on March 8, 2016
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Sports Romance
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New York Times bestselling author Violet Duke kicks off her sizzling-hot new Fourth Down series with a friends-to-lovers romance between a no-strings-attached sports analyst and the hottest damn tomboy he’s ever met.
It’s no secret that sports analyst Jackson Gray doesn’t do relationships. What is a secret, however, is the reason why. Jackson’s life is . . . complicated. And it doesn’t help that his current hands-off “friendship” is with the cute-as-hell new sideline reporter he’s assigned to train. Turns out, not only is the woman damn sweet, she also knows as much about football as he does. Like it or not though, Jackson has to remind himself that sex is the only thing he has to offer . . . until now.
Leila Hart’s fast-growing friendship with Jackson is something she’d never risk, no matter how unbelievably seductive the reward. Becoming an NFL sportscaster has always been the goal, and thanks to Jackson’s fierce support and mentoring, it all finally seems within reach. Problem is, a girl can only take so much of that sexy-as-sin voice whispering dirty, filthy football stats in her ear before she loses all self-control. A workplace romance with Jackson is a disaster waiting to happen, especially for someone with big dreams . . . and secrets of her own.
Well, there’s no point in hiding it. What first caught my eye about this book was of course the first thing you see: the cover. You can’t tell me if you happened to stumble upon this book you wouldn’t pick it up to check out the synopsis. Which brings me to my next point. Did you read the blurb? Yes? Me too, that’s why I decided I wanted to read it! Jackson’s Trust seemed like it would be a sexy, fun and slightly mysterious read and I’m glad to tell you that Violet Duke didn’t disappoint.
When I first started, I never gave a whole lot of thought to the title. Jackson’s Trust. Okay, I figured that either Jackson’s family, friend or former lover had betrayed him in the past and he had some difficulty trusting. I’m so glad it turned out to be more than that. Not only does the title delve into an insecurity, but it also plays into a theme that goes in a few different directions throughout the story, and ties everything back together in the end. After finishing, I think the title is perfect, and I do really like the cover.
I’m a HUGE fan of sexual tension. Undeniable, sparks flying, magnetizing chemistry that draws two people together. Jackson and Leila – oh they had it alright! These two wanted each other from the very beginning and weren’t shy about it, but I do like the reasons why they didn’t dive head first into one another. I actually really liked the reasoning and found I could relate to Leila’s point of view, and understand Jackson’s – even if we didn’t yet know all the details.
“I actually can’t even remember a time I didn’t want to kiss you, quite frankly.” Jackson exhaled a silent curse. “For both our sakes, don’t tell me things like that. I don’t know that I’ll be able to control myself around you if you do.” A look of wild abandon sparked in her eyes. “Then you can’t tell me things like that. I . . . like the idea of you losing control around me. Because of me.”
Leila really was a great heroine. She’s smart, feisty and stands up for what she wants. She’s determined and has a great sense of pride in her work and accomplishments. I enjoyed how she could push Jackson outside of his norm all while proving herself against stereotypes time and time again in the football industry.
“Christ, she belonged in a category all her own. When you threw in her wit, fire, and football chops, Jesus, she was basically his dream girl.”
Jackson. Oh Jackson Gray… Obviously at the Sisterhood, we take our book boyfriends seriously, I mean it’s half of our name, so we have to, right? This is the first time I think I’ve ever said this but screw book boyfriend, hello book husband! There is nothing about Jackson that’s not to like. He’s smart, he’s sexy, he’s funny and charming and has a huge heart. I think a solid half of his dialogue made me swoon. I’m still young and am nowhere ready to settle down, but my goodness if a guy was treating me and talking to me like Jackson was to Leila, he could put a ring on this finger in a heartbeat. Even at this point, I can’t narrow it down to one quote, he had too many that made my heart melt. He was perfect. End of story.
“Funny thing is that I used to be one of those guys who figured he’d have a kid or two by now. Cute hell raisers who’d help me spoil their mom on Sunday mornings, that sort of thing.” Doting affection filtered into his tone. “And vice versa. A partner in crime who’d help me plan surprises for the kids who would be so stinkin’ adorable that I’d max out the memory on my phone taking photo after photo.” Good grief, she was pretty sure one of her ovaries just fainted.”
