Natalie West and Toby Cooper were best friends growing up, on and off the ice. But when Toby's hockey career took off, their friendship was left behind. Now Natalie has a crazy plan to land her crush-Toby's biggest rival-and she needs Toby's help to pull it off.
When Nat asks Toby to be her fake boyfriend, he can't say no. Not when it means getting his best friend back. But Natalie is all grown up now, and spending time with her-even when it's just playing hockey together-stirs up a lot of feelings, old and new. Suddenly pretending to be interested in her isn't hard at all...if only she wanted him and not his enemy.
|Product dimensions:||5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.60(d)|
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By Cate Cameron, Alycia Tornetta
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Cate Cameron
All rights reserved.
Scott Dakins was back in town.
I heard about it from three different people before I even made it to my first-period class, and it wasn't like I was hyperconnected, socially. None of the people who told me had any reason to believe I was especially interested in Scott-related developments. But Corrigan Falls is a small town, so any news is big news, especially when someone like Scott Dakins is involved.
I managed to keep my cool pretty well, especially the second and third times I heard about it, and by the time I took my seat in geography, I was completely under control. At least I thought I was, until I looked over at the doorway and found Scott Dakins himself standing in it.
Yeah, okay, maybe my mom and I have watched An Officer and a Gentleman a few too many times, and it wasn't like Scott was wearing a white uniform or anything, but I still had a quick mental flash of him striding into the room and sweeping me up in his arms, then carrying me away ...
Didn't happen. He didn't even glance in my direction, just nodded coolly to a couple other students and then strolled over to the teacher's desk. "I'm back," he said, like it was no big deal, and maybe for him it wasn't. He bounced back and forth between his mom in Corrigan Falls and his dad in Toronto pretty much whenever he felt like it, it seemed. Scott handed a sheet of paper to Mr. Akins, who gave it only a quick look before nodding his head toward the far wall.
"Third desk from the front is free," he said.
That was it. I felt like there should have been a fanfare of trumpets or something, but Scott just made his way toward his desk, most of the way across the room from my staring eyes, stopping for a few fist bumps and smiles of greeting, and sat down.
Class started. Mr. Akins seemed to be talking about the modified system of Communism in China, but he might as well have been actually speaking Chinese, for all I understood. Normally I was a pretty good student, but with Scott Dakins in the room? My focus was blown.
"No, Nat. You're not going to start on that again. Are you?" Dawn made a face from the seat beside me as soon as Mr. Akins stopped talking and gave us work to do. She was one of the few people who knew about my Scott Dakins obsession.
"It's not really a question of starting," I said. "More just continuing."
"He's been gone for almost a year."
"That should have been enough time for you to wake up." She shook her head. "He's kind of an asshole, you know."
Dawn used to date Toby Cooper, who was Scott Dakins's cousin and my former best friend. Yeah, it's a little complicated, but the point was, Dawn had spent enough time with Scott to know him fairly well. But so had I, back when Toby and I hung out all the time. From preschool to just a couple years ago, I'd practically lived at the Cooper house, and Scott had been a frequent visitor. "He's a good guy."
"He came on to me every time he could get me alone. Like, full-on, even after I told him to back off."
Well, that wasn't something I really wanted to think about too much, but still, I could work around it. "He and Toby have that weird competitive thing going. You know they've always been like that, for whatever stupid boy reason. I mean, Scott shouldn't have dragged you into it, but he was just trying to beat Toby at something."
"Because there's no reason anyone would want to come on to me for myself," Dawn said drily. "I only have value through my relationship with Cooper."
"No, I didn't mean it that way!" But as usual, I'd totally put my foot in my mouth. And I felt extra bad about it because I knew Dawn was still getting over the breakup. Not that she was missing Toby, exactly, just, like she said, she felt like she didn't really have a place in the world other than as Cooper's girlfriend. Some people, knowing something like that, would be more careful about what they said. Me? I blundered right in and hurt her feelings. Typical. Luckily, she knew me well enough to know I hadn't been trying to be mean.
"You seriously want to crush on someone who would come on to a girl just to compete with her boyfriend?" she asked me.
It was a pretty good question, and I knew what the right answer was. Still, I couldn't quite give it. "It's not a question of wanting to crush on him," I said. "I can't help it. It's pheromones or something. I don't know."
Mr. Akins came by then and we had to pretend we were looking at patterns of industrial development, so I managed to escape the rest of the conversation. Still, it wasn't like I could get away from thinking about it. Thinking about Scott. His glowing smile, easy charm, quick jokes, lean body, nice clothes, hot car ... everything. He was the perfect guy.
