica. And while Riggs isn’t necessarily great with this outcome, he trusts that his teammates wouldn’t put him or his sister in a bad place by suggesting Janelle work there or that it’s okay for her to be supervised by Veronica. This change brings about Riggs finally, very slowly, opening up that door to being an actual part of the team and letting others in. It also helps Veronica learn to trust again, because above all she cares about Janelle and needs to interact with Riggs in order to help the girl through some struggles.

This is a wonderfully fun enemies to lovers story. The chemistry between Veronica and Riggs is spot on and cannot be denied, even while they’re still hating on each other. The care and attention both the MCs give to Janelle and her needs is touching and inspiring. I absolutely love the relationship Riggs and Baden have developed and the fact that Baden doesn’t let him wallow in his BS and calls him out for his shunning of the camaraderie that is needed to be part of a winning team.

I will warn you, there are some upsetting and stunning events that happen at the end of this story. It’s not a cliffhanger, as this story is fully done and wrapped up with a wonderful HEA. It’s setting up another series with a hockey team in Pittsburgh. We’ll finally get Baden’s HEA in book one of that series and I cannot wait. But it’s only fair to warn you that while it’s an HEA for Veronica and Riggs, there are some sad times ahead from some of their loved ones.

4 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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