by Suzanne Baltsar

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From the author of the whip smart and charming Trouble Brewing comes a fast-paced story about a female football coach that will have you laughing out loud and cheering for the home team as you wait for the final whistle of the game.

When Connor McGuire loses out on his dream job of being the head coach of the local high school football team, he thinks life can’t get any worse. Then he discovers just who got the coveted position—it was a handout to the kid of a well-known, successful college coach. Connor’s sure this is just a publicity stunt, but the kid turns out to be not only a sharp strategist, but a driven and sexy young woman, too. Frustrated in more ways than one, Connor realizes that he might have to step up his game or risk losing altogether.

Coach Charlotte “Charlie” Gibb calls a flag on the play when she finds out that her very male, very attractive, but definitely-rooting-for-her-to-lose assistant coach resents her for taking what he considers to be his rightful position. But never one to back down from a little healthy competition, Charlie is determined to prove her worth—both on and off the field.

Baltsar’s “sweet, funny, witty, addictive writing,” (New York Times bestselling author Samantha Young) is not to be missed!

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501188336
Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication date: 08/27/2019
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 419,214
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Suzanne Baltsar writes romance novels, manages a small cinema, and has her own film company, for which she wrote and directed a narrative feature in 2014. She writes and lives her happily ever afters in Pennsylvania with a Mr. Brawny look-a-like and a couple of children, some furry, some not.

Read an Excerpt


  • Charlie

    The sharp smell of bitter coffee permeated the air as the whir of beans in a grinder grated on my nerves. If I actually had a cup of joe in my hand, maybe I wouldn’t be so on edge, but the line was taking forever to inch forward. And if I was late to my eight o’clock meeting, I’d lose whatever credibility had been afforded to me.

    The man in front of me finally stepped aside, blessedly allowing me to relay my order to the young kid at the register. He seemed to be about sixteen with a good amount of bulk, and the possibility that he could be one of my players passed through my mind. Today was my first official day on the job as the new head coach at Douglass High School in Minneapolis, and I was equal parts elated and terrified. I suspected the media would be all over me as soon as word got out that I was the first female high school football coach in Minnesota. One of only a handful of women ever to hold the positon in the entire country.

    But I had to get through my introduction to the coaches this morning. This was my first test, the first of many, and to succeed I needed my armor: my comfiest Georgia Tech T-shirt, my lucky orange Nikes, and a calorie-filled drink from my new morning spot, Caribou Coffee.

    Plus I had to get to school on time—7:34 turned to 7:35 faster than I would’ve liked.

    I stepped up to the counter, reading the kid’s name tag. “Hi, Nate, I need a large caramel high rise with extra whipped cream and two dozen assorted bagels, please.”

    He tapped my order into the register. “Thirty-three ninety-seven.”

    I handed over my debit card. “And make it quick for me, okay?”

    He nodded, offering me a smile. “Sure.”

    He ran my card and had twenty-four plain, blueberry, and everything bagels packed up in no time. I grabbed my drink from the other end of the counter and headed out into the bright morning sun.

    I’d moved to Minneapolis from Atlanta only a few days ago and had yet to find a place to live. All of my stuff was split between a Best Western hotel room and my car, but until school and my job as a physical education teacher began, I had no real income, which made it difficult to line up a more permanent home. I hoped I’d find a place soon—I was low on clean clothes and needed to do laundry, preferably in a place where I didn’t have some creepy guy checking out my underwear.

    I pressed the unlock button on my key fob, and the lights of my red sedan blinked twice as I made my way across the parking lot. The sun blinded me, and without sunglasses, I had to balance the box of bagels and coffee in one hand to shade my eyes with the other. I broke into an unbalanced jog to close the distance to my car, but a blaring horn and a screech of tires had me jumping backward.

    I whipped my head to the right, my heart beating a mile a minute, as a man poked his head out of his window. “What the hell are you doing?”

    “What am I doin’?” The last thing I needed this morning was to have a near-death experience with some Jeff Gordon wannabe douchebag. “What are you doin’?”

    “You ran out in front of me,” he shouted with a wild wave of his hand.

    “And you’re racin’ around a Caribou Coffee drive-thru. This isn’t a speedway.”

    His eyes were hidden by a baseball cap, but I could tell this guy was young. He dropped his arm out of the window, muscles clearly defined. “You make it a habit of running around parking lots like a lost animal?”

    I huffed. “You almost killed me, yet this is my fault?”

    He pointed and snickered at me. Confused, I glanced down and realized that when I’d jumped back, I’d lost control of my purchases. My bagels lay strewn on the asphalt in a crumbled mess while my iced caramel coffee with extra whipped cream had spilled down the front of my shirt in an uncanny replica of a Picasso painting.


