Fabulous, New Adult, sports romance
Reading Level: Young Adult
Release Date: April 10, 2020
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
College freshman, Jordan Slattery, is far from her small hometown in Connecticut for the very first time and living her dream. She has specifically chosen the quaint California college she is attending because it is located in a beachside town which is a haven for pro and wannabe-pro skateboarders, with its abundance of amazing skateparks.
Jordan is an extraordinary skateboarder who has skated since early childhood for her own personal joy. She has never considered competing against anyone but herself and her own lofty standards, because she assumes that the harsh realities of competitions will inevitably destroy her love of the sport for its own sake.
Jordan avoided dating in high school after an awful experience with a ghastly first kiss four years ago. After that, she limited her social life to her two best friends back home. As an extreme introvert, she has never felt lonely while spending the vast amount of her time outside of school with only her trusty skateboard for company. But suddenly at college, all that fulfilling freedom and independence fly out the window. Her bubbly roommate and her roommate’s two longtime best friends, who live down the hall in the same dorm, enthusiastically embrace Jordan into the warmly affectionate folds of their close circle of camaraderie.
As if the surprisingly pleasant novelty of wildly extroverted girlfriends isn’t overwhelming enough, yet another shocking social anomaly arrives out of the blue at the crack of dawn soon after her arrival at college. While checking out a famous skatepark located a few miles from her dorm, Jordan successfully performs a 540, a pro-level aerial trick where both the skater and her board spin one and a half rotations in midair. Unfortunately, shortly after completing this colossal feat, she takes a major tumble during a lesser effort and is shocked to discover herself being fussed over by none other than Beckett Steele, a skateboarding world champion. Jordan wonders for a moment if the blow she took to the head has caused her to hallucinate, because Beck is her idol. She admires him more than any skateboarder in the world, and she’s had a crush on him for years.
In spite of the minor concussion Jordan learns she is suffering from—after Beck rushes her to an urgent care facility—it is instantly apparent to her that there is a mutual, explosive attraction between herself and Beck. But when she admits when he asks her age that she is not quite 18, compared to his much more mature age of 25, she is hurt when he immediately backs off.
Beck feels like a pervert for longing to date a girl so much younger than himself and is determined to shore up his weak resistance to her allure by staying far away from her. But unfortunately for his sacrificial attempt to protect Jordan from himself, it’s a small world in town for skaters of her caliber. Within only a few days, his entire closest circle of friends as well as his 15-year-old sister, all of whom are fellow skateboarders, strike up an acquaintance with Jordan, whose phenomenal talent they greatly admire. These mutual connections make it impossible for Beck to avoid Jordan and excruciatingly difficult to continue to resist the overwhelming desire he has to be with her.
This is the first book in what is projected to be a series of four books about this delightful romantic pairing of two fabulously talented athletes. I love young-adult and new-adult romance novels in which the heroine is a brilliant athlete and, even better, when the heroine and hero are champions at the same sport. Ali Dean excels at including both of these fan favorites in her sports romances, and that is definitely the case in this terrific novel.
Before reading this book, my only personal experience of skateboarding was a terrifyingly out-of-control plummet down a steep hill at the age of 15 on a neighbor boy’s skateboard, which very nearly ended in disaster and left me with a permanent fear of ever going near a skateboard again. However, Ali Dean is so talented at writing exciting action scenes involving female sports prodigies, and she does such an outstanding job portraying Jordan’s brilliance at skateboarding, that I had a ball vicariously experiencing her thrill-a-minute, solo skating, as well as her wild, tandem rides with Beck.
This book is written from the dual point of view of both Jordan and Beck, and I myself very much prefer this approach in a romance novel. It allows the reader to intimately know and understand the hero, and Beck is absolutely a hero worth getting to know.
Jordan is a very inexperienced virgin, but this book, thankfully, does not involve the overused romance trope of the “manwhore and the virgin.” Beck is not at all promiscuous or disrespectful of women. I adored that about him. Though there is no sexual activity between the two of them beyond one very hot, brief, make-out session in this, the first book in a slow-burn series, I would label this novel more PG-13 than G-rated. The kissing gets quite intense, and there is some blue language and underage drinking in the story as well. However, all of these things are quite mild compared to the X-rated content of the average college romance.
There are many delightful subcharacters in this book, but the female characters are truly noteworthy. The 15-year-old skater girls who become Jordan’s friends are particularly lovable, and every scene they are in is a real treat.
I blasted through this book within hours, so enthralled with Jordan and Beck that I could not stand to put it down. I am avidly anticipating the upcoming books in this exciting series, and I highly recommend this first book.
Note: I received a free copy of this book via Booksprout and am voluntarily leaving a review.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Skating Plot: 5