Sports + Bad Boy + Second Chance
The Hard Way by Katie Ashley NOW AVAILABLE!
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Cade Hall has always been the golden boy of the gridiron. Because of his talent at football, coupled with his father’s wealth, he’s always gotten his way. But when a night of drunken debauchery lands him in hot water with the college athletic board, neither his influential father nor his charming grin can save him. Cade finds it a total buzz kill when he is sentenced to community service with troubled youth at an inner-city shelter. But his nightmare is only beginning when his greatest high school regret is the very one in charge of the program, and she has him by the balls in more ways than one.
For Avery Prescott, senior year was a nightmare of epic proportions, and Cade Hall played the lead villain. After she fled her small town for college in the bright lights of Atlanta, she thought she had escaped the painful memories of her past. She never could have imagined Cade would waltz through the door of the outreach program she presided over. But Avery has news for Cade—she isn’t the same shy, doormat of a girl she was in high school. Since she holds Cade’s football future in her hands, she’s more than ready to make payback a real bitch.
Will they stay in the defensive zone or discover that sometimes life’s greatest lessons are learned the hard way?
“Is this one of those old-timey record players?”
“A Victrola,” I answered as I joined him.
Cade snapped his fingers. “That’s right. There was one of these at my grandparents’ house.” He eyed the contraption curiously. “Does it work?”
“Sure.” I set my cup down before winding up the crank. Then I placed the needle on the record, and a slow instrumental tune came out of the Victrola’s horn. At Cade’s groan, I grinned. “Not a fan of classical music?”
“No. It’s more about the fact that it’s one of Strauss’s waltzes.”
Cocking my brows at him, I asked, “You know Strauss?”
With a snort, Cade said, “Don’t look so surprised, and no, I didn’t learn about him in Harlington’s music appreciation class either.”
I held up my hands. “I wasn’t alluding to anything.”
“Yes, you were alluding, as you say, to the stereotype of me being an uncivilized jock,” Cade teased in a snooty-sounding voice.
“I’m sorry. I’ve got to stop doing that. You really are so much more than a jock.”
He swept his hand to his heart. “Why, thank you.”
“So tell me how you know Strauss.”
“I have waltzed at ten cotillions and three debutante balls.”
“Wow. That’s quite impressive.”
“What about you?”
“I’ve never been to a cotillion or deb ball.”
“No, I mean, haven’t you ever waltzed before?”
I laughed. “Oh yeah, I often practice my dance skills out in the corn.”
“Every lady should know how to dance.”
“But I’m not a lady.”
Cade smiled. “Yeah. You are.” When I started to protest, he said, “Money and position aren’t what make a lady. It’s what’s inside you that counts.”
His words and his tone caused the breath to wheeze out of my lungs. Just when I thought he couldn’t surprise me any more with the things he said, he went and said something like that. “Thank you,” I finally mumbled.
“You’re welcome.” The world seemed to slow to a crawl around us as we stood there staring at each other. The sound of Cade clapping his hands together caused me to jump. “Okay. One waltz lesson coming up.”
“I’m going to warn you that you’re probably going to regret this. I’m the worst dancer ever.”
“How can anyone who plays the piano suck at dancing?”
“I’m not sure how it’s possible, but trust me, it is.”
Cade laughed. “We’ll see.”
A tingling jolt of electricity shot through me when Cade took one of my hands in his. After he put his other hand on the small of my back, he drew me closer to him. Even with all the times I had sat next to him while we worked on our project, I hadn’t been this close.
“Now you put your other hand on my shoulder.”
“Step back with your left foot and then bring your right to the side.” After I followed Cade’s lead, he said, “Now bring your left foot to your right, and then step forward with your right.”
My mind spun as I frantically tried processing Cade’s instructions. Somehow it managed to click together, and I followed his lead. “Hey, you’ve got it,” he remarked with a smile.
“It’s not because of me—it must be the teacher.” I glanced up at him and smiled. “Sports, brains, and dancing; you’re really a true triple threat.”
“You forgot devastating good looks and charm.”
I grinned. “Does that make you a quintuple threat?”
“Make it a sextuple threat if you throw in the money.”
“I should have known you’d find a way to have ‘sex’ in your title.”
Cade threw his head back and laughed. “Always busting my balls, Prescott.”
“Yep. Just consider me your Little Ball Buster like Judith in Walking Dead was called Little Ass Kicker.”
Cade’s brows rose in surprise. “You watch Walking Dead?”
“Sure I do.”
“That surprises me.”
“I guess I just figured you only watched pretentious stuff like Downton Abbey.”
“Downton Abbey is not pretentious.”
Cade grinned. “I’ll take that as a yes that you watch it.”
“I certainly do.”
“At least I’m 1 and 1 on picking the TV shows you like.”
“While you know me pretty well, you have a lot more to learn, Mr. Hall,” I teased.