    Just perfect.

    I growled and threw him double birds. “Enjoy your day, Mario Andretti. Try not to run anybody over.”

    He readjusted the brim of his hat and I caught the piercing look in his eyes. He licked his lips, the corner kicking up to a cocky smirk. “Don’t hurt yourself, sweetheart. One foot in front of the other.”

    “Fuck off,” I grumbled, and bent down to pick up the mess at my feet as he drove off. By the time I had the pebble-covered bagels and my empty cup thrown away, it was too late to go back inside and order more. Plus I needed to change my shirt. There was no way I’d impress anyone looking the way I did, especially coming into the meeting empty-handed now.

    I fished through the backseat of my car for another T-shirt. Finding a single wrinkled one, stained with what looked like mustard, I shrugged—it’d have to do. A case of water bottles in my trunk would suffice as my gift to lay at my staff’s feet.

    I raced over to the school and parked in the back by the gymnasium. The athletic director was there waiting for me.

    “Hey, Jim,” I greeted him with a nod as I grabbed the water.

    He smiled back, tender and empathetic. His dark-brown skin was weathered with sun and time, and if I had to guess, I’d assume he was in his fifties. But more forward-thinking than I’d give most middle-aged men—or men in general—credit for. “Hey. How’re you feeling this morning?”

    “A wreck, but it’ll pass. I just want to get started.”

    He gave me a quick once-over. Even with my stained shirt and red face, his confidence in me didn’t waver. He gently squeezed my arm. “You okay?”

    Shifting uncomfortably, I cringed. “I spilled coffee all over my other shirt and didn’t have enough time to—you know what, never mind.”

    He swiped a hand over his bald head. “Still looking for a place to live?”

    “How could you tell?” I laughed in spite of myself.

    “Want me to take that?” he asked, referring to the pallet of water I readjusted in my grip.

    “No, I’m good.”

    “Do you need help finding a place? I know a lot of people.”

    I wasn’t normally one for taking charity, not even for accepting help carrying water, but I was desperate. And a door that didn’t open with a slide-in key card sounded lovely. “That would be great. Thanks.”

    Jim nodded and led me through the gym to a long hallway with the girls’ locker room to the left and the boys’ locker room on the right, but we walked past both. “There’s an office in the locker room,” he said, his thumb pointing back over his shoulder to the sign that read MEN. “But some people were uncomfortable with you being in there, even though the office isn’t anywhere near the changing rooms or showers.”

    With all my years coaching football, I’d gotten used to entering men’s locker rooms without a second thought, but in this new place I understood the apprehension. What I didn’t understand was why we’d stopped in front of what looked like a closet.

    “I tried to get you a different room but . . .” Jim’s face fell, and I gulped back the foreboding feeling stuck in my throat. He opened the door with a key and gestured for me to go in first. It was a closet—clean and empty save for a small desk and chair, but still a closet.

    “This is my office?”

    He dropped the key on the desk. “Yeah, it used to be the equipment closet.” His obvious sheepishness at the school’s not-so-great solution made me feel just a tiny bit better. “You could fit another chair or two, maybe.”

    I refrained from rolling my eyes and reminded myself to be grateful. I’d long ago gotten used to these types of inconveniences in order for the men who surrounded me to feel comfortable, but there were times when I didn’t want to be happy with the crumbs. I wanted the whole pie.

    As a head coach deserved.

    Shaking off the momentary dissatisfaction, I smiled. I’d get over this. I always did, being the odd woman out in the game. After all, it might have previously been a closet, but now this room was my own.


    “I’ll make it work,” I said, and he nodded.

    “Mrs. LaRue, in the main office, will set you up with a key to let you in the building.” He put his hand on my shoulder. “You ready to go upstairs and make history here?”

    When he put it like that, my nerves got the best of me, and I blurted out the first thing that came to my mind: “No.” When he drew back, confused, I corrected myself. “I’m not here for the accolades, but I’d settle for a winning season.”

    We walked upstairs to the main hall and took a right to room 113. “This is Coach McGuire’s room. Dick used to show film in here,” he said; the latter, I knew, was the previous head coach.

    He stopped just outside to pat my shoulder. “You’ll do great.”

    “Thanks,” I said, steeling my nerves before he opened the door. Five pairs of eyes snapped their attention to me.

    I’d played football with boys and coached with men my entire life. When people told me I couldn’t, I’d smiled and politely listed my qualifications. This wasn’t about proving anything to anyone. I didn’t care what people thought of me anyway. I’d been raised in the game. I was good at the game. I just wanted to do what I was best at.

