Never Mine by Bryce Oakley

no title has been provided for this book
Published: 5/14/21
It's Only Pretend, Right?

I enjoy Bryce Oakley’s books immensely and Never Mine is a complete delight. Fake dating is one of my favorite tropes and this book pulls it off beautifully.

Sage Carson is a world cup and Olympic soccer star recovering from her latest knee injury. Her reckless partying and sleeping around has her agent concerned. She suggests Sage find a respectable steady girlfriend to help secure an endorsement deal with Player One, a shoe company.

Willa Bellamy is an event planner at the Denver Zoo. She works with her best friend Kirk and has an adorable dog named Puddles. Willa needs a date for her ex girlfriends bachelorette gathering in Belize.

When Sage and Willa run into each other at their high school reunion Sage asks her if she wants to get out of there. Willa takes her out to a pizza joint. Not exactly what Sage was suggesting, but Willa’s cluelessness is charming. Sage and Willa chat and both are surprised at the good time they have together. They weren’t close in high school as Sage was the athlete and Willa nearly invisible as she lived in her brothers shadow.

Willa agrees to accompany Sage to her Gay-la event and Sage will be Willa’s plus one to the bachelorette festivities in Belize. Both are trying to deny their attraction. But the more time they spend together the more the lines get blurred. Will they have to courage to make the other one theirs?

I would slay dragons for Willa. She is the Meg Ryan of lesfic (before the bad plastic surgery). Willa is all rainbows, bunnies and good intentions. She is one of the few people who “see” Sage, not as a world champion athlete but as the amazing person she is. She instantly recognizes Sage’s reckless behavior as fear that without soccer she doesn’t know who she is. That the possible end of her soccer career has her floating along without a life raft. She helps Sage to see that she is a trailblazer and even without soccer, she is valuable. She can start a foundation to do good outside of soccer. Willa is Sage’s champion.

Sage fights for Willa. She hates to see her friends let another friend pick on Willa and knows Willa is too kind to speak up for herself. Sage can’t help but be drawn to Willa’s goodness and authenticity. They simply fit each other perfectly, no matter how much they try to deny it.

I adore this book and highly recommend it. It will leave a smile on your face and a lightness in your heart. Willa and Sage are simply adorable.

Memorable quotes: Willa had always been the nice girl in high school, the type of person everyone kind of dreaded being around because it made them feel worse about themselves.

Why in the world would Sage Carson hit on her? She wasn’t bad looking, but she wasn’t exactly the models and actresses that Sage was normally photographed with. Maybe Sage was just desperate. But good lord, even if it was an act of desperation, she’d had a shot at making out with Sage fucking Carson and had just… not.

Willa did her best to reach out and give Sage’s arm a pat. “Did I just win a Little League game or are we in love?” Sage asked through a laugh.

Willa pauses, “Let me ask you a question. Can you name all of the athletes who have come out since you did? Not only your team, but other sports, as well?”                                                  Sage shook her head, “Luckily, there’s a lot.”                                                                                    “But how many of them would have been comfortable being the first major lesbian athlete at that level? Probably not as many. What you did was brave.”

Seeing Sage stand at the podium was surreal. She knew Sage as the woman who ate salad at a pizza place, who was worried about not knowing the name of anyone who wanted a selfie with her, who asked her to practice a kiss in the kitchen… She was human then. Now she was otherworldly, the bright lights making her dark hair glow golden in an aura around her.

“She’s kind and caring. She volunteers at a women’s shelter. She is thoughtful and generous beyond measure. She loves animals and has a very cute dog. She’s an all-around dream girl.”