Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Adriana Locke’s The Relationship Pact is a decisive exclamation point to the Kings of Football series, started with Ilsa Madden-Mills’s The Revenge Pact and developed further by Meghan Quinn’s The Romantic Pact. Each of these stories has its own voice, but there is this connecting thread of family, created through the bonds of friendship and football. Locke’s book, however, takes that idea further through the development of her hero, Hollis Hudson. I had fallen deeply in love with River from The Revenge Pact, and my heart ballooned with Crew in The Romantic Pact, but Hollis stole my heart completely. The Relationship Pact reminds readers that finding our family, whether it is biological or constructed, can heal the wounds of our past. That when we allow ourselves to be loved fully, we can find a sense of belonging that help us overcome the struggles of life. The profundity of Locke’s story feels important, especially today.
Why should you read The Relationship Pact?
*First of all, you should know that it doesn’t take much to make me tear up or cry when reading stories. I am in touch with my feelings, and I’m easily manipulated by authors. One way to get me to cry: write a hero who has been abandoned multiple times in his life. Give him an affable and playboy-esque exterior to hide his vulnerabilities and brokenness, along with a habit of deflection. When I encounter a hero like this, I’m done. Stick a fork in me because my heart bleeds for this type of hero, and Adriana Locke has deftly crafted this type of hero in Hollis. I knew after the first five chapters that I 1) would not want to put this story down EVEN though I have end of semester grades due and 2) I would cry. And, of course, both of those happen. There is really nothing better than a broken hero to make reading a romance an emotional experience, and Locke easily connects you to Hollis’s story.
*Of course, you need a heroine such as Larissa “Riss” for a hero such a Hollis. She must be empathic, thoughtful, kind, light to his dark, and tenacious. In her pursuit of exposing his wounds and wanting to heal them, the emotional gravitas of their journey develops and burgeons into love. That becomes the beauty of the story of a broken hero healed by the powers of love.
*The chemistry between Larissa and Hollis is both sensual and friendly. I think some of my favorite moments from this book lie in how he is comforted through physical connection with her. Locke shows us how chemistry can be both familiar and fiery, and you ache for their happy ending as they struggle against their feelings for each other.
*The inclusion of River and Crew into this story illustrates Locke’s capacity for world-building. In fact, of the three books, Locke’s is most wise in connecting to her larger universe of romances. You will find familiar Locke characters in this story, and it’s an opportunity for you to connect with her newest series of the Mason family. However, River’s compassion and wisdom that make you fall for him in The Revenge Pact rings clear in The Relationship Pact. This is missing in Meghan Quinn’s story, and I love how Locke intuits the need for it in this finale to the trilogy of standalones.
I am always worried when three separate authors create a moment in romancelandia. Will I love all three stories, or will one read stronger than others? With the Kings of Football series, all of our favorite authors found equal footing, creating these profound sports romances that steal your heart. Adriana Locke’s The Relationship Pact isn’t an addendum or a final; it’s an opportunity to remind us that there are people with intense hurts who simply need love. This is a prevailing theme in romance right now, and it’s an admonishment that the more love we pour into this world, into people, the easier it is to heal their hurts.
In love and romance,