But I was far from the perfect girl, and he'd never really noticed me before. There was no reason to believe things would be different this time around. But this was my final year of high school, and once I was out of Corrigan Falls I didn't plan on returning. Small towns are like that — they're places you leave, not places you stay. So this was my last chance with Scott. I might not have been perfect, but I was a scrapper. I made things happen. And this? It was worth scrapping for, absolutely. "I'm tired of sitting around waiting for him to notice me," I told Dawn. "I'm going to take my shot."
She gave me a long look then shook her head in amused dismay. "This should be interesting," she said. "Do you have a plan?"
"Yeah," I said slowly, watching as Scott smiled at the girl next to him and leaned over to copy her notes. "I think maybe I do."CHAPTER 2
It's not like I hadn't known my cousin Scott was coming back to town; it had been a pretty sudden decision, but the whole family had been buzzing about it ever since they found out. Santa had just visited a month or so earlier, but the way they were going on it was like he was coming back, and bringing the Easter Bunny and Elvis with him.
Me? A little less thrilled.
"That's one of my favorite things about playing way up here," Chris Winslow said with a friendly slap to my shoulder. He was sitting next to me in the locker room, tying his shoes after our afternoon practice. "No family issues. At least not with my family."
I was one of the few Ontario Hockey League players who'd been drafted by his hometown team. Most of the other guys had moved away from home when they were sixteen and lived with a billet family until they were old enough to live on their own, but not me. I was still in the house I'd grown up in, with my mom, my dad, and my younger sister, Wendy. And my grandparents, aunts, and uncles almost all lived within a half-hour radius, so I had no shortage of family. Most of the time I was happy about that, but right then? I could have used some distance, for sure.
"Is he really that bad?" Tyler MacDonald asked. He was the team captain and took his responsibilities pretty seriously; if I said Scott really was a problem, Tyler would probably try to stage an intervention or something.
But I was alternate captain, and I could take care of my own issues. "It's fine. He's just annoying, but it's not a tragedy."
Christiansen, one of the rookies, came in from the hallway then and said, "Coop, Natalie West's out there waiting for you, and she's getting impatient. She has to be at work in ten minutes but she wants to talk to you first."
"Natalie?" Winslow looked at me. "You guys used to be really tight, right? Did Dawn get custody of her in the breakup?"
"I don't know," I said, stuffing the last of my gear into my bag and heading for the door. I didn't know what had happened with Nat, really, but I was positive it was more complicated than anything to do with me and Dawn. I didn't want to think about it right then, though. I staggered through the doorway — there really isn't a graceful way to get a full hockey bag through a narrow door — and saw Nat push away from the wall she'd been leaning on.
"Toby. I have a plan, and I need your help." Her eyes were bright with excitement, and it hit me just how much I missed hanging out with her. She and I had been friends since we'd played on our first hockey team together, her on left wing, me on right. When Dawn and I started dating, I guess my time with Nat eased off a little, but we were still tight, close enough that Dawn had been a bit insecure about it. And then I started playing for the Raiders, and ... I don't know. I barely noticed it as it was happening, but it's like Nat just sort of faded out of my life. Now she was back, and whatever it was she wanted, I was pretty sure I'd be happy to give it to her. But that didn't mean I had to be a pushover about it.
"Oh, hi, Toby," I said, my voice sweeter and higher than hers had ever been. "It's really good to see you." Then in my normal voice I said, "That's what you meant, right? You wanted to say hi and get caught up and visit a bit? That's why you came by?"
She shook her head, her long brown ponytail flopping from side to side, her face set in a familiar look of determination. "No. That's not it at all. I have a plan, and —"
That was when a too-familiar voice came to me from the far end of the corridor. "Toby! Hey, man, nice practice!"
I turned around. He was my cousin, so, tempting as it was, I couldn't just ignore him. "Hey, Scott. Welcome back." I tried to sound as if I meant it, but it wasn't like I was going to fool him. He knew how I felt about him, just like I knew how he felt about me. No real point in pretending otherwise, but I generally tried, at least until he did something to piss me off. It usually took about thirty seconds.
"Congratulations on the World Juniors thing!" he said, and now he was close enough to give me a congratulatory shoulder punch. "You're a big shot, huh? We saw the interviews and everything. Very smooth. We should go down to the city sometime and get you a better haircut and maybe some new clothes. Right? Could the team give you a clothing allowance or something?"
