by Kendra C. Highley
Publisher: Entangled: Embrace
Publication Date: January 22, 2018
Reading Challenges: 2018 Romance Roundabout Challenge
I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Semi-pro SBXer Luke Madison can’t afford any distractions. He’s chasing his dreams in Aspen, not realizing the dire consequences of his actions. Now, if Luke can’t pull off a miracle, his family could lose everything, and there’s no way he’ll let that happen.
No pressure or anything.
Charlotte Brown is determined to become a doctor—a neurologist to be precise, and she’s always precise. She doesn’t have time for anything except school, waitressing at a mountaintop café, and studying. Meeting the ridiculously sexy Luke Madison won’t change that plan, even if kissing him makes her pulse race.
Neither can afford to slip up. If Charlotte doesn’t pass the MCAT this time, that’s it. Her dream of saving people—people like her mother—is over. And when Luke risks everything one last time, losing is not an option.
Even if it means losing each other.
I’ve been on a real winter sports romance kick lately, so this New Adult entry was right up my alley. It’s also refreshingly sweet and heartwarming, despite also dealing with some serious issues. You’d expect certain things from a romance between a rich playboy snowboarder and a studious wannabe med student, but there’s ever so much more than that. This was a really lovely comfort read!
“I just want to make sure this is worth it. I actually like my family, cheesy as that sounds. I don’t want to be disinherited and come in ninth at the trials.”
Luke’s previous relationships have all been of the player-variety, but he’s tired of those and wants a relationship instead. Luke’s given up a lot to compete in the SBX regionals – he’s withdrawn from college, possibly alienating his family, who were counting on him to join the family company after he graduates. It’s not that he doesn’t want to do that, eventually, just that he knows he has a time limit for how long he can compete competitively at snowboard cross.
Charlotte thinks Luke’s just another pretty-boy player, and she’s been there, done that before. She also doesn’t want any distractions from studying for the MCAT. She only has one retake left, and while she has a backup plan for being a physician’s assistant, she’s dreamed of being a neurologist since she was a child. Her mom has multiple sclerosis , and she’s realized what a difference a caring and compassionate doctor can make to patients and their families, and she luckily both loves the science behind it and wants to help people.
“‘I seem to have developed a taste for SBX. Those guys are pretty sexy, you know.’
Luke cupped her cheek. ‘I was hoping you’d say that. Because I’ve developed a taste for smart, gorgeous medical-school hopefuls.’”
Of course, Charlotte eventually agrees to go on a date with him, and their romance is just so sweet. The chemistry between them is steamy, and you can definitely feel their attraction to each other. I had nostalgic flashbacks to my college-age romances, so I think Ms. Highley really hit it out of the party with the relationship. But it’s not just physical attraction, but the start of a friendship as well. Luke gives Charlotte a beginner’s snowboarding lesson, and cooks her dinner. Charlotte cheers for him at his races and is there to lend an ear when his family issues come to a head. They support each other. Charlotte realizes there are times when Luke needs to focus on his training, and Luke helps boost Charlotte’s confidence for the MCAT.
Despite the various medical and family issues, this book is remarkably low angst, and also a bit low conflict. Despite that, there is a nice emotional payoff. The inevitable “you’re a distraction” argument happens relatively early in the book, and the rest of the conflict is provided by worrying whether Luke will make it into the regionals or not. I had no idea snowboard cross even existed before this book, let alone that it was an Olympic sport, and after reading a certain scene (you’ll know which one, lol) I had to look up and watch several races on YouTube (and, uh, Charlotte was right, they are HOT). Luke’s runs down the mountain are described in detail, and I loved it.
Most of the characters – besides the ones who weren’t supposed to be – are very likable. I especially loved their families – they’re both conflict and comfort for the characters. It was nice to see two young twenty-somethings who both love their families, while at the same time understanding what might be best for themselves may not be right for their families.
I was somewhat surprised to see that there was a previous book with Parker, Zoey and Luke. I did feel like I was missing something with the first reunion between the three in the very first chapter, but otherwise this works perfectly fine as a standalone. I’d love to see a follow-up book with Evangeline and Kit!
Overall, this is a sweet, heartwarming romance, and I’ll definitely be looking up more books by Ms. Highley. A good read for while you’re snowed in at your apartment and waiting for your boyfriend to show up on his dad’s snowmobile!
A long excerpt that I wanted to include because it just melted me, and perfectly shows the relationship Luke and Charlotte have:
“I wish I was as good at my passion as you are at yours.”
Luke stopped and turned to face her. There was so much doubt in her eyes, and he hated it. He put his hands on her shoulders. “Repeat after me: I’m going to fucking murder the MCAT.”
She snorted. “I don’t think murder is what the testing admins have in mind.”
“You know what I mean.” He leaned closer. “Say it, Charlotte: ‘I’m going to fucking murder the MCAT.’”
She stared at him a minute, then shrugged. “I’m going to fucking murder the MCAT.”
He pressed his forehead against hers. “Louder.”
She stepped away, her smile nervous, uncertain. He nodded encouragement. She took a deep breath and shouted, “I’m going to fucking murder the MCAT!”
In the distance, someone, probably ski patrol, yelled back, “That’s the spirit!”
Charlotte clapped a hand over her mouth, laughing. “That felt good.”
“Confidence. That’s all you need. I believe you can do it, and so should you.”
Reading this book contributed to these challenges: