Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
I admire writers who take a character and redeem them in some way. If you can make me adore a character who I formerly felt any number of contrary feelings: anger, annoyance, disdain, etc., then you win me over easily. I guess I’m an easy “lay” in the world of romance. This brings me to Sara Ney’s Hard Fall, her newest book in the Trophy Boyfriends series. If you read the first book of the series of standalones, Hard Pass, you’ve been introduced to Trace “Buzz” Wallace, and he isn’t a character you readily enjoy. He’s a pest, he’s vain, he ingratiates himself into situations, and he’s the kind of guy you love to hate. And Sara Ney decided to write him a romance. To be fair, he began to show readers his “true colors” at the end of Hard Pass when he acted like a matchmaker for her hero and heroine of that book. It piqued my curiosity enough that, once I realized Hard Fall would be Trace’s story, I one-clicked that pre-order fast.
Thankfully, what you find with Trace’s book is a whole bunch of hilarious witty banter between Trace and Ney’s heroine, Hollis, Trace and his brother, Tripp, the NFL player, and Trace and his mom. All of these relationships conspire to bring you a romance that makes you laugh at the absurdity of one “Buzz” Wallace, swoon when he acts as Hollis’s protector, and leave Hard Fall with a huge smile on your face.
Yes. I can say it. I love Trace Wallace. I’ll be honest. The Trace of Chapter 1 did not ingratiate himself to me. Not. At. All. Your love for Trace is a slow-burn. It takes a while to warm up to him. However, this occurs when you realize that there is more to this seeming “man-baby.” It also comes about because Ney’s heroine, Hollis, calls him to be more.
Hollis Westbrooke is the granddaughter of the Chicago Steam owner, the professional baseball team for which Trace plays. She is also the daughter of its General Manager, and she has made choices in her life to distance herself from her father’s choices. This has created some tension between her and her father, but she lives her life on her own terms. When she meets Trace, like many of us, she prejudges him. To be honest, some of that prejudgment is fair based on his initial experiences with her. But here’s the thing. Trace is like a fungus and he grows on you. And he woos Hollis over to him through some traits that are unexpected.
The crux of this book is that one’s initial impression isn’t always fair, and it oftentimes doesn’t epitomize the totality of that person. Through funny interactions, absurd moments, and some serious situations, Hollis and Trace realize their ability to complement each other. This makes for some serious chemistry, some heartfelt moments, and some laugh out loud experiences.
Hard Fall is the type of book you read easily. It’s meant to make you laugh and swoon, and it does just that. Sara Ney brings some parts of her Douchebag series into her crafting of Trace, and if you’ve read that series, it reminds you of all the ways you love Sara Ney. If you haven’t preordered Hard Fall (or read its predecessor, Hard Pass), and you need a little funny in your life right now, then grab them now.
In love and romance,