Desert Isle Keeper
New-to-me author Rebecca Crowley has published a number of standalone romances in addition to two series. Homefront deals with American military heroes and Elite Operators is a South African set romantic suspense series (I’m intrigued by this one!). She’s set her sights on soccer with her new series, Atlanta Skyline, and Crossing Hearts is a well-crafted and very enjoyable sports romance that also delves into a timely subplot of the challenges faced by immigrants to America.
Chilean soccer star Rio Vidal has recently been acquired by an American team, the Atlanta Skyline. Though he’s wealthy now, his poor and humble roots have given him a down to earth approach to life. Having his attractive translator Eva Torres by his side is no hardship, and he’s interested in pursuing more than just a professional relationship with her. But his number one goal is proving that the team that has acquired him has made the right choice.
As a professional Spanish language translator for pro athletes, Eva is used to being around good-looking men but sometimes her heart leads her astray. Her last relationship was with a soccer player who moved on to a new life without her, a man she foolishly thought felt the same way about her as she did about him. Once burned, twice shy, she’s got her guard up where men are concerned, especially one as appealing to her as Rio. Eva has plans for her future that don’t include being just a ‘plus one’ for another famous athlete. A sex only fling would let them burn off some of the excess attraction between them and Eva’s resistance to Rio is short lived in the face of his flirtatious pursuit. But when they develop feelings for each other beyond simple attraction, will it lead to something more permanent?
Okay, I’ll admit it. The cover of this book is what drew me in (hello, hot soccer player!) and combined with the synopsis, I was excited to read this story. The first thing that sticks out is that unlike the majority of romance heroes, Rio is short at just over five-and-a-half feet tall. It’s a disadvantage for most sports, and as a soccer player it means he has to be quick and maneuverable on his feet. His height disadvantage means he always feels like he has a lot to prove on the field, especially now with his new team. He’s not short of confidence though – he knows he’s fit and attractive, and his elite sports status means he doesn’t lack for female companionship. But he isn’t an arrogant man. He’s friendly and hardworking and dedicated. He’s used his wealth to better the lives of those living in the poor area he comes from in Chile, and supports his family. It’s not hard to see why a woman would be flattered to have his attention.
Eva, a smart, passionate and caring woman, is drawn to Rio despite her best intentions to keep things professional. There’s a bit of conflict involved due to her position as team translator, and this makes her hesitant to reveal that she’s attracted to him. Eva wants to be an immigration lawyer, and when she isn’t working for the soccer team she volunteers at her local Catholic church (that Rio is happy to attend with her as a fellow Catholic) where she assists undocumented immigrants. Eva herself is the daughter of a Mexican illegal immigrant who was deported when Eva was twelve. She was fortunate enough to be taken in by a neighbor, but naturally it still affects her. It’s a timely political storyline dealt with in an empathetic way.
The story is told from dual points of view which I always appreciate. Rio and Eva’s attraction results in some steamy love scenes and emotional moments as they connect on all levels, both of them eventually sharing the truth of their difficult pasts with each other. As for the soccer aspects, the business of running a sports team is dealt with well and there are several on field scenes that are exciting to read, and show the author has a good grasp of the sport. We see Rio’s successes and challenges; he’s trying to make a name for himself on the team, keep up his physical game by extensive training, build a working relationship with his teammates and learn how to speak English. All this, and he successfully romances Eva too! The happy ending after a few ups and downs is wholly satisfying. If you enjoy sports romances, Crossing Hearts delivers an exciting and passionate read. Rebecca Crowley has made herself a new fan.