Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese Review | Enemies-to-Lovers Sports Romance If You Like Them Lumberjacks

51975973. sy475 Only When It’s Us
Author: Chloe Liese
Release Date: April 1, 2020
Publisher: Amazon
Get it Here: Amazon (Free on Kindle Unlimited!)

Synopsis:
Prepare for an emotional rollercoaster brimming with laughter, tears, and slow-burn sexiness in this new adult romance that tackles the vulnerability of love with humor and heart.

Ryder

Ever since she sat next to me in class and gave me death eyes, Willa Sutter’s been on my shit list. Why she hates me, I don’t know. What I do know is that Willa is the kind of chaos I don’t need in my tidy life. She’s the next generation of women’s soccer. Wild hair, wilder eyes. Bee-stung lips that should be illegal. And a temper that makes the devil seem friendly.

She’s a thorn in my side, a menacing, cantankerous, pain-in-the-ass who’s turned our Business Mathematics course into a goddamn gladiator arena. I’ll leave this war zone unscathed, coming out on top…And if I have my way with that crazy-haired, ball-busting hellion, that will be in more than one sense of the word. 

Willa

Rather than give me the lecture notes I missed like every other instructor I’ve had, my asshole professor tells me to get them from the silent, surly flannel-wearing mountain man sitting next to me in class. Well, I tried. And what did I get from Ryder Bergman? Ignored. What a complete lumbersexual neanderthal. Mangy beard and mangier hair. Frayed ball cap that hides his eyes. And a stubborn refusal to acknowledge my existence.

I’ve battled men before, but with Ryder, it’s war. I’ll get those notes and crack that Sasquatch nut if it’s the last thing I do, then I’ll have him at my mercy. Victory will have never tasted so sweet.

One-Way-Or-An-Author-Review

I thought this book was sweet, and cute! When I first read the blurb I was like “ehh” but then Nick from The Infinite Limits of Love said she was enjoying it, so I had to get it on Kindle Unlimited. Thanks for the recommendation, Nick! Another aspect that made me curious about the story was how Ryder was deaf, which I don’t see in romance books. (Note: I chose to describe him as “deaf” because the book didn’t give indication of him being in the Deaf community.) That leads to some miscommunication in the beginning of the story which sets off his and Willa’s antagonistic yet flirtatious relationship. If you like college romances with fiery dialogue filled with snark and underlying sexual tension, I think you’ll enjoy this one!

I drive Willa nuts with my blunt delivery, my pragmatic outlook, my dry, needling teases. And Willa’s a temperamental pain in my ass. She makes fun of my flannel shirts, she provokes me almost constantly. She ribs me for my gruffness, then jabs me the moment I show her my soft side.

At first, I enjoyed the heavy banter and teasing that happened between the couple. Sure, it was immature/cheesy at times, but I still enjoyed it and thought Willa and Ryder were super cute together. However, I think this book devolves a little with the constant back-and-forth going on, which dragged on a bit too long for my liking. A part of that had to do with character development, but it was to the point where I was wondering, “what’s keeping you back?” So, I recommend perhaps a little patience when it comes to that!

‘The stakes keep rising, and now I’m not even sure what I’m betting on or what I’m trying to win.’

What stakes though, in this quote by Willa?? I was honestly confounded. I think it’s valid to be confused on what you want from a relationship and how to proceed (as well as have doubts, anxiety, and insecurities around it), but for all intents and purposes, Ryder treated her like a queen. So I was more than a little skeptical at her hesitance, and the way it dragged the story out/became the main conflict of the book. (Was it a slow burn, or did it become a plot contender?) 

Back to the actual characters: Willa’s an athletic soccer player who has hopes of going professional. She is quick to anger, but also very fierce in her loyalty and friendships. She shares a class with Ryder, whose own soccer career ended when he got meningitis and damaged his hearing. Their relationship as study buddies and paired partners for a group project goes off to a bad start when Ryder doesn’t hear Willa asking him to borrow his notes. With veiled attraction and barbed comments, Willa and Ryder slowly become a part of each other’s lives, and perhaps more. 

Like I said, I enjoyed the banter, and the family relationships were so very precious in this book. Willa has to juggle being a student athlete with helping her mother as she undergoes treatment for cancer, while Ryder balances a home-life of LOTS of siblings. I cannot say anything about the deaf representation for Ryder, but I appreciated the author’s explorations with his struggles even with a hearing aid and how that affected his psyche as well, as he didn’t want to speak aloud after his hearing deteriorated. I thought both characters underwent through a lot of growth (Willa especially), which was nice. I just… I just wish I had more patience with Willa, haha. 

A part of this deals with Willa’s process of grief due to an event that happens in the book. I liked how she ended up going to grief counseling, and that the author kept her guarded personality throughout. The transition of letting her guard down… something about the execution was just not for me. I can’t exactly pinpoint it, but that something just made me struggle with finishing the last 30% of the book. 

Either way, ONLY WHEN IT’S US is a classic college romance, with lots of family love and snarky comments to keep readers – and characters – on their toes. Certainly not the kind of college romance I would have (as I’m these characters’ age), but cute nonetheless.

parent with cancer, loss of loved one and grief, mention of PTSD

Do you like frenemies-to-lovers romances? How about ones that are sports-based? Let me know your thoughts!

3 thoughts on “Only When It’s Us by Chloe Liese Review | Enemies-to-Lovers Sports Romance If You Like Them Lumberjacks

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