Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Winner Takes All (A Champion Valley Novel) By: Erin Kern

First off I want to send a huge thank you to the team over at Forever Romance. For not only sending me the ARC for this one, but for all the work they put in to getting posts for us bloggers made up and sent.
They work so incredibly hard and I can't you enough guys *Kisses and Hugs

Money. Fame. Endorsements. Blake Carpenter had it all—before his professional football career spiraled out of control. Determined to rebuild his life, he takes on coaching the high school team in his Colorado hometown. Despite a few fumbles, Blake knows he can lead these boys to victory. As long as he can keep his eyes on the prize and off the team's distractingly gorgeous physical therapist.

Annabelle Turner knows all about the scandal that cost Blake his NFL career, and she'll be damned if she's going to let his mistakes hurt her team. What she doesn't count on is the intense attraction that turns every heated run-in they have into a wildly erotic competition. Point by point, play by play, kiss by kiss, they try to keep things professional for the good of the team. But when the score is this close—and the passion this fierce—it's anybody's game . . .

I was quite surprised by this book.

I'm always up for a good sports romance. so when the awesome team at Forever reached out to review an early copy if the book, I jumped on it.

But this one was really nothing like I expected. Blake and Annabelle were two characters that both had extremely strong personalities, and where I thought things would burn Bright and hot and then explode just as quick, they sort of took the more slow burn path.

Don't get me wrong. The chemistry between the two was hot for sure, and I loved the bit of tension that would play between them.
But for once a book just kind of let things simmer. and I found that to be a great change.

Plus it was extremely fun seeing a book about a coach. I read so many football player books rather than coaches, that this book made for a fun change for me.
Plus Blake's back story while a bit sad, I think played the perfect part in this book. it made him stronger in a way while also leaving him open to vulnerabilities (if that makes sense to be both)
He was exactly the driving force the high school football team needed, but also by returning to his roots, it allowed him to battle his own demons and see how these kids and Annabelle could heal and make him better.

I also loved Blake's alpha side. It wasn't that let me chain you to the bed type, but more just the I get my way and not many people care to argue with me type. And in all honesty I found it pretty endearing.
This gruff broody character actually kinda had this fun enduring side once he finally pulled his head out of you know where and realized he didn't have to choose between football and love.
There were a couple times I wanted to smack him upside the head when he would make a dumb choice hehe. But in all Blake really was one of those characters that grew so much as the story progressed.
I really liked him, and found myself not only cheering for his redeeming success but also for the kids on the team he coached.

The biggest shock I think  for me in this book was Annabelle Though.

And I'm pretty sure it's because I saw a fictionalized version of myself. Someone who really had given up a lot to be the ones to take care of a loved one. to pretty much give up your own happiness and free time to take care of those that can't and slowly loose your passions and things to it.
But also Annabelle's need for structure and control. and it reminded me so much of everything going on in my life right now. and I just bonded to the character.

I'm sure many of you know if you follow my reviews, that I very rarely take kindly to female characters. Most of the time they annoy me or aggravate me being whiny and naive. So for me to find this character that I bonded with so much is a huge thing for me as a reader. And then to find so many similarities between us on top of it.It was sort of refreshing and scary at the same time. Because it put some things in perspective I try to ignore or pretend I'm not doing.
I know what it's like to care for an ailing mother. To drop your dreams and things that you would rather be doing to take care of her. To have a sibling that has other things going on leaving you to pretty much take the brunt of the work. To stay close to home because you have an obligation to family.
It's hard to realize that you give up a bit of yourself sometimes to be the person others need. And seeing all that Annabelle deals with allowed me to see that.
And having structure and control of everything else  in my life lets me keep going. It keeps me sane, and lets me feel like not everything is out of my control. And I feel like Annabelle kinda experienced something similar.
Like I said. This character kinda bonded with me unexpectedly.

But also something I want to add about Annabelle is how similar to Blake she is.

She's also this alpha type, and I really liked seeing the two butt heads and go at it. Neither would back down, and neither gave up. and it made it a fun story. 

And to be serious here, almost every character in this book was fun and lovable. Even the crazy sex hungry older ladies hehe.
But it was Blake's cousin Brandon, his best friend Cam, Annabelle's friend Stella and so many others that rounded this book out well.

They allowed for this great comic relief at times,and gave you glimpses into the two's lives that they were more reluctant to share.

I can't wait to see what Erin has planned for us next with Brandon and Stella.

I without a doubt give WINNER TAKES ALL
*****5 STARS *****

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