Overall Grade: 4.5 ⭐️
Slow burn, thy name is Penny Reid’s Homecoming King. This newest book of Reid’s is the first in a series of three standalones, Three Kings. This first book releases this year, with the next book releasing in December of next year. While seemingly a Christmas story, the holiday aspects of Homecoming King are mild; they tinge the story without making it an over-the-top, predictable holiday read. There are many reasons to love Penny Reid, her irreverent stories are many of my favorites. What we find in her other stories, we find in this one too: a heroine with a keen interest in hobbies, a hunk who needs the heroine to add shades to his life, and a story that compels your forward to its happy ending.
In Homecoming King, Abigail “Abby” has loved Rex McMurtry, the celebrated professional football player, from afar…since preschool. Even though she is one of the tallest girls in her school, she exists in the periphery, and Rex never notices her. Many years later, he ends up in the bar where she bartends, finds himself too drunk to make it home, and she takes him home to care for him. From there, a friendship blossoms. This leads to a proposal: a marriage between the two of them so Rex doesn’t have to worry about friends and family members foisting women on him. Always accommodating in her empathic way, Abby agrees, and she and Rex marry at the 50-yard line. However, are they destined for each other, or is this “too good to be true?”
For both Rex and Abby, that saying “too good to be true” is the mantra of their lives, and Reid deftly weaves their struggles with vulnerability around moments of humor and companionship between the two. Through their struggles, Reid uses their silence to build the tension between these two. Abby is such a lovely character in that she is compassionate about people. She sees something in Rex, and she reads him in a way that no one else seems to do. Yet, her ability to lower her defenses blinds her to his interest in her. This, in turn, evolves their slow-burn.
Since Rex also worries over becoming vulnerable with her, the tension between these two grows as the pages turn. It takes much of the book for these two to allow themselves to voice their interest in the other. Once this occurs, it is full steam ahead with only a minor complication.
There is so much to love about the Homecoming King. Abby and Rex’s ease in contrast to the ways they protect themselves causes you to fall in love with them. As you move through the story, you want to yell at them to figure it out; however, Reid’s timing is impeccable for them. If you love to laugh and to fall in love with characters who fall deeply in love with each other because they see each other better than anyone else, then Homecoming King should be your next read.
In love and romance,