Overall Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I have actually been sitting on this review for a week or so. Or rather, I’ve been mulling Rachel Van Dyken’s newest book, Kickin’ It, since I finished reading it a week ago. From the time I started it until I finished it (which, by the way, happened to be one day), I was engrossed in the story from its outset.
In the world of #metoo and the push for equality between the sexes, this book is necessary in the romance world. Let’s be honest. There are so many moments when romance readers must suspend their disbelief over the treatment of a woman in a story. I am a personal fan of BDSM and dark romance books because they allow me to live in a world that, I’m fairly certain, I will never exist. For a small time, I can imagine it, but it never becomes my reality. However, there are many instances when women are treated like possessions or worse in romance books. And we accept it because it is fiction.
Yet, there is a bigger reality in our world and in our time. Women are taken advantage of by people of power, most oftentimes, men. This is wrong and dangerous and disgusting. Van Dyken’s newest book gives voice to this problem in a way that gives me hope for our future, for change.
Parker is a graduated college soccer player who is looking for her big break on a professional team. Unfortunately, the “buzz” surrounding her suggests she’s a “problem” player. She’s been accused of erratic behavior, which makes her a liability to any team. Thankfully, her roommate’s, brother, Matt, is a seasoned, well-known sports agent, and Willow (her roommate) has promised Parker that she will ask Matt to represent Parker to find her the best contract with a pro team.
Matt lives a comfortable life at the top of his game as an agent. At first sight, he’s unimpressed with Parker, believing her to be a problem client. She is brash and outspoken. Even more problematic, he is instantly attracted to her which causes problems for their living arrangement and representation. However, he suppresses his interest in her and begins to work for her. Very quickly, Matt comes to realize that Parker harbors a secret, one she hides carefully from everyone (including Willow). When he finds out her secret, will this end their work relationship, or will he believe her and protect her at all costs?
There is so much I want to say about this book, and I struggle to find all the words to say it. For one, Parker is one of my favorite heroines to date. She’s strong and capable and tragic and sensual in a way that is understated. She’s incredibly athletic, and her strength on the field matches her inner strength to persevere. She has been taken gross advantage of, and she should be devastated. Instead, she utilizes tenacity to stand in the face of fear. I loved her from the beginning through the middle to the end of this story, and she’s a necessary heroine today.
Similarly, Matt is the quintessential hero. In this book, important people in Parker’s life have let her down. They’ve betrayed her trust in them, and it’s damaged her. Matt is the first male in this book to truly “see” her. I have to admit. That is always one of my favorite parts in a romance. In Van Dyken’s book, it made me cry because I knew it was necessary that Parker be seen, especially by a male. He is stalwart, aggressive when necessary, thoughtful, and compassionate, all the qualities men need today to bring about change in our society. To be honest, it isn’t surprising within the realm of this story and Van Dyken’s former book, Risky Play, where Matt plays a large part in bringing the H and h together. Yet, he is fairly neurotic and set in his ways, so I was initially worried that he couldn’t be strong enough for Parker. And I was wrong, thankfully.
For all of the angst of this story, it is also incredibly funny. Matt’s chemistry with his clients/friends, Jagger and Slade, are some of the best interactions in the book. His sister, Willow, also lends humor to the story, which is a refreshing break from the headiness of the book’s story. This book is equal parts funny, serious, and sweet, the reasons I could not put it down.
I really cannot say enough about Rachel Van Dyken’s book, Kickin’ It. I know my personal preference is romances with serious topics that force readers to ponder on the gravity of life’s complications. Van Dyken’s book adds more voices to these necessary discussions. If you love sports romance with a little “meat” to its story, then you definitely will want to read Kickin’ It.
In love and romance,