I think I laugh the most whenever I read an Olivia Dade romance, her humor hits all the right notes for me. Even when I’m not expecting a laugh, Dade delivers them through her characters who are achingly self-aware, or sometimes not.
Following a meet-cute involving a runaway bikini top and the need to keep from flashing nearby children, we get the story of Tess and Lucas. Lucas, 26, a former top-level tennis pro now giving lessons at a Florida resort, fled there after the abrupt, painful end to his injury-plagued career. He’s met his match (pun very much intended) in Tess, an assistant principal in Virginia in town to celebrate her 40th birthday with her best friend on a well-earned two-week vacation while simultaneously plotting to get the principal job coming open at her school. They only have these two weeks together to figure out if this chemistry between them can survive both their age gap and outside the bubble created by their time together at the resort.
What I learned about myself during this one is that I’m not a huge fan of May-December romances, I don’t think. Or, rather, I completely identified with Tess and her reluctance to take a 26-year-old man seriously from the vantage point of someone in their late 30s (Tess turns 40 early in the book, I turn 39 in a few months). In fact, there was a ton of things I identified with in this book – early injuries ending a pursuit before its time, continual pain from injuries and the acceptance that some things are just going to have a physical cost involved, the never-ending tedium of the physical therapy cycle, growing up quick, just knowing – immediately – that someone might be your person and not wanting to deal with that, letting fear make decisions… its all there hiding just below the surface of this seemingly light vacation romance.
But this is Olivia Dade, you are going to have large feelings, laugh a lot, and enjoy pop culture references as they go by and get absolutely puled in to romance that deals with its characters emotions while simultaneously giving you a bit of escapist fun. This wasn’t the book I had initially intended to read for the Sportsball square. I don’t know why, it’s been on my to read list since last year. When I took the other book out from the library and immediately couldn’t find my footing with its tone and authorial voice, I returned it and went back through my list to see what else I had on deck, and I could have smacked myself for how obviously this one was just waiting for me, perfect and ready to go.
Bingo Square: Sportsball