|Introduces the Pittsburgh Renegades series a little. Surfer Sam plays hockey in California. He meets Trina at the beach in Delaware. Turns out that Trina sings the National Anthem in Winnipeg and her brother plays hockey in Pittsburgh. Trina has many problems that she is dealing with.
I liked that Trina came to trust Sam. I also liked that Sam earned her trust. They were a good couple who learned that communication could deal with whatever was given to them. There is not much hockey but there is some hot sex.
I look forward to reading the full series since my appetite for the Renegades has been whetted.
I bought this based solely on the description provided by the back of the book (also on Goodreads) in the midst of a 'DA' fever. It's been years since I've seen 'Crouching' and I've usually found that marketing that tries to sell X book to be like A book or B movie or C TV show, etc. are usually very generous stretches here. It was nice to see more accurate marketing, if perhaps not as straightforward as one thinks.
Author Thomas flips between two stories of two childhoods, Leighton in England and Ying-Ying in China. Leighton is ripped from a happy childhood and placed in the care of his awful, abusive uncle. Ying-Ying loses her mother but gains knowledge of martial arts from her Amah. We will follow these two as the story alternates between Leighton's struggle to survive and Ying-Ying trying to find the best situation for herself with no mother and limited resources.
You can read the synopsis elsewhere but I was pleased to say I quite enjoyed this. My 'Downton' fever has worn off and I came in with low expectations for the book. It wasn't long ago that I read the first in Sherry Thomas's 'Charlotte Holmes' book so I was happy that I liked this much better. Normally I cannot stand alternating POVs because one or the other isn't interesting due to lack of character development, plotline, etc. Here that is not so. There isn't that much of a "plot" per se (it's a chronicle of their upbringings and young adulthoods) but I found Thomas' ability to put me in England and China during these particular time periods worked just great!
However, I would say that the 'Downton' meets 'Crouching' might not be the most accurate lure. There are certainly aspects to this (Ying-Ying is "Downstairs" and her Amah uses martial arts to steal/protect an artifact while Leighton's "Upstairs" character is a young man who learns about the constraints of English society for his time in some of the saddest/worst ways). I'd say there's more "Crouching" than "Downton" to this but I still enjoyed it anyway.
As others have written the martial arts action scenes sometimes go on a bit too long. And as there is no "conflict" to resolve as this is apparently a prequel that could be a turnoff. I also wonder if perhaps this should have been really part of a larger book with 'My Beautiful Enemy" instead of as a separate duology.
Overall, though, it defied my expectations. I'm not sure if I'll read Thomas's romance books (BTW, there is almost no romance here other than things like marriages of secondary characters, a secondary character seducing a minor one, etc.) but I'm looking forward to 'Enemy'.