Review: Bad to the Bone by Nicki Bennett

A second chance at first love—if he has the courage to take it.

Alex can’t think of himself as anything but a failure. In high school, he was on the fast track to a career in pro football when he forged an unlikely friendship with a half-Comanche boy from the wrong part of town, Ricky Lee Jennings. Their shared love of books could have grown into more—but a homophobic teammate attacked Ricky Lee, and Alex wouldn’t risk his scholarship to defend him. Ricky Lee was kicked out of school, and Alex never heard from him again.

Now Alex’s glory days are nothing but a memory. An injury ended his football aspirations, his marriage fell apart, and his dreams of making a difference as an environmental lobbyist are as dead as his fantasies of sports stardom.

But all that could change in one magical night, when Ricky Lee shows up at their high-school reunion.

This was so damn fluffy that I am still trying to feel my seat under my butt and I love it.

Second chance romances are a favorite of mine and when they MC’s have history that goes back to their childhood I am head over heels in love.

Told from the POV of Alex as he is getting ready for his 10 year high school reunion, we learn about this high school football star who was best friends with the half Comanche boy he met in the town library. Ricky Lee and Alex became fast friends as pre-teens and then best friends as the years passed. With Ricky Lee living in a toxic home environment, he spent a lot of time with Alex and his family and that time gave the boys a chance to bond. But during the end of their high school years, when that bond turned into more and Ricky Lee kissed Alex in the same library where they met, a vicious classmate saw the kiss and caused enough trouble to get Ricky Lee kicked out of school. No, he wasn’t kicked out because of the kiss but the kiss was the catalyst for the school bully to get his way.

Now, as Alex is back in his hometown of Freeland running the family hardware store with his sister after the death of his parents, the end of his football career and dissolution of his marriage, Alex comes face to face with the one boy he could never forget. On the surface, Alex and Ricky Lee seem so different with Alex still in the closet and Ricky Lee riding out and proud on his Harley with its rainbow patch. But that friendship they shared and that first kiss left an impression on both boys that followed them into adulthood and this reunion, is the beginning of something beautiful.

This book was so sweet. I adored Alex with his morning runs alongside his dog Buck, his relationship with Sam – the only female police officer in town and Alex’s high school girlfriend turned BFF – the way he takes care of the town and still manages to fight the good fight of environmental efforts while running the family store. Alex considers losing his football career to health issues a failure, because he came home, but he’s taking it day by day. When he sees a slick Ricky Lee at the reunion accompanied by an assistant, Alex thinks they could be together and it deflates a bit of his anxiety and hope. But what Alex doesn’t know this new Ricky Lee and some of that is how Ricky Lee, never forgot his first kiss either.

I really enjoyed watching these two get to know one another again and how they would reflect on the past. Sure, Ricky Lee has a secret he didn’t tell Alex immediately but the way the communicated regarding the issue was refreshing and making out to make up is always totally worth it. These two have amazing chemistry and the fact that their friendship goes back year’s makes the ten year separation is just like a decade worth of foreplay.

The deal with Odell, the bully that saw their first kiss, and the library irked me because I just wanted these to be happy and Alex to be okay with being open about his sexuality. I guess it gave opportunity for Ricky Lee to kidnap Alex and take their relationship to a new level and I was so giddy during that time.

Goodness. This book really made me smile and that end was totally worthy of a movie ending. It was perfect and adorable for these two who I hope have a long and wonderful relationship and they do show their hometown that love, really is just love.

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