College freshman Lucia Ramirez has a secret crush on Dane Monroe. He’s a tall drink of water — blond, brash, and one hell of a volleyball player. Hijole. Lucia hopes her volleyball scholarship to his school will make him notice her.
Too bad what’s noticeable is Dane’s obvious hatred for Lucia. Her family’s politics contradict everything he stands for. And politics are front and center in both their families. Dane’s mother is about to face Lucia’s father in the race for US President.
When Secret Service throws them together, Dane can’t deny his frustrating attraction to Lucia’s athletic curves and sweet faith in the world. Amid the intense pressure of college athletics and presidential politics, can opposites not just attract, but overcome overwhelming odds to be together? Or do their differences block their match from the start?
Jennifer Lane is back with a brand new sports romance series and the first read in this series, Blocked is a solid, entertaining and, character-driven read. From the opening sentence, Lane dives right into the lives of Lucia Ramirez and Dane Monroe and man, oh man do these two kids (and they are!) have a bucketful of pressure to deal with. Here’s the low down:
Lucia: Lucia is from a powerful and influential Texas family and her father is the current Republican candidate for President. Though Lucia is certainly involved in her father’s campaign and a strong proponent for his political positions and beliefs, she is also her own person, an individual. Lucia is an elite athlete and has come to Highbanks University to play volleyball; she is an excellent (dare I say incredible!) athlete but as one of the largest members of the team, she feels a constant pressure to out perform her teammates to make up for her perceived deficit. Off the volleyball court, Lucia is constantly bombarded by the media and in constant fear for her safety thus the need for the always-present Secret Service agents. To make matters far, far worse, Lucia is a very young woman who is, thanks to all of the various aspects of her life completely vulnerable and ill-prepared to deal with everything she is facing.
Dane: Dane Monroe is a complete and total dick!! Like Lucia, he is a political-family kid and an elite athlete. Dane and his family are the polar opposite of Lucia and her family. Dane’s mother is the current Democratic candidate for President (and a shrink!) and Dane is very vocal and very loud in his defense of his mother and her positions and beliefs. Add into the mix where Dane is concerned his ability on the volleyball court and you have one incredibly loud, obnoxious and, arrogant human being . . . .on the outside. In his private life, Dane is still loud, obnoxious and, arrogant but his demons and doubts are louder. Dane’s family life is falling apart -though everyone is trying to put on a good show for the media – and he is having an incredibly difficult time dealing with the issues in play. Additionally, Dane has a nasty habit of acting out and with the constant media attention, he often gets caught on camera. Some days are better than others but when push comes to shove, Dane really knows how to make an ass out of himself.
Lucia and Dane: In a very cruel twist of fate, Lucia and her Secret Service agents are placed in the same home as Dane and his Secret Service agents. From the moment Dane and Lucia meet face-to-face it is oil and water, cats and dogs, Republicans and Democrats. Lucia is beyond nervous about the situation and Dane’s very warm welcome (she says dripping with sarcasm!) doesn’t help. Lucia’s anxiety level increases exponentially and though she tries to hide her anxiety, it begins to show up and takes a terrible and life-threating toll on her life. The minute Dane finds about his new living arrangement/roommate, his demons get louder and louder and he begins to act out even more spectacularly. In the earliest days Dane’s anger toward Lucia is aggressive and abhorrent. He hates her family, hates her father’s politics and openly attacks Lucia and her beliefs. Though his volleyball is still strong his actions off the court threaten his position on the team and significant and shameful events from his past create an even more volatile Dane. For a time, Dane is perfectly content to carry on in this manner until the moment Lucia breaks down and is in critical condition. In this moment both Lucia and Dane realize that the things that have divided them for so long, may be the very things that will bring them together. The problem is finding a way to get a donkey and an elephant to not only get along but like one another 🙂
The Bottom Line: In many ways, Blocked isn’t just a good read with a strong plot, it is a sort of character study of two young people who are facing very unique and very difficult circumstances. Though Lucia is strong in many ways, she is also incredibly vulnerable. Her personal demons are significant and being thrust into the limelight doesn’t ever help her. Her life is being lived in the public eye and as Blocked unfolds we see how she deals (or doesn’t) with her personal issues and the public events she seems to constantly be a part of. Dane is stronger than Lucia in a lot of ways but it has more to do with faking it until he makes it. His arrogance and self-righteous nature make him hard to take and his antics, both private and public make him even harder to take. However, once Dane truly begins to see how his words and actions impact others, he makes a concentrated effort to change. The character study (and the story!) is further enhanced when the dynamic between Lucia and Dane shifts dramatically. In all, Lane offers a really interesting and unique read that pulled me in from the beginning. I am a big, big fan of character-driven reads and Blocked certainly doesn’t disappoint in this arena. Additionally, this is just a good and very well-written read which is something I have come to expect from Jennifer Lane.
P.S. There’s a really mean cliffhanger 🙂
People fascinate the psychologist/author (psycho author) known as Jennifer Lane. Her therapy clients talk to her all day long about their dreams and secrets, and her characters tell her their stories at night. Jen delights in peeling away the layers to scrutinize their psyches and emotions. But please rest assured, dear reader, she isn’t psychoanalyzing you right now. She’s already got too many voices in her head!
Stories of redemption interest Jen the most, especially the healing power of love. She is the author of The Conduct Series—-romantic suspense for adult readers—-and recently completed the third and final installment: On Best Behavior. Streamline is her first foray into writing for young and new adults, but she’s found this sort of writing even more fun. A former college swimmer, Jen was able to put a lot of her own experiences into this book.
Whether writing or reading, Jen loves stories that make her laugh and cry. In her spare time she enjoys exercising, attending book club, and hanging out with her sisters and their families in Chicago and Hilton Head.