My rating: 5 stars / It was amazing
Baseball star Will Vandergriff knows any number of women who would happily pretend to be his girlfriend. In a last-ditch effort to restore his good standing with his team’s higher-ups, he enlists the help of his neurotic, goody-goody neighbor. Schoolteacher Olivia Pratt might be a bit quirky and a bit of a loner, but she’s a lot more inviting than she knows. Will hopes that bringing her to his next game might revamp his reckless reputation and help get his career back on track. The only problem? The plan works a little too well. Not only do the higher-ups love Olivia, but Will plays his best game yet. Suddenly his losing streak is a thing of the past, and Olivia is his new good-luck charm. Will feels anything but lucky.
After years of keeping the world at bay, Olivia Pratt is pulling off the ultimate performance—not only reluctantly posing as Will’s girlfriend but also insisting that she’s oblivious to his major-league appeal. But she can only lie to herself for so long. Being by Will’s side feels good. Really good. Maybe it’s finally time to make a pitch for everything she really wants—and to find out just how exhilarating love can be.
My favorite thing about this book is how the author brought Olivia's character to life. Her fears, angst, and OCD tendencies are skillfully balanced with her compassion, sense of humor, and independence. She accepts herself as she is, and is unapologetic for her differences, even if they sometimes make her uncomfortable. Will is also a character who accepts himself, gigantic ego and all ;) I was impressed with the subtlety of the two sides of Will, the big shot persona who tells himself he has it all, and the vulnerable side he fights against, the feeling that he is missing something. His posturing for the benefit of Olivia is ironic because he's trying to project his devil-may-care attitude while it's the yearning for her that is the reason he's doing it and reveals his true motivations. I love that she purposely brushes off his attempts at intimidation and doesn't capitulate the way he is used to everyone doing. As they are exposed to each other's softer sides and attraction flares, they both wage an internal battle against the chemistry between them while becoming more reliant on the new dimension of their relationship. The dynamics of their personalities, interactions, and struggles turned what could have been a predicable plot into a journey of growth that kept me glued to the pages! Highly recommend!
(Thank you to the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)