I knew I loved this book from its very first sentence. There’s something truly tremendous about the way Kristen Callihan always manages to grab my attention straight away, and then keeps me utterly consumed by her every word until there are no more of them to devour, so it came as no surprise to me that I could not put this book down from the moment I opened it. Perhaps my favourite instalment in a series I’ve adored for so long now, this tender, funny, passionate, but scrumptiously slow burning romance between two best friends delivers, as always, Callihan’s trademark brand of wit and heat, outshone only by the consistent quality of her prose. With each new book in the series, she keeps crafting fresh, distinctive characters for us to fall in love with, each more charming and endearing than the last, but when she created Finn Mannus, she really outdid herself. An absolute must-read cover to cover.
I don’t want to get excited over men I can’t have. Famous football players definitely fall into that category. I just want an honest working Joe with a clever mind and a talented tongue. A cute smile wouldn’t hurt either.
When Chester “Chess” Copper was hired to do a nude calendar photo shoot for one of the city’s most worshipped professional sports teams, she never expected a bunch of naked football players to become the subjects of some of the most candid shots of her career, let alone for the cocky quarterback to shake her legendary composure. Everything about Finn Mannus’ appearance and overall smug attitude makes her want to dismiss him as nothing more than a jerk, but every time she locks eyes with him, she is overcome by a strange and unwelcome sense of familiarity that throws her off balance and leaves her wondering why her body would be reacting to the type of guy she’d never normally give a second glance.
In that instant, I know him. I know him. I feel like I’ve known him my whole existence, like I’ve been waiting for him to return from wherever he’s been.
Modelling for a ‘beefcake calendar’ is the last thing Finn “Manny” Mannus thought he’d find himself doing, but as the team’s leader and role-model to his many fans, the New Orleans’ starting quarterback has no other choice but to don his birthday suit and strike a pose. However, from the moment he disrobes for the prickly young photographer whose green eyes seem to see right through him, he feels bewitched by her.
“Chess is my friend. I don’t let people talk shit about my friends.”
“I see that. Just one question.”
“Your dick know you’re just friends?”
Another chance encounter later, and an unexpected friendship starts slowly forming between the burly football player and the woman whose very presence seems to turn off all the white noise in his head. They joke, they flirt, they set boundaries in their relationship, only to cross them and keep making new ones in their stead, but the more they get to know one another and the stronger their bond grows, the harder it becomes to keep pretending that a friendship is all there is or there ever will be between them.
“The one bright spot in all this, the one anchor I have, is you.”
And once they start sharing a roof over their heads, their self-control quickly becomes a thing of the past.
“Finn, what am I going to do with you?”
His smile is an easy glide, but his eyes hold mine a beat too long. “Keep me. I’m pretty sure I’m good for no one else.”
Kristen Callihan has given us another strong heroine to feel inspired by—a young woman whose straight-forward personality and strength of will stand in stark contrast to her hidden, softer side that at times feels so flawed and empty, she convinces herself she is not worth the effort. And then she has given us one of her most sensitive, protective, compassionate, doting heroes ever—a man whose every word, action, line of thinking makes us want to worship the ground he walks on. From the moment Finn’s heart recognises his true love in Chester, he knows there could never be another for him, and he is willing to wait for her to love him back for as long as it takes.
“One day, Chess, you’re going to feel safe enough to let go. And I’m going to be there to catch you when you fall.”
But when their respective pasts catch up to them and threaten to dismantle all they’ve built between them, they both must decide whether betting with their hearts is a risk they are willing to make, and keep making. A truly wonderful read through and through, and a brilliant addition to one of my favourite series ever.
“You’re my girl and I’m your guy. Fate knows it. I know it. Now get with the program.”