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Friday, August 29, 2014

Blog Tour! A Review of Rival Love by Natalie Decker




Rival Love by Natalie Decker
Genre: Young Adult (Contemporary Romance)
Date Published: August 26, 2014
Publisher: Swoon Romance

Skylar Fletcher is a proud Harris Academy Bulldog! She has everything she’s ever wanted: a perfect boyfriend, great friends, and her dream college waiting for her in the fall. But nothing lasts forever. Skylar's world shatters when her mom decides it is time to move and drags Skylar, kicking and screaming, into Bobcat territory.

At Delmont High School, home of the Bobcats, Skylar has no friends and is often bullied. To make matters worse, her home life sucks thanks to all-star quarterback Caleb Morgan, nephew of her mom's live-in boyfriend.

At first Skylar and Caleb want nothing to do with one another. But they soon discover they're not that different after all--and each is harboring a secret attraction to the other. But can a Bulldog and a Bobcat ever really be more than friends? And are Skylar and Caleb willing to risk everything to find out? Rival Love is a debut young adult contemporary romance from Natalie Decker.


Rival Love by Natalie Decker was a pretty hard book to put down. I thought my hometown was Football rabid with their rivalries and everything. Whew!! They don't even come close to the attitudes and team prejudices within this book, thank goodness. I think the author captured the mind of a teenage girl pretty accurately. It brought back some high school memories that's for sure. I like the way Skylar sees the world, and she realizes that not everyone sees it the same way. Caleb is a typical player. He follows the stereotype until he starts to grow up as the story progresses. Personally, I wouldn't want to touch him with a 10 foot pole. Who knows where that dude has been, but at the same time he grows on you. I'm pretty upset about the ending. Is there supposed to be a sequel? I can't find any information on one, but there wasn't really an ending. I feel like things are still up in the air without a resolution. Surely, it can't really end like that. That made it hard to rate. If this truly is the ending, and there is no sequel... it feels unfinished. If there is more to come, I'd rate it higher because I enjoyed their story quite a bit, and I want to know more. Since I'm not really sure yet, I'll give it the benefit of the doubt. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for more.

The ARC of Rival Love by Natalie Decker was kindly provided to me by YA Bound Tours for review. The opinions are my own.


