October 26, 2013

Title: Running Back

Series: New York Leapords, Book 2

Author: Allison Parr ♥ @Allison_Parr

Published: October 21, 2013

Publisher: Carina Press

Pages: 229

Source: NetGalley

Summary from Goodreads: Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O’Connor, popular NFL running back.

On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she’s not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine…

Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.

Average Rating on Goodreads (as of 11/02/2013): 4.00

  • Christina thought this title was unexpectedly fun and had all the spice she was craving. It goes on her second shelf.

**SPECIAL NOTE:** An eARC of this title was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.

Initial Thoughts and Actual Rating: A solid 4 stars for Running Back! This might have had an unoriginal story flow and a few cliched moments, but the plot was fun and the characters were lively. I especially loved Michael O’ Connor, our hero, who charmed his way into my heart with his love-loud-and-fiercely demeanor and Ginger-hued hair. I can’t deny it, I love the redheads. It didn’t hurt that he was a football player either.

The Lowdown: Natalie Sullivan has always been at odds with her mother and father, particularly because of her academic aspirations of discovering a long lost harbor city buried beneath the green, rolling hills of an Irish farm. She loves her career field of archaeology, wants to dream of the magic that exists tucked below the surface of the earth and finds a safe haven in the solidity that’s tied so strongly with history. It’s the future, complicated emotions, and feeling stuck that makes her anxious and filled with wanderlust.

Being a grad student, most of her life’s work and her future career has been streamlined into this one purpose- finding Ivernis. She’s put in long hours and tons of research to narrow down where the lost coastal city could have existed, and after many months of haggling with the landowner, she gets his permission and the grant money she needs for the dig. However, a mere month before the excavation is set to begin, the landowner dies unexpectedly and the land goes to his nephew who just so happens to be Mike O’Connor, popular NFL running back for the New York Leopards. It seems that her thesis and career mean nothing to him because he flat-out refuses to let her commence with the dig.

But Natalie won’t be so easily deterred from her mission and decides to do more research in the neighboring communities. Just because he won’t let her dig doesn’t mean she has to give up on the idea of finding her beloved Ivernis. Only, life is never that easy and Mike, who’s there to rediscover his long lost roots, ends up staying in the same inn as her, in the room just across the hall. There’s entertaining banter, family feuding, wondrous landscapes, and a passionate romance left to be discover in Running Back.

My Thoughts: When I requested this title, I was unaware that it was part of a series, but luckily for me, it reads like a stand-alone. Perhaps it’s just a case of the perfect book at the perfect time, but I basically inhaled this novel from the very first page. Allison Parr does a really amazing job of pulling the main characters and the romance to the forefront of the novel while still allowing the sub-plots of the dig and sorting family issues to shine. There was a really good balance to the book that held my attention the entire way through. I also enjoyed the fact that Ms. Parr seems to write about subjects and places she knew, you could sense it in the energy and detail she put into her writing. The landscapes and the technicality of being an archaeologist were present on every page without it feeling like it burdened the pace or took up too much focus. I appreciated the intricacy of it all.

My one complaint about this story and what held me back from giving it the full five stars was that I felt the author could have given us so much more of these great secondary characters she introduced us to throughout the novel. For Mike and Natalie’s families to been one of the greatest struggles in their personal lives, as well as an integral part to the divide in their relationship, I wanted them to jump off the page for me more. I felt like they had endless potential- on the surface they were vibrant characters- but I feel like if Ms. Parr had dug a little deeper into them, I would’ve connected better with them and the book as a whole.

There also was the minor little pet peeve of the love proclamation including the characters’ whole names. That drives me bonkers every single time I see it in a book and feels so unrealistic. “Michael O’Connor, I love you.” (I’m paraphrasing, it wasn’t said exactly like that, but you get the gist.) But, like I stated, it’s a personal quirk and it didn’t really take anything away from the story.

Rec It? Yes, I would. It was a quick read, and I enjoyed the romance and living abroad through Natalie’s travels. Both main characters were portrayed realistically, and I liked that there was banter and just enough heat.

A very special thanks to Carina Press and NetGalley for providing me with an early copy of this title in exchange for an honest review.

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