by Sawyer Bennett
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Publisher: Big Dog Books, LLC
Book #6 in the Pittsburgh Titans series
Number of pages: 259
Ages 15 and up
CW: cancer, death of a spouse, cheating
Cannon West left his hockey playing days behind to care for his dying wife but has since found success on the other side of the bench. Now, as the youngest head coach in league history, he’s hoping to lead the Pittsburgh Titans to a winning season. The last thing he’s looking for is a relationship, but life sometimes takes us in another direction.
The Pittsburgh Titans are still working to move on from the tragic plane crash that forever changed the landscape of their organization. Having lost my wife, I know all about grief and the guilt of survival which makes me uniquely equipped to take this team to the next level. From the very first time I stepped inside the Titans’ arena, I knew I was exactly where I needed to be.
New to town, I’m still establishing my routine, but I have the most important aspect under control—the coffee shop where I stop on my way to the arena every morning. A strong cup of java and the gorgeous manager who I can’t help but chat up is quickly becoming my favorite way to start the day. But no matter how much I enjoy the blush that stains Ava Cavanaugh’s cheeks with my admittedly awkward attempt at flirting, I know it will never be more than brazen banter with a new friend. My job consumes almost all my time, and I know firsthand what that level of commitment can do to a relationship.
That doesn’t mean I’m not open to some fun. My career comes first, but Ava understands my boundaries. The only problem is that once I give into her temptation, the rules I set for myself become blurred, and my mixed signals hurt Ava—the one thing I promised I wouldn’t do. I’ve put myself in what seems to be an untenable situation, but I’ve faced those before. Now I need to find the strength to move past my fears, or risk losing my second chance at love with the woman who has stolen my heart.
Ava and Cannon are really too cute together. They both go into their relationship with the understanding that they don’t actually have a relationship. Not that Cannon is one to sleep around. He never has been and neither has Ava. But they both have a lot going on in their lives. Cannon doesn’t feel he has the time to fairly give to a significant other. His deceased wife was not thrilled with the professional hockey lifestyle and he feels he has even less time now that he’s a coach and doesn’t want to lead anyone on. Ava’s been burned, and burned bad, before by putting all of her eggs in one basket. She’s out to prove she doesn’t need help from anyone and can make a success of her life on her own. We all know how this will end up. How the mighty always fall.
While Ava isn’t as averse to a real relationship as Cannon, she respects his boundaries. The problem is that Cannon always seems to be moving those boundaries. He wants a commitment of sorts but doesn’t want to give Ava thoughts of marriage or babies in the future. Yet he’s the one introducing her to his friends, inviting her to games, and even asking her to travel with him. Through it all, Ava tries to keep her expectations in check. There comes a time the whiplash of his saying he doesn’t want a long-term relationship and him acting like they’re in one gets to her as she’s falling deeper and deeper into the emotions and fire the pair have together.
And these two definitely have fire. They are so good together if they’d only get out of their own way. Cannon spends so much time making sure he doesn’t fall into the mistakes he made with his wife that he’s essentially pushing Ava away. While Ava is so dead set on being strong and not relying on anyone else that she doesn’t speak up when she should. Meanwhile, anyone who spends more than 30 seconds with the couple can see that they are so obviously in love.
Of course, Cannon eventually messes up and needs to apologize and grovel big time, which he does. It’s beautiful and lovely and everything I want from my romance books.
You have me excited to get to this one! I’m currently listening to Gage.
I love Gage! I hope you’re enjoying his story.
I did! It was a good one.