We’re celebrating the release of THE HARD COUNT by Ginger Scott! Check out the excerpt and buy your copy today!
THE HARD COUNT
Mature YA Contemporary Romance-Stand Alone
Scheduled to release: July 15, 2016
Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.
West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.
I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.
In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.
When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.
“You’re mad at me,” he says, his fingers sliding to mine, his thumb covering the top of my knuckles while the rest of his hands hold my palms.
“I’m not mad at you, Nico. I was busy. I have things that don’t have anything to do with you,” I say, still fighting.
“You’re still mad at me,” he says, and I glance up just enough to see his smile, all lopsided and perfect, the dimple that he gets when he’s right in its place. I hate him so much.
“Why would I be made at you,” I sigh, acting as best as I can while my mind races through all of the reasons I am mad at Nico Medina—not a single one of them really his fault.
I meet his challenge, staring back at him, forcing the stern expression to remain on my face, while he looks back at me with perfect lips curved up a hint on one side and unfair eyes that act as target sights. I’m caught in them, and they will not let go.
“You’re mad because of some homecoming dance,” he says, and I laugh once because…fuck!
“Admit it,” he smirks.
“Nico,” I begin, finding it hard to even say his name. “I could care less who you want to go to some stupid school dance with.”
“Couldn’t care less,” he says quickly. I tilt my head and pinch my brow. “You said you could care less, but really…you mean you couldn’t.”
I jerk my hands away and huff.
“Could you?” he says, his hands back in his pockets, his head tilted, angled so I can’t ignore it.
I push my tongue in my cheek and shake my head, glancing away, but always coming back to his gaze. His stupid, perfect, eyes and face that I want to put my hand on. The damned lock of his hair that falls forward when his head leans forward, his tongue caught in his teeth. His kissable lips that I felt in a dream and watched speak in class. His arrogance. His confidence.
“Gah!” I exhale, shaking my head and focusing on the bricked wall behind him. He stands there with one foot against the wall, his back leaning into it, so comfortable seeing me so uncomfortable.
“You make me so mad!” My eyes slide to his, and his lip ticks higher.
“I knew you were mad at me,” he nods.
I stretch my arms out wide, my eyes wider, and I stare up to the ceiling with another shake of my head.
“Fine!” I shout. “Yes, you got me. I’m mad at you! Can I go do class now, please?”
Nico snickers, and I cross my arms over my chest. He pushes forward from the wall, taking a few steps toward me. On instinct, I take one back, but not far enough from his reach. He reaches for my hand again, and I hug myself tighter, tucking my fingers under each arm for protection. I’m throwing a fit now, but I’m this far in, there really isn’t any way to undo it.
Nico holds my elbows when he’s unable to get to my hands, and realizing how ridiculous I would look spinning out of his hold, I give in and let him. His touch is gentle and warm, and I wish I could just get over myself and take his hands back in mine. But I’m scared. My bottom lip shakes with nerves. Nico’s eyes glance at it, so I pull it into my teeth. I want to hide every weakness from him, but eventually I’ll have to curl up inside myself. I have too many.
“Why are you mad at me, Reagan?”
He says my name, and the word falls from his lips soft and sweet. No judgment, no challenge. My lip falls loose from the hold of my teeth and my eyes flutter shut for a long blink. I open again to find him waiting, still looking at me.
“I don’t know,” I say, with a small shake of my head.
“But you are,” he says, and I nod with the same slight movement, sucking in my bottom lip and breathing through my nose.
“Yeah,” I say, my lip falling away and my eyes only able to look at his cheek.
I’m holding myself tighter than I ever have, my fingers actually digging into my sides, my nails rough against my skin through the fabric of my gray Cornwall sweatshirt. Nico doesn’t flinch once. His eyes stay on mine when I give in, and his expression doesn’t shift from the gentle, sweet one he’s held.
His right hand lets go of my elbow, moving to the few strands of hair resting against my forehead, falling over one eye. Nico takes them with his thumbs, moving them behind my ears, his eyes watching his movement then settling back on mine.
“You’ve worn your hair down ever since I said I liked it,” he says.
I breathe in long and deep, letting myself feel this moment—all of it. I have worn my hair down. I did it hoping he would touch it, but never once actually thinking he would.
“That’s how I knew,” he says, and my forehead crinkles. He smiles on one side, repeating the gesture and moving the long wave of blonde hair from my face again. “That’s how I knew I was more than just some guy you wanted on your dad’s football team.”
A touching YA tale about embracing the unexpected, overcoming adversity and the magic of football to both divide and unite a family and community.
I was drawn to this story because I love football and I love reading stories about football. This August marks the beginning of my 17th year as a Texas High School football coach’s wife. So I have an understanding of the Hard Count, the life of a coach’s wife and raising a teenage daughter who only knows her dad as a coach. This book truly hit home for me and I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Nico had me swooning and wishing for someone of his caliber to gallop into my daughter’s life. I could go on for days about this boy. He had a beautiful heart, was a hard worker and he was passionate about those he loved. What more could you want!!!
Reagan reminded me of my daughter. She was graced with title of fieldhouse rat from birth and being around sports is all she has ever known. She is quite the combination of sass and tenacity with a colossal competitive spirit. I would say those same things about my daughter. Heaven help the boy who actually has the balls to ask her out as my husband is quite intimidating.
Reagan and Nico were fun. I loved their banter and the tenacious way they faced off with one another. It made watching them succumb to their feelings quite enjoyable.
There were quite a few side characters that added plenty of page turning drama to the story. Superiority complexes and entitlement were at the center of the controversy and I assure you that garbage absolutely happens. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, much to my dismay. It’s crazy how football has the power to tear down or build up a community. The tearing down was definitely heartbreaking and difficult to read at times. But it warmed my heart to see a community rally around the sport I love.
This was my first title from Ginger Scott and I am pleased to say it won’t be my last. The writing was great, the characters were well developed and the story kept me engaged. There were a couple of chapters that interrupted the flow of the story and retracted from my experience. Otherwise, I enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading Ginger’s other books.
Overall Rating 4.0 STARS
I was provided a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
Ginger Scott is an Amazon-bestselling and Goodreads Choice Award-nominated author of several young and new adult romances, including Waiting on the Sidelines, Going Long, Blindness, How We Deal With Gravity, This Is Falling, You and Everything After, The Girl I Was Before, Wild Reckless, Wicked Restless and In Your Dreams.
A sucker for a good romance, Ginger’s other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. (She’s also a sucker for a hot quarterback, catcher, pitcher, point guard…the list goes on.) Ginger has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for more than 15 years. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.
When she’s not writing, the odds are high that she’s somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork ’em, Devils).