by C.R. Grissom
Release Date: March 9, 2020
Publisher: Tule Publishing
Number of pages: 258
Source: ARC from publisher
Contemporary Romance/New Adult M/F
Read 3/5/20 to 3/6/20
Between a judgmental beauty advice columnist mom who sends clothes several sizes too small, and social media sex-shaming her senior year of high school, Faith Lacerna needs a self-confidence boost. Being a freshman at Fortis University in Silicon Valley will be fine, as long as she doesn’t attract attention. Except wearing oversized hoodies in sunny California isn’t the best choice for blending in.
When football jock Caleb St. John shows interest, she recommits to studying anything but the hot tight end. Caleb wants to lose himself in football, avoid his unfaithful ex-girlfriend, and – unlike his cheating dad – live his life with integrity. He knows there’s more to Faith than baggy clothes. Her humor and audacity spark more than Caleb’s competitive nature.
Faith doesn’t want to be interested, but Caleb’s kindness and sense of adventure has her hooked. She soon realizes she needs to confront her hurts and fears if she wants to embrace a relationship with Caleb and not let the past intercept her future.
Not only is this a new-to-me author, she’s a new-to-everyone author. As far as I can tell, this is her debut published novel. She makes a pretty good showing for a first timer.
The individual stories of both Faith and Caleb hook me from the start. I feel for them both so deeply, their plights actually made my stomach hurt. They’re both so strong, stronger than they realize, and they pick themselves up and keep on keeping on.
There were a lot of great characters in this book, from Caleb’s football buddies to Faith’s besties. Although I’m sure it didn’t always feel like it to the characters, these two really had such a great support system. Faith’s was smaller, by far, than Caleb’s at first…but hers was also more fierce. (I’m seriously wishing and hoping for a story about Everest.)
Caleb is so wonderful with everyone, but especially Faith. He’s just an all around great guy. The way he pursues Faith is sweet and respectful and it made me love him all the more. These two have chemistry, and Caleb was not about to let that get away. Of course, Faith felt that chemistry just as much. She’s just less open to letting it go anywhere.
I could sometimes feel Caleb’s frustration with Faith, yet he always took the high road and was very understanding. I can’t say I always thought Faith was quite as understanding of Caleb’s issues. She makes some harebrained decisions along the way. And, while she often goes with her gut, she ignored what she knew was right and it got them all in a bit of trouble along the way.
There were times I felt this story had a few too many characters that weren’t exactly needed. I kept waiting for something to happen with a couple of them, for them to either stab the couple in the back or come out as heroes for them. But when none of that happened it kind of made me question their reason for being. There were also a few times the flow got a bit choppy. I feel this is a natural thing with a new author. It was seriously not a bit deal and didn’t take me out of the story. I just felt the rhythm to be a bit less smooth than a seasoned author.
All in all I’m looking forward to reading more by this author. I think her debut book is amazing and she has a ton of potential. Great storyline, great characters, great chemistry. What more can I ask for?
**I received an ARC of this book courtesy of the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely**
Edit to add: This story is now considered book #1 in the Gladiators of the Gridiron series. It is not longer a standalone, although it can be read as a standalone as there are no cliff hangers and it wraps up with an HEA.