Finding a Keeper (Sports Series #4) – Nicole Pyland

Rating: 5 out of 5.
It’s probably fair to say that soccer was my first love, so it’s perfectly possible that my five star rating partially relates to the fact that this a book full of all the feelings I experienced about sport and life at a certain period of my life. The club team I support gets a lot of mentions and I was also crazy enough to be a goalkeeper, so the way Pyland explained goalkeeping also made me very happy. However, it’s also because Pyland has again created a wonderful book, full of interesting characters in a different environment to any she has written before.

Marley is a junior. She’s the starting goalkeeper coming into the season where she’ll start to get noticed by scouts from the NWSL. Sloan joins the team as a striker, she’s lived in England for the past six years, playing in an English developmental league and is trying to settle in as a freshman after having experienced a more adult life in England. Marley’s gay – Sloan isn’t. They become fast friends. Marley suffers an injury and finds herself out for the season. As Sloan is a new face to the squad she’s drafted in to support in Marley’s absence and turns out to be good.

When I read other reviews that mentioned the age of the main characters I was slightly worried how I would feel about this book – but these feelings and emotions discussed fit so perfectly with college aged characters that any reluctance I had dissipated very quickly. I also really enjoyed the fact that Pyland didn’t rush this narrative. The book mainly takes place over the period of two years (barring the epilogue of course) so it could technically be described as a slow burn – but the friendship the two share and the move into a relationship for the two of them just works so well that I was never frustrated with them like I often am with slow burn romances.

The narrative covers difficult topics especially grief and loss in different ways. Religion and parental acceptance also plays a big part and I liked how Pyland introduced a slightly different narrative than one I often read and the parents in this storyline ended up surprising me. I also loved Emily and Alison – their roommates/friends and their secondary relationship in the storyline. I enjoyed how their relationship and characters brought out things in Marley and Sloan.

This is another book from Pyland with great characters, emotional depth and an interesting narrative. I’m sad this is the last of the sports series – but am happy to have spent time with some really great characters along the way.

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