Top of Her Game by M. Ullrich

I am a sports fan. Love all sport in general, but if you really want to make my heart sing, women’s soccer. When I was a kid I looked up to the superstars of the game,  Michelle Akers, Mia Hamm. They were just awesome! As a grown-up, I have followed the careers of the USWNT, Press, Rapinoe, Morgan and the international wonders, like Marta and Amandine Henry. Love the game, and I love the badass ladies that own the pitch. I have become timid when I pick-up a sports-based romance. Mainly for the reason, sometimes the sport can be written so heavy-handedly you spend more time with gameday analysis than the love connection. I don’t like that at all. THIS IS NOT THE CASE! No, M. Ullrich gives us the best of both worlds with Top of Her Game. So good, so fun, and sexy as hell.

Kenzie Shaw is a rookie striker out of Penn State. She just entered the NWSL draft and was picked up by the New Jersey Hurricanes. This happens to be the team that her soccer idol, national teamer, Sutton Flores. You would think this book would go young player falls for an experienced older teammate… Kind of, but M. Ullrich never follows any ordinary trope. Nope! She shakes things up and gives power to both leading ladies. Kenzie holds her own on and off the field. Sutton experienced but cannot help but melt with Shaw looks her direction.  Their dynamic is fun and it’s passionate, did I say sexy, because it was HOT!

The chemistry and romance were done very well. I believed it, I felt it and I was invested until the last page. I thought Ullrich did a fabulous job when it can to the soccer aspect of the game. Without a doubt, she is a student of the game. It made me smile and brought joy into my heart reading this one. As a soccer junkie and a lover of romance, this book spoke to me. Even if you don’t need sports in your life like I do, this is a really, really good book. The romance is more than enough to keep you satisfied.

Side note, (insert Tiff’s soapbox here). We can all love the USWNT and those amazing World Cup games but if you love those ladies and you love what they are fighting for, turn on an NWSL game. Pick a team, pick a player, whatever floats your boat, but turn it on. Those ladies need you watching on the professional stage as much as the international one. Most games you can watch on an app that cost you zero dollars. Let me know what team you pick!

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The Princess Deception by Nell Stark

Nell Stark is back with another book in her Princess series. Deception is the name of the game here. Based on William Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, we have a princess pretending to be her brother and a journalist trying to uncover the sordid tale.

Viola is the Princess of Belguim. An accomplished artist who prefers to stay out of the family’s limelight. Unfortunately for Viola, her twin brother Sebastian overdoses on heroin right before Belguim begins its rally to win the bid on the next FIFA men’s World Cup. As in the Twelfth Night, Viola takes on pretending to be Sebastian to fool everyone into believing everything is on the up and up. She doesn’t want to let her family or her country down.

Missy Duke was the face of USA women’s soccer. Her career was ended before she was ready with a catastrophic knee injury. Duk” doesn’t know what to do with herself, emotionally she is a mess and now she has settled for a job she really doesn’t want because she has no idea what to do not being on the pitch. Taken a job as a gift from a brother of a teammate, Duke sets off to cover Belguim’s bid for the cup.

Unlike in the Twelfth Night, Viola doesn’t totally sell her alternate identity as her twin. Duke picks up on it pretty quick by seeing little tells Viola has. Tucking her hear behind her ears, little things here and there. So a good portion of the story is the newbie journalist trying to figure out the why and see if it’s newsworthy. Of course, she is attracted to Viola so this makes her problem even larger.

Overall the book is q good read, Nell Stark always delivers a quality product. My only hangup is that I wish our two mains spent more time together. The reuse of pretending to be Sebastian takes up so much of the storyline that you don’t get enough Duke and Viola time. The relationship/romance portion of the book is smaller than I would have liked. Still a great read!

3 out of 5 stars

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Rocks and Stars by Sam Ledel

Kyle Lindsay is heading off to college in central Texas to begin her first days of college as a D-1 soccer player. Kyle has been out to her bestie for a bit now but as she heads to college she wants to experience dating and as well as thriving in the classroom and on the pitch.

Kyle meets two ladies that have a major impact in her first year in school. One is another freshman, Joey Carver, a goalkeeper that lives on the same floor. Joey is fun, easy going and immediately befriends Kyle. There is some heat there too. These two fit together easily, one big problem though, Kyle doesn’t know what she is ready for it and a relationship with Joey would be big.

The other character that has a big influence on our leading lady is Jax. Jax is a junior on the team and an enigma to many. No one knows much about her family or her past, she doesn’t talk too much but she makes enough overtures to Kyle to let her know she has eyes for the newbie. Kyle has an overcoming sexual attraction to Jax even though she knows virtually nothing about her off the field.

Is this a romance, I have to lean towards no. There are romantic elements but this is more a coming of age story of Kyle finding her footing while navigating school as a college athlete. She struggles with sex, love, family, alcohol, grades, and athletics. I think Sam Ledel told a great story. I adored Kyle even though a few times I wanted to shake her and say enough girlfriend. I wish the ending was a bit longer, but that’s the romance addict in me. I look forward to Ledel’s next book.

