Author: M.E. Carter
Series: Juked #3
Publisher: Self Published
Release Date: 02-18-2017
Genre(s): Contemporary Romance,Sports Romance
Page Count: 299
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
a player in the goal whose duty is to prevent the ball from entering or crossing it
See Santos and Mariana DeGuajarado
As goalie of the Texas Mutiny, Santos is damn good at protecting that net. But he never bothered to protect his marriage.
Letting the fame and notoriety go to his head, he lost the things he loved the most… his wife and kids. Now he has one shot to make it right before losing at this relationship game and he’s determined not to miss this time.
Mariana has been scarred so deeply by Santos’s betrayals, she will carry the wounds forever. After almost ten years of marriage though, she knows him well, and she knows he won’t let go without a fight. Still, she refuses to be a push over.
Because love is never enough…
An exercise in character redemption
I wasn’t sure when I first started Goalie. I had never read this series or even this author, but it was labeled as a standalone and I’m a sucker for sports romances. The writing style felt a bit casual at times, and I wondered if I’d ever connect to the characters. Given that this is a book that centers on a couple trying to salvage a ten year marriage after repeated bouts of infidelity, I knew I NEEDED that connection. By chapter two, I was hooked; like read the entire book in one evening, hooked. Through it all, I never really forgave Santos. I never truly understood his reasons, or more I didn’t understand how he didn’t see where it was problematic. However, I don’t think that was the point. I didn’t need to understand or forgive him as the reader, only Mariana needed to decide if she could move forward.
The author’s choice to write a book about this subject/couple can only be described as brave. There are plenty of readers who run the other way once any sort of cheating happens, heck even a hook-up outside of the main characters deters many. For those of us who aren’t dissuaded, casting a serial cheater as a hero seems a ridiculously steep hill to climb. The author did a fantastic job with the characters and emotions they waded through. From the outset, Mari came across as a good person who loves her family. She’s also strong and it was reassuring to see that she’s never satisfied to be treated as a doormat. Her feelings were honest, battling between a love she thought could never fail and an overwhelming sense of betrayal. I liked that we got to see the warring emotions, the different stages she moved through, and that she grew as a person throughout the book. Santos had an equally significant growth. As a reader, I may not have ever forgiven him, but his love for his family and wife were undeniable. I thought the author did a great job at proving that throughout the story. His emotions were palpable at times and I liked that he had to work through so many things on his own to earn his family back. Of course I wanted to slap him upside the head at times, but he always felt real and worth the effort. I appreciated the author never shied away from Santos’s character faults. She tested his resolve numerous times, proving his value as a hero to the reader.
I found this couple’s journey really interesting and chock full of raw emotions. The revelations and self-discoveries were honest and I think many people who have been in a long term relationship can attest to feeling similarly at some point. Despite Mari and Santos’s unwavering love for one another, the author never cut the characters or their relationship slack and there were no easy fixes. The author never asks the reader to look past the cheating aspect. That was a relief to me. It’s always nice when a book takes a different path to happily ever after, and Goalie was definitely that. I came away really happy for this couple. They both fought hard for their marriage and their individual happiness. If you aren’t completely adverse to reading about a man who cheated, this is a fantastic book about when love isn’t enough and how hard a couple may have to work to surmount the tough times, as well as how a hero can be redeemed in spite of his transgressions.