Overall Rating: 4.5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I received an email the other day asking if I would be interested in reading and reviewing Rebecca Jenshak’s books. Her PR group likened her to Sara Ney (whom I love), and I was “game” (pun intended). Whenever you encounter a “new to you” author, there is always a little trepidation. Will I like their style? Can they develop a story that allows me to escape into his/her characters’ worlds? Even more, is it readable? At least, these are the questions I ask myself.
Let me say, Rebecca Jenshak’s writing was a PLEASANT surprise. Her PR group was right. She reads a lot like Sara Ney, but she has her own voice, which I think is important to point out.
My first book was The Assist. This book is part of her Smart Jocks novel series. First of all, what’s not to love about a series written about “smart jocks”? Not that I love typical stereotypes, but The Assist was refreshing in that Wes, the male hero, of the book is fairly intelligent. This story follows Wes and Blaire who meet in a business statistics class. Blaire, the over-achieving, sorority girl, is struggling with the class, and she wants to do well in it as it will set her up for the college’s MBA program. Noticing Wes and his fellow basketball players in class, she quickly realizes that he barely pays attention to class, yet scores well on the tests. Wanting to figure out his secret to success, she engages in several embarrassing exchanges with him when she realizes that he isn’t your typical “lunkhead” jock. Instead, his experience as a basketball player coupled with a photographic memory makes the subject easy for him. Their story really begins when Blaire negotiates tutoring with him, using her persistence and moxie. Through the course of their tutoring, they realize their mutual attraction to each other and waffle on acting on it. Wes’s life, college basketball, is all-consuming, and, given it is his senior year, he wants to give everything to it. Will his life make room for Blaire? Will they find their HEA? That is the crux of this story.
So, right off the bat, I loved these characters. They were equal parts funny, frustrating, and $exy. As a jock, Wes is refreshing, as it’s important for others to see him as more. He’s affronted when Blaire thinks he’s cheating or receiving tutoring as a reason for his success in the class. While her tenacity in pursuing his truth about the class annoys him (for good reason), it is also the impetus for his initial attraction to her. He feels a connection to her pretty early, but his experience with girls on campus slow his actions towards her. When he realizes that she isn’t like most of the girls he’s encountered on campus, Blaire absolutely turns his head, and the story begins. There is a depth to Wes that resounds through the story. He is more than a guy with a drive for basketball; he is the heart of his team. When an unexpected turn of events occur, it changes the tenor of the book for a time, adding layers to Wes and Blaire’s story. I loved it.
Additionally this book is funny especially Wes’s relationships with his fellow basketball players, Z, Nathan, and Joel, as well as his connection with Blaire. I found myself laughing aloud at their antics. The humor is a nice balance to the seriousness of some of the topics within the book. Remember, these are college students, so their future is tentative and scary. Wes is a senior who must face the end of his basketball career at the end of the year. His insecurity about it provides some of the angst of the story. Contrasting that with the humor shows Jenshak’s ability to intertwine humor with drama.
Lastly, Blaire is everything you love in a heroine. Here’s the thing. I’m not usually a fan of sorority girls. Call me judgmental, but they are usually shallow and mean in most NA romance books. However, Blaire breaks that mold in this book. She is compassionate, tenacious, and makes everyone better. She improves everyone’s lives in this book, especially Wes’s. She doesn’t do it through manipulating him. Instead, she pulls back when he pulls away from her, and she waits for him to pursue her. Even though she was the pursuer at the beginning of the story, Wes takes on that role to attempt to win her over in the end. She is the type of heroine with a strong sense of self-worth that she doesn’t get overshadowed by Wes. Instead, they complete each other, making their story special.
I took a chance on Rebecca Jenshak, and I am so thankful. I quickly inhaled The Assist and launched quickly into the second book in the series, The Fadeaway (the review is forthcoming). And I haven’t looked back. If you love New Adult sports romances with a balance of humor and angst, then you’ll love Rebecca Jenshak. Yes, she is similar to Sara Ney, but in the end, she is all her own.
In love and romance,