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.
Willa has more on her plate than the average college kid should! Willa is an athlete, she’s trying to successfully get through her classes, and she’s the daughter of a single parent who has been in and out of the hospital for years. Though she tries to juggle all the balls at once, a few things, like her grades in one of her business classes are suffering. In the past, Willa’s professors have been willing to work with her, but this particular professor isn’t having any of that nonsense. In fact, rather than helping Willa himself, he fobs her off on the silent lumberjack she typically sits next to.
Silent lumberjack is Ryder and he has no idea why the hot chick who sits beside him seems so anger . . . all the time. When the professor offers up Riley’s help without his consent, Riley is suddenly faced with having to properly interact with the angry girl. This ought to be fun! For Riley, interactions with others have been difficult, at best, since he lost his hearing after a battle with meningitis. Any time he has to expose himself to another and admit his difficulty with communication, he is vulnerable. Exposing himself to a demonstrably angry girl is going to be incredibly difficult.
Though he isn’t looking forward to the first encounter, Ryder is pleasantly surprised by Willa’s response to his hearing impairment. She doesn’t seem to care that their communications are different and once she begins to know Ryder, she grudgingly admits to liking the big lumber jack. Make no mistake they still banter and bicker with one another, but the verbal jabs are more like foreplay than malice. In fact, for weeks, as the two work diligently on a project for class, they become closer and closer.
The time he spends with Willa is radically changing Ryder and his family so pleased with the changes. For the first time in two years, Ryder is willing to begin work on his speech and hearing, he’s more willing to go out into the world, and he’s more willing to interact with his family. For the first time in two years, Ryder is coming out of his shell and Willa is the reason for that. The only trouble is, Willa is clearly holding back and Ryder has no idea why. If he can’t get her to open up and share her whole life with him, there isn’t going to be much of a future for them.
The Bottom Line: I have to say, this book was quite a wonderful surprise. There is a bit of everything in this book from laugh out loud humor (the whoopie cushion incident) to lovely naughty bits (the waterfall!) to emotional upheavals (Willa’s mother) to a few well-kept secrets (I’m not telling!). Far and away the highlight of this book for me was Ryder with his lumberjack good looks to his fierce determination to live his life on his terms and at his pace. Ryder is the polar opposite of Willa and that is exactly what she needs in her life, a perfect balance. Though some of the topics and themes in this book are somewhat heavy, there are moments of levity that break up the sadness. This is a rather good book and I am glad to say I not only stumbled upon it, but see that it is just the first in a series.