Saturday, April 8, 2017

Dancing in the Rain

Dancing in the Rain by [Jamieson, Kelly]

Dancing in the Rain- Kelly Jamieson
Release Date: April 11, 2017

Rating (out of 5):

Warning: Spoilers Ahead!

Synopsis: Drew Sellers is drowning in broken dreams and empty beer bottles. Hockey was his world, until a bum knee reduced him from superstar to has-been. Then he learns that, thanks to a one-night-stand back in college, he’s the father of a preteen girl with major issues. Her protective aunt sees right through Drew’s BS, but “Auntie P” is no stereotypical spinster. With her slender curves, toned legs, and luscious lips, she has Drew indulging in fantasies that aren’t exactly family-friendly.

At another point in her life, Peyton Watt would have been all over a cocky alpha male who pushes all her buttons like Drew. Right now, though, she needs to focus on taking care of her niece during her sister’s health crisis, all while holding down a job and keeping her own head above water. Besides, Drew’s clearly no father of the year. He’s unemployed. He drinks too much. And he’s living in the past. But after Peyton gets a glimpse of the genuine man behind his tough-guy faΓ§ade, she’s hooked—and there’s no going back.

Kelly Jamieson, author of several hockey romances including the Aces Hockey series (with Back Check, and Icing) gives fans a little something different with Dancing in the Rain.  Drew Sellers was a Chicago Blackhawks star player until an injured knee ended his career.  He's handling the end of his dreams through excessive amounts of alcohol when he gets another life changing surprise: finding out that a one night stand in college resulted in a daughter.  Chloe is now twelve and dealing with the fact that her mother, Sara, is dying.  Drew knows nothing about kids and is terrified he'll fail Chloe as a dad.  After all, he doesn't have his life together, how can he be there for anyone else?  Chloe's aunt, Peyton, is trying to handle her job, her jerk of a boss, her niece, and her sister's health.  The last thing she needs is a guy like Drew getting involved.  She plans out everything and Drew and her attraction for him are not in those plans.  But could their clashing life styles be exactly what Drew and Peyton- and Chloe- need to get through the hard times?

Dancing in the Rain is a stand alone novel that deals with some heavy issues.  Drew is dealing with not only the loss of his career but an identity crisis and borderline alcoholism as a coping mechanism.  Then comes a surprise daughter and a whole new identity crisis: is he father material?  Peyton may have a career that she loves but she hates her boss- who seems not to know the meaning of the word 'compassion'.  Her job is in New York City, her niece and sister are in Chicago.  She not only has to deal with the very personal fact that her sister is dying, she has to try to be strong for Chloe and figure out what's best for the family. Jamieson does a wonderful job of making the family's situation real and relatable without allowing the story to get bogged down at any time.  She keeps things moving forward and for every step back Drew or Peyton take, they also figure out how to keep going forward.   The reflections both do on their lives and what they want to do with careers, as well as the difficulties they have in figuring out career-life balance, especially touched a chord for me.

Neither Drew nor Peyton are in a place where romance is a good idea and they are both sure that it's a really bad idea to get into a relationship with each other!  But the chemistry between them is undeniable.  I liked how, despite that initial attraction, there was plenty they didn't really like about each other at first.  Eventually the protective walls are lowered and they get to know each other, seeing the person behind the facade.  Peyton and Drew are a lot alike at the core: competitive, stubborn, and loyal.  But they approach those core values in opposite ways and without Chloe they might never have made themselves work out all the differences.

While both Drew and Peyton are great, the character who really stayed with me is Sara.  In the face of any number of obstacles she has pressed on, doing her best for both herself and Chloe.  She faced unexpected pregnancy in college and still not only finished college but got a law degree.  She was aware enough of herself and her priorities that she didn't stay in the corporate rat race but chose to work with a smaller law firm so she could have a better work-life balance with Chloe.  She fought her cancer every step of the way and when it became clear none of the treatments were going to work she set up everything Peyton and Chloe would need after she passed: guardianship, her will, even her funeral.  On meeting Drew, she genuinely understood if he didn't want to be a part of Chloe's life.  Despite all her own trials, she tried to make everything easier for everyone around her.  Sara is probably one of the most caring and unselfish characters I've ever read, and faced everything with strength, courage, dignity and grace that others in her position could only hope to match.  

I'm normally not a fan of books that make me cry, and there were several absolutely tear-jerking, heart-wrenching scenes in Dancing in the Rain.  However this was a book that I couldn't put down: full of truly three-dimensional, realistic characters; and the inspiring life lesson that challenges don't come when you are ready for them but that life is short, and sometimes the most precious moments come just by dancing in the rain.

A deep, wonderful, sad, uplifting, and romantic book, Dancing in the Rain will touch your heart and could change the way you look at life.  A must read!

I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

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