Sage Carson is a famous soccer star. She has World Cup trophies and Olympic medals to prove her skills. Battling with the recovery from a knee injury and operation, Sage is under a lot of pressure to make a comeback.
Her manager approaches her with a big opportunity for an endorsement deal but there is a catch, Sage has a reputation for being rebellious and needs to come across as more stable. Her manager asks Sage to find a fake girlfriend to prove long term stability.
Sage is not totally sold on the idea of a fake relationship but when she attends her 15 year high school reunion she realises that it may not be the worst plan in the world, especially since she has reconnected with a former acquaintance from school, Willa, and there is just something about this beautiful woman that draws Sage.
Willa Bellamy has always been the nice girl. You can count on her to stay late to pack up after a party, take on extra work and generally be reliable. This also means that she is regularly taken advantage of and while she is aware of it and is working hard to learn to say no, she still struggles.
Willa has her own problems. She is chronically single. That’s fine for her 15 year reunion but it’s a little awkward for her ex girlfriend’s bachelorette party which encourages people to come as couples. The last thing Willa wants is to be the lone single in the beautiful Belize.
With this on her mind she heads off to her reunion and runs into soccer star, Sage Carson. The chemistry is instant and when a series of fantastic misunderstandings sees Willa receiving an email from Sage’s manager detailing the contract for the fake relationship. Willa is initially confused and upset because she and Carson haven’t ever discussed this and she thought the chemistry was real between them, but this email confirms that Carson just wants something from her, like everyone else.
Instead of blowing up, though, Willa realises that there is an opportunity here for her to bring Sage with to the bachelorette and at least make it look like she isn’t the loser she feels.
With such intense chemistry, though, is it possible for Sage and Willa to fulfil the terms of their contracts without it going further or will they be unable to keep it strictly professional?
Pros And My Favourite Parts
Sheena: One of my favourite things about this book is how effortless it was to read. The writing flowed as smoothly as a good cup of coffee.
I also found the humanity of the main characters to be so well done that I felt like I knew them in real life. It’s interesting because more often than not fauxmance books tend to have a main character who is a bit of an ice queen. I realised with this book that I also love it when both characters are nice people that I want to cheer on.
Monica: The easy answer is the puns and pop culture references that Oakley expertly infuses into her writing. You aren’t going to convince me that “No, but you’re a fancy person, so the possibility of escargot has escar-lated” is anything other than permanent literary canon dialogue at this point.
I agree with Sheena’s answer, and that’s because of both the characters and the plot. The story leads the reader through a textbook (in the best possible way) setup, confusion, angst, romance, and ultimately, the gratifying “big moment” that isn’t always done well in books. Spoiler: it is in this one.
Cons And Heads Up
Sheena: My biggest con is that you are going to need to read this book when you have no other commitments because it will fast become an all consuming thing.
Monica: No complaints here. I tore through this book in a few hours because it was comforting enough that I tried to go slowly to prolong the experience and surprising enough that I couldn’t stop myself from turning the pages.
Oakley wrote a compelling romance with two likeable characters and off the charts chemistry. If you love contemporary romances with great characters and a compelling story then you need this one in your life.
Monica: I loved this book! There’s such a satisfying combination of internal conflict and external forces that keep the story moving quickly. It’s the perfect balance of idiots in love who are too stupid to realize it coupled with genuine moments of personal growth and selflessness.
Definitely one of my favorite books I’ve read in 2021!
Excerpt from Never Mine by Bryce Oakley
She was staring down the snack table, trying to determine why the carrots were making her so depressed. They seemed severely dehydrated—would dunking them in the punch bowl help? A person walked up to the table next to her, and she glanced up, expecting another friendly, “Oh, we had 4th period AP Geography together. Thanks for taking on that entire group project.” Instead, she was surprised to see that it was none other than Sage Carson.
Of course she’d followed Sage’s career–it felt illegal to be a lesbian and not keep tabs on national team soccer stars, after all.
Sage had much shorter hair now, but it was still the mop of messy dark strands that she’d remembered. The gap between her two front teeth was as disarming as ever—Willa had always thought it was cute, but now it seemed like one of those model imperfections that made a woman go from beautiful to stunning. She was taller, and she had a new air of casual confidence, even standing beside her now. Sage was wearing a navy blue, closely cut suit. Oh no, she looked fantastic. Willa turned her stare back to the withered carrots.
“I’m shocked they even remembered vegetables,” Sage said, her voice much deeper and scratchier than Willa had remembered.
“I’m sure they’re totally fine even though they look…” Willa gestured towards the pitiful veggie tray. “Store-bought.” Why did she feel the need to defend cut vegetables?
“Store-bought like, last week, maybe.” Sage raised her eyebrows and took a sip of the clear drink in her hand. “Willa, right?”
Oh god, Sage remembered her? “Yeah, um,” Willa faltered, heat rushing to her cheeks.
“Your name tag,” Sage said, lifting one finger off of her drink to point to Willa’s shirt.
“Right. Totally,” Willa said, making a show of looking at Sage’s own name tag. “Oh, Sage Carson. I remember you played…” Play it cool. “Sports?”
Sage grinned, her mouth quirking up at the edge in lopsided amusement. “I did. And you were… Lachlan’s little sister.”
Ah, there it was. She nodded, trying to keep her pleasant smile plastered to her face. “Sure was. Am. I mean, am. He’s alive. Currently alive.” Stop talking. “Not at all dead, don’t worry. He’s in sales now.” She couldn’t shut up. “For, uh… Google.” Sage was nodding, but Willa had the sinking feeling that she was losing interest. She should start searching for a path to hide under the giant inflatable seashell.
“Good for him, I guess,” Sage said.
“What about you?” Sage asked. She glanced around the room, and Willa wondered if she was trying to find an out to their conversation. Or if she was even listening. Women like Sage Carson had never spoken to her, not in high school, not at bars, and definitely not at high school reunions in an old man’s club.
“Not Google,” Willa said self-consciously.
“Me neither.” Sage shrugged.
“Yeah, I know.” Willa snorted, then caught herself. Her eyes widened as Sage turned to slowly look at her. Cool, now she was about to come off as a stalker. But could Sage honestly believe that people from her high school hadn’t watched her win gold in the Olympics? Honestly?
A smirk appeared on Sage’s face. “Oh? Because fifteen seconds ago you asked if I did…” She pretended she was having trouble recalling. “Sports, right?”
“Oh, yeah, it was soccer, if I remember correctly,” Willa said with an exaggerated thinking face, her brows pulled low as she tapped her chin.
Sage shook her head, still grinning. “That’s the one.”
Why in the world was Sage still talking to her? She turned slightly, giving Sage an out if she wanted to leave instead of chat. An awkward silence stretched between them as Willa pressed her lips together, shifting her weight between her heels.
“Do you want to get out of here?” Sage asked, not looking at her.
Willa glanced around to see if the dark-haired woman was, in fact, still talking to her. “Me?” Was Sage Carson inviting her somewhere? She glanced around the room quickly, her heart quickening.
Get It Online
When you use the links in this review and buy within 24 hours of clicking then we get a small commission that helps us run the site and it costs you nothing extra
Bits and Bobs
ISBN number: 9798502166195
Publisher: Indie author
If you enjoyed Never Mine by Bryce Oakley then you should also look at
Note: I received a free review copy of Never Mine by Bryce Oakley. No money was exchanged for this review. When you use our links to buy we get a small commission which supports the running of this site