The Finish Line by Kate Stewart
January 24, 2021, by KLS Press
Review by Jen
I couldn’t wait to read The Finish Line by Kate Stewart. Exodus (book two) did end with an HEA. But, it never really sat completely well with me. I LOVED the story…but I didn’t feel as satisfied with Tobias and Cecelia’s HEA as I wanted to be. Did they REALLY belong together, and I wanted more backstory on Tobias before I could truly support him vs Cecelia’s first love, Sean. I was squarely #TeamSean.
The Finish Line delivered EVERYTHING. And, even with EVERYTHING, my heart still hurts for Sean and Cecelia, my mind was still turning Dom’s life and death over and over. It’s a rare thing for an author to walk this line, where I loved the couple and completely bought into them, but still…I had such strong feelings for Cecelia’s past loves. It’s deliciously uncomfortable if that makes sense.
The book begins immediately after Exodus ends. The story is told through Tobias and Cecelia’s alternating points of view. While Tobias is back on with Cecelia, they have a lot of work to do figuring out how to be a couple. Tobias needs to exhibit some major groveling to earn a permanent place in Cecelia’s heart. She doesn’t trust him. He was cruel to her in the past. In his defense, he did have good reasons for some of his behavior.
The Finish Line shares Tobias’s life from a child after his parents were killed, to his time in France and the crazy long game he’s been playing to set up his club to help rid the US of corrupt leaders. Ravenhood= Robinhood, in case that piece isn’t clear! They’re good guys doing bad things for the right reasons. Tobias is the leader of the Ravenhood and he’s had a plan for decades. In flashbacks, we see how he cared for young Dom and was more of a father figure than a brother. We see how he worked himself into a dangerous organized crime ring in France to network and earn cash to further his plans in the US with the Ravenhood. At one point he details how painful it was to find out that Sean and Dom were lying to him and hiding Cecelia. After everything he had done and sacrificed for them, they lied to him in the worst way. It broke his heart. And the flip side, when he stole Cecelia away, breaking their hearts after punishing them for their own lies and sending them out of the country.
The bad guys will always be after Tobias, and now Cecelia. That’s one truth Tobias needs to make peace with and gives Cecelia the decision to make peace with it, too. The other truth that haunts him is a deep fear related to his biological father’s mental illness. Tobias is scared that he’ll get sick and put Cecelia in a terrible situation with awful choices, just like his own mother faced.
Cecelia is a total badass. She does something in the book that proves she is equal to Tobias in every way. She can absolutely play the long game. There’s a lot that happens in this book, so much explanation around Tobias and Dom’s lives and their friendship with Sean and Tyler. Also, so much heat and to die for dialogue between Tobias and Cecelia. Their chemistry is off the charts.
The hardest thing for me to reconcile in this series was how Cecelia could love two others so deeply in the previous books (which made me love them, too), and then fall so hard and authentically for another. How could Sean move on, be married with kids, and not pining for Cecelia? The romantic in me was struggling. I belong to Kate Stewart’s Facebook groups and that’s a huge conversation with fans. But, Kate did it. She pulled it off. It really worked for me. I’m still sad, feeling bruised a bit, but I believe in this HEA. Tobias raised Dom and was a best friend to Sean. Tobias was a strong influence on the men they came to be, so it makes sense that Cecelia would find everything she ever wanted with him. Tobias was the sum of the other two men she’s loved.
Side note, my hubs was recently watching a college basketball game and was super twitchy as his team was losing. He got really into it and was in a funk when the game ended badly. He said, “it’s funny because I get so into it and yet you’re in the same room watching and just don’t care. It’s just a game, and yet it really bothers me.” I said, “I read about people that don’t even exist and feel like I’ve lost friends when they die or get all melancholy and quiet when the story is over and I won’t experience them again.” Are we really so different? Lol…
I’ll definitely miss these characters.
One more note- the author does a great job with the music in this series. The playlists on Spotify are great! There are a couple of songs that will always remind me of scenes from this book and I will get all melancholy again. They’re just perfect.
Thanks for your review, Jen; this does sound intriguing. And I appreciated your side note. At heart, you and your husband are both empathizing with people you don’t know (fictional and athletes).
Thanks for your comment, I appreciate it! Do read the trilogy;it’s excellent.
Lexi West says
I have to agree- I absolutely loved this story and thought that Kate pulled off the relationship between Cecelia and Tobias so well, but I don’t think my heart will never not ache for Sean and Dom… Sean specifically. I really think that this series “hurt so good”.
Great description- “hurt so good”. I still think about it, turning over Sean and Dom in my mind. Remember the scene where Sean dances with Cecelia at the Apple Festival? It’s just SOOO heartbreaking when she follows him.