The Romantic Pact by Meghan Quinn

“And seeing you on the plane—it was a gift I didn’t deserve. It was as if Pops knew exactly what I needed, and he delivered.”

So this is the time of year where I like reading holiday stories – at first glance, this one doesn’t seem like it is but, despite the hunky football player on the cover, it’s actually one of the best and most magical Christmas stories I’ve had the pleasure of reading! I know this book is part of the Kings of Football series featuring novels from 2 other authors (that I’m going to have to check out) but it’s so much more than just a sexy college football romance.

Now, don’t hold this against me but I’ve actually never read The Mother Road (I know, I’m ashamed too) so I wasn’t familiar with Marley, Porter, or Pops but reading Crew’s story made me really want to read their story – looks like I’ll have to move that up my TBR for next year! The star of this story, however, is Marley and Porter’s son Crew Smith. He’s an all-American football star on the road to the pros, despite coming off the worst season of his career. The reason for his dismal performance last season was the passing of his beloved Pops. So when he learns that his Pops spent part of his final days preparing a road trip across Germany at Christmastime for him, Crew is hesitant but agrees to go in hopes of finding closure. It turns out Pops is full of surprises but perhaps the biggest surprise of all comes when Crew discovers that his traveling companion is none other than Hazel Allen. She’s his childhood best friend from whenever he would go visit his Pops on his farm and the girl he made a pact with that they’d never become romantic with one another. As they travel around Germany, it becomes clearer that Pops’ trip may have been about more than just closure. But will Pops’ attempt at matchmaking be successful or are the lives of an up and coming football star and a farm girl just too different to make things work?

I really loved Crew and Hazel. It may have been several years since they had seen each other but I loved that the bond they had formed when they were younger was still strong enough for them to find their way back to their easy and natural way with one another. There was plenty of flirty banter and small touches or stolen glances but in terms of the romance – this was a bit of a slow burn and I was so here for it! I think both of them had a crush on the other for quite a while but for a variety of reasons they always kept things platonic – until now. Part of their leap into romance was natural and I think part of it was being wrapped up in this magical and romantic road trip that Pops manufactured. In terms of angst – there was a bit, but it was actually pretty tame compared to some of the epic breakups Meghan Quinn has given us over the years.

For me, the true star of the show was the amazing backdrop of this road trip through Germany at Christmastime. The locations were beautifully described, it’s almost like I was there! It was easy to be swept up in the romance and magic of it all. And it makes me really want to plan a trip there someday! Interwoven with the beautiful location were touching letters and memories from Pops. As I said earlier, I never knew the character before now but even I got emotional as they read his words and wishes for them. So while this may not have been branded as a holiday story, if you’re looking for a story that will give you all the holiday feels – you NEED to read this book!

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