Rush Me, by Allison Parr

>> Monday, September 11, 2017

TITLE: Rush Me
AUTHOR: Allison Parr

PAGES: 246

SETTING: Contemporary New York
TYPE: New Adult romance
SERIES: Starts New York Leopards series

When post-grad Rachael Hamilton accidentally gate-crashes a pro-athlete party, she ends up face-to-face with Ryan Carter, the NFL's most beloved quarterback.

While most girls would be thrilled to meet the attractive young millionaire, Rachael would rather spend time with books than at sporting events, and she has more important things to worry about than romance. Like her parents pressuring her to leave her unpaid publishing internship for law school.

But when Ryan's rookie teammate attaches himself to Rachael, she ends up cohosting Friday-night dinners for half a dozen football players.

Over pancake brunches, charity galas and Alexander the Great, Rachael realizes all the judgments she'd made about Ryan are wrong. But how can a Midwestern Irish-Catholic jock with commitment problems and an artsy, gun-shy Jewish New Englander ever forge a partnership? Rachael must let down her barriers if she wants real love—even if that opens her up to pain that could send her back into her emotional shell forever.
Rachael Hamilton is a postgraduate student living in New York. One evening, while out with her roommate, she gets lost and walks into the wrong party. That party turns out to be hosted by Ryan Carter, an NFL player, and full of his fellow players and their entourages and groupies. Rachel is the intellectual, arty type, even a little bit snobbish. This is definitely not her scene, so she tries to extricate herself asap. But it's not easy, as one of Ryan's teammates, Abe, gloms onto her and is determined they should be friends (he's Jewish, like her, and no one in his peer group shares that background).

So as she helps him host Shabbat dinners and ends up slowly being sucked into the group's social life, Rachel is forced to see more of Ryan than she wants. And in spite of a really, really bad first impression, she starts to like him.

What I like in general about books in the New Adult genre is seeing young people starting to build a life in today's world. It's a different world to what it was like 15 years or so ago, when I was doing the same thing, and I love seeing this explored. I've really enjoyed the few NA books I've found that did that well. Unfortunately, this is not where the subgenre has gone, mostly. Instead of focusing on regular people who happen to be young, NA seems obsessed with celebrities. It's all 'regular girl falls in love with the rock star, the famous actor, the quarterback'. I find that tiresome.

Still, everything, even the most unpromising storyline, can be done well, so the fact that Ryan's a millionaire athlete is not necessarily a problem. It raises really interesting issues in terms of dealing with certain inequalities in a relationship. And to be fair, this was an element of the story. Rachael does find it hard to strike a balance between not wanting to sponge off Ryan and distancing herself from him (e.g. she never attends his away games because she can't afford to and feels uncomfortable asking him to pay, and Ryan feels this as Rachael stepping away from a real relationship). I just wish they had had a proper conversation about it, though, because I didn't feel these issues were resolved in a satisfying way There's a big fight which kind of skirts around these issues, but while Rachael, as the narrator, is very articulate about her feelings to us readers, she can't seem to communicate them to Ryan, and instead strikes out at him and is very hurtful (he's hurtful right back; it's an ugly fight).

The problem is, when they reconcile, they don't even touch on these issues. It's all 'I love you' and that's it. No acknowledgment that there are areas they still need to do something to resolve, which was worrying.

The other issue I had was the lack of chemistry. There's banter and there's hostility, and their relationship sometimes felt closer to the latter. It's mostly Rachael who's pretty bitchy, although Ryan can give as good as he gets (in his case, though, it's mostly defensive!). I did get a kick out of Rachael being so rude at times (as a general rule I'd much rather a bitchy heroine than a sweet, demure one), but she went over into properly mean and cruel in certain situations, and that wasn't ok. I couldn't really get what the attraction was, on either side. On Ryan's side, I could understand, I suppose, that here's one woman who doesn't fall all over herself to get to him, and that might have been a novelty, but that would only have gone so far. And if Rachael was honest about who she was and what she cared about, being with a celebrity football player would be the last thing she wanted to do. I didn't really feel they had made a connection below the surface and the physical attraction, I guess.

MY GRADE: It was a C+ for me. It had its moments, but didn't really work.


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