|Regan Hunter came to tennis late in life, but she's worked hard to become one of the world's top players. Beating the odds has made her unstoppable on the court and neurotically controlling off of it. So when her manager hires a new coach, a has-been who left the sport after a scandal, Regan wants him gone, fast. |
Ben Percy, a former Grand Slam winner, is well aware of Regan's reputation for driving coaches away—usually screaming. But working with the notoriously mercurial Regan could be just the break he needs to take his career to the next level, and he's never been one to scare easily. He must stick to only one rule: hands off Regan.
Keeping his distance from Regan is more difficult than Ben ever imagined. Behind her tough, sexy exterior is a woman he wants to get to know better. And Regan feels a connection with her patient, easy-on-the-eyes coach that's hard to ignore. But with the biggest championship of all on the line, romance may be completely out of bounds…
Regan Hunter can’t keep a tennis coach, period. Of course, she’s the one firing or driving them away for any and all reasons. She’s impossible to work with, she’s set in her ways, she doesn’t want to listen to actual advice and criticism about her game and has found something wrong with every coach who’s come before Ben. Ben is her last shot, her newest coach and the one who’s going to help her finally win a Grand Slam title. She’s on her way to retirement but her ultimate goal is getting just one Grand Slam win, the Baron’s Open and she has two months to get on the same page with her coach and prepare for the tournament of her career. The only problem is, from their first meeting she wants Ben gone, but Ben has nothing to lose and isn’t going anywhere.
Ben Percy, a former Baron’s Open champion as a teen, ended up being tennis’s one hit wonder. After he stormed onto the tennis scene with his Grand Slam win, he was instantly shunned when his father stole all his earnings and ended up as a major news scandal. Ben, originally from Zimbabwe, was broke, found himself kicked out of the prestigious tennis circles he was in for such a brief period of time, and while he gained his US citizenship, he’s been barely making ends meet by coaching young players. He’s trying to save enough money to help bring his sister to the United States, but getting her VISA is expensive and coaching Regan is his chance to finally earn enough money to help her. Regan doesn’t make it easy on Ben, but even worse is Regan’s manager, Des, who warns Ben on his first day to not touch Regan or he’s fired. Too back those pesky sparks start up between Ben and Regan almost from the start.
I have to say, I enjoyed the first half of this story much more than the second. I loved getting Ben’s backstory. He’s still a tremendous tennis player, but being caught up in his father’s scandal all those years ago has made him so wary. He doesn’t care about rubbing shoulders with the tennis elite and being accepted in those circles again. He’s perfectly happy in his years old sedan, working paycheck to paycheck and earning a living coaching a sport that he loves. He doesn’t long for the tennis career he could have and should have had, he’s living in the now and it’s something that he tries to help Regan do.
Regan – what a mess this woman is! She has a tough, thick outer shell. She grew up being bullied and got into tennis to prove to all the doubters that she could do it and it’s that motivation, proving to others that she is as good as them, that’s propelled her to the top of the women’s game. But on the inside, she’s a mess. She has horrible anxiety and panic attacks. She’s terrified to get to close to anyone or to dare hope, in the case of Ben, that what she’s feeling for him might be reciprocated. She’s been alone for so long and hasn’t really had any close relationships or friendships, she’s lost when it comes to the real life outside of tennis. She opens up to Ben, one of the few people who truly gets to know her, and he, instead of using it against her (which is what she fears), uses what he learns to help her overcome some of her issues and to help manage them instead of letting all her emotions get the best of her. I really enjoyed seeing them get to know each other and seeing Ben start to crack Regan’s shell.
The second half of the story lost me a bit. I found their romance to be more on the sweet side and dammit, I wanted more sexy. Also, Regan’s main focus through the entire book is building up to the Baron’s Open (think Wimbledon) and while I get that she’s very tennis-smart but life-dumb in a way, she makes a few mistakes with Ben that causes the angst between them that they need to work through. There’s also a third party who butts their nose into Regan and Ben’s relationship and it felt a bit unnessesary to me. I was really enjoying the story of Ben and Regan, with tennis as their backdrop and didn’t need all the tossed-in angst and problems that they had to get through in the second part of the story. I’d have rather had more romance to be honest.
Overall, I did enjoy the story, even with a few bumps toward the end. It’s not often we get a romance that’s set in the tennis world and I did enjoy that as it plays a huge role in both Regan and Ben’s lives. If you’re looking for a sweet romance with a hero who has to have the patience of a saint to deal with a crazy, hard-nosed and at times frustrating heroine, this story would be worth a read.
Release Date: April 14, 2014
Publisher: Carina Press
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*eARC provided by publisher for review*