This was my third Melissa Brayden title (and I have more in my TBR pile). Even after only two books, I knew Brayden would deliver a solid, enjoyable read, and she certainly did.
Sparks Like Ours is the third book in a four-book series following a group of four friends. This is Gia's book, although Isabel, Autumn, and Hadley all appear throughout the story. Gia's a pro surfer and looking to make it to the number-one spot, currently occupied by Elle Britton, surfing's golden girl. While Gia and Elle have crossed paths on the tour, there's little love between them. Until they're presented with a joint sponsorship opportunity and are forced to spend more time together and get to know one another.
Brayden's strength is in writing characters. I typically love brooding characters like Gia, but Elle won me over with her bubbliness. I thought they were a good, fun match. But what I especially love about these books is the friendship among the core four--Gia, Isabel, Hadley, and Autumn. They support each other through good times and bad, and when they're together, Brayden's gift for dialogue sparkles. It's great to see an emphasis on women being friends, I think that really makes this series stand out from others.
I do have minor quibbles, though. Surfing is an interesting world to set a novel in, and since I know nothing about it, I would've liked to see more of it. Sometimes, I was surprised when Brayden skipped surfing scenes I expected.
Getting to know Gia becomes an awakening for Elle, who never seems to be able to connect to the men she's dating. When her best friend, Holly, sets her up with a guy named Christopher, she loves conversing with him but isn't really interested in kissing him or doing anything more. Repeatedly, she refers to herself as "broken" because of this, and when she figures out she's attracted to Gia, she's happy because she's not broken after all. I was disappointed in this portrayal because a lack of sexual attraction doesn't mean a person is broken. Ace people exist, and "broken" is often a term used derogatorily. I thought it would've been an interesting opportunity to include an ace main character.
The last quibble is that so, so often, sports romances portray relationships as distractions from professional sports. I can see how that would be true, but it'd be nice to see one where love was shown to have a positive impact on all aspects of a character's life. So that just felt a little too predictable to me, although I thought Brayden wrapped it up in an interesting way.
I originally had skipped Hearts Like Hers, book two in the series (no offense to Autumn, but I wasn't that intrigued by her), but now I think I'll go back and read it. I'm looking forward to Hadley's book.
Thanks to NetGalley, Bold Strokes Books, and Melissa Brayden for the e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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