Thursday, August 22, 2019

Sidelined by Suzanne Baltsar

From the author of the whip smart and charming Trouble Brewing comes a fast-paced story about a female football coach that will have you laughing out loud and cheering for the home team as you wait for the final whistle of the game.

When Connor McGuire loses out on his dream job of being the head coach of the local high school football team, he thinks life can’t get any worse. Then he discovers just who got the coveted position—it was a handout to the kid of a well-known, successful college coach. Connor’s sure this is just a publicity stunt, but the kid turns out to be not only a sharp strategist, but a driven and sexy young woman, too. Frustrated in more ways than one, Connor realizes that he might have to step up his game or risk losing altogether.

Coach Charlotte “Charlie” Gibb calls a flag on the play when she finds out that her very male, very attractive, but definitely-rooting-for-her-to-lose assistant coach resents her for taking what he considers to be his rightful position. But never one to back down from a little healthy competition, Charlie is determined to prove her worth—both on and off the field.

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Reviews by the Wicked Reads Review Team

This is a sharp, funny, and well observed story about Charlie, a high school football coach, and Connor, the assistant coach who resents her for taking the job he’s always wanted. Charlie has skills and experience but she’s working against an old boys’ club that doesn’t want her to succeed. Sparks fly between Connor and Charlie from the start but Connor has to figure out whether he can support Charlie as a coach or if he’s happier undermining her with the rest of the boys.

An innocent, hopeful part of me wants to believe the author exaggerated the barriers facing Charlie in her role as head coach. Sadly, Charlie’s experiences are probably pretty realistic. Charlie herself is a wonderful leading lady and I fell hard for her. I love the contrast between her internal self-doubt and the fierce persona she presents to the world. Charlie is a little prickly, a little abrasive, and very capable.

Connor is more of a predictable character. There’s something kinda beige and bland about him. He’s good looking and charming but until the end of the story, he feels a little bit two-faced. I enjoyed the banter and the chemistry between Connor and Charlie but I’m not sure Connor always deserves Charlie’s attention.

Without spoilers, I have reservations about the end of the book. It just kinda ends and I’m not sure the neat, easy resolution fits the rest of the story. I felt a little bit defensive of Charlie, even in the last pages and I wanted a bit more for her.

If you’re looking for a story with a straight talking, no nonsense, strong heroine, Sidelined is the book for you. One chapter in and I was wanting to wave my fists and shout, “Girl power!”

Charlie moves to Minnesota to take the job as head coach of a high school football team. The first woman in the state to be appointed head coach. However, she is appointed ahead of Connor, longtime assistant coach of the team and a teacher at the school who everyone thought would get the job, including Connor.

The animosity between Charlie and Connor starts from their very first interaction and it was great to see an enemies-to-lovers story where the hate part was real and not forced or over some trivial misunderstanding. I also loved getting to watch Connor deal with his feeling over the situation. Turns out he is a really good guy. The budding romance between them was hot and they make a fun couple.

Football and being a coach are the centre of Charlie’s world and her identity. Charlie’s struggle with being a woman in a male dominated field was inspiring. Personally, I would have liked to have seen more of Charlie’s relationship with her players but the story doesn’t go particularly in depth in that regard.

This year I’ve struggled with some m/f romantic stories but not with Sidelined – I breezed through it, completely happy and having a great time. I’m a big fan of sports romances and Sidelined hit the spot for me. Suzanne Baltsar is a new author to me and I’ll definitely be looking to read more of her work in the future.

Sidelined is a great stand-alone book with a strong female character, Charlie, who is taking on the male dominated world of football!

Charlie is no stranger to football, she was practically raised on a field. She's the daughter of a prominent Ivy League college coach but is ready to lead a team by herself! She’s no stranger to oppression or condescension, and luckily, she has some broad shoulders to carry the load. This doesn't mean she doesn't feel emotions, she just knows how to compartmentalize and push forward.

When Offensive Coordinator Connor, meets his new head coach, he is anything but happy. Not only did he not get the job, but he lost it to a woman.

This enemies-to-lovers story was absolutely perfect! The characters were well developed and likeable (eventually), and I enjoyed the banter between Connor and Charlie. I must say that I am a huge football fan and couldn't wait to see how Charlie was portrayed in this book and I was not disappointed in her. The situation seemed believable, the romance was slow building (no insta-love here), and the side characters actually added to the story. I plan on picking up Piper and Blake's story, and will keep an eye out for Sonja and Bear's book!

I do need to mention that even though I enjoyed this story, I hated (HATED) the ending. I'm not going to say why, or ruin anything, but I just wasn't happy with the conclusion.

Suzanne Baltsar writes romance novels, manages a small cinema, and has her own film company, for which she wrote and directed a narrative feature in 2014. She writes and lives her happily ever afters in Pennsylvania with a Mr. Brawny look-a-like and a couple of children, some furry, some not.

Connect with Suzanne

Facebook  ~  Twitter  ~  Instagram  ~  Website  ~  Goodreads

Reviewers on the Wicked Reads Review Team were provided a free copy of Sidelined by Suzanne Baltsar to read and review.

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