Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ 1/2
“Giving up a dream is like saying you’ve run out of hope.”
K. Bromberg has been quoted as saying that her hero for Hard to Lose, her newest book in her Play Hard series, is one of her favorites. And it’s easy to understand why Gunner meets those standards. This book, the last of the sisters of this series of standalones, has a heroine who self-sabotages in ways that can be absolutely frustrating. Don’t get me wrong. That isn’t a bad thing; it creates an emotional connection to her that is hard to break even when you want throw your Kindle against the wall at her choices. What truly saves you in those moments, though, is Gunner, Bromberg’s hero. He is the preeminent hero: protective, compassionate, masculine, and adoring of the heroine. You cannot help but to love him, even when he has to make the choice to part from Chase. It isn’t a surprise; in fact, as the reader, you will readily raise your hand and yell, “pick me” because he’s just that good.
Hard to Lose is the story of Chase, the youngest sister and daughter. We know, from the earlier books in the series, that each of the girls has struggled with their mother’s death in a variety of ways. It clings to each of them like a shadow causing them to make choices in life to either run from or avoid handling her death. For Chase, she’s used control to protect herself from hurt. Even more, she’s chosen emotionally unobtainable men with whom she engages in temporary relationships because nothing seems permanent after enduring her mother’s death.
One day, her father gives her a letter that had been sent five years prior from a former prospective baseball player, but was lost enroute until now. As she reads the letter, Chase feels a connection to the letter writer, and she endeavors to find out what happened with its author, Ryan Camden. After visiting his hometown, she finds out that he’s now living in Destiny Falls after a stint in the military. Thinking that she might be able to create a PR opportunity with Ryan, she goes to Destiny Falls. Who she finds is Gunner, the owner and bartender of the local bar, FU-Bar. From their meeting, Gunner and Chase are drawn to each other. Gunner distracts her so much that she forgets about Ryan…until it’s unavoidable.
Gunner is struggling with survivor’s guilt after his time in the military. Everything he does in life he does to honor the men he was unable to save: the bar he owns and the volunteer organization that helps children of fallen soldiers. Gunner is the best of men, and he is as drawn to Chase as she is drawn to him. As their journey becomes complicated by Chase’s lies, though, their future together becomes endangered. Is it possible for Gunner to dream again? Or will a life with Chase be “hard to lose?”
The essence of Hard to Lose is in its title. There is quite a bit of loss in this story: a loss of a dream, a loss of a parent, a loss of a friend, and even a loss of hope. Throughout this story, Bromberg uses the love affair between Chase and Gunner to be the catalyst for her message: it’s alright to have hope and to dream new dreams. What Bromberg shows her readers is the necessity to move beyond the fear of hoping and dreaming again. Both Chase and Gunner struggle with overcoming that fear, and Bromberg takes her readers on a delicious emotional journey as they learn to overcome their fears so that they can be together. Bromberg makes you fall in love with her characters, and by the end of the story, it is quite the adorable fest. Honestly, the epilogue of this story will make you swoon.
K. Bromberg’s Hard to Lose definitely has a hero whom you will adore. But she has a heroine who is like many of us: afraid to take a chance on becoming vulnerable with someone else. Chase fights it, and she almost loses. Yet, this is K. Bromberg, and we read in romancelandia, so never fear: happy endings are right around the corner.
In love and romance,