    But in this moment, my knees knocked like they were fighting each other.

    I kept my head up, brave face on. “Mornin’, gentlemen.”

    Jim stood next to me, the lone friendly presence in the room. “Guys, I’d like to finally introduce you to our new head coach, Charlie Gibb.”

    “I brought everyone some refreshin’ water to start off our meetin’,” I said, placing the pallet on the desk in front of me before taking in the faces of my support staff. My focus drifted from one man to the next, each of them regarding me with a mix of curiosity and contempt. All except for the last man. No, the last man’s face held only contempt for me. It was Mario Andretti from the pickup truck.

    “I’d planned on bagels, but I had a little trouble this morning. Consider it an I.O.U.” I smiled.

    The guy with the lead foot shook his head deliberately, as if disappointed in me. But he’d created this whole mess to begin with. Son of a bitch.

    “Don’t worry. I brought some for everyone.” He gestured to the open box of bagels in the middle of the table at the front of the room. “Help yourself.”

    I ground my teeth. No way would I eat his bagels after he almost ran me over. And especially not after he stood up and stretched his hand out to me with a self-satisfied smirk. “I’m Connor McGuire, offensive coordinator.”

    I met his rough palm with my own, squeezing his knuckles with as much strength as I could muster. Obviously this man was out for my blood. He might have won the battle, but I’d win the war.

    I was the general of this squad. And I played to win.