“I look forward to you educating me.”
As I stared into his face, Cade’s expression grew serious. The idea of educating him suddenly seemed to take on a deeper meaning—one of both mental and physical knowledge.
Cade dipped his head to where our mouths were just inches apart. His breath fanned across my cheek, causing me to shiver. I stared into his eyes, silently pleading with him to go ahead and kiss me. We’d already been down this road before. Since Thanksgiving night, I’d wanted nothing more than to feel his lips on mine again.
When he finally kissed me, it sent energy humming all over my body. I’d kissed other boys, but it had never felt the way it did with Cade. It was all-consuming of my mind, body, and spirit.
Considering his experience, it shouldn’t have been too surprising that Cade was a good kisser. What surprised me the most was the emotion behind his kiss. It ran so much deeper than just a physical act, as if he was putting his heart and soul into kissing me.
Cade deepened the kiss by plunging his tongue into my mouth. It tangled along with mine in a waltz of its own composing. My hand snaked up his back to capture the hair at the base of his neck, and I ran my fingers through the silky strands, marveling at how much softer it was than I had imagined.
The Victrola ran out of steam, and the only sound filling the room was heavy breathing. At the loss of music, Cade stopped leading me around the floor, and his hands slid underneath my buttocks. He gripped the globes of my ass before hoisting me up to wrap my legs around his, and I molded myself tighter against him. I couldn’t seem to get enough of him—the way his strong arms felt around me, his thick waist against my legs, his broad, muscular back underneath my hands. Even though I knew I shouldn’t, I wanted all of him.
When we crashed into a chest of drawers, Cade momentarily released my lips to breathlessly ask, “Are you okay?”
“Mmhmm.” I gazed into his hooded eyes. “Don’t stop. Please don’t stop.”
I rubbed myself against the ridge in Cade’s pants, causing him to groan against my throat. “Jesus, Prescott, if you keep doing that, I won’t be able to stop.” When I did it again, my action was rewarded with a growl.
Cade’s wild eyes glanced around the room before leading us over to the wide red settee in the back corner. We collapsed onto the smooth velvet material. I widened my legs to allow Cade’s hips between them and his mouth sought out mine in a frantic kiss.
As our tongues battled against each other, Cade’s hand came to my breast. He kneaded and cupped it over the fabric of my uniform, my nipples hardening under his touch. When he began undoing the buttons of my dress, he broke the kiss to glance at me as if asking my permission. At my nod, he practically ripped the remaining buttons open.
He gave me a sheepish grin as he pulled me into a sitting position. “Sorry about that.”
“It’s okay,” I said as I slid my arms out of the sleeves.
My breath hitched when Cade’s arms snaked around my back to undo my bra. Once it was unhooked, I couldn’t help bringing my arms to cover my chest and keep the bra in place. I hated that in this moment I couldn’t seem to get past my modesty, or my fear that my average-sized chest would turn him off.
Cade tilted my chin with his fingers, forcing me to look him in the eye. “You sure you’re okay with this, Prescott?”
“I am, I promise.”
“Then what’s wrong?”
“I’m just a little scared,” I whispered.
“That I’ll hurt you?” Cade questioned with a wounded look.
I gave a quick jerk of my head. “That you won’t like what you see.”
“You’ve been with so many other girls. I’m afraid I won’t measure up.”
His expression darkened. “That’s the stupidest fucking thing I’ve ever heard.”
I ducked my head. “I’m sorry, but I can’t help the way I feel.”
Cade cupped my face in his hands. “There’s only right here and right now, and there’s no one else but you and me. None of the past, just us and this moment.”
My heartbeat thrummed wildly at his sentiment. “Okay,” I murmured as I stared deeply into his eyes.
“And you could never not be beautiful to me. I like everything about you, both inside and out.” At what must’ve been my incredulous look, Cade grinned. “And I’m not just saying that so you’ll let me in your pants.”
“I know you wouldn’t.” Deep down, I knew it to be the truth. If Cade had really wanted to just screw me, he would have attempted it over the past two months.
“I wouldn’t be here tonight if I didn’t want to be with you for the long haul.”
Once again, my heart began to beat so erratically that I felt a little dizzy. “Really?”
He nodded. “You’re all I need, Avery.”
It’s the second New Adult book I read in a week and, for the second time, I really enjoyed the book. I have seriously to reconsider my bias towards this genre. As it is often said “the age doesn’t matter” and Katie Ashley told through Avery and Cade’s story something beautiful and moving, beyond the simple “romance”novel.
In all honesty, the beginning of the book was a little bit traumatic, I was horrified to say the least seeing how Cade treated Avery in order to put an end to their story: he was cold, cynical and cruel, he could break anyone’s heart. After four years since then, they meet again, and Avery has the sharp end of the handle in her hands, well I’d loved to exchange with her an “high-five”, for how she handled everything and giving him a hard treatment: cleaning up a whole series of toilets in the “center for youth at risk.” Can you imagine it?! Avery was great: a perfect revenge.
