The sport she loves is out of reach. The boy she loves has someone else. What now?
She expected to start Harkness College as a varsity ice hockey player. But a serious accident means that Corey Callahan will start school in a wheelchair instead. Across the hall, in the other handicapped-accessible dorm room, lives the too-delicious-to-be-real Adam Hartley, another would-be hockey star with his leg broken in two places. He’s way out of Corey’s league. Also, he’s taken. Nevertheless, an unlikely alliance blooms between Corey and Hartley in the “gimp ghetto” of McHerrin Hall.
Over perilously balanced dining hall trays and video games, the two cope with disappointments that nobody else understands. They’re just friends, of course, until one night when things fall apart. Or fall together.
All Corey knows is that she’s falling. Hard. But will Hartley set aside his trophy girl to love someone as broken as Corey? If he won’t, she will need to find the courage to make a life for herself at Harkness – one that does not revolve around the sport she can no longer play or the brown-eyed boy who’s afraid to love her back.
Point of view:
1st Person. Alternating perspectives between Corey & Hartley.
Content Warning: Book contains & review mentions cheating, disability, and ableist slurs.
This is one of those books that I enjoy, but it contains some very problematic issues. I think the best part of this book is Corey truly coming to terms with her disability emotionally while navigating life on her own which is overwhelming and new for most Freshman in college. I like the way Bowen handled exposing the many ways physically disabled people encounter thoughtlessness of institutions, architectural design, and individual people when it comes to accessibility.
Readers should be aware that Corey uses, and Hartley adopts, versions of the term “gimp” many times. While some people with a disability self-identify with this term, as is their right, it’s not always comfortable for everyone to listen to.
Corey’s internal “hope fairy” is so much like Anastasia’s “inner goddess” (from Fifty Shades of Grey) it’s distracting.
However, there’s some big things that bother me about this story and I feel the HFN ending shouldn’t erase/negate. There’s no way to talk about them without spoilers, so 🛑STOP🛑 here if you want spoiler-free.
⚠️ SPOILERS ⚠️
I have a HUGE issue with cheating. While this is couched in a “we have an open relationship while she’s out of the country” throwaway – it isn’t really approached as ethical non-monogamy. Ultimately, Corey is as much to blame as Hartley – but he really doesn’t think of her emotional well-being at all.
What could have been a really beautiful scene of Hartley helping Corey discover that she’s still capable of sexual responses is mired by the fact that Hartley is only in her room because Stacia didn’t show up for a date they had.
Corey, wisely puts some space between them and that’s what finally motivates Hartley to break up with Stacia. But then, he kinda ruins it by planting a kiss on Corey 12 hours later in public. It very much feels like he just doesn’t want to be alone, not that he has specifically chosen Corey.
Given the issues, I wish more of the book had been them together and probably more from Hartley’s perspective to really feel like they have something beyond an HFN.
I truly enjoyed Saskia Maarleveld & Nick Podehl’s narration. They both do a great job with voices, accents, and emotions.
About the authors:
Sarina Bowen is a twenty-two-time USA bestselling author, and a Wall Street Journal bestselling author of contemporary romance novels. Formerly a derivatives trader on Wall Street, Sarina holds a BA in economics from Yale University.
A New Englander whose Vermont ancestors cut timber and farmed the north country in the 1760s, Sarina is grateful for the invention of indoor plumbing and wi-fi during the intervening 250 years. She lives with her family on a few wooded acres in New Hampshire.
About the narrators:
You can connect with Saskia Maarleveld here:
You can connect with Nick Podehl here: