Review: Making the Play by T.J. Kline (Hidden Falls #1)

Note: This ARC was provided by Avon Impulse via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

I've been meaning to read the Healing Harts series by T.J. Kline for quite some time now, but because I have a thing about reading books in a series in order, I've been putting it off because it's comprised of five full-length novels and I'm going to want to read them one after the other and well, time is a prime commodity at the moment. But when the opportunity to actually start her new series, Hidden Falls, came along, I couldn't resist. Hidden Falls is a small town in the state of California and it's where we find injured NFL running back Grant McQuaid and kindergarten teacher Bethany Mills, who is also a single mother to six-year-old James. From the moment Grant avoids crashing into the adorable, football-loving hearing impaired boy and notices how skittish his beautiful mother is, their lives become unexpectedly entangled.

Grant McQuaid refuses to listen to what the experts and analysts are saying about his career. He knows his injury was serious and at thirty-two, he isn't exactly a spring chicken. But he's been working out harder than ever, needing to prove to everyone that he's still more than capable of returning to his team in Memphis. In a few weeks, he's headed back for his doctor's appointment and he's hoping he'll get the go-ahead to start training camp. Then he meets little James Mills, who happens to be a fan of his. His wary mother, Bethany, maybe not so much. But there's something about the precocious kid who loves football and uses sign language better than Grant's rusty knowledge of it can keep up and his protective mother that Grant can't stay away from. But with Grant's future in limbo, he knows better than to pursue Bethany.

Bethany Mills has spent six years fortifying the walls around her and her son. She and James have already experienced rejection and abandonment courtesy of her ex-husband. With only her parents to lean on, Bethany got her teaching degree and made the move from Tennessee to California in order to create a life for herself and James. At twenty-six, she doesn't want to make time for dating and no man has caught her attention anyway. That is, until she comes face to face with NFL star Grant McQuaid. He doesn't just want to get to know her; he's genuinely interested in spending time with her son, not merely using him as a way to get closer to her. As much as she tries to keep him out of their lives, Grant has formed a special bond with James, and if Bethany's honest with herself, he's breaking down all her barriers and that terrifies her.

This was my first T.J. Kline read but I fell in love with the town of Hidden Falls and the McQuaid family, who I assume and hope the rest of the series will be about, so this definitely won't be the last. Grant wasn't your typical cocky professional jock. Yes, he was confident, but he was also humble and I loved how he honestly wanted to be with James and not just Bethany. I liked how Bethany didn't immediately swoon for the guy, and that Grant had to earn her trust over time. The story didn't play out in the way that I was expecting, with the author surprising me a few times when it came to the direction she took this small town romance. The writing and development of both the story and the characters were excellent. Everything about Making the Play won me over and I can't wait to find out who's story is up next. This gets five stars. ♥

Date Read: 12 October 2016

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