Review: Touching Down by Nicole Williams

Note: This ARC was provided by Ardent PRose in exchange for an honest review.

"I can't do this to you again," I whispered, lowering my eyes, so I didn't have to meet his. 
"You can't do what again to me? Let me fall for you?" He exhaled sharply, keeping me close. "I feel for you forever ago and there's nothing you've done since that moment that has changed that. There's nothing you could do to change that. When a person falls, they don't just get up, dust themselves off, and keep going. If they fell right, if they fell good and hard the first time, there's no getting up from that fall because they landed right where they were supposed to."

Prior to this year, I had never read a Nicole Williams-penned novel. If you could see my hanging my head in shame right after I wrote that sentence, you'd see how embarrassed I am at this major oversight, and I shall be rectifying that situation once my review schedule clears up--which, last time I checked my planner, will be around December, fingers crossed. But in 2016 alone, I've already read three of the author's standalones, and I get it. I absolutely get why she's a bestselling author--how the hell could you resist not wanting to read her books?--and she isn't a one-hit wonder or someone who merely hits a bestseller list based on hype. She's got the chops to back up her books, with high quality writing and stellar storytelling and characterization. It's no wonder that Nicole Williams has now become my newest go-to author and I her latest fangirl. Seriously, read her books and you'll see understand why I've given her three most recent releases five-plus stars. Why not start with Touching Down, a story about first love and second chances?

It's been more than seven years since Ryan Hale left her hometown known as The Click without a word of goodbye. She was only seventeen then, and now, she's back, too late to say goodbye to the woman who took her in when she needed a mother figure to care for and about her, but still wanting to pay her respects and say thank you. She's also hoping to see one person in particular, the boy who, at thirteen, rescued a nine-year-old girl and time and again, cementing his role as hero and owner of her heart. When she left, she never asked for her heart back, but she knows she crushed his in the process. She wants the chance to explain why she believed she had no other choice but to leave. But Grant Turner is still angry and hurt. She isn't sure if the boy she loved can be found within the man who has made a name for himself on the football field, becoming one of the best tight ends in the league and on his way to achieving a level of greatness she always believed he was destined for. Will he be ready to listen to what Ryan needs to say?

Touching Down can be easily categorized as a sports romance but it's much more than that. Grant and Ryan are each other's first in almost everything. They bore witness to the kind of hardship and cruelty that kids their age should never have to go through. They became the source of love and support that the other needed and deserved. So, when Ryan made the conscious decision to leave at seventeen while Grant was at college broke both of them in ways that only those who have experienced being so deeply in love could fathom. But while a good portion of the story tackles the rekindling of feelings that never really waned or was doused by time nor distance, this was also about family and having fortitude in the light of a challenge that seemingly has no solution or if there were one, nothing immediate. Ryan and Grant's love is tested more than once in their lifetime, and for them to survive the latest one will take a different kind of resolve--an almost superhuman inner strength. But if there are any two people capable of it, it's Grant and Ryan.

I so wish I could go into more detail about what it was in the story or who the other characters were that made this such an amazing read for me. There were different elements that I'm itching to pinpoint, but to do that would spoil the book for those who have yet to experience it. There's an important twist in the story, and while it does come early in the novel, I'm not going to be the one to divulge it. Yes, this is me encouraging you to actually go out and read the book. I hope that when you do, you'll get why I loved every single bit of it and why I shed tears or squeed in delight in when I did while reading it. You see, this isn't just Ryan and Grant's love story, but I'm going to leave it at that. Maybe you've figured it out or have guessed at what could be going on, and hey, you're probably right. But Touching Down is a book that you need to have in your hands and go through every high and low with Grant and Ryan in order to fully appreciate it. You won't regret. Another Nicole Williams masterpiece is a five-plus-starred, 2016 favorite. ♥

Date Read: 12 October 2016

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