Run to Love: Triple R Series by Jules Dixon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
*** 3.5 Cranky Stars ***
Run to Love is the first Book in Jules Dixon's Triple R Series. Triple R refers to the gym where our hero and heroine meet, and several other characters work. Our heroine, Presley, works out there faithfully and has lost a significant amount of weight since she started there. Our hero, Jude, is new to town, and her new trainer after the one who had been with her was fired for unknown reasons. There is chemistry between these two from the start, but both have doubts about the ability of the other to be interested in them.
Jude is living with his brother until he can get settled in, in half of a duplex his brother owns. He has a cat named Ninja, who was one of those animals who was a character himself, especially when he was first introduced. Though Jude has a master's degree in something fitness related, I guess he has a lot of debt (I don't really remember if there was an explanation for this) but besides crashing with his brother, and his work as a personal trainer, he is a bartender, and models for an art class for extra money. Seems he had also worked construction at one time, and a "career stint" he had in college is mentioned/illustrated on a double date. Anyway, the boy has quite a resume.
Presley still has self esteem issues from the weight she had carried for many years, including being bullied in high school and overcoming an eating disorder. Her best friend from childhood forward is a woman named Willow, who is also her roommate (and I am guessing quite a character if for no other reason than she had 3 different hair colors in this book alone, and only one resembled a natural human hair color, but I digress.) She also has amazing insight into Presley's psyche - a sign of a true best friend. I actually really liked Willow, and her on and off love interest in this book, Kenyon Hills. I saw that book 3 in the series is about them, and there is a pretty decent chance I will read that at some point in the not too distant future. Presley is a successful car salesperson at her day job. She takes an art class one night a week (nope, no coincidence that Jude models for an art class - this leads to some of the most entertaining moments in the book) and is a pretty talented artist. She also volunteers at an animal shelter on the weekends.
The supporting characters are certainly a cast of, well, characters. Some of them I really enjoyed, at least one I loved to hate, one or two felt a bit creepy, and some I am still unsure as to their relevance. I understand that this is the start of a series, and serves to introduce us to others who will be in the series (I assume) but this is probably the main reason I am giving this one less than five stars. I am writing this review less than two days after I finished the book, and I am already confused about who was who (and what their sexual preferences are, which may have been a bit too much information.) I guess at times, even though it is not a particularly long book - perhaps even because of that - it just seemed like there were too many characters to keep track of. I have read the blurbs for the other books in the series, and some of the characters that were mentioned more than felt necessary are not ones who star in future editions of the Triple R series. And one more quick rant, though the series is called Triple R, presumably after the gym of the same name, the hero and the heroine in the next book work at the bar that Jude bartends at part time - having no other connection to the gym, as far as I can tell. Book 3 is Willow and Kenyon's story, and, again, as far as I know, their only connection is that they are friends of Presley and Jude, respectively. The couple in book 4 were not ever mentioned that I can recall.
I realize that this review has taken on a bit of a negative slant, and though I review for Cranky, I try not to personify curmudgeon. The writing itself is solid, beyond what I mentioned about feeling that there were some extraneous characters. The fact that I found some of those characters fascinating only added to my confusion about who was integral to the story and who would make no further appearance.
The hero and heroine face very realistic challenges in the early days of their relationship, and I found them fairly easy to like and empathize with. The book is a romance, and it would be very short if they didn't have their share of complications. Some times when I read romances it seems the struggles are a bit forced to make a plot point; that was definitely not the case in this book. I will admit that when I read romances I generally stick to a sub-genre that isn't particularly realistic, so I found the very relatable issues rather refreshing. I will certainly look for more by this author in the future as I see great potential in her style. I would recommend to mature audiences with little to no hesitation.
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