⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ Complicated yet so captivating

The Guy on the Left (The Underdogs Book 2)

Wow, just wow – I’m going to be thinking about this one for a while. A story of redemption, these characters go through so many different emotions, taking the reader on a journey as they try to navigate their complicated relationship. It’s frustrating, heartbreaking, romantic, funny, emotional… so many things. I struggled to connect to Clarissa for a long time, but once I settled into the story it was one giant rollercoaster I could not get off of.

The story follows Troy, a college student who made a life-changing mistake in high school. When he met Clarissa, she was a young new teacher looking for a hookup, and he deceived her into believing that he was also a teacher…. not a 19-year-old high school student. After finding out she’s pregnant, Clarissa seeks out the father of her baby, hoping that maybe they can develop a relationship, but upon discovering that Troy lied, she eliminates him from her life. Six years later, and Troy still hasn’t been allowed to meet his child – but now that he’s older and a little wiser, he’s no longer taking no for an answer. What follows is the story of how Troy proves himself to be a worthy father – and a worthy partner – by maturing and stepping up to the plate.

The writing is really great, making it so easy to get into the story even though it’s sometimes a complicated mess of a relationship. I’ll be honest and say that I struggled a lot to like Clarissa – how she could keep Troy from his child for so long for one mistake is kind of unforgivable to me, even though I completely understand her reasons. I did love how things built slowly – Troy has to prove himself before Clarissa will let him in, so the focus is on being a father first and foremost, with the potential for anything romantic coming later. That means it’s a simmering slow burn, with both Clarissa and Troy dating other people along the way. Can’t say that I really loved that aspect of the story, but I definitely understood it. The whole thing is really well done, and I would not hesitate to read more from the author. Anyone who can write such a complex, nuanced relationship so well has some serious skill as a writer.

The Guy on the Left by Kate Stewart. My rating: 4 of 5 stars

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