Long Shot by Kennedy Ryan
A Hoops Novel
Released: March 22, 2018
Reviewed by Sheena
Favorite Quote: He tries to demean me with his words…his words are a dog with no bite. They have no teeth with me. But who needs teeth when you have fangs?
There are roughly, 172,000 words in the English language. The average person knows 20,000-30,000 words and uses 3,000 of them commonly. Out of all these words at my disposal, I can’t find enough of them to string together to adequately describe how important, how transformative and how utterly necessary I found Long Shot to be. So out of all of these words, my heart has finally settled on a simple enough word that doesn’t have a ton of pizzazz, but it does have depth and weight. Remarkable. Long Shot, the inaugural book in the Hoops series by Kennedy Ryan is absolutely remarkable and, frankly, astounding. I always know I’ve read something truly special when my usual hyperbolic thrill is throttled…I write this barely leashed, yearning to hurl every sparkly, attention grabbing adjective to capture, enrapture and damn near will you to read this novel. Long Shot is so vital. I want to nudge, shove and push it into every heart and emblazon it into the mind of every person I know. There is little else I want to do besides dissect, deep dive and have conversations about this book. I’m consumed by its audacity.
Think you know what it’s like being a baller’s girl?
My fairy tale is upside down.
A happily never after.
I kissed the prince and he turned into a fraud.
I was a fool, and his love – fool’s gold.
Now there’s a new player in the game, August West.
One of the NBA’s brightest stars.
He wants me. I want him.
But my past, my fraudulent prince, just won’t let me go
There is a reader sensitive content warning at the beginning of the novel, and it is well-earned, however, the content is so well written, so responsibly conveyed that I have little doubt that readers will digest and appreciate the difficult scenes. The author writes the ugly, so beautifully, looking away is not even an option. I read it half breathing at times, heart pounding throughout. I was not the same person in the few hours it took me to finish it. I’d gone from casually reading to pass the time, to wanting to DO SOMETHING! Upon reading this book, I was vibrating with energy and excitement. I felt so alive and happy. So, happy.
Long Shot follows star-crossed lovers; the sports marketing student Iris and August, the rookie basket ball phenom and their long road to one another. They meet by happenstance one evening, and fall into easy, intriguing conversation and mutually forge a fast but fierce bond over shared childhood challenges, goals and personal triumphs. They seem like peas in the most adorable pod only the timing is off, Iris has a boyfriend and they part ways, magnets being pulled apart, though they longed to connect. Over the next year they saw one another twice, each time the magnetic pull between them stronger than before. But time, that elusive, and world’s most valuable commodity never seems to be on their side, you see in that year, Iris has had the very goals and dreams she shared with August become derailed and deferred and has found herself trading the life she wanted for living the life someone else fashioned for her, breaking her mind, body and spirit to fit into their mold. But through it all, that undeniable attraction never dies and when tragedy strikes on and off the court for them both, it is that very connection that will save each of their lives.
Professional basketball and sports agency provides a solid background for this love story, and I found it a well-developed world, the obvious research and knowledge the author infused into the book was commendable. The true love and tumultuous connection between the basketballing August and ambitious Iris was a great balance to the sports world, the milestones in sports (rookie draft, games, playoffs, training, deals, etc) lending further authenticity to the plot. You never forgot nor lost sight of the ball- in this case- the “will they/won’t they” of Iris and August’s relationship as nothing was a guaranteed slam dunk (ok, ok, no more puns!) when it came to their courtship (ok, last one!) Kennedy Ryan is such a beautiful wordsmith. It’s pure art, each and every time.
Spoiling this book would be a travesty, it’s best experienced as raw and undiluted as possible, but Iris’ boyfriend is a manipulating tool to say the absolute least and through it all August remained her beacon of hope. He wasn’t her savior, he didn’t take care of her, he didn’t make things better, he simply made things possible, hopeful and with that knowledge, that there was light and hope possible in her life, Iris saved herself. Her beacon was a lighthouse on her dark expanse. But she took command of her own ship and when she was ready, sailed toward the light on her own terms. August was amazing, but not infallible. He wasn’t perfect but he was perfect for her and she for him and these two magnets were made to attract.
The look he gives me alternates between affection and indulgence. “You can be on my team.”
“Oh.” I lob a smile up at him, much too close to flirting. “And what position will I play on your team?”
His smile melts a little around the edges, and his eyes lose some of their humor. “At the five-spot,” he says softly.
The five-spot? His position is the point guard, or the one-spot. Shooting guard is the two. The three is small forward, and the four is power forward. The five is . . .
“Center,” he says, linking our fingers and toying with the hair hanging on my shoulder. “If you were mine, Iris, there would be no doubt what position you’d hold in my life. You’d be center. I’d play you at the five.”
I want to laugh. I want to cry. I want to sing hallelujah that a man like this exists and that I know him. A deep-seeded longing springs up inside of me, and I’m not sure when I’ll be able to give in to it. I long to let him hold me. To let myself hold him, have him. I drop my forehead to his chest and take in his scent and the intoxicating nearness of him. He strokes my hair, and I feel his lips ghost the top of my head.
Aside from its painful grit, beauty and pockets of humor, this story is full of deeply moving sensuality and fascinates from its hopeful and innocent beginning, to its harrowing and traumatic middle ground, all the way through to the poetic justice and glorious HEA at the end. I could wax poetic all day long, reading and writing think pieces about the juxtaposition between the male leads, the healthy vs unhealthy fascinations and what the experiences looked like from a readers objective eye and reconciling what Iris’ subjective views were and how they evolved- brilliant. All of it. Also, I can’t bear end this without hinting at the various ways the author used sex to enlighten and underscore real love and freedom vs the facade of it all!
Long Shot is available now, take the shot!