Hooked: A Novel

Hooked: A Novel

by Brenda Rothert

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Overview

From the author of the On the Line and Fire on Ice hockey romance series comes a sultry standalone novel featuring a brooding NHL player who’s hell on skates—and the no-nonsense woman who forces him to clean up his act.

Miranda: Even though I’m broke, putting myself through college, and working two jobs, I’m trying to make the best of it. Meanwhile, Jake Birch, hockey’s hottest bad boy, lives in a luxury hotel in downtown Chicago—and still complains about every little thing in his penthouse. But after I tell him off, instead of getting me fired, Jake requests me as his personal housekeeper. Then he starts flirting with me. Only I’m not flirting back . . . at least, I’m trying not to. Did I mention that he’s hockey’s hottest bad boy?

Jake: I’ve met the best woman at the worst possible time. Miranda is the fire to my ice—a sexy, charmingly candid spark who breaks down my walls and reminds me what it’s like to feel again. But I’m being forced to date my team owner’s daughter to keep my job, so I can’t be caught with Miranda. Still, we’re getting closer—until Miranda finds out about my “girlfriend.” And that’s not the only secret I’ve been keeping. But Miranda’s the one I want . . . even if she doesn’t believe me.

Praise for Hooked

“I loved this book, an awesome romance with some chuckles and a little sexiness. I will definitely be checking out other books by Brenda [Rothert] and I absolutely recommend this book.”—BookSmacked (Five stars)

“A sexy, heartwarming tale, that I truly enjoyed. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to anyone who enjoys sports romance or really contemporary romance in general.”—Where the Night Kind Roam

“Sexy, sweet and totally had me swooning. Prepare to get Hooked.”New York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett

Hooked is sexy, sweet, and full of steam! Jake is pure alpha male and a hockey bad boy. But he steams up the pages with Miranda, a sassy, independent housekeeper. My favorite Brenda Rothert book yet! A total must-read.”USA Today bestselling author Chelle Bliss

“The heroine is strong and sassy while the hero is impossible not to love. I laughed out loud several times at cute banter and clever lines. I’d recommend a one-click without hesitation!”New York Times bestselling author S.E. Hall

Hooked is a sweet, steamy and romantic story with characters you’ll fall in love with.”USA Today bestselling author Kelly Jamieson

“Brenda Rothert writes a sweet, compelling hockey romance about a bad-tempered hockey player. I enjoyed this emotional story.”—Cocktails & Books

“Brenda Rothert did a wonderful job with this story. It’s a nice read that I enjoyed 100%!”—Cristiina Reads

Hooked is everything that I’ve come to expect from one of Brenda [Rothert’s] books, and more.”—Smut Book Junkie Book Reviews
 
“What a sweet story . . . the banter, the love scenes and the sweet touching moments. It is such an easy and enjoyable read.”—Read-Love-Blog

“Bravo to Brenda! I cannot wait to read more of her books!”—Kelly’s Book Blog

“I loved both characters as they battled through all the hurdles to finding their HEA. . . . I thoroughly enjoyed Hooked.”—Books & Boys Book Blog

Includes an excerpt from another Loveswept title.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425286067
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 12/06/2016
Sold by: Random House
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 202
Sales rank: 72,324
File size: 994 KB

About the Author

Brenda Rothert is the author of Blown Away and the On the Line and Fire on Ice hockey romance series. She was a daily print journalist for nine years, during which time she enjoyed working on a wide range of stories. Rothert lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three sons.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

Miranda

Of course it’s raining. My L train stop is only a quarter of a mile away and I’m actually having a good hair day. Karma is laughing at me as I pull the hood of my sweatshirt up over my head, because this is one of those downpours that will soak through my clothes in a matter of seconds. And thanks to the biting late October downtown Chicago wind, I’m also freezing.

“Damn it,” I mutter as I duck to keep my face out of the pouring rain. Tony’s already going to be pissed that I look like a drowned rat—I don’t need to add rain-smeared makeup to the visual.

I work in housekeeping at Dupont Tower, and yeah, it’s a swanky hotel, but still. You’d think I was posing for a magazine spread for the place by the way my boss, Tony, expects the staff to look every day.

