Book: Break Away by Heather M. Orgeron
Age/Genre: Sports Romance
Preferred Reading Environment: On the treadmill! You’ll need to run to blow off a little steam from this one.
Reading Accoutrements: Headphones – music blaring. Lots of water. Maybe some protein powder if you’re into that sort of thing.
In honor of March Madness, I decided to do a review of a basketball romance!!! This was really exciting for me because I very much enjoy sports romances but I hadn’t yet read a basketball romance. #excusetobuyanewbook!
As I searched through the Amazon Kindle store, trying to find a basketball romance that I thought I would enjoy, I learned a couple of things: 1) it is easy to find sports romances on Kindle but kind of difficult to find specific sport romances. Meaning, searching “basketball romance” didn’t get me very far. 2) There are not as many basketball romances as I expected, considering how many football, baseball, and hockey romances I have read. Heck, I’ve even read rugby and soccer romances and I DO NOT WATCH THOSE SPORTS…Although the rugby romances made me want to watch it. Have you noticed how difficult it is to find rugby on television if you live anywhere south of New Jersey?
Jeriann: Hey Bethany, aren’t you supposed to be writing a review or something?
Right, well…back to the book. I was torn between a couple of enticing plot descriptions – it came down to either the “best friends fall in love” story or the “former basketball playing single dad returns home” romance. I’m a sucker for a friends-to-lovers romance, so I chose Break Away, by Heather M. Orgeron.
This book follows Alexis (of the gazillion nicknames…seriously, the girl has around 6 nicknames: Al, Alex, Allie, Lexi, Lexis, Lex…) and Colton (of the one nickname: Colt). They grew up next door neighbors, their parents are close friends, and they have spent weekends at each other’s houses since they were babies. The book jumps between the two character’s perspectives, showing the reader their relationship dynamic at ages thirteen, fifteen, and eighteen, before settling into the bulk of the action when they are twenty.
Colton is the high school basketball star. Alexis is his best friend, though the two have separate friend groups. Alexis doesn’t get along with the cheerleaders and jocks Colton constantly hangs out with, but she has her own friends separate from Colton. Colton is fine with Alexis’s friends, but they don’t hang out as a group very often. The two are clearly very close, spending summer vacations together, calling and texting each other constantly, and even sleeping in the same bed during sleepovers at each other’s houses – which their parents are oddly okay with.
Alexis developed a crush on Colton at age thirteen, but Colton really only saw her as his best friend. At their high school homecoming dance (age fifteen) Alexis decides that she isn’t going to spend her life pining over Colton, so she starts dating Dean, one of Colton’s teammates who is clearly into her. Colton, of course, chooses this moment to realize that Alexis is the one for him, but he decides that he doesn’t want to risk their friendship by professing his feelings. At age eighteen, Colton decides to attend UCLA on a basketball scholarship in order to get away from the reminder that Alexis is still happily in a relationship with Dean and the two are separated for an extended period of time, although they still call and text each other constantly.
When Dean proposes to Alexis, she is completely unprepared. She asks Dean for time to consider and leaves to spend the summer with Colton in LA. Both Alexis and Colton are determined to figure out whether or not they have feelings for one another, but they’ve had secrets for a long time and their old lies keep getting in the way.
I’m not going to lie, when I bought this book, I thought the characters would be…older. Maybe it’s just me, but reading romance novels about kids in high school and college makes me feel old. The immaturity level of the characters just drives me a little bonkers. Teenaged Colton is fixated on big boobs. Alexis at age nineteen decided to have plastic surgery to get her boobs enhanced. Dean at age twenty thought it would be a good idea to propose to a girl he didn’t think loved him…There’s more but I don’t want to spoil the whole plot. Suffice it to say that the book is a comedy of errors in judgment on all of their parts. I tend to get frustrated when characters exceed my silliness limits and teenagers, however realistic the characters are, tend to do that…a lot.
Being a teenager is a time I would rather forget, so I am always curious when an author chooses to write about teenagers. Especially when those teenagers are making huge life decisions, like having plastic surgery or getting married or choosing universities based on “wanting to get away from someone.” I did a little research and discovered that Orgeron married her high school sweetheart two months after their high school graduation and they are living happily ever after with their six kids. I’m not judging. I know some people are mature enough at that age to make such huge life decisions (I wasn’t), but there were definitely times in this book when I was sure that Alexis and Colton were not. A good example of the fact that they weren’t is Alexis’s decision to “settle” for Dean – a selfish decision made because she was only thinking of herself. By the end of the book, the two seemed to have grown up, but I still see a long road of fighting off their own misinformation in their future.
I was also disappointed about the age of the characters because the likelihood that sports was discussed at all in the plot actually decreased because of their youth. When a sports romance is about an adult playing a sport professionally, that book tends to introduce actual scenes about the sport, how it’s played, and it’s jargon. Maybe it’s because winning a game is actually the point when you’re a professional, but there are other incentives when you’re in high school and college: scholarships, college degrees, getting a job, etc. As a professional, the incentive becomes keeping your job and getting paid more money – and to do that you have to win. Winning, as any sports romance reader knows, is a mindset; if you want to win, you have to “Getcha Head in the Game” as the High School Musical song goes. That’s why sports romances with professionals actually talk about the sport more – because the romance part of the story inevitably affects the game part. I really like the sports parts – they add action and intensity without the threat of death and I find that fun to read. Break Away doesn’t really talk about basketball at all – in fact the only mention of a basketball game we get is a halftime show – so I was disappointed.
Otherwise, the writing was engaging and the story was fun to read. The characters might have been irritatingly silly at one time or another, but they weren’t so bad that I had to set the book down for an extended period of time. I’ve always been a sucker for a good friends-to-lovers romance and this one is good. Just don’t read it for the basketball…
Do you like to read sports romances? If so, what sport is your favorite? If not, what type of romance is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!