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All Nick Renshaw knows about is rugby. He didn’t like school so University was not a choice. He left school at sixteen and was working at a paint factory when he was recruited into a rugby team. He never looked back. Now, after eleven years playing rugby, he’s injured in his Achilles heel tendon, and he’s afraid he won’t be able to make it back. He went through the operation and the physical therapy but he’s still uncertain. He knows his body and he knows it’s not yet right. He’s just been recruited into a rugby league team and his new coach assigned him to a sports psychologist to help him get his mojo back.
When he meets Dr. Anna Scott, the connection and attraction are immediate and strong. Their chemistry is off the charts but there are two obstacles: Nick just got engaged to Molly and Anna’s job assignment forbids personal relations with the players. So they abstain from acting on their feelings until Nick discovers Molly cheating on him with his best friend and former team mate. His actions unchain a lot of reactions and incidents. They all get involved in a spiral of court time, public media harassment, Molly’s revenge through the media and court, you name it. This bitch from hell caused a lot of damage to Anna and Nick, and financial difficulties for Nick. They both go through a really black period. Through it all, Nick suffers another injury and goes through the same medical hell as before but with better results. Anna has helped him so much that he improved his game, while his personal life is in strife. Anna is not as lucky, she is submerged into a professional and personal hell caused by the ex-girlfriend from hell, who cannot forgive that Nick has moved up since their spectacular breakup.
There’s a lot of drama and angst; as I read the book I felt I was in a roller coaster, with dramatic ups and downs. This couple had some months of joy, followed by months of despair. Yet, their love was so strong, that it held up during all this strife unto a beautiful HEA. I loved how Stuart Reardon presented Nick’s feelings while on a game, the feeling of pride that he was chosen to play for his country with the responsibility to play good and win the cup for his country, the exhilaration from the fans in the crowd, all the feels that us normal couch potatoes will never feel. Anna and Nick almost lost everything, but then they won everything. Because when you are honest and good and hardworking, eventually you will achieve what you want in life. It may not be what they initially planned but they ended up UNDEFEATED.
Although for me I truly felt this was Nick's journey, the love story that emerges between Nick and Anna is clearly at the heart of this book. Their forbidden romance because she is his rugby team's psychologist is full of angst but it is also filled with trust, respect and most of all the ultimate solace when each of their worlds blows apart when they are found out. Even when kept apart by circumstances out of their control, there is strong tether between each of their hearts that won't simply go away because rules dictated their future. The heartache I felt for both Nick and Anna, whether it was because of lies told or injuries sustained was deep for me. I was so invested in their lives it was hard to not shed a tear or twenty because of their fast-changing circumstances.
The backdrop of rugby even when there is a boatload of foreign jargon being tossed about in almost every chapter was fascinating to me. As an American, I felt a bond with Anna, learning together about the ins and outs of this sometimes very brutal sport and quickly becoming a fan, when I've never even watched one match! With Stuart Reardon's vast knowledge of the rugby world, the adage of writing what you know was clearly the way to go for his debut work since his experience as a former star player made this book that much more captivating.
Jane Harvey-Berrick and Stuart Reardon write seamlessly together. There is so much to absorb but I savored every word. Even though this book is quite lengthy it never felt that way. I was never bored nor was I prone to skimming, something I do when many passages in a book seem redundant. With Undefeated I was fully immersed in every single sentence, feeling almost bereft that it came to an end. It is quite the voyage through the eyes of both Nick and Anna. From doctor/patient to friends through email and then to lovers, they have certainly one helluva tale to tell. To say it is unputdownable is an understatement.
So don't be fooled that this is yet another attempt by a cover model to jump on the romance bandwagon. This is writing at its very best and I look forward to more collaborations from these two in the future.
5 HUGE STARS!!
Undefeated, the first collaboration by Jane Harvey-Berrick and Stuart Reardon, is an extremely well written, well thought out novel based in the world of British rugby. I was completely captivated by this story- it was great to read a “sports romance” that was heavy on the actual sport itself. As an American I’m not really familiar with the sport of rugby as we’re all about football here in the US, so I loved being immersed into Nick’s world, thanks to the knowledge brought to the story by Mr. Reardon. I’m not sure if the “feel” of the story would have been the same without his expertise.
Nick and Anna’s story is an emotional journey that had me hooked from the moment these two crossed paths. I went through the highs with them, and I definitely felt the lows. I was beyond frustrated for them as they had to deal with the fall-out from their “forbidden” relationship. And not just frustrated, I was so angry for them! There were times I wanted to reach through my Kindle and punch someone, and I give mad props to Anna and Nick for being as composed as they were. Well, aside from that one time… But lord almighty, there were some very stressful moments for me- I wanted to help fix things and I couldn’t!
I enjoyed every aspect of Undefeated. I really liked the build-up towards the romance,
the detail that went into presenting the sport in a way that those of us unfamiliar with it could appreciate, and honestly, just the overall experience of navigating the ups and downs of life with Nick and Anna.This is a book that will make you think, it’ll make you smile, and if you’re like me it will drive you a little bit crazy.