3.25 stars out of 5

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Game Time (Girls of Summer #2) by Kate Christie

Okay, so did you read Training Ground yet? If not, stop here, go read it already. You do not want to read this one without the back story.

Game Time doesn’t pick off where we left Jamie and Emma. No, we fast forward ten years to 2013 and find them on opposites sides of Earth. Jamie is playing for the women’s division or Arsenal Ladies Football Club in London. Like many Americans, Jamie has chosen to cross the pond for a chance to keep playing the game she lives for.

Emma has achieved the pinnacle of success, she is a starter for the national team, multiple Olympic medals, and endorsement deals with major sponsors. Emma lives her life in the public eye, easily recognizable. Jamie, on the other hand, is still striving for her chance to be called up to play for her country. While Emma has achieved most of her professional life’s goals, she has started to see, that her life also has a major void. She wants what so many of her peers has found, that special person. She knows what true love feels like, she just hasn’t found it with anyone else.

Fate and bad luck have literally kept them apart all this time. Just when Jamie has had her chance to play on the national level disaster strikes. First a torn ACL, the second a broken ankle, and with every injury, she must go back, recoup and begin her quest again. With dogged determination, she never gives up, and she keeps striving for her lifetime goal. Jamie has the heart of a lion, and you just can’t help but root for her success. Finally, she gets the call. Jamie has been picked for a two-week residency camp in an off-year as the national team begins to find who the 21 players will be that represent the USWNT in 2015 in the pursuit to win the World Cup. Guess who else will be at camp, yup, Emma Blakely. These former best friends will spend 14 days in close proximity, and it’s time to move forward.

While Training Ground was painful to some extent, Game Time starts the rebuilding. Accepting that life, missteps, and personal mistakes all took a toll on their relationship, Emma and Jamie can find a way to be what they were first, friends. The foundation is there and with work and communication, these two find their way back to each other. Oh, guess what’s still there, yup chemistry, sizzle!

What I loved about this book is there isn’t any contrived drama. These two ladies have a lot on their plate as it is. The stressors of being a professional athlete, staying on top of your game, making one of the most select teams in the world are enough right. You will be 100% invested in the journey of these two leading ladies. My heart just about burst when they find their way back to each other, and have their chance at true love. Now I just need the third book ASAP.

4.25 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Second Growth Books

Game Time: Book Two of Girls of Summer
by Kate Christie
Link: http://a.co/2tIzRH0

Game Time: Book Two of Girls of Summer by [Christie, Kate]

Training Ground (Girls of Summer #1) by Kate Christie

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

Soccer is a passion of mine. I have played most of my life, starting when I was just in the 1st grade. Combine that love with a Kate Christie book. Okay yeah, you have me interested. Even if soccer isn’t your passion ,you should give this book a chance for one reason, the author.

Jamie Maxwell is a young high school aged soccer player. She has that single-minded focus of an elite athlete. Soccer, she lives for it, she will sacrifice everything else for the game. How many teenagers are that focused, not many? Combine that with a natural athletic prowess and you have that special combo that just might take you to the top of the game.

Emma Blakeley is exactly like Jamie in the sense that the game defines her. Emma is finishing up her senior year and has already committed to the storied women’s soccer program UNC. Emma sees a kinship in Jamie, where the sport they love supersedes everything else. What she also sees, when they randomly bump into each post-tournament is that Jamie radiates sadness. They bond almost instantly seeing a kinship of a fellow athlete but also drawing strength from one another. This instant connection will define the rest their year.

In the beginning, they are strictly friends, sharing their love of the beautiful game, waking up before the sun is up to catch a Premier League match, sharing stories of their day on the pitch. Soccer is the catalyst for more. They become to depend on each other. They become each other’s anchors as they deal with some pretty heavy stuff.

This story is jam-packed with drama. You have multiple life defining moments and the reactions and emotions of two young women. My heart ached for both Jamie and Emma, at times individually and simultaneously. To say these two are put through the gamut is an understatement. 2003-2004 will be a time that will forever define the course of these two lives.

Pretty heavy right! If this book was a stand alone, I would be wary to recommend this one. Not because of any flaw in the writing, because it is really good, but it also kind of hurts. While I read romance novels for so many reasons, let’s all face the cold hard truth, we want that happy ending. Good news is this is not a stand alone, but one of three books following the lives of soccer’s toughest duo. Training Ground is the backstory, vital to understanding how it all began. So you have to read it, and you’ll want to, but buy the second part with the first, and go right into it.

3.75 stars out of 5

  • Publisher: Second Growth Books

Training Ground: Book One of Girls of Summer
by Kate Christie
Link: http://a.co/31dHycU

Training Ground by Kate Christie