Natalie Sullivan is on the verge of a breakthrough most archaeology grad students only dream of: discovering a lost city. Her research points to a farm in Ireland, but to excavate she needs permission from the new owner: the Michael O'Connor, popular NFL running back. On TV Mike seems so charming and good-natured that Natalie figures getting his cooperation will be a breeze. So she's not prepared to deal with the arrogant—and adamantly opposed—man she meets in person. Or the way one look from him sends shivers down her spine… Determined to kick-start her career, Natalie travels across the Atlantic and finds herself sharing an inn with Mike, who has come to Ireland in search of his roots. She tells herself her interest is strictly professional, but the more she gets to know him, the harder it is to deny her personal attraction to the sexy sports star. And when Mike confides why he refuses to allow the dig, Natalie must decide if she can follow her heart without losing sight of her dreams.
Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for allowing me to review an ARC of this novel.
Wow, I almost completely missed reading and reviewing this book, and what a shame that would have been! I'm not sure what happened, but when I was going through my massive list of To-Be-Reviewed books from Netgalley, I noticed that this one had already been archived, oops! Anyway, once I started reading, I could hardly stop - it was really good, especially when you consider how typical and predictable it could have turned out.
Natalie is an interesting character. Obviously, she's very intelligent, going for her doctorate degree in archaeology. She's also very passionate and driven in this pursuit, but at times this can lead her to be single minded. This is the crux of the conflict between her and Mike - he owns the land she wants to dig on, and he doesn't want to let her for "personal reasons". Although the dig is a major bone of contention between them, their attraction and chemistry keeps pulling them together. Despite Natalie's smarts, however, she is still lovable because of her down-to-earth, happy nature. We also come to realize that she is physically beautiful, and what's interesting is how the author is able to twist this fact into the story and make it a side story of sorts. This is just one of the aspects of "Running Back" that makes it stand out from all the rest.
Mike seems one-dimensional at first, always smiling and charming with his teammates and the press. But as Natalie comes to find out, that's not all there is to him. Mike's got his own demons, and some of them have to do with Natalie's dig. As a reader, it's wonderful to see Mike's trust in Natalie grow until he can confide in her.
Rounding out the multi-faceted characters and plot, we have the beautiful setting of Ireland. I hope one day I have the opportunity to visit Ireland - it sounds amazing!!!
My first Allison Parr novel, "Running Back" definitely won't be my last - in fact, as soon as I finished this one, I went over to Kobo and bought the first in the series, "Rush Me". Can't wait to sink my teeth into that one, either!