“Kennedy Ryan weaves prose like a magician (or voodoo priestess) without sacrificing heat or page-turning angst to create authentic, living, breathing characters you want to root for to the end. Hook Shot is simply beautiful.” — Emma Scott, Bestselling Author
Hook Shot, a deeply emotional standalone set in the worlds of professional basketball and high fashion from Kennedy Ryan, is available now and FREE in Kindle Unlimited!
Divorced. Single dad. Traded to a losing squad.
Cheated on, betrayed, exposed.
My perfect life blew up in my face and I’m still picking up the pieces.
The last thing I need is her.
A wildflower. A storm. A woman I can’t resist.
Lotus DuPree is a kick to my gut and a wrench in my plans
from the moment our eyes meet.
I promised myself I wouldn’t trust a woman again,
but I’ve never wanted anyone the way I want Lo.
She’s not the plan I made, but she’s the risk I have to take.
A warrior. A baller. The one they call Gladiator.
Kenan Ross charged into my life smelling all good, looking even better and snatching my breath from the moment we met.
The last thing I need is him.
I’m working on me. Facing my pain and conquering my demons.
I’ve seen what trusting a man gets you.
Don’t. Have. Time. For. This.
But he just keeps coming for me.
Keeps knocking down my defenses and stealing my excuses
one by one.
He never gives up, and now…I’m not sure I want him to.
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‘…the world might try to get you down, but you gotta glow up.’
And that’s exactly what Lotus DuPree has done for most of her life because not only the world but her own blood have tried to stifle her…to break her…to hold her back from being the warrior she’s meant to be and without her tenacious attitude, her resilience, or her inner strength, she wouldn’t be the driven woman she is – the one who Kenan Ross wants to claim despite the many reasons, both personally and professionally, that should make them stay away.
I have to admit…I have a fierce girl crush on Lotus. It’s clear that she knows who she is and she makes sure that she stays as true to herself as she can. She’s authentic and bold; she’s not a pushover but she also knows when to take a step back to reassess situations and process what she’s learned in order to act accordingly. And the way she takes up her own mental health and does what needs to be done in order for her to be ready to experience the connection she has with Kenan.
Just when I think I have a favorite Kennedy Ryan hero, she introduces me to a new one and the fact that Kenan’s nickname is Gladiator is fitting on so many levels. The shitstorm that he has to wade through in his personal life because he’s in the public eye is absolutely brutal, but he holds steadfast to following the course – one that is totally upended by his little PYT – but even when he forges a bit of a new path so that he can include Lotus in his life, he never changes from the honest, patient, and giving man that he has always been.
The one character who had an overwhelming presence throughout Hook Shot, even if it was in spirit alone, was Lotus’ Mimi. The reason that Lotus lived with her grandmother in her early teens is not something anyone should have to endure, but Lo is able to do so because of Mimi’s unconditional love and the fact that she saw the warrior inside Lotus and helped her to heal, as best she could, until there was a time where Lo would have the courage…the fortitude…the desire to face her past and live her best life with those who see Lo the same way her Mimi did and love her exactly how she deserves to be loved, and that’s the true gift that Mimi gives Lo and it’s definitely one Lo doesn’t squalor even when it’s overwhelming and difficult.
Kennedy Ryan’s flawless prose, her multifaceted characters, and her realistic and emotionally driven plot lines have such a visceral effect on me because Ryan allows me and perhaps even demands me to be so much more than simply a reader of her stories. She wants me to learn through her characters’ triumphs and struggles…to revel in their ability to weather the storm…to rise above the maelstrom of their pasts and find a way to move forward. Ryan wants me to gain insight about life and love through the hero and heroine’s mistakes…through their acts of courage despite their fear…through their resilience as well as the times where their scars and their baggage overpowers them and they’re laid bare for all of us to see. Those are the times that I’m most riveted to the pages, to the paragraphs, to the sentences, to the words that Ryan so eloquently brings to life.
What I also appreciate about Ryan’s storytelling doesn’t sugarcoat the harsher side of life…the atrocities that people are capable of…the reality of a person’s path being one of highs and lows, ups and downs, light and darkness. And I think that’s one of the components of her writing that not only resonates with readers but captivates them and works its way into the hearts and souls of Ryan’s readers.
