Saturday, 22 June 2019

#CBR11 Book 29: "Whatever Life Throws at You" by Julie Cross

Page count: 320 pages
Rating: 4 stars

From Goodreads:
Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas's life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she's living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals' super-hot rookie pitcher.

But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.

But baseball isn't just a game. It's life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…

Another long time TBR book that I finally got round to reading, and it turned out to be a lot cuter than I was expecting. Annie's father never really got a chance at a proper baseball career, because he lost his leg, but now he has a chance at a really great job as a pitching coach, but it means taking his daughter and elderly mother in law (Annie's mum is not good people or interested in taking care of her teenage daughter or ailing elderly mother) and moving across the country. Annie is nervous, but all for it, as long as he doesn't tell her Mum where they're actually going.

Of course, settling in a new place is never going to be easy. Annie's dad is a provisional hire, and a lot of the more established players are reluctant to be coached by him. The team's owner would love nothing more than to send him packing, so neither he nor Annie can make any mistakes that would jeopardise the position. Which means Annie's crush on two year older, new star recruit Jason Brody is doomed to go nowhere. Not that Jason seems interested in treating her like anything but a younger sister anyway. He seems much more interested in high profile dates with beautiful models and actresses everywhere the team travel to play games.

This would be a pretty short and boring book if it was just about a high schooler mooning over a slightly older, handsome bad boy. Of course Jason is crazy about Annie, and the dates are just to boost his publicity and make him attractive to a certain demographic of baseball fan. He also deeply respects Annie's father, however, and since Jason really hasn't had a stable father figure in his own life, he's not going to mess up and lose the respect of the surrogate he's found by making the moves on that man's teenage daughter, no matter how much chemistry they have together.

So there's an element of the forbidden romance here, but I thought Julie Cross managed to spin the story out really well. There's definitely a slow burn element to the romance, although it gets pretty hot once Annie and Jason decide to actually give in to their feelings for one another. What makes the book so good, though, are the other relationships Annie has in her life. Her closeness with her father, who despite his disability has pretty much raised her single-handedly after her mother flaked on them time and time again. Her love for her dementia-suffering grandmother. Her friendship with Lenny London, who as the daughter of a major league baseball player on the surface has a lot more in her life than Annie, but would kill to have her parents care even a little bit about anything but her father's career and their media profiles. I liked that Annie has a life very much outside of any potential relationship, and we get a proper understanding of the people she and Jason could be letting down by giving into their feelings and starting to secretly date.

It's always nice when you discover when a book you bought for very little in an e-book sale and then forgot about surprises you and turns out to be a lot more enjoyable than you were expecting. I didn't have particularly high expectations for the book, based on the pretty generic cover and the plot description, but am absolutely going to check out more Julie Cross books in future, because if this is an accurate representation of her writing, then there are a lot of fun reading experiences in my future.

Judging a book by its cover: Yeah, this cover and it's fake kissing isn't really doing it for me. To be fair, I've mentioned before that I really don't like couples actually full on kissing on my romance covers, but if they are doing it, they might as well look like they're actually enjoying themselves, rather than being forced to smooch on a dare. Seriously, this doesn't look passionate or affectionate, it just looks forced and awkward.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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