Tuesday, September 8, 2015

RELEASE + REVIEW: The End Game by Kate McCarthy

Title: The End Game
Author: Kate McCarthy
 Release Date: September 8, 2015

“Professional athletes are pillars of their respective communities. They are heroes in the eyes of boys and girls and are expected to conduct themselves in a manner that positively represents their community.”
The public loves a good scandal. Seeing someone fall from the pinnacle of success makes a great headline. No one knows that better than I do. What started out as a promising career in college football, spiraled into scandal and shame.
But being a hero is easier said then done. Especially when there are those who expected to see the great Brody Madden fail. I craved nothing except being the best—willing to do anything to prove them wrong. But I went too far, and I tried too hard, and it broke me.
“At the time of going to print, Jordan Elliott was unavailable for comment.”
I met Brody Madden in my senior year of college. An Australian native on an international scholarship, I was the female soccer sensation with stars in her eyes and no room for a hotshot wide receiver with a chip on his shoulder.
But a heart bursting with ambition and a driving fire to succeed isn’t made of stone. I became his strength, his obsession, and the greatest love of his life. Only I wasn’t there when he needed me most.
This is a story about love and a game that takes everything. Where the path to glory is paved with sacrifice. Where pressure makes you, or breaks you, and triumph is born in the ashes of failure. Where two people’s end game will change everything.

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Dear Kate,

Shel: I really don't know where to start. Perhaps I should start with introducing you to readers who haven't read your previous works? I should tell them that Courtney and I fell in love with you when we met Evie and Mac and their crew in Give Me Series. We cracked up laughing--the kind with tears and full body shakes, we drooled over your descriptions of your BADASS BRIGADE, we worried over the fate of our favorite characters and their loved ones, and we fell in love with Aussies because of you. And just when we thought we 'knew' who you were as a writer, you knocked us off our asses with Fighting Redemption and the intensity, the love, the tears, and the smiles you evoked from that emotional read; we quickly learned to not try to pigeonhole you into any 'type' and instead just look forward to whatever you gave us next. Court: Right she is. I love this book because there is so much to love. Our girl is new to America, new to a high intensity sports school in Texas (heard that, yo) and then she meets a boy. But our fair story isn't only about if she'll love this boy or not...but their journey on their prospective paths to greatness...or maybe not greatness, but what a great life is about. Deep stuff when you think about it...and however sad I was that the next 'Give Me' Series book wasn't her next release...Kate McCarthy proved me big time wrong with this one...because this book is already a new favorite! 

Shel: So what did you give us next? The End Game. Court: We got things we knew to love: deeply flawed characters, who are just trying to get by in their chosen life and have life and love challenges to attend to. We love it, every single time, and I think that if readers try it out they will definitely love it too! 

Shel: Kate. Seriously. You couldn't have picked a better time to launch a book in America, in my opinion. Football season is upon us and many women can't get enough. So what do you do? You give us this fantastically tortured, sweet, protective, screwed up football player, Brody. You give us something to think about beyond the beauty of a talented and handsome athlete and you remind us to think about the ups and downs that come with being an up and coming football star. You show us how sometimes it doesn't matter if you have millions of adoring fans, if you are lost, disbelieving, or so focused on the prize that you don't pay attention to what you're doing to get it. You had us all over the place with our emotions when it came to Brody--we were swooning, or angry, or laughing, or charmed, or frustrated, or just incredibly sad at the state of things, and then back to happy again. It was a roller coaster of emotion that I really didn't want to get off of. Court: Me either. Holy cowza, I thought I would have a heart attack with how fast my heart was beating. Once, I was having a moment and threw my hand out at my husband to explain an emotion, that MY PHONE FLEW OUT OF MY HAND INTO THE BATHTUB. Oversight on my part for sure, but it was definitely a emotional roller coaster that had me acting cray cray. Brody was a hero worth rooting for. He was a multidimensional character that had so much weighing him down that I wanted to hug him close and make him believe in himself.

