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The Hard Count

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Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family.
Life on top.
My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall. But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.

300 pages

First published July 15, 2016

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About the author

Ginger Scott

64 books3,353 followers
Ginger Scott is a USA Today, Wall Street Journal and Amazon-bestselling author from Peoria, Arizona. She was also nominated for both the Goodreads Choice and Rita Awards. She is the author of several young and new adult romances, including recent bestsellers The Fuel Series, The Varsity Series, The Hard Count, A Boy Like You, A Girl Like Me, Cry Baby, This Is Falling and Wild Reckless.

A sucker for a good romance, Ginger's other passion is sports, and she often blends the two in her stories. She has been writing and editing for newspapers, magazines and blogs for a hella long time. She has told the stories of Olympians, politicians, actors, scientists, cowboys, criminals and towns. For more on her and her work, visit her website at http://www.littlemisswrite.com.

When she's not writing, the odds are high that she's somewhere near a baseball diamond, either watching her son field pop flies like Bryce Harper or cheering on her favorite baseball team, the Arizona Diamondbacks. Ginger lives in Arizona and is married to her college sweetheart whom she met at ASU (fork 'em, Devils).

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5 stars
2,302 (49%)
4 stars
1,532 (33%)
3 stars
593 (12%)
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 650 reviews
Profile Image for Christy.
3,919 reviews33k followers
July 25, 2016
5 stars!!!!!

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This is my favorite kind of YA read. Just the right amount of romance, heavy on the feels, self discovery, family and friendship. Add in the fact that it was a sports romance, that just made it all the better! The Hard Count is not only a beautiful YA romance, it’s also uplifting and inspiring. It had such a wonderful message and makes you want to do better, to be better.

Nico Medina goes to the same school as Reagan Prescott, but he’s from the West Side. A very different part of town. He’s a scholarship kid and he’s there because he’s smart. He and Reagan love to argue and have a great banter going on in class. That’s about as far as their relationship goes. Until Reagan’s brother and the star quarterback gets hurt. Once Reagan sees Nico playing football with his friends, she knows how much of an asset he would be to the team. And seeing as her dad is the coach and his job depends on them winning, she gets Nico to try out. The more she gets to know Nico, the more she realizes he’s not at all what she expected. I love seeing their banter turn into friendship. I love even more watching their friendship turn into love.
Nico is a wild stallion full of promise and gifts, and I’m not sure if he can be tamed. I’m not sure if he should.

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Reagan and Nico have a bit of forbidden love going on- the privileged girl and the guy from the wrong side of town. There is something that is so special about YA romance. It’s so pure, so sweet. Reagan and Nico’s love story was beautiful. I loved that they started out almost as enemies and then fell for each other.

Reagan is a heroine that had so much character. She’s smart, she knows what she believes in and stands strong even during times that aren’t easy. Now to Nico Medina. He is the best kind of hero. I loved everything about Nico. His drive, determination, his morals, ideals of family and loyalty. He was just wonderful.

The first part of this story was a little slow for me, but let me tell you- once it picked up, I didn't want to put it down. I was completely enamored. This story had so much heart and soul. It’s a truly beautiful and all consuming read. I didn’t want it to end. That last half, so so good!!!

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As I said before, the friendship aspect of the story and the romance were both wonderful, but this story was about so much more than love and friendship. It was about overcoming adversity, seeing past stereotypes and overcoming obstacles. Things weren’t easy for this couple, but that made it all the better when things finally started to come together for them.

The Hard Count is a story I would recommend to YA lovers and romance readers alike. It’s my favorite book by this author and a complete stand-alone (YAY!). I would, however, LOVE a spin-off about a few of the characters in this story. Noah and Izzy, Sasha, even Colton! I loved the unique premise and the forbidden love aspect. This is a 5-star favorite you won’t want to miss out on!
“Alive,” he says against me, his lips grazing mine with the sweetest words ever. “Loving you- it makes me feel alive.”

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Profile Image for Jennifer Kyle.
2,415 reviews4,661 followers
November 13, 2021
5 "Honor. Brotherhood. Tradition." STARS


What is a Hard Count?A strategy used by a quarterback in which they will use a deceptive snap count in an effort to draw the defense offsides. Typically, a good hard count will rely on using a longer count to force an overaggressive defense to rush too quickly. A hard count can benefit the offense in two distinct ways. First, a team could be called for offsides and the offense could gain five free yards. Second, a team could receive a free play and have a chance to gain significant yardage risk-free.

Ginger Scott delivers a standalone story about a prestigious private school whose academic scholarship recipient from the wrong side of town steps into the starting quarterback’s spot. I place this story in line with such tales as The Blind Side and Rudy. It’s just as beautiful and inspirational and my favorite story by this author!

Our hero is Nicolas ‘Nico’ Medina. Nico is a gorgeous but infuriating student at Cornwall Prep. He drives the heroine, Reagan Prescott nuts as they spar and argue in the classroom daily. Their opinions have been on the opposite ends of any debate for years. Well, that is until Reagan spies Nico and his buddy playing football. She realizes that she has found the answer to the championship and is a great underdog star for her documentary.

”I���m invested in Nico’s success, and part of that is the fact that this documentary on the team is a whole lot more interesting with Nico at quarterback. But I always want this for him. He wants it. Badly. I can tell. I want it more for him…more…


Nico’s abilities get him the quarterback position that Reagan’s twin brother is too injured to hold. The problem, well problems, is the politics in the school and community. While Nico faces so many obstacles so does Reagan’s father on his decision to play him. The unity of the team is also in jeopardy yet they all have something to learn from this hero.

”We feel it. You whisper about it, even when you don’t think you are. We must be getting favors. We must be here to make sure Cornwall isn’t too white. Why the hell couldn’t it be because …we’re good. Maybe were just…good.”

Ginger Scott’s grasp on the game of football goes well outside just an understanding of the game. She pulls you into the stands of these scenes while vividly and expertly describing to a reader the sights, sounds, and feelings of the scene.


There is love that blossoms between Nico and Reagan. It’s a perfectly written fall on both their parts that is outside the realm of politics and obstacles and was simply beautiful.


This is a captivating story about high school football, family, ignorance, adversity, strength and love!!



**ARC provided in exchange for an honst review**
Profile Image for Aestas Book Blog.
1,059 reviews74.9k followers
July 18, 2016

“Just don’t ever stop looking at me… Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy.” He breathes the words against my lips… “Make me earn it… I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it… to earn you.”

Holy wow, this story had SO. MUCH. HEART!! It was a YA sports romance that drew me in from the first few pages. The author perfectly captured the intense passion of the game in a way that brought tears to my eyes and made me want to cheer out loud, and in the midst of it all was a beautiful forbidden romance between the coach's daughter and the new star quarterback from the wrong side of the tracks, falling in love against the odds, believing in their love enough to withstand criticism, racism, and jealousy, and playing hard enough to win. My heart raced and the story came alive as I read. It was different. It was inspiring. It was beautiful. I highly recommend it!
Nico Medina’s world is eleven miles away from mine. During the day, it’s a place where doors are open—where homes are lived in, and neighbors love. But when the sun sets, it becomes a place where young boys are afraid, where eyes watch from idling cars that hide in the shadows and wicked smoke flows from pipes.

West End is the kind of place that people survive. It buries them—one at a time, one way or another. And when Nico was a little boy, his mom always told him to run.

I’m Reagan Prescott—coach’s daughter, sister to the prodigal son, daughter in the perfect family. Life on top. Lies. My world is the ugly one. Private school politics and one of the best high school football programs in the country can break even the toughest souls. Our darkness plays out in whispers and rumors, and money and status trump all. I would know—I’ve watched it kill my family slowly, strangling us for years.

In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.
I hated him before I needed him.
I fell for him fast.
I loved him when it was almost too late.

When two ugly worlds collide, even the strongest fall.
But my world…it hasn’t met the boy from West End.

