Defending Taylor – Miranda Kenneally – Hundred Oaks – Sourcebooks Fire – Published 5 July 2016
Captain of the soccer team, president of the Debate Club, contender for valedictorian: Taylor’s always pushed herself to be perfect. After all, that’s what is expected of a senator’s daughter. But one impulsive decision—one lie to cover for her boyfriend—and Taylor’s kicked out of private school. Everything she’s worked so hard for is gone, and now she’s starting over at Hundred Oaks High.
Soccer has always been Taylor’s escape from the pressures of school and family, but it’s hard to fit in and play on a team that used to be her rival. The only person who seems to understand all that she’s going through is her older brother’s best friend, Ezra. Taylor’s had a crush on him for as long as she can remember. But it’s hard to trust after having been betrayed. Will Taylor repeat her past mistakes or can she score a fresh start?
Taylor has a new mantra – no more boys. Well, that’s not going to work for a contemporary young adult romance, now is it… Equal parts coming of age, self discovery and family relationships, and with a heavy dose of romance, Defending Taylor continues Miranda Kenneally’s Hundred Oaks series.
Taylor has sworn off boys after taking the fall for her boyfriend. But she never could have predicted just how big the fallout was going to be. Expelled from school, dumped from her soccer team, and the reason her father has dropped in polls during the key time in his political campaign, Taylor is ordered back home where she is to start a new school and hide out until the bad press dies down. But the other girls on Taylor’s new soccer team don’t seem to want her there and bumping into her older brother’s best friend only adds more complications to her already complicated life.
Does giving up boys count if it’s a guy you fell for years ago? You can hardly blame Taylor for falling again for Ezra, he with the wicked smile, green eyes and construction worker’s muscles. And the whole brother’s best friend thing usually brings a complication that I enjoy in romances. But their relationship wasn’t all that complicated, really. Once Taylor and Ezra reconnect and straighten out the past miscommunications, their relationship develops quickly.
As always with Miranda’s books, you get a mix of light and steamy romance with heavier topics, which in this book range from drug use and the effect criminal records have on your future, to anxiety and stress, studying too hard, college choices and applications, family, and politics. And, of course, there is the consistent focus on sport, this time soccer. I think Miranda Kenneally’s novels are getting steamier and this one certainly ups the sexiness factor. You could almost push this novel into the new adult category and certainly the mature young adult category, with the ages of the main characters, senior in high school and college age respectively, and with the open descriptions of the characters’ sexual activities.
I didn’t love Defending Taylor as much as I have some of Miranda’s previous novels. Taylor grated on me at times. I thought she seemed to quietly think that she was better than everyone else. She’s certainly outwardly nice to everyone, but seemed a little condescending. She judges her teammates for their soccer and team skills – or lack of them – but doesn’t make an effort to be friendly with everyone. She judges people for selling or being addicted to drugs but thinks nothing of taking drugs herself to get through studying. And then she gets all ‘don’t judge me, don’t nag me about my choices’, yet won’t shut up about Ezra’s life and the choices he has made for himself. But these were all little things and only slightly lessened my overall enjoyment of the novel.
This whole series is perfect for mature young adult readers who love a good romance story with strong, sporty characters.
The publishers provided a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
Category: Young adult fiction.
Themes: Romance, soccer, sport, drug use, sex and dating, relationships, criminal records, politics, family, high school, college applications.
Reading age guide: Ages 15 and up.
Advisory: Coarse language, f***, s***. Strong, frequent sexual references to oral sex and mast. and implied sex scenes.
Published: 5 July 2016 by Sourcebooks Fire.
Format: Paperback, ebook. 304 pages.