Book Review: Ramping Up by Zoe Dawson

Confession time: I don’t watch a lot of extreme sports, so when I think of skateboarders, I have a preconceived notion of punk kids with baggy jeans and spiked hair. I know, it’s narrow minded, especially because I know in reality that skateboarding takes a huge amount of talent Despite my version of skateboarders, I was excited to read a book about extreme sports, as it wasn’t a trope I’d tried yet.

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I received an ARC of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

One-Sentence Synopsis
A surfer turned skateboarder is picked up by a well known sports agency and finds himself attracted to his new agent. For a full synopsis, see this book’s Goodreads page.

Surfer Dude to Skater Boy
Gunner has been raised by his controlling father to be a surfer, but because of the way he’s been “trained,” he hates it. So he latches on to skateboarding as something he enjoys and is good at, never thinking of it as a career. A video of him skating goes viral, though, and catches the eye of one of the people at Mavrick All-Stars, a sports agent company. The owner’s daughter, Lena, finds Gunner and offers to represent him. And by offers, I mean talks him into signing with the company.

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Gunner is cautious about the whole thing, partly because he knows his dad is going to throw an epic fit and partly because going pro means possibly losing his love of skateboarding. But Lena is nothing if not persuasive, and the fact that Gunner is attracted to her doesn’t hurt. He signs with the company and the ball starts rolling on his rise to athletic fame.

Business vs. Pleasure
On the flipside, Lena is attracted to Gunner as well, but she knows she needs to tread carefully when it comes to mixing business with pleasure, especially because her father had been embroiled in a scandal years ago when he started a relationship with a client. But knowing and doing are two different things when the hormones go high octane, and Lena isn’t able to stick to her good intentions.

Dicks Everywhere
Besides the whole “should we/shouldn’t we” conflict, there are some other shenanigans happening to Gunner and Lena. Lena is dealing with a competing agent who’s super shady and also happens to be working with Gunner’s dad to force Gunner back to surfing. Also, the douchie dad is stalking Gunner and causing scenes at his competition, threatening to find and hurt his mother and sister who left home years before.

Did I mention the guy was a complete asshat?

Girl Power
Though I was a little unsure at first, I ended up liking this book. I loved the fact that the top agents at Mavrick were women (or at least the ones showcased) and that they completely rocked at their job without being too perfect. In fact, Lena starts out having a full on Jerry Maguire moment where she questions her integrity and whether or not she’s following the mission of the company. Competent, yet flawed, is a combo for a great character.

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Hard Edge, Soft Heart
Gunner is also awesome. He’s got a rough edge, but it comes from being abused by his father for years. Mostly he’s just a sweet guy who did what he had to to protect his mom and sister and who doesn’t want to fight his attraction to his agent. Also, he meets a little girl who wants to be a professional skateboarder, and I loved how he supported her and became a friend and mentor to her.

The Romance Factor
While I enjoyed the relationship between Gunner and Lena, I didn’t get overly mushy over them. I think the emotion of the book came in the form of the conflict brought in by outside forces. While they’re sweet together and there was definitely some romance, it was a little more low key. 3/5

The Steam Factor
When the sexy times happened, we knew they happened, but we didn’t get too much detail or dirty talk. 3/5

Final Thoughts
If there was anything that annoyed me it was the nickname of McHotstuff that Gunner gave Lena. I don’t know why, but it just seemed silly to me. It wasn’t a dealbreaker though, and I enjoyed the book overall. Do I think extreme sports is going to be on my radar? Maybe. It might depend on the context. But I definitely want to read more of this series.

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