A contemporary novel focuses on a tenderhearted football star who helps out an emotionally wounded single mother.
The latest from the sister-writing team Daughters (The Snows, 2014) opens with the lives of its two main characters jerking wildly off-course. Nikki Lambert's husband, John, has suddenly died when his truck was struck at a railroad crossing. Nikki is certain the collision was no accident—she’s sure her husband killed himself rather than face the future in the wake of their son Jack’s diagnosis with a rare condition called adrenoleukodystrophy or ALD, which will quickly begin to impair the boy’s mobility. Though numb with shock and grief, Nikki is determined to give Jack as much of a normal life as she can, and a big part of that revolves around the Good Sports Club, an activity center where he can play sports with kids his own age. But when his ALD begins to manifest itself and he starts tripping and slipping during games, the center’s coach requests that he stay at home. Nikki is outraged, and so is the Good Sports’ owner, longtime NFL star Ramsey Delaney, whose starring berth with the New England Dragons has recently been abruptly terminated, supposedly due to his slow recovery from an injury. Once the conflict over Jack brings Ram and Nikki together, the novel settles into the standard contemporary-romance template as a slow, reluctant relationship begins to develop between the two characters. But Daughters invests the story with a great deal of emotional resonance. Ram’s inner tenderness and wry humor feel entirely in keeping with his forceful personality, and Nikki—an ordinary woman suddenly confronted with an extraordinary demand on her adaptability and emotions—is a vivid fictional creation. And young Jack himself develops into the book’s most memorable character (in one scene, Ram asks him if he’d like to play football when he grows up and he calmly replies, “I'm not going to grow up”). The book’s well-orchestrated ending sections shouldn’t leave a dry eye in the house.
An effective modern-day romance about two people brought together by the tragedy of a child's illness.