Nice. Triple whammy. I'd looked shitty on TV, I couldn't possibly look better without his help, and I didn't have as much money as he did so I'd have to look for alternate funding. All said in such a friendly way that I'd be the asshole if I got mad about it. Classic Scott. "I appreciate the offer," I said without any attempt to sound sincere, and that was when I realized how close Nat was standing to me. She was tall for a girl but still a couple inches shorter than me, and she'd wedged her shoulder practically into my armpit. "Uh, you remember West?" I said to Scott.
He gave her one of his smiles. "Of course, yeah. How've you been? You're looking good."
And then, I swear to God, I felt her arm wrap around my waist. "I am good," she said, and there was something weird about her voice. It was ... I don't know, softer than usual? Can a voice be light? She hadn't taken it as far as I had when I was making fun of her, but something was different, for sure. She sounded ... girlier.
Scott had clearly noticed how close she was standing, his eyes flickering from her face to mine, trying to work out the situation. Trying to figure out how to use it to his advantage. "I heard about you and Dawn," he said to me. "I'm sorry. I thought you guys were going to be one of those epic couples. Start going out in high school and then grow old together."
"Nope," I said, and that was all. I'd known Scott long enough to realize that anything I told him could and absolutely would be used against me. So I wasn't exactly sorry to have Nat there as a way to distract Scott from whatever he was up to. I just wished I could figure out what she was up to.
Things didn't get much clearer when she dug her fingers into my ribs to get my attention then half turned without really backing away. Nat was a friend and I'd known her forever, but that didn't make me totally immune to the sensation of her soft chest rubbing along my side. "I have to go," she told me, and her voice was still sweeter than I was used to. "But I'll call you, okay? When I get off work?"
"Okay," I said cautiously. I didn't know what the hell was going on, but a phone call seemed like a pretty good way to figure it out.
"Great," she said, and then she smiled in a way I'd never seen her smile before, stretched up onto her tiptoes, and kissed me. On the lips. Just a peck, and I was definitely too shocked to kiss back or do anything more than stand there like a deactivated robot, but ... well, that was not our standard way of saying good-bye. Not by a long shot.
She'd stepped away a little and turned so her back was to Scott, and she was staring at me, clearly trying to send some sort of telepathic message. It wasn't getting through. "Call me," I said, and she nodded, then turned and sort of skipped down the hallway toward the exit.
"What's her name again?" Scott asked, nothing but polite interest in his voice. "West? That's her last name, right?"
"Uh, yeah. She's Nat. Natalie."
"And you and her are ...?"
Excellent damn question. I shrugged it off. "I'm Toby, she's Nat." I thought about heading back to the locker room; technically it was only supposed to be players and staff in there after a practice, so it could be a refuge. But that rule got broken pretty often, and Scott probably would have assumed he'd be an exception anyway. He probably couldn't imagine any place in the world that wouldn't be happy to have him.
Luckily, some of the guys came out then. Chris Winslow was in the lead, carrying his gear in front of him like it was a bag of doughnuts instead of fifty bulky pounds.
Chris gave me a little nod, then said, "Scotty! Hey, welcome back! Where you been? You gonna stick around this time? Last year of high school, gotta make it a big one, right?" It all seemed casual, but I was pretty sure Chris was deliberately drawing Scott away, giving me a break.
I've never really understood how he does it, but Chris has this way of bringing everyone's attention toward him. Not in an obnoxious way, usually, but he's just so big and friendly and relaxed about everything. It's like if a bunch of people were standing around and a panda bear wandered in. The bear could just be doing its own thing, eating bamboo or doing a somersault or whatever, and people would still be staring at it.
I guess Scott was kind of the same way, really. But while Chris seemed innocent and almost oblivious about the effect he had on people, Scott was all too aware of his own power, and he used it. For evil.
So I was totally happy to let the two of them go be charming together. Chris could look after himself, and I had more important things to think about. Like what the hell was going on with West. And had she really just kissed me?CHAPTER 3
There were three indoor ice rinks in Corrigan Falls: the fancy one at the big arena, where the Raiders practiced and played, and two others at the community center, for everyone else. The Raiders' arena had seats for almost four thousand fans, and they sold out nearly all of their games. The community center had a few rows of wood-and-concrete bleachers, generally with a couple dozen parents sitting on them, poking at their phones and catching up on gossip while the kids played.
That was where I worked as a referee. I'd been thrilled when I got the job, but it was definitely still small-time. Toby and I had started playing hockey the same year for the same team, and for quite a while we'd taken turns being the season's top scorer. Then puberty hit, and he got bigger and stronger and faster practically overnight. Suddenly we were playing on different teams, and he was on his way to the pros. I wasn't. So, reffing was a good job, sure, but it wasn't like being a Raider.
