High Heels & Bicycle Wheels
Harper Impulse UK
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley
Bryony is a single TV production assistant who is almost the last one left unmarried in her group of friends. They’re all coupling up, getting hitched and having babies. Even the guy that Bryony has loved from afar for years has gotten married in a whirlwind courtship. Apparently the situation for Bryony is so dire that her mother is even offering to have Bryony’s eggs frozen. Just in case The One doesn’t come along any time soon.
Whilst working on Sporting Chances, Bryony meets cycling star Jackson Gale. A notorious playboy and superstar of the sport, a crash and resulting injury has put Jackson out of competing for the summer. He’s appearing on Sporting Chances as part of cleaning up his image. It’s supposed to be a simple segment doing a tandem bike ride with the show’s host and then an interview. But when the host is found puking in the toilets, it’s up to Bryony, the only one that can fit into the shoes needed for the tandem bike, to fill in.
She also does the interview and the chemistry between her and Jackson is electric and the two of them act on it as a one off night later back at the hotel. When the powers that be see the footage, it’s immediately proposed that Jackson and Bryony tour the country in a campervan, doing tandem rides and ferreting out local treasures. Jackson, who never goes back for a second night with a lady can’t help but be distracted by Bryony. But she’s looking for the real deal – a long term relationship with children someday. And even though they cannot keep their hands off each other, Jackson isn’t the sort of man that’s going to step in and provide the future and security that Bryony craves. As soon as he’s 100% he’ll be back off to train with the team anyway and prepare for races. It’s far better to keep it strictly casual, strictly physical. That way…no one gets in too deep and no one gets hurt. What could go wrong?
I’m still craving feel-good chick-lit style novels with lots of funny moments and a cute romance as a heroine figures out her life. This one looked the goods and although I did enjoy a lot of it, I think my enjoyment was mostly tied to Bryony and her journey. She’s kind of the last ‘single’ in her circle of friends. Everyone to her, is getting married and having children. She wants this as well but she also has a lot of issues about trust and commitment stemming from her childhood and the father that walked out on her and the rest of her family.
When she meets Jackson, the chemistry between them is off the charts. We’re in Jackson’s head a lot and he’s always very expressive in his inner thoughts about how much he wants Bryony and how attracted he is to her. Also he has pretty much, a permanent hard-on. And given he wears lycra relatively often, it’s not like his attraction can be kept much of a surprise from her. But she’s also attracted to him too and the two of them hook up the day they meet and then later on, when they’re on the camper van trip, although Bryony tries to say it’s not going to happen again and Jackson is more of a one night only man it’s obvious it’s going to happen. A lot more. Many, many more times.
Bryony is very organised (bossy, Jackson says) and in control. She likes to control as much of her life as is possible. She even irons her underwear, which is rather baffling to me. Much to my mother and grandmother’s horror, I don’t iron. In fact when we were visiting my parents a little while ago and my mother was ironing, my son (then about 4) came in and said “What are you doing Nan? What is that?” I think my mother nearly died. Jackson, in contrast is not the sort of person that irons his underwear. He’s a take risks, camp in the bush, go hard or go home type. And Bryony is the one who books the luxurious hotel room so she has access to her hair straightener, rather than rough it in the van. At times I really liked the way their opposite personalities played off against each other but at other times, it did become a bit irritating. Jackson is extremely arrogant, which is normal for someone in his position I suppose. He’s an Olympic medalist, at the top of his game, incredibly successful and didn’t get to where he is without working hard but also taking risks. However at times he’s almost condescending toward Bryony and the way in which she chooses to live her life and the control she likes to have. At times I found myself disliking him and his needling and his smirking at her. I liked him a lot more towards the end, when he grows up a little bit and realises that his life is really about to change big time and that the future is in his hands, it just has to be up to him to decide to go get it. He really does step up and his growth in the latter part of the book is really well done.
I think those that enjoy the male point of view will really appreciate this book because Jackson is always a strong part of the narrative and his thoughts are always pretty loud and clear. I enjoyed their chemistry and I discovered there’s a book that came before this one about Bryony’s older brother which I might track down and give a go.
Book #138 of 2014