Book Review: City of Champions

City of Champions (Gateway to Love #2) by Chloe T. Barlow: How do you find the will to try, when you've spent all your life playing on a field strewn with shattered lives and broken rules?

Tragedy and betrayal taught Jenna Sutherland early on that her safest bet was to fiercely avoid any risk, whether it is in work, life, or love. Now a respected orthopedic surgical resident on the cusp of finally breaking through in her career, she’s more guarded than ever.

When injured NFL quarterback Wyatt McCoy bulldozes into her life there’s no denying he’s cocky, selfish, and downright dangerous — everything Jenna’s sworn she doesn’t want.

Suddenly the levelheaded doctor finds herself facing down her greatest fear, and she’s tempted to gamble all she’s fought so hard to build. The two embark on an intense holiday love affair that quickly teeters on obsession, and tempts them both to think they could go all-in on a real future together. Yet Wyatt's desperation to stay on the field — and out of the operating room — lures him to take dangerous risks with Jenna's trust.

Will they win at love or lose everything¬ — including their fragile chance at happiness?

TeriLyn's thoughts:  **City of Champions generously provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.**

While City of Champions could be read as a stand alone novel, I'd highly recommend you reading book one of the series, Three Rivers, before diving into Wyatt and Jenna's story.

Chloe Barlow creates unique stories with engaging characters and diverse plots richly entrenched in the setting of her novels. The Gateway to Love series opens new doors for romance readers thanks to Barlow’s simple writing layered with character depth throughout the story. The fresh setting of Pittsburgh enhances the quality of these characters as the importance of family and community are not only vital parts to the magic of the city but also to the magic of Barlow’s characters.

City of Champions showcases two characters both wholly content in their lives – wanting simple pleasures, steadfast in their beliefs, loyal to their families, and dedicated to the perseverance and maintenance of their careers. Through the fluidity of the writing this author rewards the reader with complex character depth delving into feelings neither character expected. Wyatt and Jenna need something from each other. One much more vindictive than the other but both needing something to help their coveted positions. Through the coupling and needs we find a couple who’s engaging, smart, passionate, and funny. The thrill of this couple for me stems from the fun of the chase – the vulnerability they both come to find in themselves through the chase of the other. With a cat and mouse game they both play stolen glances, mischievous grins, and flirty play ingratiate the reader to both Wyatt and Jenna. As with the first book in the series, the comradery of the three woman in this book, the way they support, cherish and foster each other while being brutally honest through good times and bad – the reader feels every last feeling of the goodness they provide.

As my rating suggests, I really did enjoy this story. However, what didn’t work for me thusly effecting my overall rating come from the motivations of one of the main characters. As not to spoil the story, I won’t say who or what the motivations were but there comes a point when a reader needs to believe in the honesty of a character. For a big chunk of the story I questioned everything from this character and felt bad for the other. Since the story is told from dual points of view, I knew the workings inside their minds and what I saw made me question the integrity of the character as well as the value of the relationship because I couldn’t get past the outright deceit I kept feeling. After the conflict resolution, I understood better even I didn’t agree with the action. Had I believed this character had better intentions even when they started falling it could have been a five star book for me.

I still very highly recommend City of Champions. Chloe Barlow takes two characters scarred from their pasts yet very much living in the present and morphs them into people who continually grow and face change with admirable strength. The characters are put through tests of their fortitude in life and how each of them handles those tests endears them to the reader more. We learn more about the main characters from Three Rivers and become further intrigued with the next set of main characters starring in book three. I can’t wait to learn more about Wyatt, Jenna and the whole gang.

Try this author – her writing speaks volumes with well-structured plots taking you on a magic ride through the serene yet chaotic beautiful city of Pittsburgh.

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Lori L. Clark

She Reads New Adult Admin: Lori L. Clark

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