I made it to the center more or less on time and headed for the locker room. I had to wear almost as much equipment to ref for a bunch of eight-year-olds as I did to actually play against adult women. But I was getting paid for being on the ice, so that was something.
And I managed to keep my mind on the two games I worked, mostly because I knew the parents who didn't seem to be paying attention would get pretty damn involved if they decided they didn't like my calls.
Excerpted from Winging It by Cate Cameron, Alycia Tornetta. Copyright © 2016 Cate Cameron. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is pretty much exactly what it advertises – it was a light, cute read that gave me the warm and fuzzy feels. I don’t know what it is about the fake boyfriend trope, but I love it. Sure, I know how it’s all going to play out, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the ride! What Fed My Addiction: Sports-minded but not just for people who like sports. I’m not a sports fan, so sometimes I’m hesitant to read books that seem like they might focus a lot on athletics. But I thought this book had the perfect balance. There was plenty of hockey talk (and practice, etc) for people who are fans, but the hockey was used as a backdrop for the romance – a way for Toby and Nat to become closer – rather than as something that takes us out of the main story. So people like me, who don’t know the first thing about hockey, could still enjoy the scenes that featured the sport prominently because of what was happening to the characters emotionally in those scenes. The fake romance. Yep, I already admitted that I’m a sucker for this trope, and this book did not let me down. It helped that Toby and Nat had history – they were close in the past but grew apart when Nat started to let her jealousy of Toby’s hockey success get in the way, and they drifted apart. So, these two had a shared love of the sport and a bond that had been forged over years when they were younger. It made it easy to connect to them as a couple and believe that the sparks would start to fly once they started fake dating! A slightly unconventional ending. Like I said, I thought I knew exactly how this story was going to play out (after all, we;ve all read stories like this before, right?), but I thought that Cameron did a great job of throwing some curve-balls in at the end as far as the relationships between the main characters went. I appreciated the way that Cameron wrapped things up – it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting (at least not completely). What Left Me Wanting More: Not much. Honestly, there’s not much I can say that I really disliked about this book. For the type of book that it is, it pretty much hit the spot and gave me everything I was hoping for. Was it life changing and the type of book I’ll be thinking about for months after reading it? No, but that’s not what this book was meant to be. (Not every book has to fit that description, right?) This was another book that I easily read in a day and enjoyed the whole way through. I’ll most likely go back and read the first two books, and I’ll definitely be watching for future books in the series. I give it 4/5 stars! ***Disclosure: I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. No other compensation was given and all opinions are my own.***
4-1/2 Stars. Winging It is my favorite book in the series so far. I'm a big fan of friends-to-more stories, Toby is utterly adorable, and I love Nat. She isn't just interested in a hockey player, she IS one. Nat and Toby were best friends on and off the ice when they were younger, but after puberty and boys and girls no longer played on the same team, their friendship drifted into acquaintance territory. At least until Nat sees a chance to enlist Toby's help to attract the attention of Toby's uber-hot cousin, Scott, who just moved back to town. Scott has a thing for Toby's girlfriends, so by pretending to date Toby, Nat hopes to snare Scott. But being with Toby again, their friendship always so easy, Nat feels conflicted for a variety of reasons. Maybe she feels something more for Toby than just friendship. And just maybe he does, too. Plot I loved the plot. Not just the love triangle, which was a little different than some others I've read recently, but the hockey subplot. I absolutely adore that Natalie was an athlete with her own hopes and dreams. Being a girl in a hockey town where boys' hockey is revered and girls' hockey is a hobby, only made it that much more delicious. I enjoyed how author, Cate Cameron, wove everything together as Toby genuinely wants to help Nat with her game skills, even though he knows she's just using him to get to his jerk of a cousin. So much angst in this story, and I so love my teen angst. Characters Toby is my favorite Corrigan Falls Raider. There I said it. Yep, he may not be the most talented, but he's the most adorable. And Nat may not be petite and girlie, but I love her even more for her shin pads and hockey stick. The only thing about Nat that really bothered me was the fact that she was so obsessed with someone like Scott. I know teens can be shallow at times, but it seemed a bit out of character for her, but then again, who isn't at some point drawn to the jerk just because he has a pretty face? What Didn't Work for Me 1. A little more kissing would have been nice, but that's about all I can complain about. Top Five Things I Enjoyed About Winging It 1. Toby. He's sweet, charming, and funny without being perfect. 2. Nat. I love her hockey-playing bad self. 3. Dawn. Toby's ex-girlfriend was really more of a friend, doing her best to set up Toby and Nat. While an ex trying to set up her ex seems weird on the surface, it made sense to me in the context of these characters. 4. Friends to more than friends. One of my favorite tropes. 5. The hockey. I loved seeing it from both sides this time. Bottom Line My favorite book in the series so far with fantastic characters and fun plot that moves along at a steady pace. Disclaimer I was provided with a copy of this book by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