Right from the start of the book, I was blown away by the writing and utterly consumed by the story. It felt like I was right there seeing everything unfold before my eyes. This was the first book I'd read by this author and several times within the first few chapters, I literally stopped reading, sat back, and just went "WOW!" .

This story takes place during the senior year of high school. Raegan came from a world of privilege, power, and opportunity. From the outside, her world seemed perfect, but that was only a facade hiding the corruption and ugliness inside. Nico came from the other side of town, the 'wrong side', West End... only eleven miles away but a world of poverty ruled by gangs. What West End had that her world could never comprehend was a sense of family -- loyalty, devotion, caring, love. The closest thing her world had was their football team, where brotherhood and teamwork were at its heart. But even though Nico was a star student and a better player than anyone they'd ever had on the team, there were people willing to do everything in their power to bring him down. Racism, jealously, and outright bullying followed his every step but in the face of adversity, their love, talent, and determination prevailed.

I’m a part of Nico’s story. And he’s a part of mine. I believe in him. More than I’ve believed in anything.

This is a standalone YA sports romance and in this case it is literally both a sports story and a romance, and I was equally absorbed by both sides. It's not a steamy read, but you definitely feel the pull between them. I believed in their love and I cheered for their games. I should say that I'm not a sporty person in any way, but I was completely captivated by the games in this book. Usually I'm only really "into" the romance side of stories but during all the sport-focused parts of this book, I wanted to cheer out loud. My heart raced. I felt the thrill of it as though it were happening right before my eyes. It was exciting and I couldn't help but get caught up in its intensity and momentum.

This truly was an all-consuming read. From the moment I started reading, I couldn't put it down. It's a story of unexpected heroes, of overcoming the odds, the determination to win, and the power of love. The writing was addictive, the characters felt real, and the story swept me away. I loved every word and highly recommend it!

Rating: 4.5 stars! Standalone YA sports romance.

Buy THE HARD COUNT (Paperback)


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Profile Image for Ginger Scott.
Author 64 books3,353 followers
July 3, 2016
I rarely rate my books in here...but damn it...I believe in this one. I hope you all love it too. It's every little piece of me.
Profile Image for Megan✦❋Steamy Reads Blog❋✦.
293 reviews470 followers
August 15, 2016

*****5 Stars*****


“In our twisted world, a boy from West End is the only shining light.”

I absolutely loved everything about “The Hard Count.” Ginger Scott is a magician with the written word. I was reminded whilst reading this book why I love YA books so much. It was filled with love, loss, friendship and family. I’ve struggled to find a great book that really speaks to me and has the ability to stay with me forever. This book has it in spades and then some! This is a story of what happens when two, completely different worlds, collide…..BOOM.

“I’m willing to go the distance…..No matter how far that is.”

Reagan Prescott appears to have the perfect life. A ‘straight A’ student, her dad is the head coach of her private school football team, her mum is head socialite of the boosters and twin brother Noah, is the starting quarterback. Things aren’t always as they appear; appearances are just facades to hide the truth from the outside world that everything is not so perfect in this ‘perfect family’.

If I were to define what I want from a YA hero, then Nico is just that. He’s smart, sexy, athletic and has just the right amount of confidence (or is that arrogance) and spunkiness. Nico is from West End. West End is on the wrong side of the tracks, or eleven miles on the “wrong side” of the highway. Nico attends the same prestigious school as Reagan due to his intellect. He’s known as a ‘scholarship kid’.


Reagan and Nico’s relationship is somewhat of a star-crossed lovers’ story: the good girl from the privileged family and the bad boy from the rough area of town. Their love was absolutely awe-inspiring and beautiful. This story captured all the purity of what YA books should entail. I loved how Nico and Reagan were so competitive with each other, especially their very articulate verbal sparring.

I can’t say a bad thing about this story. I would recommend this to anyone who loves reading books that epitomise YA romances. Anyone who loves reading beautifully written stories with lovable characters will also find this a great read. If you haven’t already read this story, then I urge you to give it a go. Hands down, this is one of my favourite books for this year.
Profile Image for Bibi.
1,288 reviews3,230 followers
February 5, 2021
The best thing about this book is that Ginger not only knows her subject-matter but equally has the talent to fully immerse the reader in that world.

That said, I have a deep, fathomless and immeasurable *insert other synonyms* aversion to white-saviour tropes and the entire premise is how a white teenage daughter of a high school football coach saves a brown Latino boy who hails from the wrong side of the tracks. *eye twitches*

Similarly, the characters were simplistic and the plot undemanding, still, I would have forgiven all the negatives had the white saviour alarm not clanged repeatedly at the back of my mind.

To be clear, this is a good YA story and it's definitely a me issue.
Profile Image for Pavlina Read more sleep less blog  .
2,434 reviews4,592 followers
August 27, 2016
My favorite book is live <333 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01HSM221W/...


Nico is so much like home; like no home I have ever known."

This story was perfection!! I loved it so much, I was torn between wanting to finish and wishing it would never end, because it was so beautiful! It wasn't a simple romance, it was so much more!! Lately I’ve been reading a lot of sport romances and this one was the best! Everything in this story is special, original and unique!


I love Ginger Scott’s writing, as always she managed to have me mesmerized me and drowning in her story. One of the things that I loved about this one apart from the romance, is that behind the love story, we see the characters dealing and struggling with some serious issues that kids can face in a school.

"I'm a part of Nico's story.And he's a part of mine.I believe in him.More than I've believed in anything, and the enormity of it makes my chest hurt."

Nico and Reagan's romance is so sweet and pure, I had butterflies each time they interacted! They were so adorable together. I loved all their moments, they were so innocent, yet what they have was beautiful and realistic.Nico was mysterious,smart and so special.I loved him!Also the secondary characters are fantastic and they played an important role to the story!

"Even there, in black and white, he owns me in a way that makes my palms sweat and my nerve endings fire in anticipation.He's made me want to act, to be better."

This story is unforgettable! It's one of those that you will want to read again and again!!


Profile Image for Christie«SHBBblogger».
965 reviews1,248 followers
July 25, 2016

Title: The Hard Count
Series: Standalone
Author: Ginger Scott
Release date: July 15, 2016
Cliffhanger: No

Honor, brotherhood, and tradition. These are words that inspire great triumph and mold the future success of the football team at Cornwall. They also instill fear and desperation to meet incredibly high expectations. At this private school, there's no room for error, no second chances. Winning and being on top of the competition is considered a frantic goal that must be met. Though on the surface, smiles are pretty and generous, underneath the plastic veneer are predators ready to attack the weak.

We don't talk about things that are broken. We eliminate them.

Reagan has become accustomed to living with the rigid set of expectations along with her family. Her father is the team coach, and her mother soothes the vultures with an endless amount of alcohol and cocktail parties. Her brother is the golden boy of the team-at least as long as he's bringing them to victory.

Nico is from the other side of town, the West End. A place where you don't walk the streets at night and there are bullet holes in the walls of homes. He grew up without the financial advantages of the other kids at Cornwall, but his academic brilliance gained him entry into Reagan's private school. He has the love of football running through his blood, but wants no part of the game that this school plays. When Reagan's brother is unable to lead the team to glory after an injury, tensions flare, and the stakes are raised. Reagan seeks out her family's one chance at survival.

I love that Reagan and Nico start out the book as enemies. They were competitive and fought to one-up one another in debate class. Nico was the maddening boy with the smirk who took delight in pushing all of her buttons. There was hostility but also a grudging respect.

"Make me earn it," he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. "I'll earn it. I'll never stop trying to earn it...to earn you."

They discovered that the differences in their circumstances that seemed so enormous weren't enough to curb their growing feelings for one another. Nico was one of the sweetest heroes I've read in a while. Though they faced racism and prejudice, he was never afraid to stand boldly next to her and show everyone she was worth it.

