She’s not mooning over old boyfriends, she’s not spending all her time whining about the unfairness of it all. No, she does what she needs to do: she takes a temporary job as a gym teacher and girls soccer coach and goes to work every day just like a real life adult would.
She has some insecurities about past bullying and fears about relationships just like most of us do, but nothing really keeps her down. Marley is a survivor who doesn’t wallow in self-pity at the hand life has dealt her. She takes control of her life and makes things better on her own. I LOVED that about her!
Now, did she get on my nerves a little with her stubborn insistence that small town life wasn’t for her? Yes. Did it keep me from enjoying the story? No. I understood why she felt the way she did, and it made sense, so I cut her some slack.
Jake’s a great hero, too. He’s the perfect laid back foil to Marley’s controlled chaos. He’s smart and sexy and hardworking, AND he’s great at his job, which is teaching. We don’t get enough hot, tattooed romance heroes who are teachers in Romancelandia, in my opinion.
But maybe my favorite part of the whole thing? There was a kind of Remember the Titans and The Mighty Ducks losers-to-winners thing going on with the girl’s soccer team that had me cheering...
But even if the romance hadn’t been present in this book, it still would’ve been an enjoyable read. Marley experiences some fantastic personal growth over the course of the story, and she has a positive impact on pretty much everyone around her, even her former bullies. There wasn’t a secondary character in this story who wasn’t well fleshed out and interesting in their own right. I loved Marley’s parents, Vicky, Jake’s family, the girls on the soccer team, the dog, the former bullies...they were all pretty fantastic.
There’s also plenty of witty banter and sexy times. But maybe my favorite part of the whole thing? There was a kind of Remember the Titans and The Mighty Ducks losers-to-winners thing going on with the girl’s soccer team that had me cheering (in my head, not out loud because that would be weird) while reading about their games. I could easily see this book being made into a movie and at the end, when the girls are victorious, I’d probably tear up a little. I wouldn’t cry because I’m not a crier, damn it, but I’d tear up a little.
Long-story-short, I highly recommend this one. It’s longer than I normally recommend (532 pages), so plan your reading time accordingly, because once you pick it up, you won’t want to put it down until the very end.
Does this book contribute to or help crush the romance stigma?
No stigma here. This one’s not only clean and sober, but doing a fine job of crushing the romance stigma.
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