Friday, January 3, 2014

Book Review: Running Back by Allison Parr

NOTE: I received this title via Netgalley in exchange for my honest review. Thank you.

I had no idea I'd end up liking this book so much, but since it wasn't the cliche NA that you find everywhere you look, I was thrilled! There's no girl meets guy and they stumble all over each other right away, because of an instant connection. In this novel, the feelings develop over time, through conflict, through sharing of secrets, through hopes and dreams that lead to amazing, unexpected discoveries.

What I really liked a lot about this book were two things. One, the archeological part of it - like any person who's ever seen Indiana Jones, I dare say archeology fascinates me in a very special way. I wouldn't end up doing it myself (though there was a time I wanted to), but I definitely enjoy books and movies that involve any site that digs up historical artifacts.

Two, the characters. And I don't mean just the lead ones even though Michael O'Connor and Natalie Sullivan were quite the admirable characters. The secondary personas were portrayed quite realistically. We read about decades old grudges between two widows (one grumpy, the other happy). There's also an angsty teenage girl who gives hell to her family. An ex-model mom who's taken charge of her own life. In other words, lots of entertainment.

The title also held a double meaning that intrigued me. Honestly, I had no idea that a running back was a position in football. No, don't laugh. I don't watch football so I'm excused. It also had the other, more obvious meaning of, well, running back to the place you love, to the one you love, to the dreams you aspire to. You get the idea.

Now all I'm left to analyze are Mike and Natalie. For Mike I can say that he was a tough guy. At least he appeared to be that way if he showed his real face. Most of the time though, he had on a mask of smiles that was meant to hide the real him from outsiders. I personally think that Mike was scary. To defend himself from unwanted attention, of course, but scary nonetheless. Until he turned into a huggable teddy bear with a ginormous heart and a lot of human doubts. I can't say I fell in love with him, but he was swoon worthy and I did like him a lot.

Natalie was a bit cold. Her attention was only on her goal - finding the site of Ivernis (an ancient Irish sea port, where trade with Rome was believed to have occurred) at any cost. She was driven, determined and passionate about her work and I admired that about her. However, I admired more the fact that she realized that it's more important to find the magic in anything you find (people, places), instead of disregarding something just because it didn't turn out to be what you expected.

I'm not saying Running Back is perfect. By all means, it is not. It could've undergone some more work, polishing off the characters and their relationships. Still though, I enjoyed it very much and I can say fairly honestly that I would recommend it to lovers of romance with a deeper story to pull the strings.

My rating is