“Are you a clean-cut, polished ambassador for the Dupont?” he always asks us with his well-groomed brows arched. If we can’t say yes, we’re written up and sent home without pay. It already happened to me once when I spilled coffee on my uniform and didn’t have a spare to change into.

Tony’s a real prick, but even he can’t fault me for getting rained on while walking to my train stop.

On the bright side, I was dragging ass when I woke up at six-thirty this morning to get ready for work, and this icy rainstorm has me feeling wide awake. Hopefully with the help of another strong cup of coffee I can stay this way. I was up studying for an exam until two a.m.

Chemistry is the hardest college class I’ve taken so far. It doesn’t help that I’m twenty-five and haven’t even thought about science since high school.

My exam is this evening, and when I finish it I’m going to cook myself the cheesiest grilled cheese ever and sleep hard. I’m only taking two classes this semester, but between working forty hours a week at the Dupont and tending bar on Friday nights, it’s all I can do to keep up.

At this rate I’ll have my bachelor’s degree in . . . six more years. Hopefully then I can get a job that pays enough for me to stop scraping by and eating peanut butter sandwiches the last few days of every month.

Not having to clean other people’s pubes off hotel bathroom floors would be a bonus, too.

I think the rain’s gotten heavier and now I can hardly see where I’m going. A guy passing me on the sidewalk bumps into my shoulder and doesn’t even apologize. Asshole. I encounter plenty of them on my L train commute every day. My plain gray housekeeping uniform draws plenty of condescending looks from people in business suits. Some of them even assume I don’t speak English. Again—assholes.

It’s a good thing I’m looking at the ground, because that’s the only way I realize I’ve made it to the curb. I look up at the light and stop, pulling my soaked coat around me tighter.

Eye makeup stings one of my eyes and I cringe. I only have lipstick in my purse, so hopefully Tony will settle for a fresh face today. Wiping off the mess that’s running down it will be the best I can do.

The light turns and I’m about to step into the crosswalk when a taxi flies past, its tires skidding through a huge puddle and splashing me.

“Nice, asshole!” I yell after the cab as it cruises through the red light.

I look down at myself and groan as people walk around me to cross the street. Mud and bits of soggy leaves are splattered on the skirt of my uniform.

If I show up at work like this, Tony’s more likely to just fire me than write me up. I’m still in my probationary period, and I need this job.

This means I have to go home and change clothes, and I don’t have time for that. I’ll have to take a cab to work to make it on time.

“Shit,” I mutter.

I can’t afford a cab. I’ll have to use the money I’ve been saving for new work shoes. And even then . . . I’ll barely make it.

I jog the whole way home and I’m panting and sweating when I reach the top of the third flight of stairs to my apartment. I throw a dry work uniform, makeup, and a towel into a bag, grab the cash I have stashed in a coffee mug in a kitchen cabinet and run back downstairs.

Once outside, it takes me five minutes to get a cab to stop. On the ride, I use the towel to dry my long, dark hair and then I wrap it back into a bun. Then I wipe off and reapply my makeup.

Traffic makes for a long trip to the Dupont, and it’s 7:59 when the driver pulls up to the back entrance. I don’t even care about the $32 I have to pay for the ride—I just hand over the cash, get out of the car and run in the back entrance.

I frantically change into the dry uniform and stuff my wet one into my bag. It’s 8:04 when I walk into the room for our shift meeting. My shoes are still soaked, and they make a squishy squeak with every step.

Real stealthy.

“Miranda,” Tony says in his fake pleasant tone. “Nice of you to join us.”

“Sorry I’m late.”

“You can stay after your shift to sign your written warning. And please tell me you don’t intend to work in those shoes.”

My forty co-workers turn to look at my wet, black shoes.

Shit.

“No, sir,” I say with a smile. “I have dry ones in my bag. I intend to be a clean-cut, polished ambassador for the Dupont.”

Tony loves it when we repeat the stupid phrases he uses. He nods at me and continues his talk about the new linens the Dupont will be switching to.

Like it matters. It’s our job to change the sheets, not know their thread counts. Tony says we should all feel like we have an ownership stake in the hotel. I say he should stop yapping so much and let us get to work.

