Kaitlyn is such a different heroine- something I appreciated but also took me a minute to warm up to her. In fact, in the first few chapters I was worried I wouldn’t like her - but RJ totally changed my mind. One thing I find so refreshing about Rebecca Jenshak is how she consistently plays with the sports/college trope- her characters and their stories never fit in one box. And Kaitlyn is a perfect example of that- we have a heroine who is a troublemaker, on the outs with her family as the result of a string of bad decisions, one of which is why she’s been punished to attend Moo. She’s not like your typical new adult heroine- she’s stoic, closed off emotionally, rough around the edges and carrying a huge chip on her shoulder. Early on, she’s in the wrong- the jerk, a bit arrogant, and frustrating- but we soon learn that there’s a gentle heart and kind soul underneath her teeth.
Meanwhile, Lex is a GIANT TEDDY BEAR. This man is just impossible to not be charmed by- he’s sweet, emotionally available, a hard worker and so genuine. This is a hero that is transparent and uncomplicated. And he’s so patient (and cute) in his pursuit of the prickly Katilyn. I love how charmed he is by her sharp edges, love his earnest and sensitive wooing of her. I love how selfless he is- even this story’s narrative demonstrates this, because this story is really about Kaitlyn and her growth.
RJ is really a gifted character writer- she has an uncanny way of bringing relatable characters to life on the page- they are memorable, unique, well defined and nuanced, but also subtly created- they feel normal. The way her characters grow and change through love is what I love best about her stories- she helps them grow up, helps them become a better version of themselves, but without the melodrama, and without compromising or changing their core. What RJ does with Kaitlyn is just that- Kaitlyn grows up, learns to be a little less selfish and more open, and she sheds the chip on her shoulder by learning how to face conflict, with honesty and forgiveness. We get some softness from her, without RJ making her into someone she’s not- she doesn’t turn into a lovesick heroine, she’s still a bit jaded, still sassy, but now with an open heart. I love how Lex supports and champions her emotional needs, her emotional journey- and how Kaitlyn has to mature to learn to champion and prioritize his, too. There’s a sexiness to the maturity of that- to the sweet and relatable nature of their story.
Like most RJ books, we have some minor conflict but the story is relatively low angst. We have all the Hallmarks that make me a RJ junkie- flirty banter and some sass, a sweet but sexy character chemistry, affable and impactful side characters, and two leads who you can’t help but fall in love with. RJ books always fill my soul with happiness and affection- and this does just that. Smiles, swoons, and sweet butterflies - the feel good romance I needed.