I occasionally like to torture myself with love triangles and I love sports romance stories, so I was pretty excited to be given the chance to read A Life of Inches by Douglas Esper. This book is his debut novel, so I really had no idea what to expect. I have to say that I did have some issues with this book, but there were also a lot of things that I liked as well. As much as I had issues with, I will also say that I had to keep reading to see what would happen. I am very interested to see what Douglas Esper writes in the future, and I think that this was a good debut for him.
Ryan and Woodie have been best friends since they were kids, and they have always been competitive. When a race between them ends with Woodie being hit by a car, it appears that Ryan has finally won. But the girl that crashes into Woodie immediately draws both of their attention and they set out to be the one to claim her for their own. Over the years the three of them grow closer and things become more complicated. As Ryan and Woodie's lives begin to change with their determination to have successful careers in baseball though, they also fight harder than ever to win Molly once and for all. But will Molly be able to choose between them, or will they both wind up losing her forever?
This story is told from Ryan's POV, so I felt like we really got to know him the best out of these three characters. I had moments where I genuinely disliked each of these characters. Ryan to me was the easiest to like, and I think part of that was the fact that we got his POV. The reader got to be inside his head to see what he was thinking and feeling, and we didn't get that with the other characters which I think hurt my opinions of both Woodie and Molly to some extent. Ryan was more of a family man, close to his parents and a good guy through and through. He was nice and funny, and seemed to really care about those in his life. He had a lot of bad luck though, and unfortunately seemed to always get the short end of the stick. I felt so badly for him at times, and I honestly didn't understand why he wanted to be with Molly at times or why he continued to be Woodie's friend. Woodie seemed to be a nice guy at times, but then you would see a completely different side come out and frankly it wasn't a good one. He turned angry and prone to violence at the drop of a hat, and I never really understood why he got away with as much as he did. He wasn't a great friend, and he seemed very selfish. Molly's interest in him didn't make sense to me at all, and it almost seemed like she was interested in him because he was lucky and successful. Molly was driven and I loved that she was into sports and politics. She was determined to be successful and to not be the housewife waiting at home while her man was out living his life. I completely understood that side of her, but I also felt like she took it too far. She refused to compromise and put her needs above everyone else's. She was selfish just like Woodie, and I honestly felt like she played more mind games than anyone.
I really had a tough time with all the mind games and competition going on throughout this story. This book was supposed to be a love triangle with a woman stuck between two best friends, but honestly it didn't really seem like that to me. Ryan and Woodie seemed to be more rivals than friends, and they often took things to extremes. Molly lied and hid things from these guys, especially Ryan, and then would get mad at them for doing exactly what she had done. I really wanted these characters to grow up as the story progressed, and unfortunately I didn't see that happen until the very end. At that point the payoff was a bit too little too late for me, as I really didn't like any of the characters at that point. They all made rash and ridiculous decisions, and I didn't even understand why they did any of what they did. I also feel like calling this book a romance is pretty inaccurate considering there is little to no romance in this book at all. Yes it is clear there are feelings there, but there is virtually no sex or dating to speak of throughout this entire book. Most of what happens is either not seen because it is not with Ryan, or doesn't happen until the very end. This book was more about Ryan's challenges throughout life and how he handled them. I think if you are looking for a romance story, this probably isn't what you are looking for. However if you are looking for a story about perseverance and overcoming obstacles, this might be one that you want to give a shot. Ryan had a lot thrown his way and he easily could have given up, but he kept going and it was interesting to see how he always found a way to keep working towards an ever changing future.
**ARC Provided by IndieSage PR**