Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Lucy Score - Rock Bottom Girl

Downsized, broke, and dumped, 38-year-old Marley sneaks home to her childhood bedroom in the town she couldn’t wait to escape twenty years ago. Not much has changed in Culpepper. The cool kids are still cool. Now they just own car dealerships and live in McMansions next door. Oh, and the whole town is still talking about that Homecoming she ruined her senior year.
Desperate for a new start, Marley accepts a temporary teaching position. Can the girl banned from all future Culpepper High Homecomings keep the losing-est girls soccer team in school history from killing each other and prevent carpal tunnel in a bunch of phone-clutching gym class students?
Maybe with the help of Jake Weston, high school bad boy turned sexy good guy. When the school rumor mill sends Marley to the principal’s office to sign an ethics contract, the tattooed track coach, dog dad, and teacher of the year becomes her new fake boyfriend and alibi—for a price. The Deal: He’ll teach her how to coach if she teaches him how to be in a relationship.
Who knew a fake boyfriend could deliver such real orgasms? But it’s all temporary. The guy. The job. The team. There’s too much history. Rock bottom can’t turn into a foundation for happily ever after. Can it?

Comment: I've decided to add this book to my TBR because it seemed as if the heroine would be facing some difficulties in her life and I'm always interested in reading about characters who start off as being in a bad spot but improve and, often, along the way find happiness and even better if love as well.

In this book we meet heroine Marley who, at 38, seems to have her life stagnated. She is out of money and out of a job and is only staying at her parents' house, in the small town she vowed to never return to permanently, because there isn't anywhere else for her. Somehow, her bubbly mother found her a temporary job, coaching the high school girl' team and teaching, until the school finds a permanent replacement. This is all Marley didn't want because of the bullying she remembers from those days, because of the big scene she caused during her last year and which everyone still remembers and because she learns Jake Weston her bad boy crush, is now a respected teacher as well and she will have to interact with him. Could it be there's no end to what others remember of her humiliation?

This was a surprisingly good story for me. I mean, I kind of hoped it would, but it was really a very enjoyable read, especially since it is the first book I try by the author. I like these kind of stories, where someone facing problems or at a lower moment in their lives can find something positive...more or less the dream everyone has for their own lives, even when it isn't possible or easy, and that is why this was such a good escapism novel to read...

Marley is a very likable character. I've read that other readers didn't find her to be that nice, but to me her personality and attitude made sense and I liked how she went from someone who felt she didn't do anything well to be so easily part of a community. Of course this is fiction, for even in small towns where one might have a support system (like family or friends), to rebuild connections and to believe others are trusting you again isn't certainly easy. However, Marley seemed to be someone one could trust and under those feelings of self reproach, she was actually a good person, someone who made mistakes and has grown up, even if it doesn't feel like it.

A big part of the plot is centered on Marley's coaching and teaching and how she goes from the basic stuff which doesn't have any impact on anyone to little things and her team liking and defending her and wanting to do well. I bet there is something quite fantasy-like in this, but I don't care, I liked the evolution of Marley's perception for and to the team, as well as to other secondary characters. I also liked how the author didn't make Marley's career a easy one, there are good and bad moments, which is more realistic.

There is also quite a few pages dedicated to Marley's high school days and her experiences and why she caused problems in her last year over a revenge gone too far, but to be honest, when we finally learn what she did, despite the less than stellar actions, I can't see why that is so bad, except for the very public form and how something so obvious would have been seen by so many different people. The main reason for what she did was the fact Marley was bullied and she planned a revenge on her archenemy Amie Jo, who so happens to also be a teacher at the school now...

Apart from the coincidences one might find too hard to accept, the story is cute to read and there is always this sort of fun/comedy tone which makes some subjects feel less acute. I suppose I wouldn't have minded if some things had been dealt with a bit more seriousness. I know the intention behind most scenes is one where there is a purpose and I can see how the characters evolve, but some things shouldn't have been done so freely, I do think a bit more intensity or seriousness in some things might have helped.

There is also a romance and I liked Jake too, especially how confident he was in himself and in his feelings.. he wasn't afraid, when he got his POV, to assume he was falling for Marley and that he saw her as someone special, for more than just the time her job would last in the school.. still, some things were a bit too easy but I would say the romance was definitely part of why this story worked so well. Pity that close to the end we have  a version of the classic "misunderstanding", otherwise the overall story would be even stronger, I think.

All in all, this was a good novel, entertaining, cute and I think I might try something else by the author...
Grade: 8/10

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