Series: Dare to Love #2
Published by CP Publishing on September 8th 2014
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
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Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all -- an all-star football career and his choice of willing women -- until injury forces him into early retirement. When he is offered a ground-breaking position with a rival team, he's intrigued, but there's a catch. He'll be working alongside the same woman he callously hurt when she got too close for comfort.
Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows what it means to have-not. She isn't impressed by Alex Dare's wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests. This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily.
But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it's to get what he wants. Can he convince Madison to take a risk and dare to love?
We don’t see too much of Alex and Madison’s first relationship. They’re in the midst of it when Alex is hurt on the football field and he shuts Madison out completely. We pick back up six months later. Alex and Madison haven’t seen each other since he threw her out of his hospital room following his injury.
Alex was told by his doctors that one more concussion could cause him problems up to and including permanent brain damage, memory loss, depression, loss of motor control or blindness. His football playing days are over. At twenty-six, Alex must retire from the only career he’s prepared for or is qualified for. I was expecting him to have a lot more problems adjusting to post-football life, but any problems he had must have happened in the six months we skipped over, because by the time we catch back up with him, he’s pretty well-adjusted. There are a few scenes involving him showing some real emotion over it, and those are mostly him not wanting others to see him as weak. His brother Ian asks him to come work for him on a new program he’s trying to institute with professional athletes, not telling him that Madison is already attached to the project and will be his closest co-worker. Alex is fine with this because he’s already decided he wants Madison back, but Madison needs a little more convincing.
Madison has a lot of abandonment issues stemming from her childhood, most of which Alex triggered when he threw her out of his hospital room and refused to speak to her again. She has absolutely no interest in being one more in a string of Alex’s conquests. She’s furious when she realizes that Ian and his wife, Riley, Madison’s best friend, have gotten her to accept this job and get excited about it before telling her Alex would be involved. Because she is so excited about the job, she decides to stick it out with Alex, deciding that she’s a professional and she can make it work.
There wasn’t a lot of drama or angst in this book. Alex tells her early on that he wants her back, and she agrees almost immediately to give it a chance, though she makes it clear that this is a probationary period. They date, they have a lot of really great sex, and they get to know each other as these new people that they’ve turned into. And Alex is definitely a different person after everything he’s gone through. He’s realized that a lot of the people he thought were his friends were not, they took off after he wasn’t playing football anymore and wasn’t living the same style of life they had grown accustomed to. He sold his house and downsized to an apartment because he realized he would have to get better at managing his money than he had been before. And I was really impressed with his decision to walk away from football. A lot of players of various sports would have gotten the diagnosis Alex did and found a way to keep playing because they didn’t know what else to do. Alex was able to make a rational, though difficult decision, and do what was best for his health and his future.
“And you matter. I also know how to work for what I want. And Madison?” He looked directly into her eyes. “I want you.”
Madison, for her part hasn’t really changed so much herself as she has realized that it’s not really fair for her to expect Alex to completely change everything about himself while she remains stagnant. Yes, there were things about Alex that she needed to be different in order to be comfortable with him (For example, in the past, when approached by female fans while he was with Madison, he would all but push her out of the way to flirt with the fans and sign whatever they wanted him to. Now when that situation arises, he keeps Madison at his side, making it clear that they’re together, and signs items for the fans, but doesn’t flirt with them.) There’s a definite sense this time around with Alex that he recognizes what he has with Madison and isn’t willing to risk it or throw it away like he was previously. As a result, when a situation arises toward the end of the book that could have caused a lot of drama and hurt feelings, Madison trusts Alex and recognizes the situation for what it is.
vBut that’s a personal preference. Also, I thought the sub-plot with Madison’s foster brother was a little unnecessary. Yes, it gave Alex another way to help Madison out and prove his commitment to her, but in the end it didn’t really go anywhere.
All in all, a really enjoyable read that set up the next in the series nicely. Also, and this is just me, but I really like the heart Carly Phillips makes out of the C and the P in her name on the chapter headers. I don’t know why, I just think it’s really cute.