Review: “Claiming Carter” by Jennifer Bonds

Book Title: Claiming Carter

Author: Jennifer Bonds 

Series: Waverly Wildcats, Book 1

Rating: 4.5⭐

Release Date: October 19th, 2020

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Synopsis: Austin Reid’s college football career might be ending, but he’s determined to finish out the season with a bang and get drafted to the NFL. Only problem is they’re a player short and their only chance at winning the national championship is Kennedy Carter. She dislikes football players, is an absolute genius and is already playing soccer. But when Austin makes her an offer she can’t refuse, things get a little more complicated than Kennedy would like.

Review: If you know me, then you know how much I love sports romances. Jennifer Bonds’ first book (there is a novella before this one that I haven’t read, but probably should) in the Waverly Wildcats series is a sports romance with a brilliant storyline, interesting characters and enough drama to keep you entertained for a while. I also finished this book in three hours because once I started, I couldn’t put it down.

“I’ve learned to take pleasure in the game. To appreciate the slow burn of a well-executed play. Because that constant ache of desire? It makes the victory dance that much sweeter.”

Kennedy Carter is an absolute favourite. I love that she’s sassy, smart and takes no bullshit from anybody. But also that she knows what she wants and goes after it, sometimes even doing things that other people might not do to get there. And that includes joining the football team as their kicker just so she can get a scholarship, take the pressure off her mother, participate in a competition and graduate without having to constantly worry about money and her place in school. She’s also in STEM, making her basically an all around perfect woman.

And Austin Reid would agree. Ugh, Austin. He’s so amazing. I mean, she compares him to Captain America, so you can already imagine the kind of beauty this man holds. Plus, he’s so passionate about football, cares about his team and knows that taking them to a championship would be the best thing in the world. While it might seem like Austin is doing this for himself, he’s actually doing it to help everyone on the team. And he’s just such a good guy. He’s got this whole football hero shtick down, but he’s not a complete asshole. Honestly, Austin is incredibly endearing and if anyone says they don’t like him, they’re lying.

“You can try to shut me out, but the thing is, I’m an offensive player. There’s no one better at reading—and bypassing—a defensive move than me.”

One of the things that I really loved about this book is that Austin doesn’t go easy on Kennedy just because she’s a girl. He’s trying to bring her into the team and make her part of the family, but he also steps up and defends her when he needs to – just like he would with anybody else on the team. To Austin, winning is important and he isn’t going to apologise for that, but he also believes that if someone can do a job really well, it doesn’t matter what they look like, as long as they deliver on their promises. And Kennedy does.

Their relationship is so much fun. I love watching strangers become friends and become lovers to becoming so much more. That growth and that gradual build is always such a treat. Because when they first meet, it’s not about feelings. Austin has a reason for being there and he has a reason for wanting Kennedy to move from soccer to football and that’s it. It takes them both some time to really warm up to each other and that’s when things start to get interesting.

“Looking at Carter, I’m certain there’s nothing sexier than a woman wearing her own numbers. I can easily picture her prancing around my bedroom in that jersey and nothing else, her golden legs leading straight to the end zone.”

Gah, the steam in this book! Good god, it was just so hot. Austin and Kennedy have incredible chemistry and that’s evident from the moment both of them realise that there’s something more between them than what they realised. I love how Jennifer brought these two characters together, because it could have been a whole lot more complicated, but it wasn’t. It was simple, but with a catch. I also love that Kennedy makes Austin work for her attention and her time. She’s not going to sit back and just let him have her, he needs to earn her. While, sure, she wants him something fierce, it’s still so good to watch them just fall apart around each other.

Really, it was the simple things in this book that won me over. Like Kennedy and Austin referring to each other by their surnames, the football games where they both want to grab each other but they behave like teammates would, how their relationship grows from friendship to something more, how Kennedy outshines literally every other character in this book with her sheer brilliance. There’s just so much going on that not just one thing will make you love it. The camaraderie, the romance, the sport – it all sucks you in and makes you beyond content with what this book delivers.

Thanks to Jennifer Bonds and Wildfire Marketing Solutions for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

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