Running Back by Allison Parr
Series: New York Leopards #2
Also in this series: Rush Me
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: October 21st 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
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Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O'Connor, popular NFL running back.
On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she's not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…
Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.
Natalie is a grad student who is planning a dig in Ireland to search for the lost city of Ivernis, which would prove a connection between Ireland and Rome, something she and her mentor have been working toward for years. It’s become something of a wild goose chase, but she’s done a lot research and thinks they may actually find it there. Only problem? The landowner who agreed to let her do the dig died and left the land to his nephew – New York Leopard’s running back Mike O’Connor. He denies her request, stating personal reasons.
She decides to go on her trip anyway. Even if she can’t dig – which she hopes will change – there’s still research to do and she doesn’t want to pass up a trip to Ireland. As it happens, Mike and his family are also going to Ireland for the wake of his uncle and they’re staying at the same inn (the only inn). Despite the tension over the dig, Mike’s family draw her into the circle and the two of them form a solid friendship, which eventually turns into more. But Natalie’s parents have taught her that love doesn’t last, and with the dig still there she knows they can’t last.
This was a fairly enjoyable read. Natalie and Mike were both fixed on their careers and neither was looking for love. They developed a friendship that seemed genuine and included a lot of heavy sharing and emotional support, which made the relatively short timeline of the romance work.
In the beginning Natalie’s assertion that love was a myth rang true considering her upbringing. It started to sound hollow the more their relationship developed, considering the amount of time they spent together and how committed they both were to one another. It was hard not to feel sorry for her, though, especially once her family dynamics changed. The way she felt about Mike’s family was sweet. He was embarrassed and annoyed with them (as we tend to be with our families) but she made him realize they were a tight, loving group.
Mike was dealing with his own set of issues, namely the drama that came with inheriting the land and a secret about his parents he’d held close for far too long. His pain came through well. It was lovely how Natalie pushed him to open up and let him do the same for her. Both were damaged, which really worked in the context of the story. Their upbringing shaped them both and their family dynamics were interesting.
What was missing was the football. Since this story takes place in Ireland during the off season, there were no games and little from the other players. One of the things I enjoyed most about Rush Me was the football backdrop. It was definitely missed here.
There were a lot of editing issues in this book. Mostly spelling errors, but some continuity issues as well. I was surprised, since I read Parr’s first book, Rush Me, and don’t remember seeing them.
The Irish backdrop, strong friendships and heady romance made this a read well worth falling into.
4 out of 5