“Sunshine, you make me want things I shouldn’t hope for, shouldn’t even imagine I can keep.” Eyes wide, voice barely louder than a secret, she asked, “Like what?” He went with the answer at the very top of his list. “You.”
“Believe me when I tell you that if I could be more for anyone in the world . . . it’d be you. I’d want to be that man for you. I dream of being that man for you.”
Both our hero and heroine in this story start out as strong characters, so in that sense there isn’t a whole lot of room for character growth. However, there are a few concepts that are brought to the forefront that help these characters in not only their relationship but individual lives. I really liked the idea of choosing to live your life vs choosing your dream. Sometimes they go hand in hand, and sometimes they don’t. You can chase your dream as long as it makes you happy, but what happens when it no longer does? What do you have to fall back on? Both characters struggled with this realization and I liked that uncertainty. Life is both empowering and terrifying, and this made both Leila and Jackson feel more like real people.
There were a few well timed twists in Jackson’s Trust that I’m quite thankful for. I really liked the pacing but at one point I looked at the current percentage and realized I still had a long way to go; I felt like the relationship was farther along than I expected for where I was at. But then there was a small twist in which I really liked the outcome. Then once that starts to settle, we get a bigger twist, and let me tell you I did NOT see that coming. It was almost a little out of left field but I will admit, I liked the change in direction. It then made a lot of sense for the character that this affected and their decisions. Building up towards the climax, I could feel something was about to happen. I had no idea what, I had no idea when, but once again I didn’t see it coming! I loved it yes, and let me tell you – the surge of emotions I felt was almost a little unexpected. This climatic event really made me feel for the characters and the understand the depth of their feelings.
“Don’t tell me goodbye.” Jackson’s voice roughened with emotion. “Because I won’t be able to leave if you do.”
The one problem I had with the plot was with part of the resolution. It was almost broken up into a few small stages, which I was fine with. My problem was just that a few conversations left me feeling very confused. Jackson was trying to express a foreign thought and he couldn’t really come out and say it in as many words. Then Leila was going along with it and doing the same, and I just found it a bit confusing. Obviously I eventually figured out what they were trying to talk about, but it just seemed a little convoluted. Just come out and say what your thinking. Maybe it won’t be like this for others, but that was my take.
I’ve always liked a strong group dynamic in my stories, so Bennett and Donovan were a treat to read. They were funny and charming but each had a big heart. You could feel how much the guys all cared for each other and I really enjoyed how they could step in to help Leila. Banter is the perfect word for what these two bring. It’s not ‘in your face’ type of funny, it’s genuine and delivered in such a way that feels natural to the conversation. Their banter was on point and in true male fashion, they knew exactly what to do to get Jackson riled up. They really helped add a second dimension to Jackson to see how how he was with his friends, and they definitely kept the humour alive with their antics.
“Oh, and as far as the deposit goes, I hear you bake a mean pie. I prefer pecan, but apple is fine. I’ll change the locks on you if you make me anything with the word ‘meringue’ in it. See that you have it on my doorstep by tomorrow morning.”
Jackson’s Trust was everything that I didn’t realize I needed to read this week. It was refreshing, sweet, sexy and light; the perfect kind of book to put you in a good mood. I had a smile for at least 50% of the novel and overall I enjoyed it quite a bit. The characters were fun and dynamic, the sexual tension was right up my alley and it has a hero to swoon over for days. Or weeks. This is my first novel by Violet Duke but I can assure you it won’t be my last!
“I’m having a barbecue next weekend; you coming?” Leila put her chin on her hand and awaited Jackson’s reply. “You. The one who’s prettier than me. I’m talking to you, not the jackass. You coming to my barbecue?” Her eyes rounded while Jackson’s danced with amusement. Somehow, by some unnamed miracle, she was able to answer in a relatively normal voice. “Yes. Yes, of course.” “Good. Then you can bring the jackass with you.” Then the line went dead.
*ARC received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.