Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Patient Love - A Review of RUNNING BACK by Allison Parr.

(Goodreads Blurb)
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.

Thank you to Netgalley for providing an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.

If you take a look at this scenery, then you know at least half of the reason that I requested this book.  I have a lifelong love of Ireland and all things Irish.  How could I possibly resist a book about falling in love in Ireland?

Part two of the request was because I read Rush Me (New York Leopards #1) and was pleasantly surprised.  (You can see my review of Rush Me HERE)  I was looking forward to learning more about the Leopard football players.

The Story...

Archaeologist Natalie Sullivan finally has the funding to go ahead with her her dig off the coast of Ireland.  Now the only thing standing in her way is the land's new owner, NFL running back Michael O'Connor.

At first glance, Mike seems like an easy-going, friendly guy, but Natalie sees a different side of him once she asks about excavating on his land.  His refusal to sign her papers does not stop Natalie from making a trip across the Atlantic to see the surrounding lands and interview people in the area.  What is it that Mike could be hiding on this land?

Mike also makes the trip to Ireland with his mother and his sisters for the memorial and "month's mind" of his recently deceased uncle.  Mike is caught off guard when he finds Natalie staying in the same inn where he and his family are staying, but not exactly surprised.  How is Mike supposed to keep his hands off of Natalie when she is sleeping directly across the hall from him?

Mike and Natalie give in to their attraction while continuing to argue over excavation rights.  During the day they visit with his Irish family and neighbors, and they keep each other warm and cozy at night.  Mike's NFL travel schedule and practices make a relationship seem difficult, but Natalie's skeptical views on love and forever make it an even greater challenge.  Can the archaeologist overcome the past and grasp onto a future she never imagined?

What Worked...

My hesitation regarding these stories stems from the fact that they are about football players.  I am not a football fan.  I'm not any kind of sports fan, actually, and the egos that usually follow players causes me to run screaming from many books.  This author uses the team and the sport to enhance the story, but the stories are the characters.  In this instance, she even removes the characters to a different country, which takes away the celebrity factor for most of the book.

Setting Mike and Natalie in Ireland was brilliant.  The rich history there is so much greater than most Americans can even fathom.  It's also a land of mystery and secrets.  I loved the way that this helped the story along.

Mike and Natalie do not let a little thing like disagreeing on excavation get in the way of their pleasure.  She may be mad that he is holding up her life's work, but she doesn't let that stop her from sharing his bed.

What Didn't...

There were many secondary characters introduced that probably weren't necessary.  Sometimes I felt a little overwhelmed by the amount of names without stories.

4 out of 5 stars.

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