Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills
Series: Strangers in Love #1 (full reading order below)
Publication Date: March 29th 2022
Source: I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review
An NFL quarterback turned small-town coach gets sacked by a Texas beauty queen in this swoony, passionate romance from Wall Street Journal bestselling author Ilsa Madden-Mills.
Gorgeous, talented, and brilliant, NFL quarterback Ronan Smith has the world in his hands. But after losing his career and his fiancée in a car accident, he falls into a pit of grief and bad choices. When a mysterious girl shows up to his party, he feels drawn to her and makes her his…for one night.
Former beauty queen Nova Morgan is on a mission. Scantily clad as a princess from a galaxy far, far away, she sneaks into a high-profile party to capture the attention of her favorite quarterback. But her hopes crash after an awful one-night stand.
Fast-forward two years. Broke and desperate, Nova returns home to Blue Belle, Texas, where, by a cosmic twist of fate, her broody neighbor is none other than Ronan, the shiny new football coach everyone adores. But he has no idea who she is.
The booster club keeps shoving women at Ronan to keep him in town. His solution? He proposes fake dating to Nova. But things heat up for real under these Friday-night lights when he realizes she’s the one who slipped away.
Has this jaded beauty found her forever baller, or will his past keep them apart?
This was freaking adorable! I’ve enjoyed Ilsa Madden-Mills’ sports romances in the past, but this might be my favorite one yet. It was fun and and so cute, with plenty of great banter and chemistry!
Nova and Ronan meet at a party one night and hook up, but they don’t see each other again for 2.5 years, when they suddenly become neighbors. Ronan is retired from the NFL and has moved from NYC to Texas to coach a high school team and Nova is in Texas to be her niece’s guardian. The feelings that started back all those years ago pretty much come back to life now that they’re in each others’ lives again.
If you love the fake dating trope, you’ll love Beauty and the Baller! Nova and Ronan fake date in their small town to get some people off their back, and they were simply adorable together. Because of the forced proximity and fake dating, they slowly become friends until that beautiful moment when they realize that maybe the “fake” part of their relationship isn’t so fake after all.
This book was a wonderful combination of small town, second chances, and fake dating. Throw in a former football player and you have a fantastic romance!