Title: First Step Forward
Author: Liora Blake
My Rating: A+
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Grand Valley #1
Main Characters: Cooper and Whitney
Release Date: November 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: hot
Cooper has built an enviable career—the result of staying focused, working hard, and keeping his head on straight—even as his body takes the brunt. So when a hard hit during a Sunday home game leaves him in a dazed heap on the field, it’s nothing more than another day at the office. The only thing that’s different about this Sunday is a chance encounter with a certain fascinating, beautiful free-spirited woman. And some sternly-worded instructions from his coach to take a little time off and give his body the TLC it craves—before he does lasting damage.
Whitney Reed is a few months away from losing the organic fruit orchard she bought three years ago in the tiny town of Hotchkiss, Colorado. At the time, she was just looking for a place to get lost. Instead, she found a home, somewhere she could finally put down roots. Now foreclosure is knocking on her door—along with a grumpy, gorgeous football player who might be just what she never knew she needed.
A charming love story for romance and sports fans alike, First Step Forward is a sexy, heartwarming romp perfect for readers of Jennifer Probst, Kristan Higgins, and Julie James.
I fell in love with this author's writing with her True series, but I was still astounded by just how much I loved this book and this story. With this book, this author just solidified her place on my auto-buy-author list. I loved this book so, so much!!
The book begins on game day when Cooper gets his bell rung and is trying not to let the fact that he's concussed show. As a result, he's about to pass out when he meets Whitney at the convenience store. Whitney has no idea who he is, although everyone in Denver knows their favorite receiver/running back (? I can't remember his exact position). She's only in town trying to get a loan for her apple orchard that's about to go into foreclosure...and the relationship develops from there.
The author was incredibly creative in how she got these two characters together and how she kept them in touch, considering they live 200 miles apart and a world apart in lifestyles. It's also the middle of football season and Whitney has a farm she can't just leave. But she managed it and it was so good. I loved how the romance/relationship unfolded.
Although the two seem to come from completely different lives, it was interesting to see the parallels between their lives. Cooper is 34...for a pro player, he's at the end of his career. His body is getting more and more beat up every time he goes out onto the field. For Whitney, she's still new in her career, but it also looks to be coming to an end as she's about to lose her farm...lose her dreams. They are both facing the loss of their dreams...and trying not to admit to that reality.
The author also captured the details so well for both of the completely different careers...and made them both so interesting even though they are nothing alike. We have a pro football player and an apple farmer...and I fell in love with both of them and their careers. Both perspectives were really interesting.
A lot of the story takes place at Whitney's orchard in this little town of Hotchkiss. I'm so excited about the possibilities for future stories from this small town because there is a plethora of really interesting characters to choose from. The author set up a fantastic series with this first book. The only problem...it's going to be hard for her to go up from here. This was pretty much contemporary romance perfection in my opinion.
I HIGHLY recommend this book and cannot wait for another installment to this series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.