I cannot lie about this author. She has quickly become one of my top five favorite authors for many reasons, one of which is her intent in writing romance with a social conscience. The first book of hers I read was Long Shot. Oh my GOSH! I cried every other chapter, like sobbing crying. The star-crossed nature of August and Iris hurt my heart and my gut. Add in Iris’s abusive relationship, and I was gutted for the ENTIRE book until the end. I might have cried mini-tears of joy when Kennedy released a bonus epilogue later.
Then, I decided to read her Grip series. Let’s just say that I read all three books in the span of 48 hours. I could not put them down because Kennedy knows how to build characters and story in a way that connects to your primal feelings of love and hate. Once again, I found myself bawling. Reading Still pulled my heart out of my chest and rearranged it before it placed it back in. There is something about her books that alters your perception of relationships and people in a meaningful, not preachy way. I read an ARC of a #metoo novel, and I couldn’t get past the first couple of chapters because I felt chastised and the message was too heavy. Kennedy Ryan’s books take social topics and show us better ways to think about those topics through the confluence of character and story.
When she released Block Shot, I was ready and waiting to read it. Given my reading experience with Long Shot, I knew I’d love this one, especially since we peeked Jared in August’s story. Yes, Long Shot has the emotional depth consistent with Kennedy’s other stories. I don’t think Block Shot compared in emotional torment to Long Shot or the Grip series, but it definitely has all the feels of a Kennedy Ryan story.
“‘Banner is my opposite, but she’s my match.’ My equinox.” From my perspective, building characters is Kennedy Ryan’s greatest strength. She does not disappoint in this book. While seemingly a self-professed a$$hole, there is a sensitivity to Jared that humanizes him enough for Banner Morales. If he was like the characters of The Pride, he would not work with Banner. I commiserated with his self-assessment as I oftentimes think I don’t particularly like people. I have to work hard to like them at times. This made me feel for him more than I would a typical type – A male hero.
Now, Banner is clearly the queen of this book. Banner is also Ryan’s social message. Through her, the reader confronts ideas about size/weight and society’s perception of that, cultural differences, and the power of women in the workplace. Banner is one amazing woman in this story. She is worthy of hero-praise in a romance world rife with aggressive male heroes. My only criticism of Banner is her handling of Zo. For someone so strong, as evidenced in her workshop at the Denver conference, she lost her voice for a bit. She gave it up. While I know she isn’t perfect, there were times that I needed her to more explicitly voice the reality of her situation. Again, I understood her reasons, but I thought for someone so strong that she allowed too much manipulation from Zo and her mother.
Once again, Ryan gives us a story with a social dialogue basic to the story. As I stated previously, there is a social consciousness to Ryan’s stories. She wants you to be aware and thoughtful of the challenges of underrepresented communities. For Block Shot, it’s the plight of women, especially women of color like Banner. Banner must deal with living as a “double-digit woman in a single-digit world,” living as a Latina female in a sports management world dominated by generally white men, and living as a Latina in a traditional Hispanic family with assumptions of a certain level of character and integrity. The strife of the story lies in these challenges. To a certain degree, the story must also consider Jared’s challenges. Banner makes several assumptions about him as a white male that does not meet with Jared’s actual character. These prejudgements and stereotypes push the thinking of Ryan’s readers to look beyond our own assumptions about people. These are core to her story, even more than the romantic coupling of Jared and Banner. It is also what makes Ryan’s stories special.
Sexiness Quotient: 💙💙💙💙💙
This is off the charts. Oh my goodness! There is a sexual chemistry between Jared and Banner that almost breaks her desk. I think my favorite line to describe the heat between the two is “carte blanche kisses, free rein fondling, a no-holds-barred embrace with nothing off limits.” This best describes the freedom that Jared and Banner find in each other’s bodies. Nothing is off-the-table with these two. “I’ve said every word but love. To her and to myself. Fuck. Need. Want. Mine.” This is the basic nature of their relationship, and it ignites a fire in the readers.
Besides her character and story development, Kennedy Ryan is a wordsmith. OH my gosh is she a wordsmith. I spent more time highlighting her words in this book than any other book lately. There is something transcendent about an author’s ability to put words next to each other to evoke mental images and feelings. For me, this is the additional genius of her writing. It is what constantly pulls me back to her books because I can feel and see more distinctly in her books. “My body with the release of such passions, it steals my voice. My heart, which for one devastatingly gorgeous moment, stops, pauses in my chest in reverence. And my soul stills, quieted by the presence, the possession, of its mate.” Jaw drops, goosebumps appear, my heart trills at words like this. This is one of my favorite parts of her writing because she understands what it means to connect emotionally and cerebrally with her readers.
If you have never read a Kennedy Ryan book, then you need to start. She will quickly become a favorite author because her passion for writing about controversial topics is evident in her books. She doesn’t do it to preach, necessarily. She does it to bring awareness to her readers in a way that is meaningful. Sprinkle in some of the sexiest romance and a bit of angst, and you will read something close to perfection.
In love and romance,