I’m going to freely admit this: I asked for an advance copy of this book because Stuart Reardon is one of my favorite cover models. Yes…that’s him on the cover. I know, right?! If I was pleasantly surprised when I got the email with the book attached, I was blown away by the book itself.
First, this book is not your typical romance. It doesn’t follow the girl with little blurbs from the guy. It follows the guy. Never have I felt more invested in a male MC than I did in Undefeated by Stuart Reardon and Jane Harvey-Berrick. I had highs and lows right beside Nick as his career took off and tanked and took off, again…and nearly fell apart again. And Reardon and Harvey-Berrick don’t disappoint. This is a man who FEELS. He is the guy you’re feeling for–the one you want to hold while his counterpoint does hurtful things and he remains strong in his love.
In the same respect, I disliked Anna. The things she said and did throughout the book were the same things you see the guys doing in other romances. Breaking it off and coming back and pushing him away when all he wants is to love her. It’s a classic role reversal. Except it’s not. Because while I dislike Anna, I understand her. Reardon and Harvey-Berrick do not shy away from showing the pitfalls of being a woman in a male-dominated career. Much of Anna’s angst comes from, not her relationship, but her relationship’s impact on her career–her life. The book shows that she is right to be concerned, but it also paints her actions in a very self-serving way. Because they are self-serving actions, but they are very real problems and she handles them in very real ways. Even so, like every bad-boy/billionaire boss romance, you KNOW she’s the one for him and root for their happiness.
The book has a bit of a slow start. And it really is a full-length novel (SO happy about that), but it really is one of the best contemporary romance novels I’ve read. There’s no insta-love, there is definite insta-attraction, but I wouldn’t even call it insta-lust. What Reardon and Harvey-Berrick have achieved, here, is a book about 2 people who meet at the wrong time, fall in love at the wrong time, and still manage to make it to the right time. It’s as heartwarming as it is heartbreaking and well worth the read.
Note on language: There are a few things I had to look up (MBE, anyone)? Overall, though, knowing as little as I do about rugby and certain British-isms, I was able to read this smoothly from start to finish.
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