Title: Kick Off
Series: The District Line: Book One
Author: C.F. White
Publisher: Amazon/Kindle Unlimited
Length: 302 Pages
Category: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
At a Glance: C.F. White accomplishes one of the most, if not the most, important goals in romance: giving me a couple I want to see get their happy ending. Overall, I enjoyed this first sampling of a new-to-me author, so much so that I’ve already dug into the continuation of Jay and Seb’s story. Fingers crossed for the journey.
Reviewed By: Lisa
Blurb: A footballer forced into the closet. A rocker forced into his birthright. The collision that kicks off a star crossed romance.
East Londoner Jay Ruttman has only ever wanted one thing― to be a professional footballer. But after a disastrous brawl on the pitch gets him released from his pro-Academy, he has to follow plan B and enrolls as university Sports Scholar. Head down, train hard and get scouted is his motto. Until he crashes into the man who might just shoot his dreams out of the park.
Kensington elite Sebastian (Seb) Saunders has only ever wanted one thing―to be a rock star. But his father has other plans for him, including taking the helm of his multimillion-pound new business venture across the pond. Live it up, chase the dream and rock out for as long as he can is his mantra. Until he crashes into the man who might just rock his world off its scale.
Jay and Seb live at opposite ends of London’s District Line, separated by wealth, status, family traditions and their own life-long dreams. This is the first book in the startling and gritty contemporary romance series that sees them both having to overcome barriers, face fears and beat rejection to fight for the love they need to achieve it all.
Review: Fair warning to those who appreciate them: this book does not end in an HEA, or even an HFN, but that’s mitigated somewhat by the fact that the continuation of James Ruttman and Sebastian Saunders’ story is already published. This book is a second edition and has, per the author, “gone through major edits, including character name changes and new chapters, yet the overall story remains the same,” so, as C.F. White says in her bio, “Strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.”
Kick Off takes place in 2004, and while White didn’t have to flex much to ground the story in that time—the heavy lifting the mere mention of a flip phone can do—the real attention to the setting comes in the disparate lives of its characters. Jay is an East End, working class footballer who’s in college on scholarship and hoping to be scouted by the pros, while Seb is a student living in London’s West End, Kensington to be precise, and praying for the day his band gets discovered so he can escape the demands of his wealthy, manipulative, opportunistic father. Running into each other, in the most literal sense, on campus one day sets the wheels in motion for a romance that starts off on the wrong foot, but attraction is attraction, and they begin the dance. Seb, however, is keeping a pretty significant secret, and Jay is just beginning the work of getting comfortable with the truth that he’s gay. An out rocker and a closeted jock means their relationship meets multiple challenges which, of course, does nothing to keep them from falling in love with each other. Though, at this point, they’re succeeding to fail spectacularly at the relationship part of things, and are both miserable for it.
C.F. White accomplishes one of the most, if not the most, important goals in romance: giving me a couple I want to see get their happy ending. In this case, it appears I’m in for a long and bumpy journey over the course of three books to get there. That’s the long arc here—no side mysteries or major subplots to resolve, just two people working on being together despite internal and external conflicts, so if deep dives into the angsts and anxieties of two young twenty-somethings is a go-to, that’s the substance of this book. I did love Jay a lot, his sweet and earnest personality the perfect contrast to Seb’s ballsy and brash rocker. I came to love Sebastian too; the massive mistake of a past relationship and the dire straits of a father who holds all the power made his helplessness that much more poignant. Their story is bittersweet, but their eventual happily ever after will, I hope, be all the sweeter for their hurting now.
Families and the complications that come along with them play into the contrast between Jay and Seb in a significant way as well. Jay’s brother comes in strong at a pivotal moment, and one of the things, apart from the football, that keeps Jay from coming out is the fear of losing the close-knit family he loves. Friends are also there to fill in for emotional support and/or a hard dose of truth when needed.
Overall, I enjoyed this first sampling of a new-to-me author, so much so that I’ve already dug into the continuation of Jay and Seb’s story. Fingers crossed for the journey.
You can buy Kick Off here:
[zilla_button url=”https://smarturl.it/KickOffCFWhite” style=”black” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] Amazon/Kindle Unlimited [/zilla_button][zilla_button url=”https://smarturl.it/DistrictLineBoxSet” style=”black” size=”medium” type=”round” target=”_blank”] The District Line Box Set [/zilla_button]