I flicked the light on in Weston’s kitchen. He ate with Georgia and Nan most nights, so the few coffee mugs in the sink and practically bare pantry didn’t surprise me. But the neon-yellow flyer on his fridge did.
LENOX LITTLE KICKS SOCCER
My eyes struggled to make sense of the list of names.
Weston – head coach. And then several players underneath his name was my daughter’s.
I slipped the paper from the magnet adhering it to the fridge and read it over for a second time, as if I’d missed a simple word or phrase or perhaps a much-needed parent signature.
(Patrick, Weston, and Savannah have entered the room)
“Oh, good! I meant to tell you about that.” Weston’s tone was casual, as if he hadn’t trumped my parental power by adding my daughter to his soccer team. “I’m going to coach Little Kicks soccer. Practice starts next week and runs for eight, ends just shy of the wedding. Worked out perfectly.”
“I get to play soccer? But Mommy said I couldn’t because-”
Weston squeezed her to his side. “Because she didn’t know that I was gonna coach you.”
Savannah’s confusion lifted and she smiled brightly. “Wait till I tell Alyssa! Is she on the team, too, Uncle Wes?” She searched for her friend’s name and then yelped when she found it. “Yes!”
Weston chuckled, amused by her delight. I wasn’t nearly as amused. The last thing I wanted was for Savannah to overexert herself. Wasn’t going to school six hours a day enough of a change?
“We’ll need to discuss this later, Savannah.” As in, not in the presence of the substitute doctor.
“That always means no. You always say no even though you promised to start saying yes.” Savannah’s pout was evidence of an oncoming emotional storm.
And this was what Weston did best: work her up, commit her to things he couldn’t deliver, and then leave me to deal with the consequences.
(Weston and Savannah have left the room)
Patrick leaned against the opposite wall.
“You don’t think she should play.”
His statement distracted me from the mental clutches of my increasing anxiety. “Apparently what I think doesn’t matter.”
And there I went again, airing the family drama – parents who pulled me back, a brother who pushed too far. I lifted my head and- wait . . . maybe . . . maybe what I needed was standing right in front of me. A third-party opinion from a medical professional.
“You know her medical history. Do you think she’s ready to be thrown out into the world, allowed to do all the normal kid stuff that Weston thinks she can do?”
He pushed away from the wall, watching me. “I’m not sure that’s the right question.”
With a single exhale, hope rushed from my lungs. My whole world revolved around that question – around keeping her well and happy and whole. And if that wasn’t the right question, then-
“What about asking yourself if you’re ready?”
My eyes snapped to his face. “To give my brother free rein over her childhood? To let him risk her health for the sake of momentary happiness? No, I’m not ready for that.”
And then I reconsidered him. This man who’d bungee jumped off bridges and safaried with zoo animals. Perhaps I hadn’t asked the wrong question; perhaps I’d asked the wrong person.
Patrick was risk in its most concentrated form.
“We take risks every day. The key is to make the ones you take count.”
After the sudden loss of her husband to a cerebral aneurysm and her daughter Savannah’s successful battle with cancer, Willa may be forgiven for being a little anxious and over cautious. But it doesn’t stop her brother Weston from pushing the boundaries of what she is comfortable with.
With Savannah starting school again Willa’s anxiety-meter is on high alert, a state of mind that causes her to react with uncustomary ungraciousness when she takes Savannah to see Dr. Ivar McCade, only to be confronted by his extremely handsome and much younger substitute for the next several months: his son, Dr. Patrick McCade. What’s more, it seems that every time they run into each other she only heaps more humiliation upon herself. If only he would just forget she even exists.
Patrick is the complete opposite to Willa – a thrill-seeker who thrives on a life of travelling, seeking temporary doctoring positions wherever they take him, and even helping out in disaster areas all over the globe. Little does Willa realize he has also struck up a close friendship with her brother, a fact that is only going to keep bringing her into his company. But when Willa seeks his professional advice about whether Savannah is ready to do all the ‘normal kid stuff’ Weston thinks Savannah should be able to do, he asks Willa a question of his own. “What about asking yourself if you’re ready?”
And thus begin Willa’s lessons in courage. The more time Patrick and Willa spend together, the more their attraction to one another deepens, but will it be enough to cure Patrick’s wanderlust and convince him to settle down at last?
This is a well-written contemporary romance, thrumming with life and vitality in spite of Willa’s death grip on the reins of her life! I love Deese’s writing style. She has a wonderful way with words – her verb choices, her use of metaphor, her succinct way of communicating so much with a few well chosen words. Her writing doesn’t just show – it animates.
I’m also a sucker for great dialogue, and this is another thing I love about Deese’s books. They’re full of character interactions, rather than getting bogged down in character introspection. And the dialogue is so natural and full of personality.
For those who have read the previous book in this series, I am pleased to say Weston (and Georgia, to a lesser extent) feature in this one too – in some ways Weston is almost as important a character as Patrick (though obviously not for the same reason!) We are also introduced to Alex Reyes, Sydney Parker’s teen half-sister, who is a fantastic secondary character. I can’t help wondering whether we will see more of her in a later book…
And as for endorphins – there were plenty of those released during this novel. Patrick is dreamy, and while one or two of the romantic interactions between Willa and Patrick were a little on the ‘racy’ side compared to most Christian fiction (but kissing only), it was the sense of soul connection building between these two that carried the novel.
‘Serious’ fiction it may not be, but the day I stop enjoying a good romance like this is the day I shrivel up and die.
Thank you to Waterfall Press for providing me with a copy of this novel in return for my honest review.
Release date: 2 February 2016
Publisher: Waterfall Press
Author’s website: http://www.nicoledeese.com/
Previous books in the series: