on January 30, 2017
Genres: Enemies to Lovers, New Adult, Sports Romance
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Finlay Thatcher is a lost soul, guilt-ridden after the death of her twin brother. When Alabama's football coach gives her the opportunity to work for him, she knows it's her chance to move on, even if it means living her brother's dream.
Caden Brooks is Alabama's star quarterback. He's got it all. The attention of adoring fans. A girlfriend who'd do anything to hold on to him. And a future in the pros. He's getting along just fine until Finlay steps into his life, despising him at first sight and pushing his buttons like no other.
Unfortunately for Finlay, and her attempt to keep Caden at arm's length, there's nothing Caden loves more than a challenge. The problem with this challenge is she comes with a secret that has the power to destroy everything.
If there’s one trope that I’m a huge sucker for, it’s enemies to lovers. And my biggest weakness in story matter is the book of a college football player. So throw these two this together and what do you get? For Finlay. Also known as the kryptonite of Shannon Moore. <3 And man oh man, did this ever bring me to my knees!
He kissed me hard then pulled back, just gazing down at me with the same soft look I was getting used to from him. The one that held possibilities. The one that made me feel special. The one I’d never imagined would ever be directed at me. “Stay tonight. And the next night. And the night after that.”
Immediately, the reader is graced with some heavy disdain between the two main characters – Caden and Finlay. Caden is a junior and the starting quarterback for Alabama State and Finlay is the water girl on the team. I like that it’s not just given away immediately as to why these two don’t get along. I loved their bickering but even when they didn’t like each other, you could still feel a pull.
“If love was a strong emotion, hate was stronger. And I was good at hating. I’d hated Caden for two years. It came easily.”
Interestingly enough as well, Finlay is like a walking talking football encyclopedia; a fanatic. For her entire life she has run plays, watched practices and games, helped Cole to train and become better, so you can bet that she knows what she’s talking about! I loved how she wasn’t afraid to tell Caden what she was really thinking, especially if it was about football. These moments did nothing but add to my own curiosity of what/when things would happen between these two.
Now, speaking of Cole… My heart absolutely broke for Finlay. For the amount of guilt that she was carrying around and couldn’t let go of. For her other half who was no longer there.
I can’t imagine what it would feel like other than pure devastation. Cole actually still plays a big part in this novel which I enjoyed. Between flashbacks and characters speaking of their memories, you could tell he was still a part of their lives, not just forgotten.
“You’re still a kid,” I teased.
“Says the eighteen-year-old.”
My eyes stayed on the screen as I clicked on the term Conditioned Response. The virtual card flipped to reveal the definition. “I’m not eighteen.”
“Oh, sorry,” he mocked. “Nineteen.”
I shook my head, unprepared for where the conversation could take us. “I’ll be twenty-one in January.”
“Aren’t you a freshman?”
I nodded, glancing over at him. “I took a couple years off.”
His eyes widened in amusement. “To find yourself?”
Hmph. “Guess so.”
“Did you find her?”
A rush of sadness flooded my body. “I’m not sure yet.”
These two were excellent at challenging each other between pranks, quick quips and playful banter. I always not only felt but believed the chemistry between them and from the first few interactions, felt the pull. Caden and Finlay were like magnets, always seeking out the other, even when they tried to stay away. It was not only a lot of fun to read about but I liked the sweeter moments too. The little early morning run ins, for example, were perfect with both the sweet and saucy moments. At times even throw in a dash of angst and I was a happy, happy camper!
“I promise you. This is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. But I think I should probably just hold you tonight.”
I watched the disbelief coast over her face. “Hold me?”
I bit down on my bottom lip to stop myself from taking back my words.
She blinked. “You’re serious?”
I nodded, feeling my resolve waning. “Can I do that? Can I just hold you tonight?”
Her eyes held a mix of amazement and disappointment. And after a long torturous pause, she nodded. “Yeah. I’d like that.”
Yes, this book has a conflict that does deal with a misunderstanding (I know a lot of people hate that!) but I’m actually a big fan of how it was handled. There was a lot of tension and anger, for one, but it wasn’t one sided! Each character had their reasons for their emotions and actions. I could understand Caden’s side, but I loved how Finlay handled it. My first thought when encountering the conflict was that the characters were jumping to conclusions and it was kind of ridiculous but then when I stepped back, I understood. I get why Caden thought what he did and I get why Finlay reacted how she did. I appreciated both of their stances but love how Finlay stayed strong throughout. And when the misunderstanding is found out? When the character figured out what they thought was wrong? Lord heavens! You could feel everything. The guilt, anguish, need for forgiveness, all of it.
“The sad look in his eyes, and the emptiness I felt keeping him at arm’s length, tugged at my heartstrings, waning my resolve. But a girl had to protect her heart. And Caden Brooks had the ability to break it twice.”
There’s one special little moment when Finlay is on the football field by herself and all I’m going to say about it is that I was in tears. This scene got really emotional and felt really special, not only for Finlay and her potential relationship with Caden but for her guilt ridden regrets about how her relationship was left with Cole. This was the first stage of healing for her.
Secondary characters can always help make or break a read for me so I loved the friendships of Sabrina and Forester. They were loyal and helpful when needed but could also add a comedic element at other times. I can’t wait to read Forester’s book next!
His pretty boy face twisted in disbelief. “So what? I lie to you all the time.”
My head reeled back. “You do?”
He nodded. “When you ask me where I’ve been.”
“Because I can.”
The only reason why I rated this as 4.5 stars instead of 5 is because I wish some of the scenes could’ve been extended, had a little more detail, pulled a little more dialogue. I really liked these two characters together but then wanted to be sure the reader is always getting the full essence of their relationship and feelings.
Can I also quickly mention that ending? Because oh my GOSH that was so sweet! I maybe sort of kind of had a tear or two. Maybe. But it could’ve also been a dust bunny, so I guess we’ll never know. I loved Finlay, I loved Caden, I love Sabrina and Coach and the entire team. Even Grady was okay for a few moments!
“I didn’t do it for Cole. I did it for you. I did it for Finlay.”
The writing and flow just felt so easy. It was easy to read and so easy to just become immersed in this book. I read it in one sitting! Completely addictive. I’ve since checked our Goodreads and decided that I need to read this author’s other books, so I’ll be getting on that right about… Now. 😉
Ultimately I think For Finlay carries a heavier theme which is pretty important to remember. Time is a precious commodity that we take for granted. You need to grasp it and hold on to those fleeting moments. Those memories, moments and people that you don’t want to let go of. People will come and go from our lives and while there’s not always a reason for it, sometimes there can be a silver lining. An unexpected good that can come out of the bad. So keep your chin up and keep going, because tomorrow is another day that you get to live, so hold on tight and don’t let go.
“I’ve hated you and loved you, both just as strongly. Loving you has definitely been easier.”
Would I recommend this book? Absolutely.
Would I buy a copy for myself? Oh I don’t know (sarcasm), but there’s one sitting in my Amazon cart do I should probably just press order really quick. <3
*An ARC was received in exchange for an honest review.