Reagan dreams of getting into film school with the documentary she's making of the dark side of the football fairytale that no one is allowed to see. She struggles against the injustice and the fear that has broken her family into a shell of what it once was. But the school doesn't want honesty, their lofty "tradition" will hold strong, whatever the cost. These people were absolutely vile and ruthless, it was disgusting to see how they treated Reagan and her family. The pressures of Nico's family situation weighed on them as well and there was one particularly heartbreaking moment that I really hurt for him and what he had to overcome.

My only reason for lowering my rating a little was that the middle dragged somewhat for me. This is not the type of sports romance that is short on the actual sports. Football played an integral part to the story and as someone who isn't necessarily fascinated by the specifics of the game it slowed the pace for me in areas.

Overall, this was such a beautiful story. I love Ginger's books, and I think she did an amazing job bringing these characters to life. I loved Nico and Reagan's best friends! They were the kind of support system them these two needed to weather the hard times.

If you're looking for a YA book full of bright hope and a brave young love, this book could be the one for you.

Nico is the twist in the tale. He's the element of good. He's what humanity should be-the lesson to be learned. He is hope.


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Profile Image for Jen.
1,655 reviews1,008 followers
September 9, 2017
I was pleasantly surprised with this book! It's a young adult book with a sports theme. In the beginning I thought I was going to become bored with the football talk and play by play on the field; but that was the farthest from the truth. As I continued to read, I found out this was a story that showed the value of family, loyalty, perseverance and love. This book is an angsty read but it's full of heart!

Nico is the boy that lives in the West End, which is the "bad neighbourhood," one where they may be poor but they know the value of family- whether it's family by blood or family by loyalty and friendship.
Then there is the girl who catches his eye... she's the coaches daughter and lives in the "richer" side of town. The thing with her life is that even though it may look good on the outside... that is a lie.... there are so many issues that come with being a family that has a father as a coach, a football star brother, and a mother who runs the committees at school.

This story shows the dark side of sports and many other things as well. Even though there is a heavy tone to the book, there is also a heartwarming romance that evolves through the harshness!

A must read when you are looking for something a little more emotional and in depth! The author did a brilliant job writing an amazing read!
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews892 followers
November 24, 2018


I DEDICATE THIS REVIEW TO MY FAVORITE HOOCHIE ANA. She never gave up poking me to get this off my currently reading shelf and I deserve all the crap she's giving me now. Thank you, hoochie, love you! 😂😂

One thing that I can rely on when I read a book by Ginger Scott is that the hero will be lovable, strong, special and I have yet to read about a heroine of hers I dislike. Another thing we often get: present day problems addressed in a delicate manner.

In this book we meet Nico Medina, an 18 year old scholarship student who earned his way into a prestigious high school with his intelligence and hard work. The football team's head coach's daughter Reagan Prescott is his opponent in class and more often than not they debate just for the heck of it. When Reagan watches Nico play football she sees his raw, vast talent and her twin brother, starting quarterback of The Tradition, injures his leg and can't play for the season she convinces her dad that Nico could be the person to take the team to the top again. And a win is what they need this season...

With Reagan spending a lot of time around the football field for her movie about the team she gets to know Nico. Their grudging respect for each other turns into a friendship and eventually love. Along the way to their happy ending however lies a lot of adversity.
You can be a toad in love with a beautiful girl all you want, but in the end, you’re still a toad. That’s how everyone is going to see you, and you know what? That’s how the beautiful girl sees you, too—when other people are looking

The perfect facade the Prescotts hold up crumbles when forces work against the coach and he may lose his job. Nico's struggles on the team because he's the Latino kid and replacing the popular quarterback, his need to prove his worth as a football player and the fight to overcome prejudice and racism are portrayed as well as Reagan's own conflict about their budding love.
“Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”

One thing that I absolutely love about YA books is that the characters' love is pure and innocent, the few sex scenes are tasteful and oddly erotic in their innocence and definitely don't distract from the story but complement the relationship of the main characters. And that's exactly what Ginger Scott does best. I think she *gets* young people. She is a kickass YA/NA author who always brings something new to the table and fills her stories with beautiful words and deep emotions that I feel physically. Nico Medina and Reagan Prescott are special, like all her other characters. They are the ideal people should strive to be.
Nico is the twist in the tale. He's the element of good. He's what humanity should be-the lesson to be learned. He is hope.

Profile Image for Wil Loves Books!.
1,166 reviews479 followers
July 18, 2016
Whose house is this?
Our house.

I’m in love with this book, period. This was such a great read for me. As a sports nerd and a huge football fan, this book was everything I expected it to be and then some. This book reminded me why I love YA so much and why I should read YA more often. The High School experiences, the anticipation, that first touch, the first kiss, the first love, this book had all of that, and I enjoyed every second of it.

“The difference between our two worlds is impossible not to notice the second my feet step onto the bare concrete floors of Nico’s home.”

Cornwall is a prestigious private school with a legendary football program. “Honor. Brotherhood. Tradition.”, those are the foundations of it and success is what everyone strives for. If you’ve ever watched Friday Night Lights (the TV show, which is perfection), it’s a very similar concept. A football program that is hugely competitive and where the expectations are extremely high for all involved, coaches, players, even the community.

Reagan Prescott is the coaches’ daughter, and the main narrator of this story. She was born into privilege and opportunity. She’s smart and beautiful and dreams of going to film school. She also bleeds football, it’s in her veins and “The Tradition” (Cornwall’s football team) is a huge part of her life and her identity. Reagan also shows us the ugly side of that football tradition, the politics, the backstabbing, the insecurities and instability of a system that solely depends on winning. So, on the surface, her life is perfect but it is all a huge façade.

“The price of winning is steep, and sometimes it doesn’t seem worth it.”

Nico Medina is the hero of this story, and let me tell you he is the HERO in every sense of the word. He makes this book extraordinary. Nico is from the West End, the wrong side of the tracks. A “dangerous” place, a place full of “at risk” youth, a place no one on the other side wants to acknowledge it exists. Nico is academically gifted and extraordinary; he goes to Cornwall on a scholarship and is in line to be valedictorian. He and Reagan often butt heads because they’re basically the same person but she definitely knows Nico is very special. I’m not sure what it is, but the way we see Nico through Reagan’s eyes is perfection.

“Nico is a wild stallion full of promise and gifts, and I’m not sure if he can be tamed. I’m not sure if he should.”

Nico is also a gifted athlete; he’s passionate about football although he does not play any organized sports in school. When the team’s quarterback, who happens to be Reagan’s brother, gets injured, she convinces Nico to try out for the team in an effort to save her father’s job and the football season and that’s when the story truly begins.

“This is what makes football great. The moments when impossible happens; the boys who make impossible happen.”

The story is a little bit enemies to lovers and also a little bit forbidden since she’s the coaches’ daughter and they come from different sides of the tracks. Their friendship soon evolves into something beautiful and they realize that those barriers they thought they had and seemed impossible for them to be together were far from it.

“Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy.” Nico breathes the words against my lips, pausing when his bottom lip connects with my top, the faintness of the touch so much better than any other real kiss I’ve had. “Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”

I really don’t want to say anything more about this book, it’s one of those you should experience for yourself and you’ll see it brings all the feels. I adored Reagan, and I loved Nico with all my heart. I also loved all of the secondary characters, Reagan’s family and Nico’s family, and all of their friends. This book is simply amazing. It’s about, love, family, brotherhood, trust. It’s about how we’re really not that different. It breaks barriers and as a sports romance, it is at the very top of my list now.

“We do things in life to make others happy. We make sacrifices because that feeling—the one I once thought was altruism, but have since learned is just love—it makes us feel good. We give, but it’s never selfless. Nico has given so much. He’s lost more than his share, and he’s sacrificed beyond what is right.”

If you are a sports romance fan and a football fan, you MUST read this book, you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re not, you still MUST read this book, you won’t be disappointed. You will totally love Nico and Reagan and their story. This is my first Ginger Scott book and it will definitely not be my last!

“Loving you—it makes me feel alive.”