God, I hope no one sees me. Exhaling for what feels like the umpteenth time since we pulled up to Brian Timmons’s house, I quickly glance left then right. Perspiration beads on my forehead and at the nape of my neck as I open the door to my mother’s Honda Accord. She waits for me to bound up to the porch like an obedient child, but there are some things that demand stubbornness. This just happens to be one of them.
Out of all the ridiculous and inexcusable things for her to do to me, she did the absolute worst. She moved us to Bob–freaking–cat territory! Um, hello, I’m a Harris Academy Bulldog and super proud of it! These veins bleed orange and black. Not brown and yellow—the worst colors in the history of mankind. It’s a constant reminder of what happens in a bathroom: number one and number two. Eww, so not cute.
“Liv, sweetie, come on,” Mom calls from the porch. I will never understand her need to call me by my middle name instead of my first. I, unlike some people, love my first name. But that’s my mother for you.
I wince. “Keep your voice down. Someone might hear you.” Doesn’t she have any clue how dangerous it is for me to even be on the enemies’ turf like this? Apparently not, because now she’s making her way across the lawn and back to her car to retrieve me as if I’m five, not seventeen. I dodge her before she reaches me, rush up to the house, and slip inside.
Don’t get me wrong, Brian’s cool, but this move destroyed everything I’ve worked my butt off for. My captain position on the swim team … gone. My chance to take the softball team to state and to stroke that huge silver trophy? Yeah, not happening now. Thanks, Fate, Cupid, and whoever else is responsible for ruining my senior year. And my life, while we’re at it.
Fear and anger washes over me as I make my way through the foyer. Brian steps out of the room on the left and wraps his lanky arms around me. I cringe. Why do adults try to hug you at all the wrong moments in life? I don’t want, nor do I need, a hug. “I’m so happy you’re here.” I bite back my own retort to those words. “I know this is a big change for you.”
Big change? That’s the understatement of the year. Next Monday my mother will be getting a phone call saying I was brutally murdered. And the sad part is the person who committed the crime will probably get a parade thrown in their honor. Yes, the school rivalry is not what you’d call a typical one: toss some toilet paper in the trees, egg a house, or throw some tomatoes at all the cars in the parking lots. It’s busting lips, putting people in the hospital, and really laying it all out. Think Ohio State vs. Michigan and you’ve totally got it. Tipping over cars, setting couches on fire on your neighbors’ lawn. Yeah, we’re that kind of crazy rivalry.
Brian clears his throat. “Well, Skylar, this is going to be great, you’ll see.” It’s almost cute how he makes it sound like we’re going to the North Pole to see Santa. I stopped believing in things like the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and all that jazz when I was six. So I’m not putting all my eggs in his basket. “Your mother has been trying to get you to come down and see the place, but I guess our schedules clashed.” More like I wasn’t stupid enough to set foot on this side of town with just my mother as backup.
The door behind me pops open. My mother carries in two large bags, her eyes narrowing at me and then down at the bags with the are-you-going-to-help look. I glare right back. I refuse to be any part of this monstrosity.
“Hey, honey.” Brian moves around me and plants one right on my mother. He takes the bags from her and she smiles. “I was just telling Skylar how great it is to have the two of you here.”
Silence prods us for a moment. Brian shuffles past me with the bags and says, “How about a tour, Skylar?”
Can this nightmare finally end? I don’t say this in front of my mother, I’ve already made her agitated enough on the car ride down here.
Brian leads us into the large room off to the left. Sage walls with white trim are before me. “This is the living room,” he announces. I want to tell him I think Martha Stewart broke into his house and puked her taste all over this room. Fake plants adorn the corners of the entryways and vintage lamps rest on the end tables. I can feel myself cringing at the thought that the bedroom I’m supposed to stay in probably looks something like this room. Just replace the couch and coffee table with a bed. And if that’s the case, I’m sleeping in my car.
The slam of a door pulls the attention of everyone in the room. “That’s probably Caleb,” Brian says then turns to the hallway. “Go ahead and show her the rest of the house, Erin, I’ll be right back.”
The elusive Caleb. He saw our old house as much as I saw Brian’s before now … which was never. My curiosity pulls at me to go see who this Caleb guy is when my mother nudges me. “What do you think so far? I helped Brian redecorate this room.”
Posing a fake smile, I say, “It looks fine.”
She frowns. “What’s wrong?”
“You know what’s wrong. I’ve told you about a million times, but you didn’t listen then and you aren’t going to hear me now. So what’s the point of wasting my breath?”
“I know you don’t like this. I know you feel like I’ve sprung this on you. But I’m really happy, Liv. Brian and I really love each other.” A blush forms across her cheeks. “Honey, he could really be the one. You know? He’s sweet like your father used to be. He listens—something your father hardly ever did.”
Uck! I don’t want to hear this! Rolling my eyes, I let out a sigh and dig in my pockets for my iPhone. My parents have been divorced for like a zillion years—okay, not really, but it’s been a long time. And yet she compares every guy she meets with my dad, from perks and quirks, right down to the flaws.
