USA Today Bestselling Author
A bad boy soccer star,
a kind-hearted artist,
a game neither planned on playing…
After her divorce, Lucy Martin left her small hometown for the big city, never expecting to return. Now, she’s back, caring for her soccer-crazed nephew while his parents are deployed. She’ll do anything to make him happy—including reaching out to her former high school crush and current soccer superstar, Ryker James.
Nursing an injury, Ryker plans to lie low at his parents’ house until he heals. He can’t wait to rejoin his club and make amends for the trouble he caused. When the younger sister of a former teammate asks him for a favor—to coach her nephew’s soccer team—he should decline. But boredom and attraction compels him to help Lucy.
Coaching forces them together, and sparks fly…on and off the field. But Lucy’s wary of romance, and Ryker can’t afford a distraction. Before the final whistle blows, will they take a shot at love or forfeit the match?
Lucy Martin had been through much in her young life but her divorce sent her fleeing her hometown. However, when her brother and sister-in-law are being deployed, she doesn’t hesitate to move back to take care of her nephew. As a graphic designer and artist she can work from anywhere, she just hopes she doesn’t run into her ex.
One of the things she has to do for her brother Aaron, is find a coach for Connor’s soccer team. Something he didn’t have the time to do. So far she’s come with nobody, they’re either already coaching or are too busy working to do it. She’s determined to do it herself if she can’t find anyone, but soccer is not something she knows a lot about.
When Connor comes home from school excited she isn’t quite expecting what he is about to reveal. Apparently, soccer star Ryker James is in town recovering from an injury. Lucy remembers Ryker from school, he was friends and teammates with Aaron and a frequent guest at their home. She’d had quite the crush on him back then too. Could she face him to ask?
Ryker has been told to lay low by his Agent, the cause of his injury has him in trouble with his team as does his playboy behavior. When Lucy shows up with cookies to ask a favor, not for herself but for her nephew, he declines but promises to find someone for her.
In the end he agrees to do it, but on the downlow as her assistant teaching her to coach as he helps with the boys.
This is a favorite scene.
“The Defeeters have arrived.”
Lucy looked toward the parking lot. “Aaron told me coaching this age is like herding cats. Except cats don’t talk back.”
Another burp sounded. More laughter followed.
“Or burp,” Ryker said.
As she nodded, boys surrounded them. He’d played in big matches in front of millions of people, but the expectant look in these kids’ eyes disconcerted him, making him feel as if he was stepping onto the pitch for the very first time.
“Hey, boys. I’m Ryker.” He focused on the eager faces staring up at him, not wanting to disappoint them or Lucy.
“I’m helping out for a few weeks. Ready to play some football?”
Nine— or was it ten?— heads, ranging in size and hair color, nodded enthusiastically. A couple yelled.
Great. Ryker grinned. This wouldn’t be difficult at all.
A short kid with long brown hair scrunched his nose. “This isn’t football.”
“Everywhere else in the world soccer is called football,” Ryker explained.
The kid didn’t look impressed. “It’s called soccer here.”
“We’ll talk more about that later.” Soccer in America was nothing like soccer in other parts of the world. No sport in the U.S. could compare with the passion for the sport called football elsewhere. “I want you to tell me your name and how long you’ve played.”
Each boy did. Justin. Jacob. Dalton. Tyler. Marco. The names ran into each other. Ryker wouldn’t remember them. No worries. Calling them dude, bud, and kid would work for today. “Any questions?”
“Can you teach us how to dive?” a boy with bleach-blond hair that hung over his eyes asked.
Some soccer players dived— throwing themselves on the field and pretending to be hurt— to draw a penalty during the match.
“No,” Ryker said firmly. “Never dive.”
“What if it’s the World Cup?” a kid with a crew cut asked.
“If you’re playing in the World Cup, you’ll know what to do.” Ryker clapped his hands together. “Let’s warm-up.”
The boys stood in place.
He knew the warm-up routine, and so did his Fuego teammates, but based on these kids’ puzzled looks, they hadn’t a clue what he meant. “Get in a single-file line behind the first cone on the left side.”
The boys shuffled into place, but the line wasn’t straight. As two kids jockeyed for the spot in front of Connor, they elbowed one another. A pair in the middle tried to trip each other. The boys in the back half didn’t seem to understand the meaning of a line and spread out.
This wasn’t working the way he’d planned. Ryker dragged his hand through his hair.
“Meow,” Lucy whispered.
“Where can I find a cat herder?” he asked.
Her coy smile sent his pulse racing. “Look in the mirror. Didn’t you know cat herder is synonymous with coach?”
He blew out a breath. “That’s what I was afraid you’d say.”
Melissa McClone. The Soccer Star (Kindle Locations 904-931). Cardinal Press, LLC.
Lucy and Ryker definitely have chemistry between them and Lucy finds herself setting some ground rules, including no kissing. This was a fine plan until his agent shows up as they were relaxing after dinner at his parents home. Even with Connor with them playing with the dog, Blake sees the attraction and assumes they are an item.
Unfortunately for Lucy and Ryker, the only way he can continue to coach is if they are a couple. He has to have a personal attachment to the team and that would be Lucy.
Plenty of romance with a time limit and Lucy tries hard not to fall in love with him. It seems to her Ryker has it easier when facing that limited time together.
I love the way this plays out, the unexpected events, and the growth of character that Ryker goes through is perfect.
I can’t wait to see what Melissa has in mind for the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Melissa!
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USA Today bestselling author, Melissa McClone has published over forty novels with Harlequin and Tule Publishing Group.
With a degree in mechanical engineering from Stanford University, Melissa worked for a major airline where she traveled the globe and met her husband. But analyzing jet engine performance couldn’t compete with her love of writing happily ever afters.
Her first full-time writing endeavor was her first sale when she was pregnant with her first child! When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her driving her minivan to/from her children’s swim practices and other activities.
Melissa lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, three children, two spoiled Norwegian Elkhounds, and cats who think they rule the house. They do!