Hard and Fast by Mari Carr

POV: 3rd Person Multi
Pop: 37%
Tropes: Dating Coach, Boss Employee, Friends to Lovers, Nerdy Heroine, Real Body Heroine, Reformed Playboy; Virgin Heroine
Series: Italian Stallion Book book 2
Series Type: Series of Standalones 
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Release Day: June 28, 2022

Mari Carr stepped up the game on the virgin heroine/dating coach trope with this book. Gage Russo is a billionaire playboy who tells tales of his conquests to the “nerd circle” and when Penny Beaumont decides she needs coaching on how to get rid of her virginity and put herself out there, she decides that Gage is then to do it. These two have slowly become closer friends in the past few months because Gage is a closet gamer and nerd. They have an intense connection, but Penny ignores this because she is nothing like the women she sees him with, and Gage is oblivious to there real reasoning behind his feelings for Penny. Gage holds a lot of hurts from his past, and doesn’t let anyone truly get past his exterior. He created this lifestyle his lives because of the effect of some of his choices on his life.

Penny is a woman who is strong and confident when it comes to her work, but is self-conscious in the fact that she doesn’t have luck with men. But I believe a bid part of that is the fact that she doesn’t see her true worth. These two go through the motions of the dating coach, taking the steps to get Penny to the next level. But when Penny reveals the truth of her real reasoning behind this choice, Gage changes directions. What he doesn’t expect is falling in love. Penny doesn’t either, but she also goes into it eyes open only asking Gage to never lie to her and give her an excuse like he does all his other one-night stands.

This is a virgin heroine/real bodied heroine done extremely well. There isn’t any shaming for the life that Penny leads, only praise in the sense that she is more than her job and she needs to have confidence and faith in herself. These two are two halves to a whole, and create better versions of themselves when they are together. There is a great supporting cast of characters… and have to say the only thing I need more from this book is to find out just WHY the Russo and Moretti Families don’t like each other.

This book 2 of this series, and I did not read book one yet, but I was not confused in any way. This standalone perfectly, and I can’t wait to go back and read book one.