Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
This reader has been “All In” from the beginning of Helena Hunting’s series. An unclaimed spin-off of her Pucked series, reading the “next-gen” of hockey greats intermingled with the specters of her popular series, has been exciting and a reminder of everything you love from the Pucked series. In fact, my favorite character from the All In series is King, a boy scout of a talented hockey player who acts as a foil to the series’ grump, Bishop. King’s story, A Secret for A Secret, plays heavily into Hunting’s newest story, A Kiss for A Kiss. At the end of that book, a family secret has been revealed, and the way forward seems easy…until you enter A Kiss for A Kiss where you realize that the complications of that secret influence the feelings of the characters.
A Kiss for A Kiss is the story of Jake, Queenie’s father, and Hanna, King’s Momster. In ASFAS, Jake and Hanna’s chemistry is clear from their meeting. In AKFAK, Jake and Hanna explore that chemistry falling into a fling that should end at the culmination of King and Queenie’s wedding. However, life has other plans, and Hanna finds herself pregnant. As Jake and Hanna navigate this life change, they must choose the type of relationship they want, yet there are complications ahead.
Okay, here’s the thing. I’m probably in the minority who didn’t think this story needed to be written. I thought A Secret for A Secret ended well, and I didn’t really have a want for Jake and Hanna’s story. Yet, after reading A Kiss for A Kiss, Hunting allows us to focus on areas that you won’t find in most romances: the complications of a “geriatric” pregnancy and the complex feelings that surround the revelation of a lifelong family secret. There are elements of A Kiss for A Kiss that I didn’t love; there is a decided didactic feel to this story. There are moments when the story feels informative as it details the complications of Hanna’s late in life pregnancy, and I thought it undermined the development of Jake and Hanna’s evolving relationship. In fact, my biggest criticism for AKFAK is the lack of progression of Jake and Hanna’s chemistry.
Yet, at the core of this book isn’t really Hanna’s pregnancy or even Jake’s part in it; it’s the way in which Hanna and King finally reconcile their feelings over the revelation of the family secret in ASFAS. That journey is the most important one in A Kiss for A Kiss. I share that because, while Jake is incredibly heroic in this story, he isn’t complicated in his characterization. The most compelling character in Hunting’s newest story is Hanna.
Obviously, A Kiss for A Kiss offers up more of the All In characters as well as Alex and Violet from her Pucked series. This cast of characters provides the foundation that Jake and Hanna require to move through their journey. It also shadows the story with humor which is a signature of Helena Hunting’s romance. However, be forewarned. As she’s so apt to do in her Pucked and earlier All In stories, humor isn’t a hallmark of AKFAK. It’s there in tinges, but, as I mentioned earlier, this story is more informational and serious as Hanna, Jake, and King work through their feelings over a new baby.
In the end, Helena Hunting’s A Kiss for A Kiss is an emotional story tinged with humor about reconciling the feelings of past choices in the shadow of new beginnings. It’s a story about second chances but the ones we’re used to as romance readers. Yes, Jake and Hanna are sweet together with a touch of sensuality, but the true love here is between Hanna and the promise of her future after letting go of the hurts of her past.
In love and romance,