I've loved this whole series, but Winging It has become my favorite! Loved, loved, loved Toby and Nat--what an awesome friends-to-lovers (in a totally appropriate high school way) story! With hockey--for both of them! Bonus :) Even though I wanted to sit Natalie down more than once for a chat--slimy Scott over totally awesome Toby? What was she thinking?--her behavior and actions made total sense for a high schooler, especially one who hasn't really been in a relationship before. And I have to admit, I was feeling fairly sympathetic toward Scott by the end...not enough to want him to get the girl, mind you, because he's not that deserving, but enough that I'd like him to shape up and find an HEA...someday. Just not this HEA. Because it's all about Toby and Nat and their awesome adorableness as a couple. I loved that Toby helped Nat to rediscover her hockey mojo. At first I was right there with Nat as she complained about the short shift women's hockey got in Corrigan Falls--how unfair! How sexist! But Toby helped both of us to see that Nat was the one giving up on her dream (not that she didn't have help--what that coach said when he gave her their joint trophy? Grrrrrrrr) and went out of his way to help her figure out how to get it back. I seriously hope there's a lot more to come in this series--not just because I totally love it, but because I need to hear more about Nat and Toby and where they're going to be in the future. Because it's going to be great places. I liked seeing the other series couples here (from Center Ice and Playing Defense ) but appreciated the fact that they took a back seat to Nat and Toby's story. So if you haven't read the other books, no worries--this one would work fine as a standalone. (But why haven't you? Because they're so good--quick, go put them on your TBR right now. I'll wait.) I literally could not put this book down--every time I tried to, it was back in my hands within five minutes. It made sleep optional...and the bags under my eyes the next day totally worth it. Did I mention I'm hoping for more books in this series? A whole lot of them? ;) Rating: 4 1/2 stars / A I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
This is a cute YA story from the Corrigan Falls Raiders series, but is a stand-alone. Toby and Natalie "Nat" were best friends who shared a love of hockey. But as they got older, Toby became more successful with hockey and had a long-term girlfriend and life had them going in slightly different directions. That is until Natalie decides that Toby can help her catch the eye of his dreaded cousin. Toby is now single and the perfect person to help Natalie turn Scott's eye. They both realize how much they've missed their friendship, but of course, Nat's plan keeps getting in the way of any real feelings. This is a cute high school romance. Hints of steam, but fairly tame. I enjoyed the message that girls are just as capable of playing sports as guys and the Jane Austen theme (even in unexpected ways) was a cute addition to the story.
This is book # 3 in the Corrigan Falls Raiders series. This book can be read as a standalone novel. For reader enjoyment and complete understanding, please read the series in the order intended. Natalie AKA "Nat" have been best buds since they played hockey together when they were young kids. Now, on the last year of high school, she asks him to help her win the affections of the cousin he hates. Toby is disgusted that someone he admires and yes, maybe likes, wants his lousy cousin. Lucky for them Scott is so jealous of Toby that the scheme actually makes sense. They agree to a 2 week plan. This book has so much going for it! I loved every single page! I felt all the emotions from angry, sad, and elated right along with the characters. Such a great series and a book that is truly well written! ***This ARC copy was given by Netgalley and its publisher for an honest review.
This is the 3rd book in the series but can be read as a standalone. I didn't know this book was part of a series until I started reading it but I didn't feel lost at all. Nat and Toby have been best friends and played hockey together until his skill moved him on to the OHL. This lead these best friends to drift apart and barely speak until Toby's cousin returns to town and Nat hatches a plan to get him to finally notice her. I love the fake dating, friends to romance themes in this book. I also loved the conversations about consent and what to do if someone does something you don't want them to do. I was sucked into this book on the first page and finished it in one sitting. I will definitely be going back to read books one and two. I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
An absolutely adorable YA read! Natalie and Toby are such a cute couple you just can't help but cheer for them even though they fight the whole attraction thing. They've been friends forever but after Toby's hockey career started getting serious their friendship has taken a hit. Now Natalie wants his help with a crazy idea to make another guy sit up and see Natalie for the first time. The problem is he's Toby's rival, the beauty of the plan is that he always wants what Toby has. As they pretend to be a couple, aided by Toby's ex girlfriend no less, their true feelings start to come out but will they risk their newly redeveloped friendship?? Cate Cameron writes some of the best YA books around and she doesn't disappoint with this one. Put this on the must read list. I recommend it.