Shel: You also did what I know I can count on you to do; you gave us a strong female character: Jordan. I love how steady you made her. She was rock solid; confident and calm and even when she wasn't, she exuded that confident calm on every page. Every single one of her reactions to the series of events you threw at her felt real. Whether she was angry or frustrated or supportive and loving, she was always kind and level headed and ...simply wonderful. Her dedication to her brother and her team and her goal were laudable and that she handled the toughest decisions with grace and dignity were things we can all learn from. I loved her; she's the best kind of character--you want someone like her in your corner at all times. Court: Yes. She is for sure someone I would want to be friends with. She was dedicated, beautiful, and strong. She had it together, but thanks for dual point of views...we see that she wasn't always as together as she would like us to believe.

Shel: I should also thank you for never being too heavy handed with the drama or angst; you were always lightening things up with humorous dialogue or scenes and giving us several characters on the periphery who were kind and fun. Court: RIGHT. There were so many directions to take this type of story, and thank you, thank you, thank you for how you completed this beautiful book. I hope if you want to read this one that you treasure in our main characters, but like Shelley said...we loooove our secondary characters fiercely. 

Shel: Also? Thanks for reminding me that I need to get off my ass and exercise. The intensity of the training of you put them through made me feel like a lazy sloth and even though I didn't put the book down to exercise, it made me want to. The way you describe them on the field and with their teammates made me want to jump back in a time machine and discover a love of soccer and running and somehow be a FIFA star (hahahahah. that would NEVER happen). Court: Ok, it didn't have that effect on me per se. Hahahaha. But, as a high school athlete, I felt that nostalgia for our youth and young love that we hope to find an enduring place in our life. So many emotions. 

Shel: I suppose I could go on an on about the large and small elements of the book that had me so desperate to read the next page that when my Kindle ran out of battery, I read on my tiny phone screen, but I won't; I want to leave something for your readers to discover. So instead I'll wrap up by saying thank you. Thank you for the epilogue. Thank you for making us think about the road to success and the various paths we take to get there; about showing us about forgiveness and redemption and love and faith and the importance of giving it and receiving it (even when you don't feel you've earned it). Thank you so much for Brody and Jordan. This novel was not anything like I thought it would be and so much better than I could ever anticipate. Court: <<<<----- what Shelley said. I am so in love with this book, and am trying to gush but not give anything away and it is soooo hard! Get this book on the double, y'all, it's the perfect time of year! 

SHel: I can't wait to see what you give us next to read, Kate. 
With mad love,
Shelley + Courtney


Shutting the door, I walk up the slight incline behind Brody. He sits down at the top of the crest and pats the grassy spot beside him.

“You didn’t mention this part when you explained our date.”

“I can’t give away all my secrets now, can I?”

The grass is a thick blanket on the ground and when I stretch out flat, the rich, earthy scent of soil sweeps over me. My eyes lift to the sky and that’s when I get it. It’s perfectly clear and millions of stars are scattered diamonds twinkling above us—bright and magical.

“Besides,” Brody adds as he lies down beside me and sweeps out his arm, encompassing all of it. “How do you explain that?”

He’s right. You can’t. “It’s beautiful.”

“Is this what the stars are like for you back home?”

“No. Back home it’s different.”

“Different how?”

Homesickness swamps me. As beautiful as Texas is, it’s not Australia. Somehow the stars are always brighter where you belong. “Because there’s no place like home.”

“You’re wrong.”

I turn my head and stare at Brody. He’s not looking at me. His head is tilted toward the sky, eyes riveted on the beauty above him. My gaze follows the line of his profile. From the curl of his hair to the perfect line of his nose, down to the mouth I want kissing me right this very instant.

“Home’s not a place where you live. It’s a feeling.” His hand nudges my own. An invitation. I twine my fingers with his and he squeezes them lightly. “Whether it’s where you are, like the football field, or who you’re with.” Brody turns his head, looking at me when he says that. It’s comforting because it unites us somehow, like it’s slowly becoming us against the world. “You can be anywhere, Jordan. Home will follow you if you follow your heart.”

