Audience/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance.
Publication: April 5th 2016 by Spencer Hill Press.
One class assignment. One second chance at love. The school player is all in. Now he needs to win back the sweet commitment girl who's forever owned his heart.
Justin Carter has a secret. He's not the total player Fairfield Academy believes him to be. Not really. In fact, he used to be a one-woman guy...and his feelings for her never went away. Too bad he broke her heart three years ago and made sure to ruin any chance she'd ever forgive him.
Peyton Williams is a liar. She pretends to be whole, counting down the days until graduation and helping her parents at the family ranch. But the truth is, she's done everything she can to get over Justin, and salvation is just around the corner. With graduation one short month away, she'll soon break free from the painful memories and start her life fresh. Of course, she has to get through working with him on one last assignment first.
For Justin, nothing ever felt as right as being with Peyton, and now that fate's given him a shot at redemption, he's determined to make the most of it. And for Peyton...well, Justin Carter has always been her kryptonite.
I love stories of second chances and held secrets. This has both. It is also a pretty good at portraying high school.
The story goes back and forth in time with freshman year and senior year. Of how Justin and Peyton started, ended and then where they go from there. Justin has a rich father who is absent in his life and always working. His grandparents raised him until they died when he was young. His stepmom ignores him. Justin’s half-brother adores Justin and the feeling is mutual. Justin only has the housekeeper for company. Justin's life is for baseball as that is what his father wants from him, although he never shows up for any games. But Justin has a great coach at school. Justin wants to please him as he is a good man and praises his team and Justin.
Peyton has been recovering from an illness that took her strength from her. She is still working to get back to where she was before. Her family has a ranch. They have a dog salon and boarding. They have horses and Peyton has been good on a horse. She competes with barrels. Since the accident and illness she has been slightly afraid to get back on the horse. Her family adores her and they have lots of traditions and a huge extended family. Who wouldn’t want to be around all that happiness?
Justin gets to know Peyton and finds himself drawn to her like a moth to a flame. But he doesn’t do commitments. He is a player. He also doesn’t have time. But he just can’t seem to stay away. When Justin learns Peyton’s dad is his coach, he really tries to keep his distance. That didn’t work out either. So they agree to a secret relationship. This is in the freshman year. Then something happens and Peyton sees a girl with Justin. She can’t believe he would cheat on her. Peyton’s parents never even knew about their relationship in freshman year.
Then go forward to senior year. Justin and Peyton are paired to do the parents with robot baby thing. Peyton isn’t happy. But Justin wants her back and he will do whatever it takes. Including getting her now boyfriend away from her somehow. But there is the fact that he majorly hurt her and will that ever be resolved because Peyton hasn’t really ever gotten over Justin either.
I really liked how you don’t get a clue of what happened in freshman year for Justin to do what he did until the last third of the book. All I found myself doing was rooting for them. Justin really is a good guy and he deserves happiness too.
Justin is always rooting for Peyton’s progress with her horse. Peyton is always rooting at Justin’s baseball games. They are dang good for each other!! There are all the little things that they do for the other.
“Do what scares you”
“What are you chasing?”
Those are some of the little words of encouragement that they share with each other and it is enough to help the other out and hold on to hope!
“Hold out your hand.” At the expression on his face, I rolled my eyes. “Just do it.” Cautiously, as if I was going to put out a cobra or something, he uncurled his fingers and lifted his palm. I dropped a small silver coin in the center. “For luck.”
Wonder warred with confusion in his gorgeous brown eyes and my heart melted.
“On this side there’s a horseshoe,” I said, my cheeks warming with a blush. “You know, the universal symbol for luck… and a small reminder of me.”
I bit my lip, hoping he didn’t think that was too corny—or that it revealed too much.
I flipped the coin over, exposing the other side, and my fingers slid across his rough skin. My breath caught. When I lifted my eyes, I found him watching me with so much intensity, so much heat, that an actual shiver rolled through me. Just like in my favorite books.
Huh. So that was what smoldering looked like. Good to know.
I swallowed hard and noticed him do the same, and nothing could hold back my smile. Justin glanced down and laughed. “Kick some ass!” he read, skimming his fingernail over my initials.
“I figured…” I cleared my throat. “I thought you could hide it in your sock or something,” I said, unable to tell if he liked the gift or not. He just kept staring at it. “If it’s dumb, you don’t have to—”
He’d said it so quietly I almost wasn’t sure he’d spoken at all. But then he closed his hand around the coin and raised his head. Time ceased to exist as Justin’s eyes trailed across my face. I held my breath waiting and a sweet smile crossed his face.
“Damn.” He shook his head softly. “You’ve done it now.”
“What?” I asked, hoping whatever it was that it was a good thing. “What did I do?”
Justin merely shook his head again and smiled. “Wait for me after the game.” Shifting his gaze to the old concession stand, he took a step back and said, “Over there, okay?”
When I nodded, excitement lodging in my throat, making it impossible to speak, he winked and then took off to join his teammates. As I watched his cute butt in those uniform pants run across the field, a giddy grin found my lips.
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