I couldn’t quite bring myself to rate this any higher, but there was a lot that I liked about it. This new adult debut has been pretty buzzy, and it’s easy to see why – the opposites attract vibes and giant teddy bear/football player hero were both definite wins, and I liked that the storyline was unique. Wildly implausible, but very unique. I loved how these two were thrown together, and their fake relationship was beneficial to both in a way that brought them closer than either anticipated. And I think the heart of this is very good, though it started to unravel in the details. Beyond the fact that I’m worried there are some foundational issues to this relationship, it also progressed in a way that I didn’t love. And once I felt the fractures in the relationship, the vibes could no longer cover up some of the unrealistic elements to the story. So this was a win in some ways and a loss in others, but I did enjoy it for the most part.
The story follows Harper, a physical therapist-in-training who is crushing on one of the baseball players at her college. Harper has been hoping that her internship will be with the baseball team, so she can spend some time with her crush, and she makes a teeny tiny little white lie to make that happen. Except… that lie (claiming that she’s dating one of the star football players, Luca) isn’t so tiny after all. Luca agrees not to contradict Harper’s story if she agrees to help him out with a problem. Luca has been hiding an injury from his coach, and he wants Harper to help him with the recovery in secret. As the two near-strangers spend more time together, Harper discovers that Luca isn’t the ice man that everyone else thinks he is – he’s actually a shy sweetheart – and it’s not long before Harper’s attention shifts from her crush to Luca.
For a debut, this has a lot going for it. I devoured the first 30% before I knew it, and I was immediately drawn in by the vibes. It feels young and fresh, perfect for today’s new adult readers. Which, yes, means it read a little too young for me, lol. Anyone who liked Icebreaker would probably enjoy the vibes. This started to unravel for me because of the same issues Icebreaker has – the OM drama. (MINOR SPOILER) Harper makes out and considers going home with her crush far enough into the story that I was not amused. It made me take off my rose-colored glasses (I had been willing to ignore some of the impracticalities of the storyline up to that point), and the book didn’t fully recover for me. That being said, there were a whole lot of swoons between these two, particularly once Luca showed the sweet side of his personality. I would definitely try another book from the author, though she failed to get me excited about the other characters who were introduced, so it would have to be the right book. But there’s a lot of potential there.
HARPER St. James is the type of girl who thrives on the idea of life’s simple pleasures: a half-melted ice cream cone on a summer’s day, a puppy licking sand from a baby’s face, a gentle wave that crests and breaks on the ocean’s shore.
For quite some time, Harper’s been harboring a secret crush on Nate Gunderson, fellow Coastal U student and MLB-hopeful. In order to spend more time with him this semester, she finds herself spinning a ridiculous web of lies. Her first step . . . convincing her sports med professor that she’s been dating a football player. After all, if she’s romantically involved, it simply wouldn’t be right for her to keep an internship with their team.
Unfortunately for Harper, this silly, frantic excuse to switch assignments quickly snowballs into an unstoppable rumor.
LUCA Reynolds is the type of guy who prefers to set low expectations, both for himself and others, if only to avoid any inevitable disappointment. His football teammates would describe him as reserved, brooding, and occasionally stand-offish.
The truth? Luca doesn’t feel like he belongs.
When an unexpected injury threatens to destroy Luca’s long-term plans, he finds himself in need of help from a discreet professional—one who will assess his knee, provide some simple stretches, and assure him that everything’s fine. Luckily, there’s a scheming student intern that just might owe him a favor or two.
A secret for a secret. A lie for a lie. It’s not really blackmail if she’s the one who used him first.
About the Author:
Ki Stephens is a romance enthusiast who finds comfort in the happily-ever-after. . . with just a little bit of angst along the way. She has a special interest in works that include neurodivergent characters like herself. When she’s not daydreaming about books, Ki enjoys working with kids, creating art in her backyard studio, and spending loads of time with her baby girl, her husband, and their three pets.
instagram, tiktok and twitter: kistephs
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