My breath hitches from the beautiful simplicity of his words. Before I can talk myself out of it, I roll over and straddle him. My knees hug his hips, and he stares up at me from my seated position. My pulse pounds a heavy beat in the silence. Thump, thump, thump. It’s so loud in my ears I’m sure he can hear it.

“Show me,” I breathe. A gleam lights his dark eyes, and he sucks his lower lip inside his mouth. He knows what I’m asking, but I spell it out anyway. “Show me one of those wicked things.”

In a move that steals the air from my lungs, he takes both my hands and pulls me down against the broad width of his chest. I’m rolled over and underneath him before I can blink. The squirm in my hips is instinctive, the ache between my thighs relentless.

“Careful what you ask for,” Brody says roughly, every exquisite inch of his body pressing down on mine.


His lips curve. “Because when I give it to you, it won’t be enough.”

My fingers trail down the side of his face, grazing the firm jaw, cupping his cheek in my palm. Foreboding swamps me. I’m falling hard into uncharted territory, and all I see is a broken mess at the end. How is this going to end well for either of us?

“You’re an arrogant man, Brody Madden,” I whisper.

He brings his face to mine, so close I see the brilliant gold in his eyes, like flecks of light in the dark. “And you, Jordan Elliott, will be the woman who brings me to my knees,” he whispers against my lips.

“Show me,” I beg on a shaky breath.

Brody’s lashes lower and he presses a kiss to the corner of my mouth. I tilt my chin upwards, inviting more. Rather than take my lips like I ache for him to do, he shifts sideways and begins nipping at my jaw. His breath is a rasp when he reaches my earlobe, taking it between his teeth. A sharp pinch from his bite forces a whimper from my throat.

“More?” he asks, drawing back to look at me.

“Is that even a real question?”

Brody chuckles as I slide my hand up and around his nape, dragging his mouth down to mine. He groans and kisses me gently, once, and then twice.

“Brody,” I whisper, and he kisses me again, forcing my mouth open hard like he can’t hold himself in check anymore. My hair is loose and he fists chunks of it in both hands while his tongue rubs against mine, hot and aggressive. It’s almost too much, and when I jerk away I’m left gasping.

Brody doesn’t pause. He ducks his head to my neck, his tongue tasting its way down. He finds my pulse point and sucks. It’s fierce and my back arches involuntarily. His mouth shifts further down, moving on before he leaves a mark.

Sitting up, he takes the neckline of my dress in both hands. Five dainty buttons hold it together. A single wrench will rip the flimsy fabric in two. He pauses and looks at me, inhaling raggedly. “Jordan … I don’t want to ruin it.”

My brow furrows. I glance to the hands poised on my dress. They’re tense, veins straining under his skin. My head is lost in a fog when my gaze returns to his face. “Ruin my dress?”

Brody groans, a deep sound of regret and frustration. “Us.”

“You don’t want to ruin us?”

He draws his hands away from the neckline of my dress. “No.”

“How would you do that?”

“I don’t know. I just get this feeling I’m going to.” He shifts away, moving off me and rolling to his back. I turn my head. Brody’s gaze is back on the stars. I watch his throat work as he swallows, the pulse in his neck pounding visibly. “All I’ve ever wanted is to be the best. Whatever it takes. I’ll do anything. That’s how I’ll ruin us, Jordan. How can something so sweet survive a sentiment so dark?”

I roll to my side, holding my head in my hand. Cupping his face with the other, I nudge gently until he’s looking at me. “I won’t let you.”

Brody’s voice is urgent, his eyes fierce. “Promise me.”

I can’t shake the apprehension. It’s set in my bones and when I speak it feels like a lie. “I promise.”

Author Bio

Kate McCarthy is an Australian, living in the pretty sunshine state of Queensland with her two kids and two dogs, Rufus and Pete.

She loves to bake sweet stuff and eat it too. With an exciting degree in business, she works as an accountant by day, and an author by night. In between family life, she is most often found in bed reading, or at the beach, still reading.

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