**An ARC was generously provided by the author and Wordsmith Publicity in exchange for an honest review**

Profile Image for Michelle.
2,101 reviews1,263 followers
July 19, 2016
ARC provided by author in exchange for an honest review

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 photo c544a3f8e7b06660d3cc5a152d89b7_zpswf1vscy1.gif “ Special. Loyal. Smart. Mysterious. Important.I want more words for him.”

Before I begin my review, I think I should properly thank Ginger Scott for writing a YA sports romance that is so much more than just the game. Thank you for writing a story that tethers reader’s hearts to a story that shines brighter than Friday Night Lights. Hard Count was pure perfection. It was the quarterback sneak. It was the 40 yard dash to the end zone. It was the touchdown. This book was the catch that will forever be remembered. And how could this one book encompass what YA sports romance should be? It’s simple. Ginger Scott wrote a story that is more than executing romance in her playbook, she made readers FEEL. Feel the prejudice. Feel the hatred. Feel the jealousy. Feel the socioeconomic imbalance. Feel the passion. Feel the love. And most importantly feel the hope.


Nico Medina is smart, handsome, and a talented football star. He should have it all but the only thing that is stopping Nico from recognition is that he was born on the wrong side of the tracks. And so what happens when the kid from the West End falls in love with the football coach’s daughter? And what happens when a prestigious school and it’s alumni pressures the coach to change quarterbacks? Will Nico Medina be able to show people that no one can define and hold you back from fulfilling your dreams?

 photo 496cb033d95a71c22faaf2c9377032_zpsobtohklw.gif “I want to know Nico’s story. I want to hold his hand. I want that kiss from my dream to be real.”


 photo c544a3f8e7b06660d3cc5a152d89b7_zpswf1vscy1.gif “Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it… to earn you.”


The Hard Count by Ginger Scott was a combination of Friday Night Lights, The WestSide Story, and Remember The Titans. In this awe-inspiring YA sports romance, Ginger Scott delivered a story that grips your hearts to see beyond the lights. She made readers see the injustice, the humanity, and most importantly see the big picture. Like any big game, life is about facing those obstacles. It’s about the dedication. The blood and sweat. And most importantly, it’s about the heart. And for Nico Medina he stole our hearts as he never wavered in his love for the girl on the right side of the tracks. So if you are looking for a story that was MORE than your high school sports romance then I highly recommend you read Hard Count.

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Review can also be found on Four Chicks Flipping Pages: http://fourchicksflippingpages.weebly...Ginger Scott
Profile Image for JAN.
1,169 reviews794 followers
July 17, 2016

I’m not a person connected to sports. I've never been. I was born lazy.

At school, I used to do everything I could to not participate in sports activities.

I hated P.E. and for that only, this story could have failed me big time.
Anyhow, I was curious after reading a few reviews.
I thought that maybe I could skim the boring parts?? And focus on the romance.
Gah! Did I? I did not!

Not sure how the author pulled this off! I mean, getting a 5 Star from me, because there is a lot of football here. I enjoyed every word, every sentence and every Friday game.
But I am sure I want to give it 5 Stars.

Ugly doesn’t have a color. It lives among selfishness and hate. And as much as this story is about football… it’s also about that.
Profile Image for Mindy Lou's Book Review.
2,700 reviews658 followers
August 17, 2018
This was an unexpected read. I saw a few friends had read this and really liked it. Even going in thinking I'm pretty sure I'll like it too, I was surprised with the effect it had. This is one of those stories that start out kind of slow and then it builds and builds until the end you when you finish and you sit back and think man that was really good! It's the kind of story that stays on your mind long after you finish reading it.

This is YA story that deals with the struggle with quite a few issues. Our main characters is Reagan, a teenage girl from an all american family. Her dad is the private school's football coach. Her twin brother is the star quarterback and her mom is the stay at home mom who heads all the social parties.

Then you have Nico. He's a scholarship kid who lives in a bad neighborhood. His brother got mixed up with a gang, got his girl pregnant and then said girl takes off and he isn't in the picture either. I won't say where he is since it's not revealed right away. Nico's mom is already a single mom but now she takes care of the granddaughter as well. Nico's family is Mexican. That shouldn't even need to be mentioned but it plays a role in some of the issues being dealt with in the story.

With the little bit of background I gave you, you can probably already see the issues that will come up in the story. That may be predictable but there were unpredictable elements as well. I never thought about the issues the author brings to light that the teenage girl and her all american family dealt with because of her dad being a coach and the snobby women the mom has to deal with.

The story really showed that no matter the race, rich or poor, we all have issues in our life that we deal with. Issues that shape and mold each and every one of us. One of the best things I loved about this story was how much good can come from these issues.

Nico was an exceptional hero. His and Reagan's relationship was incredibly sweet and what we would want our children to experience in their lives. I've never read this author before and this book has me excited to see what else she has written.

I listened to the audiobook and highly recommend it to audio lovers. The narrators were really good and did such a wonderful job putting heart into the reading of this story.
Profile Image for Beverly.
1,005 reviews796 followers
July 22, 2016

Ginger Scott is an auto-one-click author for me. I love her stories, but this one might just be my favorite. First this book had so much heart in it, it inspired me and it made think. I loved falling into this world.

The Hard Count is a named after a type of football play. I had no clue what it was, even after I read the definition I was a little confused. However, I had my husband explain it to me and I was like okay, I got it but why? So as read this story I still wondered why. Is it just because it’s a trick play, where does this title really come from. As I finished the story I think I got it and maybe I am way off, but to me it was everything Nico was.

See Nico is a scholarship student at an elite private school. They have an excellent football program the call the tradition instead of team. It sounds crazy, but after listening to the first speech I was pretty caught up in the tradition myself. This program makes or breaks people and Reagan’s dad’s career is on the line. When her brother the star quarterback is injured they are in desperate need of saving.

Reagan recommends her archenemies from class, Nico. Reagan thrives on being the brightest and Nico is there at every turn challenging her. This time Reagan sees Nico as a solution. While he doesn’t play for the tradition she knows he is a talented football player and can save the season.

So in the beginning this felt like a football story, but as it progressed you see it’s so much more. See Nico is from West End, the “other side of the tracks.” His family doesn’t have the resources Reagan’s family does, but they have heart and are a true family. Where I think the title comes from is Nico’s ability to see things from all sides. See a hard count requires the quarterback and line to be prepared. It requires reading the situation and going with your gut. Nico was able to see things others couldn’t see. He was able to unite a group of people from different worlds. He used his instincts and heart to break tradition.

This story does have a fantastic love story between Nico and Reagan, but it took a backseat to the epic story of building community and uniting people from different walks of life. That doesn't mean I didn't love their love or fall in love while reading their story. I loved them for each other, there was a genuineness to their connection that made me smile so big.

The Hard Count will make you think and hopefully make you love. It made me cry from happiness and sadness. It gave me cold chills and had me on the edge of my seat. It was addicting without being over the top. I’ll warn you this one might start a little slow, but give it time and you will fall in love too!

ARC kindly provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jeannine Allison.
Author 13 books512 followers
February 1, 2017
*On sale for $0.99!!* :)


First and foremost... I LOVED the message in this one. As the author states in her acknowledgements...
"This book is about more than just football. It’s about family. And it’s about the way people see other people."
And that really shined through for me. People don't always see the best in one another, and sometimes it's not even done in a malicious way. Sometimes people have the best intentions and just don't know any better. It's not okay--it's never okay to treat someone differently or make assumptions, but it's something that's all around us and ignoring it doesn't change anything. Reagan's friend, Izzy, hits it on the head...
"Some people are racist. Some people are jealous. Some people are just fucking ignorant."
I grew up in a mildly prejudicial household. My parents aren't bad people. They never name-called or were rude to people who were different from them. They didn't treat people differently. But there was always some subtle reminder that this or that person was different, and sometimes, somehow, lesser than them. Again, none of this was meant in a disrespectful way. It was just a "fact." Something that was taught to them from their parents, media, etc... And honestly, in my opinion, that's worse. If there's this "natural" undertone, that isn't meant to be mean or hurtful, that certain people fall into certain roles, and therefore are "lower" than one another, we've failed as a society. Individuals who are outrightly racist and prejudicial, who don't care who they hurt or how wrong they are, are generally just dissatisfied people who are looking for others to blame for things that all humans are capable of. *Keep in mind, none of this is "fact." I don't have anything to back my feelings up, this is just how I see it. And as always, I hope it's coming across as nothing but respectful. Because we're all entitled to our opinions. These are just mine.* But people who just don't know any better because that's how the world has shown them it is, that's a problem, and I love that the author addressed this. Reagan and her family weren't bad people, but they saw Nico as different. They saw him as lesser.

