I wish I could give this book more, because it’s clear that the author put a lot of effort in it. I’m saying this because the dynamics are complex, we have well-developed side characters and the story isn’t cliché. But… it just didn’t do it for me.
But first I’ll list some things I liked:
1- Olivia’s background. It starts as a mystery and it stays one for a long while. I liked how we got to unveil it piece by piece.
2- The running world. It’s refreshing after all these books about football and baseball. Plus, it’s the h, not the H, the real star in the sport.
3- Brendan: he’s one funny character and I smiled every time I came across his name.
4- The climbing: same as for the running, it was something new and exciting. We don’t get much of it, though.
5- The fact that Will is Olivia’s coach. I’m not into forbidden romances usually. They have to be magistrally crafted and have something unique, because otherwise I find their drama too tiring, but I was really thrilled about the idea of a young coach and a star athlete. Too bad it didn’t go beyond the initial thrill.
Things I didn’t like:
1- Olivia. Now, it’s not that I hated her 100%. Sometimes, her bitchiness was fun in its caustic way, but she’s just so not relatable. Olivia is this highly temperamental girl with a bone to pick against the world. I disliked how childish she could be toward Will. She’s competitive and I appreciated that, but it was exhausting knowing that every time someone taunted her about anything, even the smallest things, she would flip out.
2- Will (when he’s an asshole, which is most of the time). I get it, he’s trying to save his farm, support his family, yada, yada. But he pushes Olivia away too many times and most of them, he doesn’t do it gracefully, but hurting her. Not intentionally, mind you, but it made for lots of drama.
3- The balance. They get together at like 4/5 of the books. Prior to that, they’re either arguing, pretending the other does not exist, hurting each other and only occasionally being sweet to the other. I could definitely feel the attraction there, but I would have never paired them together because the only thing I felt going for them was lust. But then they get together and I thought: it’s late, but it could still save everything. And… no. Other issues piled up and I especially hated how Olivia’s demons once again caused her to stop communicating with Will. And do we really want to discuss how cheated on I felt when after hundreds of pages of having my feelings thrown one way and the other, their happy times are fast-forwarded and only mentioned in passing? And don’t even get me started on the epilogue: it was short, really short, and not only that, it also didn’t make me feel good about their relationship at all.
All in all, it reminded me a bit of “With every heartbeat”, by Linda Kage, with the difference that Kage is a genius with the power to create amazing, unforgettable characters. What they had in common is that the H is with another woman most of the book and that for that reason, but not only that, he pushes the h away.
Now, I know this review is mostly bitter, but I’m sure that people who appreciate angsty dynamics, forbidden loves and assholes more than I do will love it. Personally, it got me too enraged with the characters and not satisfied enough with how things turned out for it to be enjoyable.