Title: Game of Hearts
Author: Cathy Yardley
Publisher: RYW Publishing
Release Date: January 2018
Length: 179 pages
Series?: Fandom Hearts #3
Genre: New Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Kyla Summers has been offered the opportunity of a lifetime to get her cosplay business off the ground, and only one thing stands in her way. She needs someone to take over the auto shop, and there’s only one person she can think of to call…
Jericho Salomon hasn’t been back in his home town since he joined a biker gang and rode off nine years ago. When his best friend’s kid sister calls begging for help, he knows that he owes the family a debt and he intends to pay. This is easier said than done once he finds that the kid is all grown up…
She needs a pair of skillful hands. He needs to keep his hands off. When sparks begin to fly, can they keep things strictly business, or will their hearts get hopelessly tangled? No more games, it’s time to play for keeps.
Kyla Summers has been running ragged operating both the business and mechanic side of the auto shop she and her brother inherited from their father so he could enjoy traveling. With her brother off cavorting on his own vacations as he pleases, Kyla is left to man the shop on her own while also trying to get her own costume design business off the ground. When Billy returns from a trip with a broken arm and Kyla’s costumes are due at convention only a month off, she throws in the towel and calls long-time friend Jericho Salomon.
Jericho Salomon spent the last of his time in town with the Summers, his second family. After leaving home at 17, he met up with some motorcycle gearheads and joined a crew called the Machinists. They are not a motorcycle club or gang, and Jericho is intent on keeping their foundation alive by helping out the young men who are interested, just as Pedro and Mike helped him.
Mike and Pedro are expanding the crew, but it is growing too large too fast and presenting problems with a younger recruit trying to throw a coupe and get the other youngers to rebel and go gangster in Hell’s Angels fashion. With an upcoming rally, Jericho is pressed for time to come back to help the Summers while things continue to escalate with his motorcycle friends.
Jericho is a machine himself in the shop. Standing at 6 foot 7 inches tall, he’s a mammoth of a man. He easily falls into working in the shop, and bunks above the shop in Kyla’s little apartment. Despite not seeing one another for nine years, they fall easily back into their old habits and friendship. The banter flows with ease and helps bring out their natures. In front of Billy, it is full of flirtation and only to get his hackles up. For Jericho, it’s all a ruse. But for Kyla…she’s crushed on Jericho near all her life. When Jericho finds Kyla falling out of her the daybed in her costume room, he brings her back to her room and the huge California king bed she gave up for him.
Jericho coming back to his hometown is not something he does lightly, and not by choice. He strictly comes to help the Summers. He and Billy have been friends for so long, it’s like a small debt to repay the Summers family. Billy throws a fit that Kyla asked because being back near his mom and all the bad from his childhood isn’t good for him.
Kyla’s brother Billy is a domineering, self-serving, selfish man. He belittles Kyla for wanting to pursue her passion, and does not admit to sloughing off all the work on her shoulders while demanding she step up while she’s been doing double duty for most of the year. He treated his sister abominably and wasn’t even apologetic about it. When Kyla finally tries to sort of stand up for herself, he doesn’t even recognize her points. He was manipulative and pulled the “family business” strings about heartbreaking their father if she walked away to do her costumes.
Jericho makes his own deal with Kyla. She is to work on her costumes for the convention while he handles the entire shop. Kyla’s dream of winning this phenomenal costume contest and kick-starting her business seems to be more of a reality than she ever thought possible. Kyla’s hardwork hits a hard wall when she discovers the contest requirements include male costumes and a couples costume. She’s worked the entire time on only the three, including a Daenerys Game of Thrones costume. When motorcycle trouble draws Jericho away, Kyla’s forced back into the shop. Her dreams are going down the drain.
Jericho’s motorcycle crew brings trouble back to Kyla’s shop, which she uses to her advantage. Jericho also lays some of his own demons to rest. I wish that there was some more focus on Jericho’s family to round out and give more life to Jericho’s past, but the interactions are enough to explain why Jericho has stayed away all these years and understand his mother’s reasons.
I loved the descriptions of Kyla’s costume making and her passion for doing something different. Like Hailey in the previous book in the series, Kyla carries the weight of the family business on her shoulders. I wish she had stood up to her brother sooner and took more of a stand because nothing is really resolved between them, unlike Jericho’s problems with his mother. I loved Jericho’s character and the strength and compassion he displays for Kyla and for his mother.
A sweet friends-to-lovers/best friend’s little sister trope brings heart and humor to the table. The sweet and savory mix of bad boy and sweet girl, Kyla’s gender-breaking roles, and the fandom fashion brought out a sweet, savory romance.
Cathy Yardley needs to get out more. When not writing, she is probably cruising the Internet, sleeping or watching D-list movies and adding to her unnatural mental store of character-actor trivia. She is a closet fangirl forSupernatural, Sherlock, Doctor Who, and too many others to name. Her family is considering performing an intervention for her addiction to pop culture. Want to read more of her writing? Sign up for her notification list, and get a free novella, Hooked, from the Fandom Hearts series!