Determining Possession by Christina C Jones
July 19, 2017, Self Published
Review by Melanie
I saw someone recommending this book on twitter a week or so ago and I truly wish I could remember who that person was or what they said that sold this book to me so completely because I would dearly love to thank them. This book scratches my personal romance id in a way that is so perfect, that it’s almost hard to put into words but I’m going to do my best to try.
Heroine Wilhelmina “Wil” Cunningham, a former Olympian turned television show host, cohosts a sports show with former professional football player Ramsey Bishop. The book opens with Wil, finding out, literally days away from her high profile wedding to a tv star, that her fiancé has been cheating on her with his costar. Publicly humiliated and nursing a broken heart, she finds solace in her family, her supportive parents, her cousin/best friend, and in her long time friend and co-host, Ramsey. Theirs is a deeply platonic friendship and I love how the book really builds the foundation for their eventual romance, showing the depth of their relationship, their history and connection as two people who really understand each other.
Ramsey has his own emotional baggage. Having left his highly successful pro football career to help care for his ailing mother, he’s still struggling to process his grief after her death from cancer some 6 months before the book starts. His mother was his everything, his reason, his purpose, his entire goal in life to take care of her. And now that she’s gone, he finds himself at loose ends, struggling to find his footing and figure out what his future holds.
I loved both of these characters so much. They were adults, they said what they felt and what they meant, there was no game playing, no hidden motives, just two grown ups acting like grown ups. One of the storylines in this very plot driven book hinges on both the main characters and their respective relationships with their exes. Both of them are fairly recently out of broken engagements, Wil’s more recent than Ramsey’s. And I did wonder how the book was going to address the timeline of both of these people ending relationships and starting a new one seemingly so soon afterwards. But it works and it works primarily because of Wil and Ramsey’s shared history and also, the way these breakups and their aftermaths are handled. As I stated earlier, the book opens with Wil realizing her fiancé, Darius, is a lying cheater and while her heartbreak is very real and she spends a good portion of the first few chapters of this book struggling to move past it, she also comes to the realization that there is no way she could ever be with a cheater.
I was happy with you, Darius. Loved you. Still love you. But I love myself too much to let you drag me back into this thing.
I was ready to have this shit out of my life.
The house, and the man.
Ramsey’s break up with his fiancée comes while his mother is dying. Dr. Lena McBride, from a well-to-do family of doctors, all of whom star in their own reality tv show, is interested in furthering her fame and social status. Ramsey realizes that their future dreams are not compatible and breaks it off with her months before the start of the book. One of the things I really liked about this character is that so often, it’s so easy to paint the ex in a villainous role. The ex female love interest is all too often cast in a bad light, either because she cheated or she doesn’t want marriage and kids, or she’s out for his money, etc. I’m so so happy to report that this book DOES NOT fall into that trap. Is Lena looking out for her own self-interest? Sure. But there’s a scene in this book where she runs into Ramsey and it’s clear that she’s supportive of his burgeoning relationship with Wil and apologetic for not clueing him in earlier for what she was really looking for. I appreciated that a lot about her – she’s forthcoming and honest about her desires and intentions and not trying to play the interloper between Ramsey and Wil.
I also loved the supporting characters in this book, from Wil’s family and friends to Ramsey’s new teammates once he decides to rejoin his football career. This is the 3rd book in this series and while it’s absolutely stand alone and I did not feel like I had missed anything, I am definitely planning to go back and read the rest of the series.
Now, I know that friends to lovers is hit or miss for many people but I happen to love it. For one thing, the sex scenes in this book, once they happen (they start at about the 50% mark) are HOT. Ramsey’s nickname on the football field is Sledgehammer and that is an apt nickname is MANY ways. The fact that they have all this trust already built up really adds to the emotional intimacy of their sex scenes and I was all in, the first time they have sex. Of course, at that point, Wil is very reluctant to make it about anything more than just two friends having a good time and Ramsey is more than willing to go along with that. But watching as these two grow closer and closer, emotionally and physically, it’s inevitable that at some point, friendship turns to more.
I have to address some of the content warnings in this book. I’ve already mentioned the cheating ex fiancé and that Ramsey’s mom died of cancer. It’s mentioned that while Wil was engaged to Darius, she suffered multiple miscarriages and was desperate to have a baby. Also, when Wil and Ramsey go to Bali for what was supposed to be Wil and Darius’ honeymoon, they have sex in their suite and it’s captured on film by a sneaky photographer and released to the public, creating lots of problems for mostly Wil.
Wil and Ramsey engage in unprotected sex and she gets pregnant and does eventually carry the baby to term successfully.
The book is dramatic in that it’s very plot heavy but the undercurrents of Wil and Ramsey’s friendship to lovers arc is rooted in such sweetness. The way these two root for each other, encourage each other, challenge each other, and ultimately love each other is what makes this book so special. If you’re in the market for a semi slow-burn, solid friends to lovers trope, I highly recommend this one.