Star basketball player Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college—and everyone's admiration back home. Then she took a horrible fall during senior year. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
That summer, Chelsea's dad hires Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player and "boot camp" trainer, to work with her at a northern Minnesota lake resort. As they grow close, Chelsea finds that Clint's haunted by his own tragedy. Will their romance end up hurting them all over again—or finally heal their heartbreak?
Everything I read about this book before it came out called it a "summer romance,"--which there is plenty of, believe me. Delicious, steamy romance. But I think categorizing this book as only that is selling it short. Holly writes at a depth way below the surface, and that's what I loved most about this story of loss and healing between two ex-athletes.
PLAYING HURT is told in the alternating viewpoints of Clint and Chelsea, which is irresistably fun on the romance front. I don't think there's a single one of us around who hasn't wished we knew what our love interest was thinking. Schindler gives us that luxury, allowing us to fall for Clint in all his gorgeousness even quicker than Chelsea does. And in Chelsea, we get to experience that fluttery feeling of falling that's impossible to fight.
The other thing using alternating viewpoints accomplishes is to show us the similarities between Chelsea and Clint before they recognize them themselves. Both have experienced painful losses and are in search of their identities in light of those losses. When they finally let their guard down around each other and move beyond their crazy physical attraction, they're able to help each other toward healing.
In PLAYING HURT, Holly Schindler accomplishes what I admire most about my favorite contemporary stories. She writes a careful balance of gorgeous prose, fluid plot, and engaging characters who have true emotional depth. If you're in the mood for a perfect summer romance that's more than a summer romance, you need to read this book. I thought about doing a giveaway with my copy, but the truth is, I love this one too much to part with it. You'll just have to pick it up, find a comfy spot in the sun, and soak up this beautifully told story.
But first, you should check out what the other Bookanistas are up to this week:
- LiLa Roecker gets silly over Spoiled
- Christine Fonseca has a passion for Possession – with giveaway
- Shannon Messenger marvels at Moonglass – with giveaway
- Jamie Harrington adores Invincible Summer
- Shelli Johannes-Wells is in the grip of Possession
- Scott Tracey bathes in Blood Magic
- Carolina Valdez Miller interviews Invincible Summer author Hannah Moskowitz
- Bethany Wiggins delves into Divergent
- Shana Silver presents a Guestanista gushing over Between Here and Forever
- Carrie Harris sings out about Shift
- Rosemary Clement-Moore applauds Abandon
- Sarah Frances Hardy enjoys Me Jane
- Matt Blackstone loves Like Mandarin
- Corrine Jackson delights in The Duff
- Stasia Ward Kehoe discusses Displacement
And don't forget--tomorrow is the last day to enter and win the Moonglass-inspired mermaid prize pack here on the blog. Check it out!