She is one of the lead the shelter, Cade, instead, should work for a period of “forced service” as punishment for having combined a real mess (showing off his family jewels and the “booty up” during an official dinner of his teacher).
Toilet apart, their reunion, for Avery, is really a low blow, which brings back for her all the pain she felt then, but because of it, she has still bleeding wounds, perhaps because of the rupture occurred so brutal, but especially without the bit of an explanation.
What intrigued me, in their story, is that something was amiss. Reading through both of their point of view, you’ll immediately notice there are some inconsistencies between the initial behavior of Cade and how he feels after seeing Avery anew. There’re missing important pieces in order to figure out what happened between them.
I also loved how is written the story. In addition to alternate the POV of the two protagonists, after the new encounter between Cade and Avery, there’s an alternation even with the past and the present, letting you see how the two had met at school and what had happened between them.
I assure you for me has become more and more an enigma their break, because, reading everything, you can see their bond was deep, special and unique and Cade really cared for Avery.
cade is a young man from a wealthy family, the most popular boy in school, with a bright sporting future in professional American football team, maybe a little wild, but he hides beneath this façade a wonderful mind and he’s a very nice guy, with his principles.
Avery instead comes from a family quite modest, she grew up in an isolated farm, along with her grandparents and her mother, without knowing her father. She received from her family unconditional love and growing up she had quite precise ideas about her future. She is a really nice girl, with a heart of gold. She isn’t certainly popular at school, she prefers to remain a bit apart from the busy life as a student in her senior year, but that doesn’t mean she’s a boring person or insecure. Far and along with Cade you learn to discover her slowly and she’s fun, cute and tough.
Avery and Cade are very different, but they have the ability to bring out the best of each other and my question remains: why the sudden change of heart of Cade?
Slowly you’ll find out what happened, thankfully.
Apart from them, who are two amazing protagonists, I must say that I really loved the Avery’s family, her bond with her mother and grandmother, the deep love that binds them.
And how not to say anything of those wonderful boys of the youth center where Avery works, one among all Darion, he’ll leave an important mark in this story and in Cade’s life.
“The Hard Way” is an amazing book, which left me really something, moved me and I recommend it to anyone who likes this genre of books, but also for those who, like me, want to try to rediscover the stories with characters a little younger, who also have a lot to say.
Rating: 5 STARS
Katie Ashley is a New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon Best-Selling author. She lives outside of Atlanta, Georgia with her daughter, Olivia, and her two very spoiled dogs. She has a slight obsession with Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women, and Scooby-Doo.
With a BA in English, a BS in Secondary English Education, and a Masters in Adolescent English Education, she spent 11 1/2 years educating the Youth of America aka teaching MS and HS English until she left to write full time in December 2012.
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Cade Hall è sempre stato il ragazzo d’oro sul campo. Per via del suo talento nel football e della ricchezza del padre, ha fatto sempre di testa sua.
Ma quando una nottata di trasgressione, causata dal troppo alcol, lo fa finire in una situazione difficile con il consiglio sportivo del college, né l’influenza del padre né il suo affascinante sorriso possono salvarlo. Cade si trova in una situazione senza vie d’uscita quando viene destinato a prestare servizio per la comunità, insieme a giovani in condizioni di disagio, in un rifugio della città.
Ma il suo vero incubo comincia quando la ragazza che è stata uno dei suoi rimorsi più grandi delle scuole superiori è l’unica a essere in carica nel gestire il programma e lo tiene “per le palle” in più di un modo.
Per Avery Prescott, l’ultimo anno delle superiori era stato un incubo di proporzioni epiche e Cade Hall aveva giocato il ruolo principale del cattivo. Dopo essere scappata della sua cittadina per andare al college, tra le brillanti luci di Atlanta, pensava di essere sfuggita ai dolorosi ricordi del suo passato. Non avrebbe mai immaginato che Cade avrebbe potuto varcare la porta del posto dove presiede il programma di solidarietà.
Ma Avery ha delle novità per Cade: non è la stessa ragazza timida e accomodante che era alle scuole superiori. Dato che il futuro di Cade nel football è nelle sue mani, è più che pronta a rendere la sua vendetta un vero inferno.
Rimarranno nella zona difensiva o scopriranno che a volte, nella vita, le lezioni più importanti si imparano nel modo più duro?
Secondo libro New Adult che leggo in una settimana e, per la seconda volta, il libro mi è piaciuto moltissimo. Devo seriamente riconsiderare i miei pregiudizi nei confronti di questo genere. Come si dice spesso “l’età non conta” e Katie Ashley ha raccontato attraverso la storia di Avery e Cade qualcosa di splendido ed emozionante, che va al di là della “semplice” storia d’amore.
