I hold my fingers a bit when I start a new Harvey-Berrick book. While most of them are so truly wonderful and tear inducing, that for me they are well deserved five-star or solid As. But every so often I’ll read one that hits my hot button and I can’t even finish it. Undefeated is definitely the first, very much a thumbs-up book.
I’m on her mailing list, so I’ve seen for a while this book was written in collaboration with Stuart Reardon and I was wondering how it would flow. It flows wonderfully well together.
Nick Renshaw is a rugby player who shows a lot of promise. He gets offered a promotion to the big leagues. But during his last game with his current team, he suffers a potential career-ending injury, which freaks him out, as one can imagine. He has to have surgery to repair it. His live-in girlfriend is a real nasty piece and offers him no support whatsoever. He has the surgery, which seems to be a success, and moves up.
The team he will be playing for has hired a sports psychologist to help motivate the team. Dr. Anna Scott is the one who will be working with Nick and his issues of fear. Personal note here – I’ve done major damage to both my legs and I can so relate to how fear can mess with the mind. I seem to have a permanent fear of falling, because it was falls that led to the leg damage. So I was totally on board with Nick’s fears of re-injuring his foot. Now, while there is a definite attraction between Nick and Anna, it is never acknowledged or acted on. Nick has a girlfriend he proposes to, and Anna was burned very badly in the past because of a forbidden relationship and she has signed an agreement that eliminates any kind of fraternization with her patients.
Nick’s fears come to fruition when it’s determined the first surgery was a failure and he will have to undergo another operation. As if that’s not bad enough, he discovers his now fiancé in ‘the act’ with his best friend right after he learns about the surgery. He has a total meltdown, and this leads to him losing everything – and I mean everything. You name it and he lost it. He reaches then lowest depths and then slowly begins to pull himself out by his fingernails. He’s lost his contract and reaches out to Anna. As he no longer is with the rugby club, he’s no longer her patient, and they finally give in to their feelings for one another.
But Nick gets picked up for another team on his rise back up, and, once again, Anna is a sports psychologist for his new team. But they are unable to deny their feelings this time round. This is basically the outline of the book.
I did a bit of research on Stuart Reardon, and there is a lot in this book that could be taken out of his own life, which, for me, gives Undefeated even more points – he was a ruby player who himself suffered serious injuries. The reader knows for a fact that the game scenes are authentic. The love of the game itself isn’t just an author projecting, it’s quite literally (and how I hate that expression) how rugby players feel about their sport. My son played rugby until he got married and his wife stopped him, and I think the average rugby player’s opinion is ‘football is for sissies.” It’s a very rough game and Nick has all kinds of scars he’s quite proud of.
Nick is a fantastic hero. While very confident in his abilities as a rugby player, it’s not so much the case about himself as a person. When, as part of his therapy, Anna asks him to list three things about himself he’s good at – and I don’t want to spoil it – I love what he comes up with. He’s the furthest thing from a ‘player.’ He’s remained faithful to his girlfriend, even though she’s a Class A bitch. Some readers might even find her a bit over the top in her villainy, but for me it works. And Stuart Reardon is also the cover model, so when picturing the hero in one’s mind, well – the hero looks exactly like the cover model and since the cover model is hot, hot, hot, this makes for yet another reason to adore this book. I can’t say enough how much I adore Nick. He’s fallen to the very bottom, yet somehow manages to very slowly, very gradually pull himself up. He’s the definition of a survivor.
Anna is great too, though not quite as much of a standout character as Nick. She went through a very dark time in her past herself that comes back to haunt her and it plays a very large role in her extreme reluctance in getting involved with Nick.
The book is seamless between the two authors and makes for a most excellent partnership. By the looks of it, they have plans for another book and I can’t wait.
If you’ve never tried this author before, I will 100% guarantee that if you like sports romance then you will enjoy this book. 100%.
P.S. if you are shallow like I am, google pictures of Stuart Reardon. You will have need of a fan, let me tell you!
When your world crashes down
When they all say you’re out
When your body is broken
I will rise.
I will return.
And I will be undefeated.
Nick Renshaw is the golden boy of British rugby. When a serious injury threatens his career, he starts to spiral downwards, a broken man.
Abandoned and betrayed by those closest to him, he fights to restart his life. Maybe there’s someone out there who can help him. Maybe he can find his way back toward the light. Maybe … not.
Dr. Anna Scott might be the one person who can help Nick, but she has her own secrets. And when Nick’s past comes back to haunt them both, the enigmatic doctor is more vulnerable than she seems.
Broken and betrayed, the struggle to survive seems intolerable. Who will give in, and who will rise, undefeated?
No excerpt available.