It’s spring, 1970. The Vietnam War has been raging for years with no end in sight. Janey Martin, a California college student and aspiring journalist is tired of writing puff pieces about her university men’s sports teams. She wants to be taken seriously as a journalist and as a woman. With riots at their doorstep, her wealthy father sends Janey to the Sorbonne in Paris to finish her college education away from the chaos.
Janey is reluctant to leave the Big Story that is Vietnam, but vows to prove herself. Much to her dismay, her first assignment is to interview the hotshot star forward of a local soccer team. Janey is sure Adrien Rousseau is going to be like every other playboy jock she’s ever dealt with, but quickly learns there is much more to Adrien than meets the eye.
The mysterious, sexy footballer just might be the biggest story of Janey’s life.
I reached over and pushed ‘stop’ on Janey’s tape recorder and turned to her. “Saturday then?”
She coughed in surprise. “What happens Saturday?”
“We conclude the interview. You need to see a football match firsthand or your article is going to sound like a bunch of amateurish gibberish. You want to be taken seriously?”
She pressed her lips together for a moment. “Yes.”
“So do I. Saturday at noon at Stade Jean-Marc. We’ll finish the interview after.”
“Antoine wants the article in two days,” she said.
“Tell Antoine I said to wait.”
She took another long pull from the lemonade, her pride not letting her say yes to me so quickly.
“Saturday then,” she said. “For the article.”
“Right,” I said, holding her gaze. “For the article.”
She finished off the lemonade and set the glass down. “Thank you very much, Sophie. It was just what I needed.” She gathered her belongings and turned to me. “See you.”
“You have a drop of lemonade on your chin,” I said.
“Where?” Her hand flew to her mouth. “No, I don’t…”
I held out the cocktail napkin with my sketch of her, my brow raised.
Janey dropped her hand from her dry chin, fuming. I expected her to flounce away. But she snatched the napkin out of my hand, dropped it into her bag, and coolly walked away.
I wasn’t in love with her, but in that moment, I knew someday I would be.
★ ★ ★ ★ ★
Reviewed by Rachel McEwan
I’m not normally a fan of novella’s per se because when I’ve read them in the past, I’ve felt a little let down. Let me explain! What I mean by that is that short stories I’ve read come across somewhat diluted; however, when I read this was football (soccer to American readers) and it was written by one of my favourite authors I quickly changed my mind!
“I feel like the world is so much larger than a football pitch, and I want to make a big impact on that stage as I do playing the game.”
The very first page took me by surprise when I found it was set during the Vietnam War in 1970; well, that had my attention! The first chapter focuses on Janey’s fall from grace, well in her father’s eyes anyway. She’s currently attending college in California and is desperate to be taken seriously as a seasoned journalist covering the many prolific student protests. Unfortunately she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time and choice is taken away from her quite unfairly I might add. She then finds herself sent away to Paris to continue her studies at the Sorbonne. Janey is not to be deterred in her quest to make a name for herself so when she is given the task on interviewing a local football star she jumps at the chance to make the story her own.
“I told you a long time ago, what I want from you can’t be bought. Just you, Adrien.”
In enters Adrien Rousseau! The star of the team who seems to hold the key to their success in his skill of scoring goals. For such a young man he appeared to be carrying a huge amount of responsibility. He’s the sole provider for his family but torn between instant fame and the income he needs however, he desperately wants to finish his education and become a doctor. He’s aware of his sporting talent but also quietly modest about it as for him it’s a means to an end. As you can imagine he is quite the ladies’ man, enjoying the life his stardom has provided him. I loved that we saw two different sides to his character, he almost lived two lives to enable him to please not also his family, but his team mates too. Adrien is fiercely loyal and for that I had to admire him. My heart ached for him and I really didn’t envy the hard choices he had to make.
“That’s not the angle. Vietnam is the angle. How war tears apart families and countries alike. It ended for France in ’54 and yet we’re still feeling it.”
For such a short read the character development was superb! Ms Scott did a fantastic job of writing such multi-faceted protagonists. Janey was strong-minded, kind hearted and focused. Her passion for her work was admirable and work ethic knew no bounds. During her many meetings with Adrien she sees something she isn’t supposed to see; however, she doesn’t hesitate in doing the right thing and I think that’s when I not only liked but loved her. This scene is quite significant in the story and up to this point I thought I could see how the story would play out however, I was wrong and I’ve never be so pleased to be so. What came next was truly extraordinary; it gave the story new meaning. Ms Scott has written an exemplary story showing the reader the real human cost of war.
“I thought you didn’t like me.”
“I do. I always did. I’m just bad a flirting, remember?”
I must admit this read it not your typical sports read, its way more. It will steel your heart and not give it back until the very last page! This wasn’t a steamy sexy read but that’s not to say you don’t feel the chemistry oozing off the pages between Janey and Adrien. It’s a sweet and meaningful story of just how life can change your plans when you least expect them. If you love this author you will be truly amazed. I’ve debated all day before I wrote this review just what star rating to award it. The reason for my rating is I just can’t get the ending out of my mind and I think it will stay with me for some time. Hands down, 5 emotionally charged stars!
Emma Scott is a bestselling author of emotional, character-driven romances in which art and love intertwine to heal, and in which love always wins. If you enjoy thoughtful, realistic stories with diverse characters and kind-hearted heroes, you will enjoy my novels.