Getting Inside

Getting Inside. Serena Bell. 2017. 198 pages. Loveswept. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] The book has to be compelling if me, a complete non-sports fan, can’t put it down. From the start, I was pulled in by Iona and Ty and was so intrigued at how they’d ever manage to fight their attraction while balancing their messy coach-player relationship. Serena Bell wove their story together well. Too often, romance stories with a focus on sports are either too heavy on the sport or don’t include enough detail, making it an afterthought. With Getting Inside, she shows that she’s done her homework on the sport but isn’t beating the reader of over the head with her knowledge. I was clued in enough to understand that football was the heart of the book, but still enjoyed the actual story.

Winner Takes All

Winner Takes All. Erin Kern. 2016. 384 pages. Forever. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] As the first installment in a new “Championship Valley”series, Winner Takes All does not disappoint. Blake is disgraced, begrudingly retired football star who’s return to his hometown with one season to turn around a high-school football team’s losing record. Annabelle is a control-freak physical therapist who refuses to quit on the team, even if it means she’s constantly under Blake’s skin. The two make for an interesting pairing – they both want the best for the team, but are constantly fighting (not well) their own attraction for each other. I am pleased with Kern’s newest release. Books from her “Trouble” series did not disappoint, so I came in with high expectations. She continues to create well-developed main characters who are relateable and realistic. Their motivations aren’t always spelled out in an elementary way, but there’s enough detail for readers to understand the various choices they make. Both Blake and Annabelle are flawed, but their story is interesting and actually entertaining to watch. Their playful banter coupled with frustrating work interactions makes for a story that’s simply fun to read. At times it’s emotionally draining, but…

With a Twist

With a Twist. Staci Hart. 2015. 386. Promise Socks Publishing. [Source: Kindle Unlimited.] This is a cute enough story about a group of friends and their trial​s/tribulations in love. It focuses on professional ballerina Lily as she navigates what she hopes will be a whirlwind romance with her longtime crush and fellow principal dancer Blane (insert dreamy eyes here). Sadly, all that glitters is not gold, and she’s stuck trying to figure out whether to put her efforts into Blane or fly solo. Her close-knit group of friends is there to support her either way, especially her neighbor West, whose own love life is as complicated. With a Twist is definitely a simple read, one you can get through in a few hours. Unfortunately, this wasn’t a remarkable read to me. I found nearly all of the relationship trajectories predictable. This is partially a mix of the author’s blatant foreshadowing and my having read one too many romance novels. As it was, I felt like I knew what the outcome of the book would be and just needed to trudge through the book to prove myself right. Along the way, peripheral relationships tended to play out how I expected, though they…

Maybe Baby

Maybe Baby. Andrea Smith. 2014. 500 pages. Meatball Taster Publishing. [Source: personal copy.] I wanted to like this book, but it fell short in a lot of ways for me. The premise was intriguing for me – Tylar has a strained relationship with a mom who was more interested in her own romantic life than the well-being of her child; her father was never in the picture. Now, she’s on her own and pursuing her dreams in equine science, thanks to a trust fund from her absent dad. She’s working at the Sinclair ranch, which is being run over the summer by tightly-wound Trey Sinclair. Within the first chapter, I began to dislike Tylar. She comes across as incredibly timid to the point of being a push-over (no pun intended). Her youth, both in age and maturity, is shown right off the bat when she chugs a bunch of coolers, plays a drunken game of chicken in the Sinclair pool, and ends up with a concussion. That starts a running theme for me – she’s a borderline alcoholic before the book is even half-way done, and generally seems to have piss-poor judgment in everything she does. Even when I wanted…

Undone

Undone. Shannon Richard. 2014. 416 pages. Loveswept. [Source: ARC provided courtesy of NetGalley.] I thoroughly enjoyed this read! Paige was so relatable that I found myself pulled in to her story immediately. My heart ached for how her life was collapsing in front of her, but was hopeful that she’d have a happier ending because she stayed true to herself and just kept plucking along. The characters in this book? I either loved them or hated them with all my heart. Paige’s ability to counter the nastiness made me chuckle, and seeing her built meaningful relationships with others had a grin on my face.