Whatever Life Throws at You by Julie Cross
Publication Date: October 7th 2014
Rating: 4 Stars
Genre: Young/New Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Sport – Baseball
Find: Goodreads | Amazon
Life loves a good curveball…
Seventeen-year-old Annie Lucas’s life is completely upended the moment her dad returns to the major leagues as the new pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Now she’s living in Missouri (too cold), attending an all-girls school (no boys), and navigating the strange world of professional sports. But Annie has dreams of her own—most of which involve placing first at every track meet…and one starring the Royals’ super-hot rookie pitcher.
But nineteen-year-old Jason Brody is completely, utterly, and totally off-limits. Besides, her dad would kill them both several times over. Not to mention Brody has something of a past, and his fan club is filled with C-cupped models, not smart-mouthed high school “brats” who can run the pants off every player on the team. Annie has enough on her plate without taking their friendship to the next level. The last thing she should be doing is falling in love.
But baseball isn’t just a game. It’s life. And sometimes, it can break your heart…
This month has definitely been all about contemporaries for me and so far the books have been nothing but hits. Whatever Life Throws at You is yet another sports contemporary romances that swept me off my feet. The story follows Annie Lucas, a seventeen year old who faces some new lifestyle adjustments when her dad takes on a position as a pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals. Annie is the one that encourages him to take this position as it serves as a way for them to escape from her mother, a woman that has spent most of her life emotionally tormenting Annie’s father. Moving to Kansas City gives them a fresh start and a chance for Annie and her father to let go of that tumultuous relationship. Let me start by saying how much I loved the relationship between Annie and her father. The dynamic between them was so beautifully established and I loved that we got some insights into his relationship with Annie’s mother so we can understand why he made certain choices. Annie is his world and while some of his actions had me screaming at him, I could understand that they all came from a place of love. He’s overprotective but over the course of the book we see him learning to treat Annie as a adult and understand that sometimes you need to take a step back and let your daughter take charge of her own life and heart.
Another aspect I loved was the development of the relationship between Annie and Brody; this is the definition of a slow burn. They don’t get together until we reach the halfway mark and I really enjoyed seeing them progress from being acquaintances to friends and then more. In particular I enjoyed how Annie came to see Brody as more than the flirty, arrogant playboy that he makes out to be. The more time these two spend together, the more Annie realises that there’s more to him than meets the eye and underneath this playboy facade you have a guy that is working his ass off to prove to everyone that he was a risk worth taking. The friendship they strike up is one built on mutual support and when the lines of friendship begin to blur, things get a little more complicated. Thankfully, the book is low on drama and the conflicts we do get feels very grounded and realistic.
The romance between Annie and Brody is another highlight for me. This is down to the fact that they are constantly communicate with one anther; they don’t shy away from talking about the good, the bad and the ugly. This includes sex. Three cheers for a sex positive couple. Given his age and his life experiences, Brody is a lot more experienced than Annie and he encourages her to be open with him and talk about their boundaries and expectations within the relationship. These two take the time to build up their relationship and trust in one another instead of diving head first into it.
Now, let’s talk about Jason Brody. Oh, Brody, How my heart beats for you. I wasn’t sure what to make of him at first and I was worried that we wouldn’t get a chance to explore his background but, as always, I was wrong. Brody definitely has his own story to tell. He has a past and it’s not one he’s proud of. As a result of his actions, Brody has lost contact with his family and he still feels burdened by what he put them through. He’s constantly trying to make amends for his past mistake and sees this opportunity as a means of proving to everyone that he is not the same guy he was growing up. He knows that Annie’s father, Jim, took a chance on him and he doesn’t want to let him down. It’s through his friendship with Jim and relationship with Annie that we really see how lonely Brody’s been and how much he needed that support and belief in him. I adore him and I loved his development.
What more can I say? This was a fantastic read full of wonderful character dynamics and a whole lot of heart. If you’re a fan of baseball, a heart-stopping romance, a brilliant father-daughter dynamic, then this book is for you.