Reading Level: Adult Romance
Release Date: September 20, 2018
Pages: 182 pages
Reviewed By: Kate McMurry
Compelling, dramatic, New Adult, sports romance
Twenty-one-year-old college student, Lydia (“Kick”) Spark, is a talented swimmer who is on the college swim team with her sororal (fraternal) twin sister, Shay. However, where Shay has Olympic aspirations, Kick does not. Swimming is not a passion for her but, rather, a way to stay emotionally and physically grounded.
When Kick first meets twenty-four-year-old, gorgeous, rising rock star, Jack Kingston, an irresistibly powerful attraction flares between them, but the timing is all wrong for Kick. Jack has moved on from the period in his life when he found promiscuity entertaining and ego-boosting, but Kick is currently completely mired in that phase. For some time now she has been utilizing her beauty and sexual charisma to lure susceptible young men into one-night stands while giving those activities a gloss of acceptability in her own mind by pretending to be in love with each young man for the brief duration of their tryst. Nothing has ever blocked her in her erotic pursuits until the night she selects Jack as her target for temporary pleasure. Incomprehensibly to Kick, Jack refuses to play along. He doesn’t want to use her, and he doesn’t want to be used. He wants to date her, get to know her, and potentially have an actual relationship.
This story offers an intriguing reversal of the cliche, New Adult (NA) romance trope of the promiscuous, Big Man on Campus paired with a sexually staid heroine. Kick has a strong growth arc across this novel. When she and Jack connect again some months after their initial encounter, that growth allows her to approach Jack from a very different, much healthier perspective than she held during their initial meeting.
Jack himself is a wonderful hero. He has great depth of character, exhibiting intelligence, drive, loyalty and compassion in addition to the good looks and great body that all romance heroes have.
There are multiple interlocking storylines in this novel, all of them well written and emotionally engaging. Besides Kick’s relationship with Jack, there is her relationship with her sister, her relationship with her closest female friends, her relationship to her swimming, and her relationship to herself as she overcomes her emotionally-addictive approach to alcohol and sex. It is important, and impressive, that the author doesn’t take the all-too-common, romance-novel approach of presenting “true love” as a magical solution for serious emotional problems of romantic protagonists. Kick has multiple sources of support besides the compassionate hero in her multi-faceted journey of personal growth.
As a NA novel, there is mature subject matter, but the few sex scenes are not graphic. There is no coarse language. There is quite a bit of heavy drinking, though the drinkers are all of age. I consider this book more PG-13 than R.
I rate this book as follows:
Romance Plot: 5
Competitive Swimming Plot: 5
Personal Growth Plot: 5