Series: Champion Valley #2
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Publication Date: October 31, 2017 by Forever
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Source: Publicist via Mail
Stella Davenport wasn't made for small-town life. Sure, teaching ballet in Blanco Valley, Colorado, is great, but she longs for the chance to perform in a big city. Stella swore she'd never let anything get in the way of her dream-until sexy, broad-shouldered Brandon West walks back into her life. Stella is determined to resist him, even if arguing with Brandon is sexier than any foreplay.
For Brandon, it's always been just him and his son, Matt. Knowing that love only leads to heartbreak, he isn't looking to expand his family any time soon. Stella, with her long, gorgeous legs and infectious laugh, is a breath of fresh air he didn't even know he'd been missing. But when she's offered her dream job in Chicago, will he be willing to put his heart on the line?
I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Back in the Game is the second book in the Champion Valley series, but can be read as a standalone. There are a few things brought up at the beginning that felt like they were part of the first book, but the characters talked about it enough to understand what happened.
This book follows Stella and Brandon, two individuals who care about each other, but try to stay away because they’ve been hurt in the past. Stella was a professional ballerina in Chicago, but an injury ended her career and she moved back home to take care of her grandmother, and ended up staying and opening her own dance studio. Even though she loves teaching ballet at her studio, her dream is to move back to Chicago and choreograph professionally.
Brandon has been hurt in the past, his high school girlfriend got pregnant so they married and had their son. A few years after their Matt was born, his wife left him and ran away to the circus. Ever since she left Brandon has been guarded with his heart, not wanting to be hurt like that again.
The book opens with Brandon’s son Matt, a high school senior looking to play college football, approaching Stella for dance lessons to help with balance and flexibility. Stella has always been on Brandon’s radar, since their disastrous first date (that took place in the first book), but now that his son is taking classes at her studio, is getting harder for him to stay away.
Both of the main characters are dealing with issues in their personal lives that affect them trying to get together. Stella has intimacy issues because of a previous boyfriend and an issue with her mother’s ex boyfriend, and Brandon with his ex-wife leaving. He’s also constantly worried about his son making the same choices he made, there’s some disagreement there. The tension between the two characters and when they would eventually get together was the main plot of the novel.
My favorite part of the book is Brandon and Matt’s relationship. Brandon cares so much about his son, and wants what was best for him. They had a very realistic relationship, you could tell how much they cared for each other, but there were definitely some issues they had, and didn’t always agree on. Brandon wanted to protect Matt, instead of letting him go a little and letting him make his own mistakes.
There were a few instances of slut shaming that I really didn’t like, and it’s because Stella is jealous of a girl Brandon is talking to. I hate when girls hate other girls and call them names just because they are interested in the same guy. There were only a few instances here which didn’t make me give up on the book, but it definitely affected how I felt about the rest of the book. I was worried more problematic stuff like this was going to come up.
This isn’t technically a sports romance, but there are some sports aspects in the story. Brandon’s son plays football, and there are many scenes set at his practices or games.
I enjoyed the book, but towards the middle and end I felt the it started dragging on, there wasn’t much happening for multiple chapters. Overall I enjoy the authors writing, it’s well written and fun. It was a quick read, and definitely something that I think would get me out of a reading slump. I think that readers of romance books will like this one.