I fell in love with Top of Her Game by M. Ullrich. This is a story about two women who are players in women’s major league soccer. That fact alone would have interested me since both my partner and I love watching women’s soccer, and my partner especially follows both the Canadian and the U.S. women’s teams. Add in a lovely romance and you have us both hooked. That is exactly what happened with this book.
This is the story of Kenzie Shaw and Sutton Flores. Kenzie is a recent graduate from Penn State and the top rookie draft pick for her home state team, the New Jersey Hurricanes. There she meets and will be playing with her idol, Sutton Flores. Sutton is a superstar soccer player known for being a top player on the field, and unfortunately sometimes a player off the field. The two become friends first as teammates, but gradually the connection between the two grows to much more than just teammates and friends. There are hurdles that could derail the growing attraction. At least one of the hurdles could mean the end of their careers in soccer.
This is a well-written sports story and romance from an author who obviously follows soccer. She did a great job of writing these characters and showing the two grow as a couple as the story unfolded. It was easy to see the attraction from Kenzie to Sutton since she already started with her earlier teenage crush. Sutton had to grow a bit in the story, but I felt the author did a good job showing that growth.
I did not have an issue with the way the sexual harassment plot line was used in the tale. In the workplace, unless the abuser is at the top of the power chain, he or she has to hide what they want to do. Successful abusers learn to be really good actors. This means that when the abuse happens, it is often a surprise to the victim and invisible to others around them. I actually believe the author was pretty realistic in the way she handled this issue. It did cause a lot of the angst in the story, and rightfully so.
Despite the sexual harassment issue, this is a beautiful sports-related romance that I thoroughly enjoyed. I will issue a trigger warning here. This story does have one scene of attempted workplace sexual harassment. If that would cause you problems, you might want to read another of Ms. Ullrich’s novels.
I received an ARC from NetGalley and Bold Strokes Books for an honest review.