I really enjoy making these mini reviews! I don’t always have enough to say about a book to write a full review. Yet I still want to let you know what I thought! I’ve read 4 romance books by Sarina Bowen lately, so I decided to combine the reviews into one post.
The Year We Fell Down (Ivy Years #1)
Genre: Romance, NA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
Synopsis: She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead. Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league. Also, he’s taken. Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall. Over tequila, perilously balanced dining hall trays, and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands. They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together. All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard. But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness — one which does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play, or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.
I’ve mentioned before that I like to read (NA) romance once in a while between all my fantasy books. They tend to get a bit heavy at times, so I need to switch over to a fun and quick-read genre. I’d read Him before, which is co-written by Sarina Bowen. I really enjoyed that one, so wanted to give her other works a try.
This was a great introduction to her own works! I really enjoyed it. I liked the fact that it’s about 2 people who are injured. One more permanently than the other. I don’t think I had read many books about disability prior to these reads (aside from Me Before You), which is a shame. This taught me a lot about the parts of getting injured people normally don’t talk about: the fact that it takes months for your body to adjust so you know what you’ll be able to do, the fact that a UTI is extremely dangerous, the fact that someone has to teach you to put on your pants and socks. Those are such simple things we take for granted.
I think the characters were very strong as well. Of course, they have both been through quite a lot. And of course there was drama in this book. Yet I like that the truly-romantic-drama wasn’t too drawn out. It wasn’t like the main characters were in a huge misunderstanding for 50% of the book.
Lastly, I loved watching Corey pick herself up. Not that she’d been a slouch before, mind you. I mean that I loved watching her look for ways to adjust: a new sport, a new access way to a building, etc. I loved the romance, and I think this is one of my favorite books by her so far.
Coming In From the Cold (Gravity #1)
Genre: Romance, NA
Rating: 3.5/5 stars – ★★★.5
Synopsis: Ski racer Dane “Danger” Hollister does not do relationships, though he keeps his reason a secret. The real-life curse he’s inherited from his mother will eventually cost him everything: his place on the Olympic ski team, his endorsement income, and his ability to fly downhill at top speed. Reluctant country girl Willow Reade meets Dane by accident. Literally. Her skidding truck forces him off the road during a blizzard. Stranded together in his Jeep as night falls, the two loneliest people in Vermont find themselves sharing more than they’d planned. And not just conversation. Yet neither can guess how their unlikely tryst will threaten Dane’s frightening secret and Willow’s tentative peace with her own choices. Only mutual trust and understanding can end their pain and give them a hard won shot at love.
I’m a bit torn on this one. Let me explain why.
First of all, I love sports romances. I haven’t read many wintersports-ones though! I loved that aspect, although it wasn’t too present in the actual story line. I also liked the fact that this story felt quite realistic. I think this is something I could truly see happen to someone.
Dane, the main male character, has quite an interesting background -in my opinion. I like to see those psychological sides to illness or its possibility. I do think that he was kind of an asshole at times. Okay, a complete asshole. And I’m torn: on the one hand I kind of understand, yet on the other hand I also believe there’s no excuse for being so rude.
By now, you’re probably wondering why I’m torn about this entire book. Let me tell you. I think it was well done/written. Yet it features a trope in romance novels I absolutely HATE. I can’t tell you what it is because that’s a spoiler. I can’t stand the trope though, so it automatically makes me like a book less.
Falling From the Sky (Gravity #2)
Genre: Romance, NA
Rating: 4.5/5 stars – ★★★★.5
Synopsis: Bad boy Hank “Hazardous” Lazarus used to have everything: a gorgeous girlfriend, a career as a freestyle snowboarder and a spot on the US Olympic team. Nine months ago, after a bad crash in the half pipe, he woke up in the hospital, unable to move his legs. Now he’s landed there again, but gravity is not the culprit. With his family pressuring him to try a groundbreaking treatment, Hank self-medicates with too much tequila instead. Doctor Callie Anders has the courage to restart a patient’s heart with a thousand volts of electricity, yet she’s afraid to risk her own. So she doesn’t confess to her newest patient they they met just before the accident, an encounter that he doesn’t remember. Even as their friendship develops, she won’t admit that she regrets turning down his dinner invitation, or that her heart stutters every time those inked shoulders roll through the door of the therapy department. With another Vermont winter coming again, Hank needs a hand out from under the avalanche of his disappointments. If only Callie were brave enough to take the job.
I think this was my favorite one of the trilogy. Well, I don’t think so, I know it was. The reason for that is Callie. She’s by far the most relatable of the women in this series -to me of course. It may be very different for you. Callie is focused on her career, which she loves. But she’s also afraid of missing out on a romantic life. She suffered a massive blow to her confidence when her boyfriend (fiance?) dumps her for a younger and extremely beautiful woman. I can relate to a low self-confidence romance-wise, and a passion for your career.
I think this story was absolutely beautiful. It’s the story of 2 people trying to find new ways to live their lives. For Hank, it’s a tad more extreme. He suffered a terrible injury while snowboarding and has had to give up his profession and passion. I also liked the physio aspect of the story. It’s interesting to see the actual recovery story while it’s happening, instead of afterwards.
I loved the characters, and their romance. They helped each other through some tough times, showing it may not all be over after all.
Shooting for the Stars (Gravity #2)
Genre: Romance, NA
Rating: 3/5 stars – ★★★
Synopsis: Pro snowboarder Stella Lazarus has always loved her brother’s best friend. But the one time she tried to show him, she was shot down faster than you can say “competitor disqualified.” Until one blissful night in Tahoe, when Stella finally gets her man. Or does she? In the morning, Stella and Bear wake up to horrible news. The sort that sends them racing back to Vermont, and straight into the arms of guilt and family obligations. For all of Bryan “Bear” Barry’s life, three natural laws held true: his best friend Hank was destined for greatness, Hank’s sister Stella was off-limits, and Bear would always manage to negotiate the rocky paths that life threw his way. In the space of two days, that’s all shattered. Bear can’t believe he slipped up so badly with Stella. Even if his best friend wasn’t lying broken in a hospital bed, it would still be unforgivable. Determined to do better, he devotes himself to his friend’s recovery, denying himself the very person he loves. And the very thing he needs.
This was my least favorite one of the trilogy. That’s mostly due to the timeline though.
This book plays out around the same time the previous one does, which means I already knew/guessed a lot of what happened. That made it less exciting to read, of course. I also feel like it was more rushed than the other ones, and I didn’t get to know Bear as well as the other guys. That all made me less attached to the romance.
I did love Stella. I admire the fact that she wants to chase her dream and be a professional freestyle snowboarder (I think). She has to give up a lot to do so, and it’s admirable. She’s a woman to look up to. Yet again, I felt less connected to her than the other women -and I already knew her big part in the ending because of the previous book.