I wouldn’t call myself a fan of sports-themed romance, but boy did I enjoy this story about a backup quarterback and the girl he’s known since he was in diapers.
Carri’s mom met Josh’s mom in a prenatal class, and they became best friends. Carri and Josh grew up together, first as indifferent toddlers, then forced playmates, always with their moms in the background hoping for a marriage. Can you imagine? That led to rebellious loathing and antagonism throughout high school. Carri moved out of state as soon as she could to escape her mother’s overbearing presence.
Josh has been the backup quarterback for the Santa Fe Bobcats for a few years, and he’s fine with it. He gets to live near his mom, he enjoys the team, and he doesn’t have a lot of job stress. Except, when the book opens, he learns that the regular quarterback has an ankle injury. Josh has to prepare to lead the team in the preseason, and possibly regular season. This means media attention, more fans, and interviews.
Carri is a house flipper in Utah, but her mother calls her home when her father is in the hospital. It turns out that Carri’s father has dementia and can’t be left alone. Her mother still has to work, so Carri fills in until they can find a full-time nurse.
When Carri and Josh meet up again, that same old, “ugh, it’s you” feeling crops up. But deep down, they’re friends, and they can tease each other like no one else. When Josh realizes that he needs someone to stomp on his ego, he calls on Carri. She needs a break from caregiving, and if she’s out with Josh, the moms will encourage it.
Josh is pretty mellow for an athlete (meaning he’s no alpha), but he does get things done. He forces Carri to admit that she doesn’t hate him. Then he says he wants her body, because it’s smokin’, and Carri doesn’t find him repellant, so they get it on.
This was an interesting relationship dynamic, kind of a frenemies-to-lovers trope. And it carefully asks the question, “What would you do if you suddenly liked the guy your mom has always wanted you to like?” Any woman who’s ever disagreed with her mother can see how traumatic this could be. Carri totally fights it — “I hate this whole life being decided for you crap. It’s the moms and their destiny talk all over again. Matchmaking from the cradle. How pathetic is this that I even care?”
Meanwhile, Josh is supportive, but also open about his need for Carri: “You could sit in the skybox and call me… Kick me back down when I’m getting too greedy, pull me back up when someone’s making me feel like shit.” Her response? “Nobody gets to make you feel like shit except me.”
I really enjoyed watching their relationship evolve. Their main conflict is fighting destiny, and the author manages to make it heartbreaking. Plus, these characters were just fun to be around.
*ARC provided by publisher
Click to purchase: Amazon
Completing the Pass
by Jeanette Murray
Release Date: May 17, 2016