I start a game of Tetris, tuning her out, when a slap and then a burst of pain fills my arm. “Oww!”
“Are you evening listening to me?”
“Yeah sure.”
“What did I say then?”
I shrug. “Be nice.”
She huffs. “Close enough. I said try to be nice and open to this new adventure.”
I’ve had my fill of this adventure. In fact, I want off this ride. Folding my arms near my chest, I give her my thoughts. “You want me to be nice? What about what I want?” I sound like a whiney brat, but really she gave me no options. She didn’t ask me what I thought about this, she just did it. “You want me to be open to this so-called new adventure of getting my face mangled on the first day of school, and probably death shortly after? Sure, why not? You win mother. I’m so happy you moved us to Bobcat territory. Oh, thank you for destroying the future I worked so hard for. I’m so glad it was all in the name of love.”
“Cut the sarcasm. You’ve been harping over this thing for weeks, Skylar.” Okay, my mother only uses my first name when she’s mad at me. “Give it a rest. I’m so sick of hearing how you won’t have any friends. How this move is screwing up your life. Everyone will torture you because of who you are, and I basically sentenced you to an early grave.” She shakes her head. “Stop being so melodramatic. It’s just a little school rivalry. Every school has them. Besides, Brian’s a teacher at the school, no one will pick on you.”
She’s joking. She doesn’t honestly believe the crap she’s saying, does she? I throw up my hands and laugh. “Oh. My. God. You’re crazy! You realize moving me here screwed my chances of playing sports, which would help me get out of this town!”
She gives me a look—she’s officially annoyed—and sighs. “You know what, Skylar? Then don’t play any sports this year. Okay?”
My eyes widen. This isn’t okay. Nothing about this is okay! I need my sports to get a full ride so I don’t have to follow the plan my father has set out for me. Why is she so against me right now?
The doorbell rings. I’m about to scream at my mother when I hear: “Screw you, Caleb Morgan! Sorry, Mr. Timmons.”
My eyes expand. Morgan? Why do I know that name? My mother makes her way toward the commotion. I stifle back a remark and wander off into the other rooms of the house. A loud snapping sound pulls my focus from a set of mahogany chairs and table, to a black and white kitchen. Taking a seat on one of the barstools is a tall, cute guy with shaggy, dark brown hair. I watch a bottle of water shift from one hand to the other. Why am I staring at him? I don’t know why, and for some reason can’t stop. Black cords string from his ears down to a small iPod secured to his left bicep. He unscrews the cap and starts to take a drink from the bottle. All at once, it hits me: I’m staring at the all-star Bobcat quarterback. Caleb Morgan. My life just became a whole lot worse.
“Liv!” my mother calls.
I flinch and glance back at the dining room. My mother continues to yell my name but I don’t answer. Facing the boy again, his green eyes lock with mine, and I stand there frozen and say nothing.
His eyes trail up and down my body. “Well, well, well. A freaking Bulldog is in my house. Hell must’ve frozen over,” Caleb says.
I glare at him. “I was just leaving.”
“Uh-huh. Guess I could give you some parting wisdom before you go.” He stands and makes his way to me. “Changing your name to Liv isn’t going to save you from getting your assed kicked in school. You do know that, right, Skylar?” The way he says my name sends a shiver down my spine. His face cringes a little when my mother’s voice carries into the kitchen.
I flip him the bird. “That’s what I think about your parting wisdom. And FYI, I’m not changing my name, that’s just what my mother calls me, moron!”
I turn on my heels and my mother enters the room with Brian in tow. Damn. “Oh, there you are. I wanted you to see … oh … ” She looks past me and smiles. “Hi, Caleb. I’m glad you two have met then. See, Liv, you already know someone. It’s not going to be so bad.”
She has no idea. Not a freaking clue. I want her to stop talking now. Why won’t she stop talking? “I’m so glad someone Liv’s age will be around to help her get adjusted to the school.”
“My pleasure. I’d love to stay and chat, but I need to get my run in.” My mother is oblivious to the sarcasm lacing his words, but I notice.
Brian blocks the exit to the back door. “Hold up. I need your help with their bags and we need to talk about the Danielle Samson episode on my front porch.”
I smirk as Caleb’s face slowly changes from a smile to a frown.
Ha. Stupid Bobcat! “Fine,” Caleb grumbles. They make their way past my mother and I. My mother gets a peck on the lips from Brian, and I get a snort from Caleb.
As soon as the boys leave, my mother squeals, “What do you think?”
“I think this place sucks. Are we done pretending yet? If we leave now, I might be able to get my life back.”
My comments bring her down from her glowing high. “Skylar, I’m happy. This is our home now. As soon as you start accepting that the better off things will be for the both of us.”

“I’m a Bulldog, Mother! This isn’t my home. I’m far from it.”

author
Natalie Decker is the Author of Rival Love. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn’t her favorite time and books were her source of comfort. She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity. If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!

To learn more about Natalie Decker and her books, visit her website.You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, and Twitter.

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