Wow, okay... preachy part over lol. I hadn't even intended to go there in my review, but it deserved to be mentioned. Now, the fun part... Nico... *sigh* *swoon* *weak knees*


He was awesome! An absolutely swoon-worthy book boyfriend. <3 He was funny, family oriented, sweet, kind, smart...


I loved how smart he was and that he didn't try to hide it. He completely owned who he was and he was a very easy character to like. Especially when he was saying things like this to/about Reagan...
"I’m willing to go the distance," he repeats. "No matter how far that is."
"Make me earn it," he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. "I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it… to earn you."
"He said he was going to give a flower to a new girl every day instead, to make them feel nice. And we kept up our deal, every morning. He took flowers to teachers, to the woman that ran the cafeteria, to the principal, to girls in his class. It didn’t matter who they were, he said. They all deserved flowers. And one day, there would be a girl that he thought deserved them all." *cue he gives Reagan a vase full *heart eyes*
"In general, Reagan Marie Prescott, I’m so goddamned in love with you that I don’t even care about being right anymore."
"Loving you— it makes me feel alive."
I mean... how did I ever stand a chance?!
Answer: I didn't. I was a goner from the beginning.


All that being said, this wasn't my favorite romance novel. I really enjoyed it, and I'd definitely recommend it, but not when you're looking for a feel good book that's all about the romance. That isn't this. This is about a lot more than that. You should very much enjoy football going into this (luckily, I do) because of all the football (or sports in general) romances I've read, this touches on the sport the most. And even though the MCs are interacting early on, the romance doesn't become apparent until later on (I want to say around ). If I had to say what the main thing about this was, I don't necessarily think it would be the romance. There's nothing wrong with that, and I still think everyone should check it out, but just with realistic expectations. Because I know a lot of my friends want that feel-good, all-around romance ;) This should be read when you don't mind a light romance, IMO.

Ginger Scott is one of my favorite YA authors--I love how she writes her younger characters. They aren't super whiny (which drives me batty with some YA novels), but they're also just whiny enough that I still believe they're teenagers < if that makes any sense lol! She never disappoints and I can't wait for more <3


Profile Image for NMmomof4.
1,548 reviews3,983 followers
July 31, 2017
3 Stars

Overall Opinion: This wasn't just a story about two kids falling in love, I felt like it was more about family. It was about the fact that no mater where you come from, whither you come from the the poor side of town or the rich, everyone has their own struggles and obstacles that they face. While I appreciated the family feel of the book and the overall message, I wanted a little more romance tbh. I just didn't fully feel their connection romantically. I did feel like they cared for each other, but it felt like a more friendly basis rather than romantic. They definitely seemed to respect one another, but I never got the fluttery feelings that take it beyond that. It very well could be just me! I also felt like the drama was solved way too easily and then pushed to the side to be presented with another dramatic event. I kind of felt like I was experiencing whiplash with all the different things that were potential drama producers. It kind of left me confused about some of the things that were presented to just be pushed aside when I was reflecting on it to write this review. There were parts I enjoyed, and there were parts that I didn't like so much...so I'm going with middle of the road 3 stars.

Brief Summary of the Storyline: This is Reagan and Nico's story. Reagan and Nico have always butted heads and openly debated in school. Nico is from the wrong side of the tracks and a scholarship kid, and Reagan is the football coach's daughter in a school where football is God. Things change between them when Reagan sees Nico playing football with some friends the same night her twin brother gets hurt being the quarterback for the football team. She talks her Dad into giving him a shot at the newly open position, and things change pretty drastically for everyone involved...and they get a HFN.

POV: This alternated between Reagan and Nico's POV. Nico's were all flashbacks for him except for the epilogue. I would've really appreciated more of his POV in present tense.

Overall Pace of Story: Good. I thought it flowed well, and I never skimmed.

Instalove: No. They've known each other for years.

H rating: 4.5 stars. Nico. I liked him a lot. He was loyal, dreamy, smart, sweet, and an awesome athlete...pretty much a teenage girls fantasy ;)

h rating: 4 stars. Reagan. I liked her. I appreciated how she embraced her nerdiness, and how she cared for Nico.

Sadness level: Low. I personally didn't tear up, but it does cover some sad moments.

Push/Pull: Not really

Heat level: Low. They make out and have some touching, but no sex.

Descriptive sex: No

Safe sex: N/a. No mention of sexual history for H that I remember, but h did say she's a virgin.

OW/OM drama: Mild

Sex scene with OW or OM: No

Cheating: No

Separation: No

Possible Triggers: Yes

Closure: This had ok closure, but I really wanted more! I would call it a HFN ending. This is one of my biggest complaints about YA (the lack of closure). I get that they're young and have a lot of life to live, but can't we get a jump ahead epilogue to see them still together?!?

How I got it: It was part of my scribed subscription.

Safety: I'd say that this should be absolutely Safe for readers.
Profile Image for TeriLyn.
1,344 reviews388 followers
July 15, 2016

**The Hard Count generously provided in exchange for an honest review.**

5+ "No matter how far that is." Stars

Ginger Scott continually awes me with her uniquely gifted YA voice. Her penchant for story telling steals your reading breath from beginning to end in The Hard Count. She quite eloquently captures the very essence of growing up. Her main characters learn and build upon their own ideas of what's right and wrong deciding for themselves where the gray areas lie and where there shouldn't be any at all. Scott takes preconceived stereotypes that still very much exist despite how the good in some of us reject those very ideas, then turns them inside out proving why social injustices are not to be tolerated. She takes these ideas and puts them in the minds eye of today's youth showcasing the power young adults have to change such ideas. And she does all that with a sport, football, playing a pivotal role in the story - her best book yet.

As a caveat - a personal aside - to this review for this book. I believe sports are a vital part of our young adult lives, our high school culture. I believe in the good that comes from having a coach that cares and pushes because of that care. I know there's bad but overall I believe in the immense good. I've been the daughter of a high school coach my entire life. I'm now the sister of a college coach. I'm married to an athlete. I know first hand it takes something special to possess the quality to lead others in a sports arena. Whether or not you believe in the power of a team or care about sports at all, I feel it so important to recognize Ginger Scott's beliefs in sports and teams and the ability those teams have to count on leadership qualities we need in our world. I identified with her heroine, the daughter of a coach, so much it's almost uncanny. I've run those gambits of emotion in my own high school years. I've seen my father run ragged by talk of parents and board members. I've also seen the great joy he gets with each success. I've seen battle for the good, the ethics, the morality of social injustices and making everyone fit in. It's a crazy life yet it's also very fulfilling so I needed to take an extra paragraph and commend this author for capturing that so brilliantly.

Now for the good stuff: Nico Medina and Reagan Prescott are a modern idea of two star-crossed lovers. Set in a private high school setting, Nico is the boy from the other side of the tracks people think they need to fear while Reagan is the football coaches daughter embodying wholesome exterior. What a twisted world they're entwined in based on preconceived notions and fear of the unknown. From socialite politics to barrio violence, Ginger Scott brilliantly tells this tale of two people destined for greatness and each other no matter how winding the path to that greatness may be. Each of these characters holds their own when it comes to intelligence, wit, looks, and charisma. Nico and Reagan despite their vastly different home lives share a similar moral and ethical compass. They're each abundantly good people and it makes them literally shine from the pages of their love story.

