Review: The Rival by Megan Green

the rivalTitle: The Rival

Author: Megan Green

Year of publication: Out today! I was kindly given a copy to read and review

The heroine: Healthcare worker Avery Grant

The hero: Professional baseball player Carter Hughes

The blurb: I love her. But she loves him.

I’d known Avery Grant was the one for me from the moment she bossed me around on the playground. After over a decade of friendship, I’m still biding my time, waiting for the moment she realizes everything she’s ever wanted is standing right in front of her.

Then one white envelope sends my world spiraling.
A wedding invitation, announcing Avery’s engagement to the one man who could never deserve her: Miles Johnson.

Miles is the worst kind of human — and my biggest rival. Everything I can do, he thinks he can do better, including being the best rookie pitcher the MLB has seen in decades. But if he makes her happy, who am I to interfere?

But when Avery shows up on my doorstep, devastated and heartbroken by Miles’s betrayal, I can’t help but open my doors for her.

The timing is all wrong, but I won’t miss my shot. This time, I refuse to strike out.

Standalone or series: Book three of the Washington Rampage series, but can be read as a standalone.

The review: Avery Grant is weeks away from marrying professional baseball player Miles Johnson when a sex tape leaks and she’s devastated, as she’s definitely not the woman in it with him. She flees her small town in Wymoing and heads to the one place she knows her ex won’t follow her – Seattle, home of Avery’s best friend, Carter Hughes. Carter also plays professional baseball and he’s hated Miles Johnson since high school. He hates him even more because Miles was marrying the woman Carter’s been in love with for years.

Avery seeks comfort in the arms of her best friend, and it’s only when the wives of Carter’s teammates point out the obvious that Avery realises Carter’s been in love with her all along… and perhaps her feelings for him aren’t as platonic as she thought, either.

As Avery sorts through her feelings, she realises that she wasn’t so much in love with Miles as she was in love with the idea of getting married. Avery has been planning her wedding since she was a little girl, and when she met Carter at the age of nine she roped him into pretending to be her husband over and over. What she never realised before now is that Carter wants to be her husband for real. It doesn’t take long before she acknowledges her feelings for her best friend, and once they start sleeping together they can barely let each other go.

Carter balances his commitment to his baseball team with his love for Avery and the desperate need to spend every second with her. Avery has already decided to stay in Seattle to be with Carter, even though she’ll miss everything back home. When Miles calls to ask if he can see her in person to apologise, Avery reluctantly agrees but doesn’t get a chance to mention it to Carter before he goes on the field to play an away game, something that doesn’t sit right with Avery.

Carter comes home early because he’s missed her, and when he finds a menu with the name of the restaurant Avery is meeting Miles on it, he goes to surprise her – only to see Avery trip over and be saved by Miles, who then kisses her.

Carter knows Avery is not cheating on him and didn’t kiss him back, but he’s angry that she never mentioned the meeting to him. He tells her to go home, because he thinks he can’t ask her to choose between him and her life back home. Avery flees, devastated.

It takes his teammates taking him to task for how he handled everything for Carter to realise he’s made a terrible mistake and he decides to go back home and get his girl. Avery, in the meantime, is preparing to head back to Seattle and do whatever she has to to win Carter back. Carter makes it home just in time and they kiss and make up. The epilogue is set ten years later, and it was nice to see what happened in the end.

I love best friends to lovers romances, and while I enjoyed this one very much, a few things didn’t really gel for me – I think this story would have worked better if Carter and Avery had been a bit older (they’re twenty-one). I also think their romantic relationship happened a bit suddenly after Avery ending her engagement. Having said that, I think the author did a great job of showing their childhood friendship, with nicknames and little things that were unique to them, and it made the transition from friends to lovers quite easy to accept. I loved both Carter and Avery as characters, and adored this story.