Also by this author: The Brave Line, Drive
Also in this series: The Guy on the Right, The Guy in the Middle
Series: The Underdogs #3
on February 27, 2020
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Tropes: Second Chance, Bullying
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I was born to play and bred to win.
My priorities were instilled in me early on—family and football. Those ideals led me to TGU and a coach whose ironclad principles mirrored my own.
With one last college season to play, my goal was singular—get drafted. By realizing my NFL dream, I could save my family, our ranch, and the only home I’d ever known.
Two birds, one ball.
Playing hard was my only option, but there’s always a wild card.
For all of my planning and hard work, I never anticipated falling for the coach's daughter. Harper was a fair catch, but who knew loving her could be the one play to throw my career before it started or that the weight of our secret would change the game.
THE GUY IN THE MIDDLE
by Kate Stewart
What if this moment, right here, is the moment that changes your life?
I reviewed the first part of THE GUY IN THE MIDDLE last October – it was released as a novella as part of the Team Player 2 anthology. I was not happy with the cliffhanger but I knew, I KNEW Kate Stewart would make this story worth the wait. It started out so epic with Lance and Harper being completely wrapped up in their love and when the cliffy came I was a little mad at Harper for the way she left things. But just as I predicted last fall it all made sense in the end. But let me start at the beginning.
This book was so chock-full of angst and emotions with a touch of humor that this author is known for. My heart soared after Harper and Lance’s reunion two years after Harper went to New York – the love is still there but Lance also feels resentment and it soon becomes obvious that this isn’t so easily overcome. This time though, Harper is ready to fight for Lance and she pulls out all the stops. This quiet, moody man doesn’t go easy on Harper though and I have to say I admired Harper for her resilience. I would have thrown the towel at some point – I was starting to wonder how many rejections, how much hurt a human heart can take.
I want so much to believe her, to let her back in, but she’s made it hard to trust her.
But of course Kate Stewart doesn’t make us suffer for nothing. As always there is a good reason for the emotional roller coaster. Harper’s reasons for how she handled the events in the novella, how deeply her issues affected her become clearer this time. Learning to love herself comes at a price but this time she’s willing to pay it. I loved Harper’s growth, the fight she had in her, the strength to get up, straighten her crown and try again. At no time I felt that the cost for this fight was her pride even when she begged.
Lance on the other hand, was a bit of a dick this time. Even though he’s on an upward trajectory in his boxing career he is on a self destructive path in his private life and it’s not pretty. Things really become unmanageable with him and he stands to lose everything…and here is where Kate’s twists come in. They always land out of nowhere, slap you in the face and all you hear is the author’s maniacal laugh. In hindsight, everything these two went through made perfect sense. The things they had to work through, to learn, to experience, it had to be this way otherwise it wouldn’t have been the epic love story Lance and Harper were. There is some epic grovelling that completely satisfied my need for justice.
I am his. I’ll always be his. Since the day I met him, he boxed his way into my heart, my champion, my fighter, my nemesis, my undoing, my everything.
This story is a lot about self love, the love that makes you accept your deficiencies and emphasize the great things about you. It’s the kind of love for yourself that actually makes people shine. And shine Lance and Harper do in the end. That epilogue was so damned wonderful I can’t even put it into words.
It’s rare these days that a book really grabs me so thoroughly that I can’t put it down. THE GUY IN THE MIDDLE dragged me out of my book funk and had me read until late at night, full-well knowing that I’d have to show up for an exam the next day. This is why I read. This is what I missed.
Kate Stewart plays in a league of her own and she brings her A-game for this one. She squeezes the emotions (and tears) out of you. It’s why she has me as a loyal reader.
Heart stuttering, I cling to him, knowing that from this moment forward, all my steps will always lead back to him. This isn’t commitment. This is forever.