Elliott Reed has found her dream job as the Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs when their brand new star quarterback Quinton Howard Jr. slaps a piece of black tape on the football logo on his jersey and kneels during the national anthem of their opening football game. When Elliott is given the task of “handling” him she finds herself battling her feelings of respect for the cause he’s fighting and her need to keep her new job. The job that she feels her dead father would have loved for his daughter.
Alexa Martin’s forward states that this is very loosely based upon her own experiences as the wife of a player in the NFL but is also influenced by Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling for the national anthem that started that protesting movement, but that the relationship story is all fiction. I thought she did a GREAT job relaying the story and describing the feelings that her characters, and people of color feel at being treated in the way they were treated in this book. I could never put myself in their shoes, but I felt the hurt, confusion, and anger these characters felt at their treatment and that goes a long way towards helping me understand. I appreciated and welcomed that lesson even if it was just in a fictional romance novel.
Elliott’s mother was black and died when she was a baby. She was raised by her white father and so had conflicted feelings about race, how she should feel and react in certain situations. She has always hidden her feelings and just tried to fit in so when Quinton’s stance made her face her own tendencies to brush things under the rug, it was eye opening and upsetting for her. The fact that she so admired him for what he was doing and was even helping him set up his foundation while at the same time feeling uncomfortable at bringing her feelings out into the open was, I thought, very realistic for how a lot of people may be feeling towards the Black Matter movement and protesting that is ongoing today. It made the point this author was making more relevant and real for me to have her main character so conflicted in the beginning.
With such a serious subject at the center of the love story as a reader you can’t help but feel that the romance took a back seat to the stance on racial inequality and how football players from before 1993 are being mistreated with a lack of benefits and healthcare. You know what? I didn’t miss the romance at all. I still felt the sizzling attraction and the pain of difficult conversations that helped move the relationship forward. The story had a more serious tone than the previous novels but with the help of her friends also brought touches of light and funny. At the end I felt totally satisfied and when I looked back on the book realized how much I enjoyed the story and their romance.
I received a copy of this book through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest.
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