⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.5 Stars)
“You gave me a love story, a real love story, even if it doesn’t have the ending I was hoping for.” “It doesn’t have to end.”
The Guy in the Middle is a second-chance romance about Lance and Harper. Although this is sort of a standalone, I wholeheartedly recommend you to read the first two books in the Underdogs series prior to this. It will just make everything more colorful and the payoff so much better. Also, all these three books are nothing short of amazing, and one of the best complete romance series I’ve read to date.
The book opens with Lance and Harper using the same gym after hours. He’s a football player, but he’s at the gym letting lose of all his daily frustrations on a punching bag. Harpen is a dancer, even though she has an arrangement with her dad to finish college first before committing to a serious dance studio. Basically, they are both in a lost stage in life, where they can’t yet quite see or reach their true potential.
What starts as an angry meet-cute, quickly evolves into mutual understanding and admiration. But, there’s one secret that Harper kept from Lance. Her dad is his football coach, and an overprotecting one at that.
A series of missteps and some very hurtful events lead to a two-year separation between them. Harper decides its finally the time to give her dance career a chance and moves to New York City. But not before encouraging Lance to follow his true passion – Boxing, not Football.
And this is where the book got a bit tricky for me… I loved it when we catch up with them two years already passed and Lance decides to pay Harper a visit for Christmas in NYC. It was great to not have to read through their separation, but to see the scars that they were left with after. What I dind’t enjoy so much was when Harper went to visit Lance at his ranch. I guess I understand the purpose this event had in their overall story, but this part went on for a bit too long and I couldn’t connect with Lance’s mindset.
But, I do have to say that I loved the scene when they finally come to an understanding. It was raw and beautiful. I think The Underdogs series is one of the most down-to-earth romance series I’ve ever read. Each character is so relatable and human. They are flawed, but really just trying to do their best, one step at a time. By the end of The Guy in the Middle, I felt like they were close friends. Their world just fits, it just makes sense, and that’s all due to Kate Stewart’s amazing writing skills.
And then…. man… that epilogue, and it just elevated everything. I can’t think of a better way to end this story.
I’ve said it before and this just solidifies the fact that I’ll read anything that Kate Stewart writes.
Thank you to the author and Wordsmith Publicity for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.