Skylar Fletcher is a proud Harris Academy Bulldog! She has everything she’s ever wanted: a perfect boyfriend, great friends, and her dream college waiting for her in the fall. But nothing lasts forever. Skylar’s world shatters when her mom decides it’s time to move and drags Skylar, kicking and screaming, into Bobcat territory.
At Delmont High School, home of the Bobcats, Skylar has no friends and is often bullied. To make matters worse, her home life sucks thanks to all-star quarterback Caleb Morgan, nephew of her mom’s live-in boyfriend.
At first, Skylar and Caleb want nothing to do with one another. But they soon discover they’re not that different after all–and each is harboring a secret attraction to the other. But can a Bulldog and a Bobcat ever really be more than friends? And are Skylar and Caleb willing to risk everything to find out?
Rival Love is a debut young adult contemporary romance from Natalie Decker.
A special thanks to fellow YA author, Jennifer DiGiovanni, for suggesting this book to me. She knows I love my teen sports romances and the angstier the drama the better. Rival Love by Natalie Decker is packed with both. Skylar Fletcher is entering her senior year of high school with a plan. A plan that is completely derailed when her mom moves them in with her boyfriend across town, forcing Skyler to attend her school’s arch nemesis. We’re talking a school rivalry that would put Michigan State and OSU to shame. These students hate each other. So much so that when Skylar, who through no fault of her own, becomes a Bobcat, her boyfriend of two years dumps her and her best friend since childhood stops speaking to her.
Skylar struggles with accepting her new life, but she’s’ not going to try and fit in with the enemy, leaving her with no friends. Except her mom’s boyfriend’s teenage nephew, who moved in with his uncle after his parents’ tragic death. The pair are more frenemies than friends because Caleb isn’t about to be caught fraternizing with the enemy. Even if she is really pretty and smells like a goddess.
This is primarily a romance as Caleb and Skylar realize their mutual loathing is giving way to something more, each convinced the other still holds strong feelings of animosity. Watching their feelings thaw, turn into friendship, and something more is a treat. Strong subplots include Skylar’s relationship with her father, stepmother and half sister, her plans for the future now that she’s not participating in school sports, her survival at school full of kids who hate her, and her relationships with her ex-boyfriend and former best friend. All are woven into the main plot seamlessly.
Skylar is a bundle of attitude and I love her. The way she won’t back down from a fight, doesn’t cringe away from her bullies, and works to get even makes her a protagonist to root for. Her negative attitude is hard to take at times, but it’s really easy to understand why she has it. Caleb is equally intriguing in his own way. The way he tries to hide Skylar’s identity from his friends is both infuriating and understandable, especially with her attitude.
The ending was abrupt, surprising, and not entirely organic. I didn’t feel like it was a logical outcome that flowed out of the preceding events. I’m hoping the second book will rectify that, though, because other than the ending, I really loved the book.
Top Five Things I Enjoyed about Rival Love:
1. Skylar. She’s tough, witty, vulnerable, determined, unsure, funny, and guarded all rolled into one. She’s one of the most complex teen characters I’ve read in awhile and I just love her.
2. Caleb. He’s got his own issues, but he’s a lot more straightforward than Skylar and I love that about him.
3. Getting even. The way Skylar and Caleb go tit for tat with pranks provide some of the best moments in the book.
4. Family drama. The dynamic between Skylar and her family drives some great angst-ridden conflict.
5. Forbidden love. Living in the same house makes anything other than friendship between Caleb and Skylar verboten, which only adds to the inevitability that they’ll get together.
Rival Love is an contemporary teen romance with themes of bullying, belonging, and finding love and acceptance for who you are.
About the Book
Title: Rival Love
Series: Rival Love #1
Author: Natalie Decker
Publisher: Swoon Romance
Release Date: August 26, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Links: Goodreads | Amazon
About the Author
Natalie Decker is the Author of Rival Love. She loves oceans, sunsets, sand between her toes, and carefree days. Her imagination is always going, which some find odd. But she believes in seeing the world in a different light at all times. Her first passion for writing started at age twelve when she had to write a poem for English class. However, seventh grade wasn’t her favorite time and books were her source of comfort.
She took all college prep classes in High school, and attended the University of Akron. Although she studied Mathematics she never lost her passion for writing or her comfort in books. She’s a mean cook in the kitchen, loves her family and friends and her awesome dog infinity times infinity.
If she’s not writing, reading, traveling, hanging out with her family and friends, then she’s off having an adventure. Because Natalie believes in a saying: Your life is your own journey, so make it amazing!