Review: Running Back

running backReviewed by Carrie

I’m a girl who loves sports, so when watching football the other Sunday, I got the urge to read a good sports romance and this one came up for review and sounded promising.  Football – check. Smart heroine – check.  Set in Ireland – SOLD.

Archeologist Natalie Sullivan is finally about to achieve her dream, to uncover a lost city under layers of dirt on a farm in Ireland.  Just as she’s gotten the contracts signed, crews assembled and secured grant money for the dig, the landowner unexpectedly dies.  Determined not to let her dream slip through her fingers, she goes after the new owner, Michael O’Connor, who just so happens to be the running back for her favorite NFL team.  Remembering his charming persona from television interviews, Natalie is taken aback when not only does Michael not agree to the dig, but is cold and rude to boot.  Faced with spending the summer with her estranged parents, Natalie decides to go to Ireland anyway to do local research.

Michael O’Connor is in Ireland with his mother and two sisters to attend his uncle’s “month’s mind”- a mass and meal held a month after a person’s passing.  Mike has always held his family at arm’s length and it was only at his sister’s behest that he was even in Ireland.  Why should he care about an aunt and uncle who didn’t even come to his father’s funeral ten years prior?  Compounding his disgruntled mood was walking out of his room at the inn and right into Natalie Sullivan.  As his sisters and mother fold Natalie into their group, Mike drops the pissy attitude and starts to like the smart easy going woman.

Mike and Natalie’s relationship is very natural as it slowly unfolds through conversations.  It’s always refreshing to read a couple who genuinely likes, and respects, the other as an individual. Natalie shares her dreams about the dig while not pushing or trying to manipulate Mike into agreement.  Mike has her tag along as he discovers the life, and people, his father had kept silent about.  They both have emotional hang-ups because of their respective upbringings – Natalie more so – but they aren’t overly convoluted.  The steam factor is low because most of the scenes are fade to black but I don’t think that detracts much from the romance.

Parr’s prose was pictorial in her descriptions of the natural beauty of the land.  She captured some of the things I, personally, love best about Ireland.  The history nerd in me also enjoyed the information presented about the Iron Age and the island possible connection to ancient Rome.  I definitely felt like I took a mini-trip while reading.

Even though there wasn’t much of football to the story line, I really enjoyed this book for its smart and understated romance between two people who come together first with their minds and then their hearts.

Grade: A-/B+

*ARC courtesy of Carina Press via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon

Running Back
by Allison Parr
Release Date: October 21, 2013
Publisher: Carina Press

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