Had Me Smiling Throughout

5 out of 5 stars

First and Tension by Tara Sivec is a delightful and witty romantic comedy that left me smiling from ear to ear. The story follows Emily Flanagan, a professional cheerleader for the Los Angeles Vipers, who returns to her hometown of Summersweet Island after a fallout with her boss (I won’t go into why, but that whole scene/issue is great – and the payoff at the end brought tears to my eyes).  Going home to Summersweet Island with her tail between her legs, she takes on running her parents’ business to try and disappear from the world of cheerleading. Before heading home, she has an unexpected run-in with Quinn Bagley (aka QB), the quarterback for the team she used to cheer for and a man she’s had a crush on forever.

One of the standout elements is Emily’s character, who is both hilarious and endearing. Her feisty personality and quick-witted humor make her instantly likable, and readers will find themselves rooting for her from the very beginning. Kelsey Navarro’s narration of Emily’s character is top-notch and captures her personality perfectly. I couldn’t have cast this better if I’d tried.

Quinn also emerges as a lovable character as the story progresses. As his layers are peeled back, readers will find themselves falling for his charm and humor. It doesn’t hurt that the chemistry between them is palpable. The author does an excellent job of building their relationship throughout the book.

The fake dating trope is executed perfectly in this story, allowing readers to watch Emily and Quinn’s relationship unfold with genuine excitement and anticipation. As the story progresses, readers will find themselves becoming more and more invested in their love story, going from “This feels weird” to “Why won’t either of them realize what’s going on?” The surprise at the ending (to me, at least) was the owner of Quinn’s new team (slight spoiler alert, sorry) – her character was WAY more likable than I expected, and the story’s ending really sold it for me. I don’t want to talk about what she said and her reaction when her demand was met… but it had me smiling ear to ear and laughing.

Overall, First and Tension is a fantastic romantic comedy perfect for fans of the genre. I’ve read the first book in this series but skipped around to this one. It didn’t seem to take away from anything other than potentially spoiling the endings of the other (HEA) books in the series. So, it’s only a slight spoiler. Sivec’s ability to write engaging characters, witty dialogue, and bringing in Kelsey Navarro and Tim Paige’s excellent narration make it an enjoyable and entertaining read.

Book Description:

Kindle Edition Currently Available with Kindle Unlimited

Emily Flanagan has been living her dreams the last four years as a professional cheerleader for the Los Angeles Vipers, thousands of miles away from her tiny hometown of Summersweet Island, Virginia. She’s got the world at the tips of her pom-poms…until she tells her boss to shove those pom-poms where the sun doesn’t shine.

After spending her last night in California with her crush, Emily flies back home to Summersweet, resigned to run her parents’ business, never to be heard from again. Besides, there’s no use crying over a man who lives on the other side of the country, who she’ll never see again.

Quinn Bagley is finally playing for a team that feels like a family, after years of playing with nothing but egos. What he’s not happy about is that the woman who rocked his world turned out to be like every other crazy redhead he’s encountered, wanting to use him for something. He just wants her to admit it was a game.

Except Emily Flanagan isn’t the hotheaded, rude woman he thought. She’s sweet, sexy, and fun. She makes him feel normal, she makes him laugh, and she makes him want more.

He’s going to win her heart, even if he has to do it in overtime.

First and Tension by Tara Sivec
Narrator: Kelsey Navarro, Tim Paige
Length: 9 hrs and 40 mins
Series: Summersweet Island #4
Published by Tantor Audio Genres: Romance, RomCom
Format: Audiobook
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Also by this author: Kiss My Putt
Also in this series: Kiss My Putt

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