I received this book for free from the TLC Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Defending Hearts by Rebecca Crowley
Series: Atlanta Skyline #2
Published by Kensington Publishing Corp., Lyrical Shine on September 19, 2017
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Dating & Sex, Romance, Social Issues, Sports
Source: TLC Book Tours
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When The Pitch Gets Personal
Atlanta Skyline’s star Swedish wingback Oz Terim—or as the fans call him, the Wizard—has an airtight plan for his life, his career, even his meticulously renovated house, but he barely gives a thought to the Islamic faith he inherited from his Turkish parents. So no one’s more surprised than he is when he’s the victim of anti-Muslim hate crime. Refusing to take the threat seriously, he resists the security detail Skyline insists on . . . until he meets Kate Mitchell. There’s no room for her in his plan and she’s the exact opposite of what he wants. Then why can’t he keep his hands off her?
After ten years in the military—and getting fired from her first post-Army job in Saudi Arabia—Kate Mitchell has slunk home to her Georgia roots. Private security isn’t the career she dreamed of, nor is she thrilled to work with an uptight professional athlete who plays a sport she has no interest in. She never expected to be attracted to him—or for him to fall for her, too. As their opposite lives tangle up—and the threat against Oz grows more serious—Kate has to decide who she wants to be in life and in love.
I’m so happy to kick off the TLC Book Tour for Rebecca Crowley’s second installment in the Atlanta Skyline series, Defending Hearts. While I’m not a big fan of soccer since I grew up in the Midwest where it was a sport that just wasn’t played, what drew me to this novel was the reversal of roles from typical romance novels: in Defending Hearts, the heroine Kate Mitchell is in the protector role while professional soccer star Oz Terim is the one who needs security. This switch up drew me in from the start, and I was very glad that I picked up this book. Even though this is the second book in the series, Defending Hearts can definitely be read as a standalone novel. I had no problems jumping right in and enjoying every minute.
Kate Mitchell is an army veteran who’s done two tours of duty in the Middle East, and followed those up with a job as security detail for wealthy people in Saudi Arabia. After being let go from her job there, she returned home to Georgia and now sells private security to people in Atlanta. She has no permanent plans other than helping out her mother, sister, and niece, and they seem to be a handful when it comes to being sensible or responsible. But Kate’s called in to give a security quote to the Atlanta Skyline soccer team, and more specifically their star player Oz Terim after he’s the target of anti-Muslim hate crime, and the slow burn begins between Kate and Oz.
Oz Terim has a multi-year plan for once soccer is over. Kate doesn’t fit in with that plan, so he resists his desire for the sexy, in-charge, confident woman that’s been hired to set up security for him. But she’s invading his private space–his perfectly ordered, clean home–and his perfectly scheduled life, and everything that he knows he wants starts to turn upside down. Oz is a bit OCD when it comes to his house and his life, but can he make room for Kate? And can rootless Kate find a home in Oz and believe that he’d want to stay with her?
The main characters Oz and Kate are complex and contradictory, but they fit together quite nicely. Kate is brave, strong, and a bit fearless when it comes to protecting those she loves, but she isn’t without her doubts about certain things so her self-esteem does take a hit throughout the book and she’s not as confident as she could be. Oz isn’t your typical dumb jock: he’s Harvard educated and very hardworking in his profession, but he doesn’t seem to enjoy much outside of soccer. He struggles with balancing his religious roots with his American lifestyle, and he’s not sure how to deal with the reaction he’s receiving from some hate-filled people in the US.
I give Defending Hearts a five out of five. With overarching themes of hate crimes, differing religions, and cultural differences, this sports romance hits all the right notes in terms of balancing the amount of sports, romance, interpersonal conflict, and everyday events. Rebecca Crowley’s writing is descriptive enough for you to feel like you’re in Atlanta along with the characters, and I really enjoyed the slow build romance between Oz and Kate. Neither one of them knew if they were doing the right thing by being together, and I loved how they both had to feel it out for a while instead of one of them being instantly in love with the other. Oz’s close friends and Kate’s family were fleshed out nicely and were dimensional, adding nice depth to the book. Overall, Defending Hearts is a great romance that wasn’t too heavy on the sports, and had a realistic romance where the typical roles were reversed. I definitely recommend this to all romance lovers!
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About Rebecca Crowley
Rebecca Crowley inherited her love of romance from her mom, who taught her to at least partially judge a book by the steaminess of its cover. She writes contemporary romance and romantic suspense with smart heroines and swoon-worthy heroes, and never tires of the happily-ever-after. Having pulled up her Kansas roots to live in New York City and London, Rebecca currently resides in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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Rebecca Crowley’s TLC Book Tours TOUR STOPS for DEFENDING HEARTS:
Monday, September 18th: Bewitched Bookworms
Tuesday, September 19th: The Sassy Bookster – guest post or excerpt
Tuesday, September 20th: From the TBR Pile
Thursday, September 21st: Reading Reality
Friday, September 22nd: Book Nerd
Monday, September 25th: Moonlight Rendezvous
Wednesday, September 27th: Reading Lark After Dark
Thursday, September 28th: Crystal Blogs Books
Monday, October 2nd: Cara’s Book Boudoir
Wednesday, October 4th: Lovely Reads – guest post or excerpt
Thursday, October 5th: All Things Bookaholic
Wednesday, October 11th: Thoughts of a Blond
Thursday, October 12th: OMG Reads
Friday, October 13th: Book Reviews and More by Kathy – guest post or excerpt