  • Customer Reviews

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    Sidelined 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 9 reviews.
    Anonymous 19 days ago
    This is basically a rom-com with a lot of feminism and female empowerment. I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book because sports aren't my thing. But I really liked this book!! It was kind of a hate turned to love relationship but not super cheesy like some other stories. I even laughed out loud a few times while reading, even when I was in public places. I would recommend this book - it's a light read with a strong female lead.
    K-Wall 4 months ago
    I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I found this book to be easy enough to read. I could understand Charlie's position to want more and to get it on her own steam. I liked how the author brought forth issues that plague women who try to succeed in male dominated sports. This could be easily related to other areas. Though I understood her struggles, there were times that Charlie seemed a little overkill. I was not thrilled about Connor at first. What a great first impression! I did like the layers that gave more understanding of who he was as the book progressed. I liked that despite his lack of outward show, he really did support the changes once he realized it was for the betterment of the team. Connor and Charlie were both out of practice and defensive when it came to relationships, so it came off as awkward. I found this okay, given their backgrounds. They could both be insensitive and abrasive. There were a couple of times that Charlie got angry and had expectations and I couldn't figure out what she was getting at. My favorite character was Sean. I appreciated a glimpse into a family that supported each other in all the right ways. There were several things to learn from this book and I quite enjoyed the road the author mapped out to get there. There was language that I could have done without. The adult scenes did not dominate the story but were present. I know this is an ARC copy, but there were several mistakes (grammar and incorrect words/spellings) that will hopefully be fixed before the release date. I enjoyed the story and thought it was easily a 3.5-4 star read.
    boclairedesigns 7 months ago
    I received a free ARC eBook from the publisher and NetGalley. The honest opinions expressed in my review are my own. New author for me, but I would read anything by her again! Charlie and Connor are both strong characters whose past has shaped their view of life in all aspects: friendship, family, job, career, and relationships. As a female and top coach/trainer in the football arena, Charlie knows its an uphill battle. Her decision to leave home, working in a top notch football program under her Dad's legacy and guidance to take on a new challenge excites her. Enter the coaching staff she inherits and there are a few choice words. She has to be tough to show the world what she is capable of accomplishing, sometimes to the detriment of her personal relationships. She has conflicting feelings for Connor, who feels he should have gotten the head coaching job. But they both learn to admire and respect the characteristics that make them great coaches and in the meantime start a relationship. At Charlie's request their relationship is kept secret from the school staff and their friends. They soon realize that might not be the best decision. As all hell breaks loose on the football field we learn the true nature of these characters. Charlie makes amends with her dad and the ending had a bit of a surprise. Great all around read!
    Anonymous 7 months ago
    Charlotte "Charlie" Gibb is the daughter of a well known college football coach and she has been successful herself as a football player and coach herself. However, when she is hired as the head coach of the local high school football team in Minnesota, she knows she has to work harder to prove she's as good as the male coaches, especially the cute assistant coach, Connor McGuire, who feels that Charlie took his dream job. Can they work together to turn the team around? This was my first Suzanne Baltsar book and I'm a fan! I enjoy a good sports drama and I love that this one has a strong female protagonist. The communication problems between Connor and Charlie were frustrating at times but overall it's a nice story with relatable characters and good storyline.
    Sara_Jo 7 months ago
    I really enjoyed this book! It was great to see a woman in a “man’s world” and kicking complete butt!! However, I am really bummed that the author chose an easy way out of solving the climax of the story. Spoilers below: Charlie pisses off a wealthy dad and kicks his arrogant son off the team and of course, she gets fired. Connor gets her job and instead of Charlie getting her job back in the end, they make her athletic director. That’s a total cop out! Seriously. The whole book and character backstory was for her to coach football not handle a bunch of different sports. For that alone this book lost one full star of rating. I was provided an ARC of this book by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
    LaLaLoverofBooks 7 months ago
    This is overall just a really sweet story. A female football coach, a perturbed assistant coach that is mad she got his job, a new town, friendship and love all exist in this book in a charming way that makes you root for the characters and for a happy ending. Overall I enjoyed the book despite not really liking the main character. It just seemed that she was overly concerned about the feminism issues and because of that she had a level of entitlement to her that I wasn't comfortable with. She basically existed with a chip on her shoulder until the love of her life shows up to soften up her heart and approach to football.
    thereadingchick 7 months ago
    Charlotte “Charlie” Gibb the daughter of a famous football coach grew up around the sport her whole life. Growing up playing, then coaching football she’s always struggled against being a woman in a man’s world. When she lands the head coaching job at a high school in Minnesota she hopes to make a new start and gain acceptance. Beating out assistant coach Connor McGuire for his dream job sets them off on the wrong foot. Underneath their antagonistic words is a common goal that turns their feelings from hate to love. I love sports romances especially when it’s the woman who plays the sport! Charlie was totally unique! She had a bit of a chip on her shoulder from the years of fighting for equality in her field, yet she was still feminine and attractive. I really enjoyed watching her find that balance between being in charge and allowing herself to feel attraction and then love for someone who challenged her mind and body. Connor started off pretty hateful but grudgingly came around to seeing the how knowledgeable Charlie was as a coach. He was a pretty quiet guy though and I wish that his personality was allowed to shine a little bit more. I didn’t love how this novel ended. I would have liked to see them work through their challenges a little bit more so I could’ve really rooted for Charlie and Connor a little bit more. I liked the first half of the novel a lot but the ending left me feeling a little bit let down because it wrapped up so simply. ❤️❤️❤️❤️ I received a free copy of this ARC through NetGalley and the publisher for my honest review and it was honest!
    Owl_Books 7 months ago
    This is the 2nd book I've read by this author and it did not disappoint. It was exactly what I thought it would be -- a great, fun, light read with lots of laugh-out-loud moments. Definitely recommend! Thank you #netgalley and #Gallery, Threshold, Pocket Books for the eARC,
    kozbisa 7 months ago
    This book grabbed hold of me and never let go. From the very first page, I was fully invested in Charlie's "new beginning". Charlie's whole life had been built around football, and after realizing she would never be able to break that glass ceiling at the college level, she pursued, and was hired, for a head coaching position at a Minnesota high school. As expected, she was met with scorn and resistance. Some of her resistance came in the form of Connor, an assistant coach, who thought he would get the head coaching position. Though he was skeptical, he played along, and eventually realized that Charlie had earned her position. He also began to realize how attracted he was to her and how much he enjoyed her company, but Connor was carrying around a lot of baggage, which was keeping their attraction blossoming into more. So much to love! • Charlie being a female in a male dominated profession played a big part in this story, and I liked the way Baltsar explored the issue, but I also liked that it didn't dominate the story. Yes, it was important to the story, but it was just part of Charlie's tale, and the author did a great job keeping that balance in check. • I love heroines like Charlie. She was such an incredible combination of hard and soft, and I so badly wanted her to succeed, not only in her professional life, but in her personal life as well. Seeing her making and embracing new friends and letting people in was wonderful, and I was really happy with all the progress she made on and off the field. • There was so much to love about Connor too. I thought he was going to be Mr. Macho, but then he I discovered his family side, and what a wonderful brother, son, and friend he was. He was charming, but he was also tender and was not afraid to show how much he cared. • The friend group in this book was one I would love to be a part of. Piper, Blake, Bear, and Sonja were all sort of incredible on their own, but the group dynamic was something I couldn't get enough of. • Charlie + Connor = something really special. It was amazing how well they meshed. They had great chemistry, and I could have listened to them banter all day. I especially liked the way they pushed each other and dug deeper to find the whole person beneath the surface, and my happiness grew with each step they took towards a full fledged relationship. This book hit all the right notes for me. It was sweet, sexy, funny, charming, witty, and heartwarming, and I greatly enjoyed every moment I spent with Charlie and Connor.