The Handoff by Jordan Ford

30231314It’s nearly spring break. Mack is leaving for New Zealand to win back his girl and he asks Finn to do him a favor—keep an eye on his little sister, Layla. Finn has his reservations about the party girl, but he isn’t about to let one of his best friends down, so he agrees. Unfortunately for him, he has no idea what he’s getting into…or the effect this dynamic beauty will have on him.

Layla Mahoney likes to party. It’s the only sure-fire medicine for helping her forget the fact that her father’s dead and a new guy has taken his place. But when she’s drunk, Layla has a big mouth…and the wrong friends. Unable to remember what she’s been up to at her various parties, Layla falls into a nasty trap. Thanks to some compromising photographs, Layla is now under the thumb of the person she hates most in this world—her stepbrother, Derek. With Mack gone, she’s forced to turn to someone who’s always kept his distance, a good guy who has never had time for her partying ways. Letting Finn in on her dark and dirty secrets is something she never planned to do, but his tender strength and quiet protection draws it out of her, creating a bond between them that neither saw coming…and a whirlwind of problems that they’ll only survive if they stick together.

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My Review:
4 stars — I received a free copy from the author in exchange for an honest and unbiased review/opinion.

FINN!!!!  I’ve been so looking forward to this story, even though I was leery of the b*tchy Layla.  And this book definitely did not disappoint!  Finn was every bit the sweetheart that I knew he was from the previous two books (most especially The Playmaker) and Layla of course had a lot more going on than met the eye.

I appreciated that Finn was consistent with the little bits that we had learned about him in the previous books — laid back, calm, peacekeeping, thoughtful, and sweet.  It was nice to see a bit more of what else was going on with him, looking to his future and seeing how he was going to miss his friends and such.  I almost wish we could have delved a bit more into his character and what was going on with him, but there really was so much going on in the Layla storyline that I think it would have felt like too much then.  I guess I just love Finn so much that I wanted more more more of him.  Can you blame me??  And it wasn’t like he was perfect — he did judge Layla initially, he just generally reserved his judgement more than others did.  I did love that you got to see his family life and that he had such a wonderful support system at home.  It really spoke to how he became the man that he was.  His Mom was definitely a standout secondary character in this book.

Layla’s story was definitely heartbreaking.  If you thought you hated Derek before this, just wait.  Layla’s kind of a complicated character, b/c Ms. Ford has to balance what we know of her previously with making her a likeable character.  And she mostly succeeds.  Sometimes I was a bit disbelieving of her internal thoughts, but that could be just my cynical self.  Like I wish there was more internal conflict over how she treats other people (like Tori), the little bit we did get kind of felt thrown in.  I wanted to know how she saw her friends (Roxy and Michelle), or see an honest to god change in her demeanor as she was faced with how she treated other people.  But that didn’t really happen.  In the end, it would have made the story really jam packed as well, but I just felt like there were opportunities missed…so I’m a bit torn on her.  The parts of her we see with her drinking and wanting to escape felt very authentic though.  And my heart broke for the situations she found herself in.  I hope we find out more about what happened at that party in the final book though, b/c I feel like there’s so much of the story still missing there.

What stood out to me in this book was the strong connection that forms between Finn and Layla while she’s sick.  I really felt that all the way to my bones.  My heart seriously just broke at the things she reveals to Finn during those weak moments (about how she sees herself), and that’s where I think the story really shines.  I still felt the love was a bit fast, but I was willing to accept that the connection was definitely there and strong.  You could really feel how much they had grown to understand one another and care for one another.  Because I was so sucked into their new connection, I was kind of disappointed when the next chapter would start and a week would have gone by.  A part of me felt like I missed out on an opportunity to see more of them together, but I think I’m just greedy.

And while this was an interracial romance, it really didn’t play a major part in the storyline (minus a comment from Derek that felt thrown in).  I loved how normal it was.

The climax of the story had all the feels and had me on the edge of my seat.  I’m definitely looking forward to the final book in the series, even if I will be sad to see these characters go.  Ms. Ford does a great job of representing a lot of different YA stories and characters and the struggles they go through.


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