Finally, he claps once, his signal for us to get our assignments for the day. I look over the paper he hands me and force myself not to groan.

Miranda Carr: Penthouse suites.

The Dupont has three huge, high-dollar suites, and making them immaculate takes an entire shift. Tony often inspects the rooms after they’re cleaned, and he marks us down if the Dupont logo on the bars of soap isn’t positioned correctly. Every little thing has to be perfect.

I wait for the chatter to pick up and cover the sound of my squeaking shoes, and then I grab my housekeeping cart and stock it with everything I’ll need.

My wet shoes are still squishing through the carpet in the hallway. Fortunately it’s dark so you can’t see any footprints. I’ll have to figure something out when I clean the rooms, because they have cream-colored carpet.
When I get to the first suite, a do not disturb sign is hanging from the doorknob. I’ll have to go back to this room later. I push my cart down the hall to the door of the next suite and knock. No answer.

I run my key card through the magnetic lock and the door clicks open. I push it ajar a few inches.

“Hello?” I call inside. “Housekeeping. Housekeeping coming inside.”

It’s silent. I step out of my shoes and tuck them on a shelf on the cart. I look ridiculous cleaning with bare feet, but at least I won’t leave wet footprints on the carpet.

The penthouse suites are about three times the size of the apartment I share with my sister, Paige. The first room is a massive living area with a bar, two couches, a big screen TV and a library area stocked with classics and a chaise longue. It looks untouched, other than a couple of empty glass tumblers on the bar.

I walk through to the bedroom to strip the linens from the king-size bed. Before I reach it, I have to bend down and pick up a condom wrapper from the floor. Gross.

When I stand up, I see a naked blonde walk out of the bathroom. My mouth drops open in horror.

Ugh! What should I do? Seeing a guest naked is surely going to get me fired.

I’m standing there in horror when she sees me and lets out a high-pitched squeal.

“Oh, shit,” she says with a deep sigh. “You’re the maid. Sorry, you scared the shit out of me.”

“No, I’m sorry,” I say mournfully. “So sorry. I thought the room was empty.”

“Oh, I was in the shower.” She shrugs. “And I’m leaving anyway.”

She doesn’t even seem to care that she’s naked. From what I saw, she’s got nothing to feel ashamed of, but still . . . naked. In front of a stranger. I’d be dead right now.

“I’ll go,” I say, staring at the ceiling in an effort to avoid looking at her.

“Sweetie, it’s no biggie,” she says. “I’m a stripper. My goods aren’t exactly a secret.”

She slips a tiny dress on over her head and wiggles it down past her enormous round tits, the silver belly ring on her super flat stomach and then her completely hairless crotch.

“Is Jake still here?” she asks me with a smile.

“Jake? Um . . . I don’t think there’s anyone here but us.”

Her face falls. “Oh, I was hoping he’d ask for my number. You think I should leave it for him?”

“I don’t know. Maybe?”

She’s so tan and so blond. Her hair is so platinum it’s nearly white. I feel like I’m having a conversation with an actual Barbie doll right now. But she’s not pissed and I’m not getting fired, so that’s something.

“I mean . . . I think I should, right?” she says. “It’s not every day you hook up with a guy like Jake Birch.”

She scrawls her name on a piece of paper next to the bed and then grabs her bright pink purse from a chair.

“Hopefully he’ll call,” she says with a smile.

“I’m sure he will.”

“Really?” She sounds so thrilled by the prospect. I remember a time when I felt that way about men, and I’m really glad I got over it. The entire male sex is overrated if you ask me.

She puts on her tall, strappy shoes and heads for the door, her grin never wavering.

“See you later!” she calls as she opens the door.

“I . . . okay,” I say, letting out a deep breath when the door closes.

Well, that was definitely the most awkward encounter I’ve had at the Dupont. I laugh nervously and then strip the linens from the bed, not looking too closely at the sheets, and start cleaning. It goes quickly. I’m guessing this Jake guy and his Barbie date got here very late last night and spent most of their time in bed.

A glance in the bathroom trash can confirms my theory. There are three—I crane my neck for a closer look—no, four used condoms in there.

Impressive, Jake. I see why Barbie hopes you’ll call.

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