5+ Poison Apples
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After talking to Kenan for the last few minutes, and looking under his hood, so to speak, I’ve found that he’s a classic. They don’t make them like him anymore, and if I don’t change the subject, change the course of this conversation, I’ll fool myself that we don’t have to keep things simple and that we could be more than just friends, not just for the summer, but for a long time to come. As long as I’d like.
“Okay,” I say, switching gears without a clutch and pulling a tie off another of Amanda’s racks. “I think that shirt could work really well with this tie.”
He doesn’t look at the tie I’m holding up, but keeps his eyes fastened on me. He’s not playing along. I’ve boxed myself into a corner with him. And the quarters are too tight. His scent. His warmth. His intelligence. His thoughtfulness. He is pressing in on me, overtaking my good intentions in all the ways I never thought a man could.
“Try this on,” I say, blindly shoving the mint green shirt at him.
When I look at him, he’s already peeled one shirt off and is reaching for the one I chose. I didn’t think this through. Didn’t forecast that Kenan changing from one shirt into another would mean his naked chest. I lose my train of thought and all my chill. Besides my mouth dropping open at the sight of the sculpted terrain of his chest and abs, I give no other indication that he affects me. Taut, bronze skin stretches across his broad shoulders like supple canvas pulled over a frame, the foundation of a masterpiece. He’s a big man. Not bulky, but instead chiseled to the specifications of a master sculptor: arms roped with muscles, biceps like rocks under skin glowing with health. The forearms Chase raved about are lined with veins and sinew. And I die for a great chest. I’ve never seen one more spectacular than Kenan’s.
Jesus, my mouth is literally watering at the thought of tasting them, sucking them, licking them. And if that pectoral perfection weren’t enough, the two columns of muscles, four each, are stacked over his lean stomach arrowing down to a narrow waist and hips. I can’t look away. I lick my lips, imagining how he would feel under my mouth. How I’d lick around his nipples and drag my tongue down that shallow path bisecting his abdominal muscles. I’d slip that belt off and sink to my knees. Unzip those pants and take him out. God, hold him in my hands and then take him all the way to the back of my throat. I’d choke on him. A man this big . . . I’d be so tight around him.
“Lotus,” Kenan says, jarring me from my torso trance. “Should I go ahead and put this shirt on? Or did you need a little more time?”
I snap a glance up to his face, embarrassed to find him laughing at me. Oh, God. I’m as bad as Amanda. I turn to leave, but he catches my elbow with a gentle hand and turns me back around, walking us behind two of the racks. He bends until he’s almost eye level with me.
“Don’t be embarrassed,” he says, searching my face intently. “I’m glad you like my body.”
“I didn’t say I . . .” My words trail off at his knowing grin. “Okay. So you have a nice body. I work in fashion. Do you have any idea how many great bodies I see on a daily basis?”
“I’m sure many,” he says, his smile still firmly in place. “I can’t speak for any of them, only for the way you looked at me.”
“And how do you think I looked at you?” I ask defensively, forcing myself not to look away.
In the quiet that follows, his smile fades, and heat replaces the humor in his eyes. “You looked at me the way I bet I’ve looked at you every time you walk into a room,” he says, the timbre of his voice rolling over my sensitive skin like a caress. “Like I would eat you if I could. Head to toe, everything in between.”
“Kenan,” I protest, closing my eyes on a groan. “We said friends. We said simple. This is not how you start a simple friendship.”
His large hand cups my jaw and lifts my chin. I open my eyes, blinking dazedly at him. I wasn’t prepared for how his touch makes me feel. How I instantly crave more of it; want to lean into the warmth; to turn and trace his lifeline with my tongue. Tell him all the things I could discover just from reading his palm and looking into his eyes.
How can such a large hand feel so gentle, like it’s capable of treasuring, cherishing?
“Okay, Lotus,” he says, regret and reluctance woven around my name. “Simple. Friendship.”
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A Top 25 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy Ryan writes about women from all walks of life, empowering them and placing them firmly at the center of each story and in charge of their own destinies. Her heroes respect, cherish and lose their minds for the women who capture their hearts.
She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine and Frolic, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Atlanta Autism families, she has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other media outlets as an advocate for families living with autism.
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