Undefeated by Stuart Reardon & Jane Harvey-Berrick
Rosa's rating: 5 of 5 iScream Cones
"Giving up only accomplishes one thing: failure."
I admit that it was the collaboration of the co-authors that intrigued me the most about this story. I have zero knowledge about rugby, but I've enjoyed Jane Harvey-Berrick books in the past, so I knew she had the talent to make this work. And yes, I knew who Stuart Reardon was too. I've seen him on many book covers, including this one. The fact that he is actually a pro rugby player made me even more curious knowing that it would be his POV behind the game details.
When I first met Nick, he was on the rise in his professional rugby career. He'd just been signed to the next level and was finishing out his time with his current team. He was at the top of his game, full of confidence and passion for the sport. He'd been playing for years so he'd had many injuries over the years and the scars to prove it. They all did. As I learned while reading this story, rugby is an intensely physical sport and the players don't wear pads like American football players do. They just wear mouth guards and the rest of their body is at risk for injury. And when weather conditions are bad, the rain and mud make it even worse when they can't get speed or traction. My heart was in my throat as I experienced that game, the one that changed his life, through Nick's eyes. Having read the synopsis, I knew what was coming. I knew he was gonna get injured. So, it made me scared to turn the page as I anticipated the inevitable disaster, not wanting it to happen, but knowing that it would. I was devastated right along with him, worried that he might not make it back to the game that he loved.
Dr. Anna Scott has been through hell herself so she understands much of what Nick is experiencing. She might not always practice what she preaches, but she believes in it. She tries to help Nick by giving him the tools he needs to help himself. She knows that it's important that he believes in himself and his ability to recover and reclaim his place on the team. If he has doubts, then how can his coach and his team depend on him?
As they each struggle with their own demons they also struggle with their attraction to each other. A relationship between them is forbidden. There is no fraternization allowed between doctor and patient. They both have careers they have worked hard for and it's better to deny their feelings than to risk them, right? So, they form a friendship and Anna is supportive and encouraging as he fights his way back after rehab.
I really enjoyed learning about rugby and the author's passion for the sport bleeds through the pages. I felt like I was right there, in the locker room, and on the field. Being an American, some of the words were unfamiliar, but it didn't detract from the story. And can I just say, I really loved the support characters, Belinda and Brendan? I'm excited to report that there are already plans for more collaboration between these talented authors. I can't wait to see what they have for us next. The line forms here...