In tutta sincerità l’inizio del libro è stato un po’ traumatico, ero a dir poco orripilata di fronte al trattamento riservato ad Avery da parte di Cade per mettere fine alla loro storia: un comportamento freddo, cinico e crudele, in grado di spezzare il cuore di chiunque. Quando, dopo quattro anni da quel momento, si ritrovano nuovamente di fronte, con lei con il coltello dalla parte del manico, beh avrei voluto “battere un cinque” con Avery, per aver rifilato a Cade un trattamento coi fiocchi: pulizie di tutta una serie di toilette del “centro per giovani adolescenti a rischio”. Avete presente? Avery è stata grandiosa: una vendetta perfetta e di stile.
Lei è una delle responsabili del centro, Cade, invece, deve prestare un periodo di “servizio forzato” come punizione per averne combinata una delle sue, un po’ troppo grossa (sfoggiare i suoi gioielli di famiglia e le “chiappette” durante una cena ufficiale di un suo professore).
Toilette a parte, il loro nuovo incontro, per Avery, è davvero un colpo basso, che fa riaffiorare tutto il dolore che aveva provato allora, e che ha lasciato delle ferite ancora sanguinanti, forse perché la rottura si era verificata in modo così brutale, ma soprattutto senza il briciolo di una spiegazione.
Ciò che mi ha incuriosito però sin da subito, nella loro storia, è che c’era qualcosa che non quadrava. Essendo narrata attraverso il punto di vista di entrambi, ci si accorge subito che ci sono delle incongruenze tra il comportamento iniziale di Cade e quello che prova dopo aver rivisto Avery. Mancano dei tasselli importanti per poter capire cosa è successo tra loro.
Mi è piaciuto molto anche come è scritta la storia. Oltre ad alternare la narrazione dei due protagonisti, dopo il nuovo incontro tra Cade e Avery, si alternano anche passato e presente, facendoci vedere come i due si erano conosciuti a scuola e cosa era successo tra di loro.
Vi assicuro che per me la cosa si è trasformata sempre più in un enigma, perché, leggendo, si capisce che il legame che si era instaurato da subito tra Cade ed Avery era speciale e unico e, soprattutto, che Cade teneva veramente a Avery.
Lui è un giovane proveniente da una famiglia agiata, il ragazzo più popolare della scuola, con un brillante futuro sportivo nella squadra di football americano, forse un po’ scapestrato, ma che nasconde sotto questa facciata un bel cervello e soprattutto il fatto di essere un bravo ragazzo, con dei principi.
Avery invece proviene da una famiglia abbastanza modesta, è cresciuta in una fattoria isolata, insieme ai nonni e alla madre, senza conoscere il padre. Ha ricevuto dalla sua famiglia un amore incondizionato e crescendo si è fatta delle idee ben precise sul suo futuro. È veramente una brava ragazza, dal cuore d’oro. Non è certo popolare a scuola, preferisce mantenersi un po’ ai margini della movimentata vita da studentessa dell’ultimo anno delle superiori, ma questo non vuol dire che sia una persona noiosa o insicura. Tutt’altro e insieme a Cade impariamo a scoprirla pian piano ed è molto divertente, sveglia e tosta.
Lei e Cade sono molto diversi, ma hanno la capacità di tirare fuori il meglio l’uno dall’altro e la mia domanda rimane: perché l’improvviso cambiamento di Cade?
Pian piano scopriremo cosa è successo, per fortuna.
A parte loro due, che sono due splendidi protagonisti, devo dire che ho amato molto la famiglia di Avery, il suo rapporto con la madre e la nonna, il profondo amore che le lega.
Come non parlare poi di quei meravigliosi ragazzi del centro giovani dove lavora Avery, uno tra tutti Darion, che lascerà un segno importante in questa storia e nella vita di Cade.
“The Hard Way” è un libro meraviglioso, che mi ha lasciato veramente qualcosa, mi ha emozionato e lo consiglio di cuore a chi ama questo genere di libri, ma anche a chi, come me, vuole provare a riscoprire storie con protagonisti un po’ più giovani, ma che hanno tanto da dire.
Katie Ashley è un’autrice di best-seller per il New York Times, USA Today e Amazon. Vive fuori Atlanta, in Georgia con la figlia, Olivia, e due cani molto viziati. Ha una discreta ossessione per Pinterest, The Golden Girls, Harry Potter, Shakespeare, Supernatural, Designing Women e Scooby Doo.
Con una laurea in Letteratura Inglese e una in Insegnamento della Scuola Secondaria e un Master in Educazione Adolescenziale, ha trascorso undici anni e mezzo ad insegnare alla Youth of America, scienze e letteratura inglese, fino a quando ha smesso per scrivere a tempo pieno nel dicembre 2012.
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