A special section just for this hero, Nico Medina. This boy is the ultimate. He's exactly what you want in a YA hero, in any kind of hero actually. He's brave, bold, and beautiful. He's vulnerable in all the best ways yet such a fierce protector. He believes in what's just and good and makes no mistake about his beliefs. He's pure in a way that makes you wonder how he went unscathed for so long. He exudes confidence with an attitude that will set you on fire. He argues with such conviction you wish you could debate him yourself. Nico Medina is a very special character - my favorite of Scott's to date.

There are so many awesome secondary characters that make this mature YA story that much better as well. From Reagan's parents to Nico's family and especially one surly brother who's the catalyst for Nico's rise (hopefully to be coupled with one quirky best friend in a future story). Nothing is as it should be in this book. Scott so cleverly twists it all up to show you it doesn't matter your color, your social standing, your bank account, your ego. The story isn't singularly focused on Nico and Reagan but rather the attention divided on this group as a whole snarled in this web of good versus bad while Nico and Reagan drive it forward. The plot flows seamlessly and the structure really emphasizes Scott's ability to be distinct and effortless in her story telling.

The Hard Count will absolutely make you fall in love. It'll make you take a long, hard look at what's happening in our world and compel you to want to change more than you already want that. The writing is impeccable - Ginger Scott's best yet, in my humble opinion. The story is unforgettable causing to you think and expand your minds and hearts into the social realm of both Nico and Reagan putting right in the middle of their story. It reinforces the idea that nothing is ever as it seems. It takes such important societal issues and juxtaposes the evil against the good in brilliant ways. It's a breathtakingly lovely romance. I was sad at the end because I could have read these two characters for much longer. I sincerely hope Scott revisits some of the secondary characters with more stories just like this. A must read recommendation from me to all the YA sports-loving romance readers.
Profile Image for Jessica Hull.
935 reviews654 followers
July 3, 2016
I'm just going to lead with the fact that THIS. BOOK. IS. INCREDIBLE. I can't remember the last book I read that completely captivated me the way THIS extraordinary book just did. This was my very first Ginger Scott book and within two or three pages I was absolutely addicted to her writing style. Within four or five pages I was absolutely consumed by this storyline. The cover screams sports romance. The prologue whispers of an emotional, difficult journey. The first chapter alludes to the potential for an enemies to lovers romance and, given all of that, I was sold. Within mere pages, I was sold. I fell in love with two characters and an author in a matter of moments and that love only grew exponentially with each turn of the page.

It seems so simple, this story. In many ways, it's your quintessential YA football romance where a seemingly privileged daddy's girl falls for the disadvantaged boy from the wrong side of town. But this story is so layered, so poignant, so unexpected, it's a whole lot more than anything I anticipated. So. Much. More. The Hard Count is a story of finding love in an unlikely place. It's about opportunity and struggle. It's about football and passion. It's adorably sweet, with moments of tenderness, humor and swoon-worthy romance. It's about breaking barriers, standing up for what's right, and refusing to accept the labels others place on us. It's about bravery and determination and love. It's about the unlikely hero you never saw coming and the heroine who believed in him. It's a coming of age story of love and friendship and family. It's about tradition. It's about brotherhood. It's about survival. It's about two teenagers just trying to write their own stories, trying to figure it out as they go. It's about standing up for yourself, facing adversity head-on, and fighting for what you want... what you deserve.

The writing in this book is absolutely stunning. I found myself holding my breath at times, like I was underwater, feeling and seeing nothing but what Ginger Scott illustrated for me on these pages. I found myself gasping over words so beautiful they took my breath away. It was as if I could only breathe in one thing and I chose words over air. Each word is so meticulously chosen, so precisely placed that even the tiniest detail, the smallest movement, the most subtle smirk packs such a punch, evokes such emotion. The storytelling is brilliant. I'm a reader that appreciates simplicity, authenticity, and a clean, polished story and Ginger Scott delivered with The Hard Count. I don't often reread books these days, but THIS will be a book I go back to again and again just to feel all the things I was made to feel within these breathtaking pages.

If you're a fan of Friday Night Lights (the TV show, not the movie) you will LOVE this book. The Hard Count is a story all its own and I hesitate to compare it to a sports storyline that already exists because there's truly nothing like it. But this story gave me many of the same feels that I loved so much about that show. It's a story firmly immersed in the game, in a town where tradition and titles are the ultimate measure of the program. Where a coach tries to unite a team and save his job while the boosters behind him only care about themselves and their own. Where the game wars with romance and drama to make for a layered storyline peppered with familial strife, friendships tested by loyalty, pep rallies and unexpected attraction. This story took me back to high school, to the excitement of game night, to the anxious feelings of first love. This is by far the most unputdownable, unforgettable high school sports romance I've read, and it's unequivocally one of my top reads of the year. I loved it. I absolutely LOVED it.
Profile Image for KAS.
317 reviews3,127 followers
August 28, 2016
If you are looking for a storyline that is gritty, filled with conflict and jealousy, this one is for you. I loved it! It's edgy! It's exciting! It's surprising! It's extremely compelling! It. Is. Just. Darn. Everything!!!

The love story builds and builds upon itself from page one and is completely satisfying!

Reagan Prescott and Nico Medina, are seniors attending the same college prep school and are both academically gifted, but Nico comes from the wrong side of the railroad tracks. They've been on the debate team together since they were freshmen and get into heated discussions about anything and everything. They drive each other all kinds of crazy!

Reagan is the nerdy type always with a video camera in her hand. Her father is the school's football coach and is mere inches away from losing his coaching job. Her twin brother is the self-centered and arrogant star football player. Her mother is an overly anxious, overly medicated socialite. Their family dynamic is a dysfunctional house of cards. As long as the football team is winning, there is cautious stability within the walls of their home. If the team starts to lose, the cards will implode.

Nico lives in a very undesirable neighborhood on the west end of town. A neighborhood you don't go out in at night. It takes him nearly an hour to get to school pushing his way on a skateboard, eleven miles one way. He and best friend, Sasha, are attending the college prep school on "scholarships" given out to the less fortunate.

Nico has always enjoyed playing football, but only as a social function with his friends. Reagan films them playing one evening with her video camera and discovers what a talented quarterback Nico truly is. When a tragic event rocks the school's football team, Reagan knows Nico is the saving grace that can lead them onto victory and allow her father to keep his job. He is also the one who can tear the team and her family apart. Can she convince her father to give Nico a chance? Ah, ya gotta read it to find out ;) So, so good with the most engaging cast of characters and Ginger Scott at her best!

*I received a copy of this book, via Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Angie - Angie's Dreamy Reads.
689 reviews13.5k followers
July 14, 2016
****3.5 STARS****

I liked this one. It had those YA feels. Those coming of age belly flutters. Those first love goosebumps. It was a little slow at the start, but then kicked up and I ended up really enjoying it. I was really invested in these characters. Nico is the sweetest hero. And Reagan is a great girl. I loved them together and apart. And I really, really loved the way Reagan rooted and wanted the best for Nico. Overall this is a good, sweet, story that brought some tender, achy, but lovely feels.


****ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review****
Profile Image for TheCrazyWorldOfABookLover.
362 reviews881 followers
March 6, 2017
Just couldn't get into this one. In all fairness, I've been in one serious book rut and this is the 4th book I couldn't connect to.

It had everything going for it; a YA sport romance with 2 star crossed lovers. But it was really, really, realllllllyyyyyyyy slow. And had an inordinate amount of football talk I just didn't care about. Lately, it's also been really hard for me to get into books that aren't dual POV, mainly because I find being in one character's head for that long cumbersome. And the heroine in this story was too childish and naive for my liking. When I read YA, I tend to like it to be a little less on the 'young' side and a little more 'adult.' And while the situations depicted here fit that criteria, the heroine as I mentioned was too young for me to connect to, and being solely in her head just amplified this.

