I’m just going to say it: On The Ropes is my favorite for 2021. It’s just what I needed at just the right time. Being a lover of romance, this is shiny and beautiful in all the ways you want to be. It made my heart really happy and at the end you sigh and hold this book close to you.
This book takes place in South Philadelphia, which is a traditionally Italian neighborhood, but, in 2021, it’s a beautiful mixing pot of lots of different nationalities. Being from the Philadelphia suburbs and having worked in the city, it’s really hard to describe Philly in a way that people who don’t live in and around the city understand. This author has done a phenomenal job getting the Philadelphia feeling just right. Philadelphia is, essentially, a side character in On the Ropes.
Our hero, Dean “The Machine” Knox-Morelli, is in his mid 20s and has had a lauded boxing career and he’s now retired. Unfortunately, Philly is Philly and Dean is labeled a quitter by the boxing fans of Philly because he retired right before a boxing championship. You know what they say about Philly sports fans: They Are the WORST. So, Dean is kind of still finding his way a few years after officially retiring from boxing, the reasons he retired are completely valid, plus, pretty relevant for today. Dean and our heroine, Tabitha go way back to high school and, well, they are so damn cute. Tabitha was a couple of years ahead of Dean in high school and when she graduated he relocated to LA for college, they do, however, know of each other and actually walked to school together a few days a week. It’s been a long time since they have seen each other.
Tabitha is absolutely one of my most favorite heroines. She’s an extremely kind person, but she’s living the nomad life of a contract filmmaker. She has rules around relationships and when she meets someone new in a new city she comes with a lot of caveats such as not wanting to entangle herself into a committed relationship. Recently single again after breaking up with her girlfriend, Tabitha arrives to Philly for a two week visit with her family. Tabitha’s family clearly loves her but there are complexities within her relationships.
Tabitha and Dean have a re-meet cute that is the cutest thing EVER.
So, the basics of the story is, a vacant lot in South Philadelphia, two adorable people who are dancing around each other, the art museum, the neighborhood, the neighbors who live there, two great families and a whole lot of love and light.
This book, THIS book gets 5 stars from me. It’s a wonderful story and I’ll never stop telling people to grab a copy on KU and treating yourself to an afternoon or evening visiting Philly. Come on! Philly’s waiting for you!