Another issue I had was when the hero and heroine were together, I found there to be absolutely ZERO spark between the two. One of the reasons I read YA is the thrill, angst, and excitement you get to experience reading about first loves. But this was unfortunately lacking in my opinion, ESPECIALLY when they first start to fall for the other.

As always, I am sure people will like this way more than I did and I wouldn't let this review discourage anyone from trying it out.

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Profile Image for Jenny••Steamy Reads Blog••.
987 reviews1,851 followers
August 19, 2016
Love. Loved. Love. ❤️❤️❤️
Wow, this is an amazing story of struggle, loss, determination, acceptance, finding your place, and having the love of not only family but that one special person. I absolutely love a book that the couple gives it their all, Nico & Raegan dive head first into their relationship and never give up. They embrace each other and the struggles together. Amazing!!!!

The story is told entirely from Reagan’s perspective, but it works. However at times, mostly before the 55% mark, I'd have given anything for a dual so we could see and read Nico's POV just to read his feelings. I was invested in each of their individual journeys, and loved watching the development of the characters, and their relationships, throughout the story. It integrates a lot of football, interlaces families, and makes you down right smile at the love the families have for each other.

“Don’t ever stop looking at me … Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy … Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”

I love Ginger Scott’s writing, and she’s done an amazing job with this one. She has written a wonderful story about loyalty, bravery, honor, love, and family. It held me captive from start to finish, and I loved it. Now please, give us more, Sasha, Noah, Izzy, yes please!!!

4.5 stars.

Profile Image for Michelle.
943 reviews222 followers
July 16, 2016
5 LOVED IT Stars!
Ginger Scott is an automatic buy for me. This woman always brings out the feels in me when I'm reading one of her books. She always has me melting with that first kiss! This book right here was no different and I loved every bit of it! I didn't want it to end!
So happy I had a few good days and was able to read this because I didn't want to put it down once I started!

Awesome job GS!! Can't wait for more from you!

Profile Image for Janie.
870 reviews73 followers
July 21, 2016
This was an amazing story of struggle, determination, acceptance, and love of not only family but that special person that just fits you. These two MCs had a lot to overcome. Even at their young age though they were both very kind and respectful of one another. Once they both went all in they never waivered and didn't let anything stop them.

There was much more to this story than just a romance. There was the harsh truths about racism and how the lives of the rich determine the lives of the poor. But there was also a message of hard work and determination turning life around (not that this is always possible).

Loved the two main characters as well as the secondary characters and even though I'm not a big sports fan, I even enjoyed the football scenes as well and was rooting right along with the characters in the book. I wish we could have had an epilogue further into the future but it was still beautiful the way it was.
Profile Image for AJ.
2,935 reviews959 followers
July 3, 2016
4.5 stars

This book totally took me by surprise. I’ve read books by Ginger Scott before, and I know she writes captivating, intense and emotional stories, but this one is something just a little bit different - a dramatic, mature YA sports novel that is heartfelt and inspiring. Beautifully written and with a gorgeous romance tied in, it’s something special, and I really loved it.

Nico Medina is a boy from the wrong side of the track. Of mixed ethnicity and raised in a dangerous neighbourhood by his loving and attentive mother, his intelligence earned him a scholarship to a snobbish, private high school where he has gone relatively unnoticed, except by the equally intelligent Reagan Prescott.

Reagan is a relatable, intelligent girl. She is big-hearted and sensitive yet strong, and I love her! Her father is the coach of the high school football team, her mother runs the social club, and her twin brother is the team’s star quarterback. Their family live and breathe high school football and by outward appearances her home life is perfect, but nobody knows the constant pressure they live under, desperate to succeed and to keep up appearances. She is from the ‘respectable’ part of town, but we soon come to see that respectability is only a perception.

Reagan and Nico share classes at school, and they spar at every opportunity – challenging each other in the classroom, butting heads and arguing over everything they can possibly argue about. Reagan hates him and his smart arrogance… and then she sees him playing football.

Like her family, Reagan is fully involved in the football life, but she is also passionate about film-making, and she is combining her love of film with her love of football, creating a documentary about the school’s football team, getting behind-the-scenes and telling the story as she sees it. When her brother is injured while playing, she knows that Nico is the one who should step up to not only join the team, but to take the lead position – knowing that it will provide a great twist for her film, but more to help her father, and even more so to help Nico.

I’m a part of Nico’s story. And he’s a part of mine. I believe in him. More than I’ve believed in anything.

And so, Nico enters a whole new world - a world of tradition and brotherhood, but sadly a world that doesn’t want to accept him. Despite his obvious talent and passion for the game, school politics and stuck-up team and board members conspire against him, and not only him, but against Reagan’s father for daring to take a chance on the “at risk” outsider. With the whole team threatening to crumble, and lives about to be changed, can one boy make a difference, or will narrowmindedness destroy everything?

“I dare you. I defy you to be great. Do not just be tradition - break tradition. As only you can.”

The story is told entirely from Reagan’s perspective, but she is such a wonderful narrator, observing all that is going on in her world with a watchful eye so we get to see the repercussions of everything that is happening as it impacts each of the characters. All of them are living the same story, but each experiencing it and reacting to it in their own unique ways, and I thought it was really cleverly done. I was invested in each of their individual journeys, and loved watching the development of the characters, and their relationships, throughout the story.

But the star of the show for me was Nico. God, how I love him! His strength and determination through all that he goes through is amazing. He is only 18 but he has so much strength of character, he blew me away countless times throughout the book. And of course as a romantic hero he is incredible as he and Reagan fall for each other. It’s a slow building romance, but it’s honest and innocent, and beautifully descriptive, and I felt every moment of it.

“Don’t ever stop looking at me … Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy … Make me earn it,” he says, pausing again to take my top lip between both of his. “I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”

I love Ginger Scott’s writing, and she’s done an amazing job with this one. I am an Australian and I’ve never watched and NFL game in my life, so I admit that some of this book went over my head in terms of terminology and the intricacies of the game (like – WTF is the Hard Count anyway? I had to google), but I did find myself getting excited at the appropriate parts, and the way this book is written you can’t help but be sucked into the atmosphere and intensity of it all. One scene in particular was so beautifully detailed and so incredibly emotive, I was reading with tears streaming down my face. It’s a moment I can picture so clearly in my head and I know is one that will stay with me for a long time.

Ginger Scott has written a wonderful story about loyalty, bravery, honour, betrayal, love and family. It held me captivated from start to finish, and I loved it.

4.5 stars.

An Advanced Review copy was generously provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Jacqueline's Reads.
2,840 reviews1,483 followers
August 5, 2016
4 Football Sports Fan Lover Stars

I love Ginger Scott reads. She’s my go-to author for meaty emotional books with real issues and real people. The Hard Count is a young adult read with a football sports theme. If you are a romance sports theme lover or just love football in general then this book is for you.

I love a good young adult book. I found these types of reads very innocent and I love how emotional the characters are. I’ll be honest and admit I’m not the biggest sports fan reader, only because I have no idea what goes on in football, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate the men in tights, but I digress.

The Hard Count is your nice rich girl crushing on the boy from the wrong side of the tracks. Reagan looks like she has it all, she’s coach’s daughter and the school lives and breathes football. Nico is the poor boy just taking it one day at a time. He’s good at a lot of things, like football but that doesn’t mean he plays for the school.

Regan seems like the perfect girl but the girl has issues. She feels like an outsider in her house and the tension between her and family was just the right amount to keep me interested yet not frustrated and pulling out my hair.

Nico’s family isn’t perfect either and he has his own issues. I really liked his flashbacks because it gave me glimpse of how he grew up and what kind of relationship he has with his brother. I liked Nico and I liked Nico and Regan’s dynamic. They of course do not hit it off at first and it’s cute to read.

Regan is kind of nerdy and she likes to film. She’s the type of Heroine you can relate too and find very likable. She tries to get Nico to play football because she sees something in him and I liked how sweet she is. It was an interesting storyline.

Overall, the book is pretty meaty, there’s plenty of descriptive writing and a lot of football talk. I liked the interactions between Nico and Regan and since it’s a young adult book the romance is mild. I’m not talking about the steam, but just the overall vibe between the two characters. I found them more like best friends with a little bit of extra, which is fine because of the theme of the book.

The book focuses more on the dynamics in football and how important it is for the school. The book also shows how the people are just pawns in the world of football and if you aren’t good enough you are out no matter how much sweat and tears you put into the game.

I appreciate the theme of the read and the message it conveys. Like I said, this is for any football YA book reader.

The Hard Count by Ginger Scott AMAZON
Profile Image for Donna ~ The Romance Cover.
2,761 reviews317 followers
August 4, 2016
The Hard Count by Ginger Scott
4.5 stars!!

“Ugly doesn’t have a color. It lives among selfishness and hate. And as much as this story is about football…it’s also about that.”

The Hard Count was one inspirational story penned by Ginger Scott. A book of traditions, beliefs, blanket misconceptions, prejudices and honour. A book whereby talent prevailed rather than the amount of cash and social standing your parents had, a book whereby a coach believed in the underdog and put his own reputation and job on the line. A book whereby a girl who spent her life behind the lens stood up for what and who she believed in. A book in which the unknown became known, revered and a god amongst his peers.

“The cream rises to the top with dollars for stairs.”

Nicolas Medina, or Nico to his friends was a scholarship student. His brains matched his beauty and he was the only man brave enough and clever enough to go up against our heroine in debate. As with all private schools the scholarship students are looked down upon and although Nico had the good looks and the physique, his bank balance didn’t match so he was shunned.

Reagan Prescott was the coach’s daughter, that was her ticket to notoriety. A budding documentary maker she spent her life behind the camera and in and around the pitch of the football team. Her brother was the star quarterback, a position earned with strength and talent rather than just being the coach’s son. Her father’s job was dependent upon the success of the team, a pressure that no coach needs or wants and the expectations of the board were high, he was feeling it.

Nico and Reagan were arch enemies, no matter the debate Nico always cut her down to size, sometimes she gained the upper hand but Nico was normally the one that could hold his own, he infuriated her beyond belief. But, she was intrigued by him and her curiosity was even more piqued when she spied him playing football with his friends. Could she have just found the star of her own documentary? Reagan was extremely knowledgeable about football, she knew talent when she saw it and Nico oozed it to the point that she felt he was better than her brother. Could Nico be the answer to the team’s success or would the boy from the wrong side of the tracks become just another statistic in the prejudices of the board and governors? But when the quarterback gets injured and Reagan puts Nico forward will coach give him a chance?

“They don’t hate you. They resent you, because you’re better than they are. You’re better than us all.”

The friendship between Nico and Reagan was unexpected at first. Everyone draws their first impressions and sometimes in situations where you are always the outsider the impression you give is normally the wrong one, it is a defence mechanism. It is only when these two spend time in each other’s company away from the classroom that true personalities begin to shine and Reagan is genuinely surprised by the difference. Their banter was great and the getting to know you stage was stunning to read. This is the best part of YA, genuine friendships born from naiveté and taking people at face value.

“Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy…Make me earn it…I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it…to earn you.”

This was a love story born from friendship, a privileged girl and a poor boy, total opposites. Nico was a great character, his drive, determination and tenacity was admirable and his family values something to be proud of. He was an upstanding guy that had he had the wealth would have been front of centre of everyone’s attention. Even though Reagan was privileged, you never would have known. She was down to earth, honest, had integrity and saw the best in everyone. She was a beautiful person on the inside and out.

“Nico is the twist in the tale. He’s the element of good. He’s what humanity should be – the lesson to be learned. He is hope.”

This was a fight for Nico, a fight to prove his worth to the school, his teammates and Reagan’s family and a fight for himself, to prove what he knew all along…he was special. I loved everything about this book and this is an author I will definitely be keeping my eyes on.

“This life, our lives – they are colored by expectations. It’s the surprises though = how we deviate – that define us.”

Profile Image for Sophie "Beware Of The Reader".
1,333 reviews359 followers
August 16, 2016
4,5 stars

An ARC has been kindly provided by Captured Press, via NetGalley.com, in exchange for an honest review.
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This book is about so many things it’s amazing how the author treated them all without being just too much but rather flowing so effortlessly one into another.

It’s about football of course but it’s also about family and prejudice. It’s about making errors and learning from them, mending your soul, going past your jealousy and insecurities to become a bigger man. It’s about kicking back when you’ve been hit by hard blows life can deliver be it an accident, a grief, losing your career. It’s about love and hope too.

This is the story of Reagan Prescott and of Nico Medina, the story of their family and all the people living on other sides of the track.

Raegan is coach’s daughter. Real nerd she is quiet, goal driven. She loves filming, prefers observing through the lens, hidden and safe behind her camera. ”I want my camera. I want the safety of living this part through the lens. I don’t want to be a part of the story, but I am. I’m a part of Nico’s story. And he’s a part of mine. I believe in him.”

Nico is from the other side of town, the scholarship boy. He’s smart, goal driven, caring incredibly fast and gifted with a ball. He’s always tried to escape his bad neighborhood, evade the drug dealers, run faster and faster. ”The video remains paused in mi lap, and the boy on the screen walks away from me in real life, never once looking back. I watch it again when he’s out of sight. I watch it through his eyes, and after the fifth time, I finally see it. Nico doesn’t want to get caught.”

This book made me experience maybe all emotions conceivable:

-Joy, so many times, when I read about Alyssa cheering in her own childish way with pom-poms Izzy gave her or playing in the water.

-Nervousness as I was a bundle of nerves reading about the games, truly living them like I was sitting on the sideline. I was as filled with energy and want to exterminate the other team as The Tradition players were. Coach’s speeches were like a direct shot of caffeine to a starved coffee addict. The way he readied his boys for the game made me think of armies preparing for battle. Raegan’s dad filled them with pride, they were out for blood and his word was sacred. How I wanted these boys to win!

-Elation. I wanted to shout a resounding “Yessss!”, exulting when Nico got his chance to play for The Tradition or when he scored some incredible and unbelievable shot.

-Disappointment as I witnessed Raegan’s family slowly falling apart, caving under pressure but not knowing how to fix it. ”That’s what we do with problems in the Prescott family – we cover them up in happy paint, put on sunshine smiles and pretend everything is fine.”

-Sadness. I bawled my eyes out when drama hit the Medina family.

-Fear as I lost ten years of my life when I thought it would be even more terrible, that everything would be lost in a cruel twist of fate.

-I melt in a puddle of goo when Nico romanced his girl with flowers got the best chariot he could afford to take her to school. I dare you not to love him as above all his qualities he also is good through and through, protective of his family and he knows how to properly romance a girl. ”Just don’t ever stop looking at me. Look at me like you expect more. Look at me like it isn’t going to be easy. Make me earn it. I’ll earn it. I’ll never stop trying to earn it … to earn you.”

This story made me think about all the prejudice we can entertain against others because we don’t know them, sometimes we don’t even want to know them and live in our own bubble with our biased view about life.

But above everything else, what I loved most in this book is the writing. Silent confrontations, a chest rising with tiny breaths, the quirk of a brow, the slant of an eye, a foot ready to kick the ball… the storytelling was compelling and reminded me of the slow motions used in films and it was a fitting analogy for Raegan’s passion. There was so much in what was left unsaid. It was really clever and the author changed gear as once the scene was set, the relationship evolved into friendship/love territory. By that point the pace changed becoming faster, throwing us in the action.

I can’t recommend this book enough and not only to YA fans.

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