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Heartbeat Braves

(Crooked Rock #1)

3.67  ·  Rating details ·  280 ratings  ·  85 reviews
There’s never a dull moment at the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center.

Rayanne Larson knows firsthand the struggles of native people. Working at Crooked Rock gives her the chance to do good work for Indians living in the city. She has high hopes for the Center’s progress until its new leader hands her special project over to his underachieving—and distractingly sexy—nephew.
Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published October 31st 2016
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Average rating 3.67  · 
Rating details
 ·  280 ratings  ·  85 reviews

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Jan 03, 2020 rated it really liked it
A native romance novel is not something I run into often. A little while ago I was talking with a friend about the importance of not always being “all up in our trauma,” as she put it, and I think this novel really helped me with that.

I’m reading some intense novels and this was a nice reprieve. It’s got the sexy romance factor but it’s not crazy steamy and sexual (something I personally appreciate because I am a romance novel noob haha.)

I felt the romantic developments were realistically paced
Mar 25, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Note: After the liveshow discussion, I slightly lowered my rating to 4 stars (from 4.5), but I still think it's very good and want to read on in the series! Here is the live discussion with great insight from indigenous BookTubers:

Heartbeat Braves is a sweet, slow-burn romance following Rayanne, a Native woman who works at a the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center, struggling to provide services with little space and less funding. So when one of the council members brin
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
I’ve been looking for romance by and about Native Americans for a while now, and I was SO TICKLED to find Heartbeat Braves thanks to the Book Riot romance newsletter. It’s set at an urban Indian center and the heroine, Rayanne, has a passion for elder care and helping indigenous people who live in her city. Unfortunately, the center is chronically underfunded and struggling to get the momentum to complete projects. When a prominent board member hires his nephew Henry to fill a position Rayanne t ...more
Xan West
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
One of the best romances I read this year. I fell hard for these characters, and felt so deeply for them. I was rooting for Rayanne and Henry, for the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center, for Linda and Arnie. I loved all the complexity in this story, the relationships, the humor, the depths of the conflicts with no easy answers, and how it sunk into details. The food descriptions made me so damn hungry. The central romantic relationship really felt earned; there was no instalove here. This book has ...more
Michelle Huber
.... *sigh*

When I first heard about this book, I was so happy to see a Native romance I ordered it right away. Another friend told me that it was great.
While I'm happy to see Natives being around each other in happy scenes, I shouldn't have to rely on this book for that. But, here we are...
The writing felt very flat for me, there wasn't much to go on how Rayanne or Henry looked other than they were good looking and young. Same with Tommy, Ester, Lydia, and Arnie. Are they in their 40s? 50s? Ho
Kate Olson
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
FINALLY! An #ownvoices romance with Native characters and intertwined storylines re: Native community issues, family and of course L-O-V-E! Highly highly recommend. I’ve already purchased the second in the series! Maybe a 2.5/5 on the steaminess scale.
Christa Schönmann Abbühl
Jul 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own-ebook
There was a time in my life when I was not only deeply interested in „the cause“ of Native Americans, but also an active member of a Swiss NGO involved with them. Until I had my son it was among the most important things in my life. Which also means I read everything I could get my hands on about the subject, preferably written by Natives themselves. And as a women I was especially interested in the female viewpoint.
So finding this romance, written by a Native American women who writes about wha
What a refreshing and satisfying story. Featuring one of the sweetest beta male MCs I have read in a long time, Henry Grant is a recent college graduate trying to find his place in the world. Having lived on the rez, he is happier being an urban Indian. When Henry’s uncle forces him into a job at the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center, he meets Rayanne Larson and feels lust at first sight.

Rayanne shares Henry’s attraction, but gets a shock when Henry is given her job organizing an arts festival fo
Ariel (ariel_reads)
Nov 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: romance
I picked this up to celebrate Native American Heritage Month with Indigathon, and I'm so glad I did. What a cute story! I don't read a ton of romance novels so I can't really say how it compares to other romance novels but for someone who doesn't dive into the romance genre very often, this was very fun and very cute. ...more
Jan 10, 2017 rated it it was ok
This read like a libretto, all stage directions and dialogue but with no set dressing or actors to give it depth. I liked the cultural tidbits, but they weren't enough to make Henry or Rayanne feel like real people. ...more
Jan 27, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021, romance
I'm about to break my own rule in regards to how I rate romances. Normally, I can't stand when the romance isn't front-and-center in any story that says it's a romance but the other storylines in Heartbeat Braves were so good that I still really enjoyed this.

There were three main storylines in Heartbeat Braves including the romance. The first focuses on the efforts of Rayanne, Linda, and the rest of the staff at the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center as they try to save the center from being shut
Lenore Kosinski

DNF @ 26% (chapter 11) — I’m bummed about this, because this was going to be my November diversity read, and I was so excited because it’s an own voices book. And while I was finding it interesting to have an authentic look into Native Americans (or Indians as they call themselves in the book), it was other aspects that just had me losing interest. I thought about pushing through, but I have so many other books to read.

The problem with this one is that it
Jun 26, 2020 rated it liked it
I was looking for to see how the culture and the identity of native americans would be represented in a contemporary setting, written by a native american author.
I think the idea of an Indian Center is actually a great one and it could be the perfect setting for interesting characters to meet, to interact.

However, the story was too much focused on the problems, on the less appealing aspects of how an organization is managed and the romance was definitely not romantic, to my POV.
I don't like to s
K. Lincoln
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Rayanne and Henry were a pleasant, challenging surprise for me both in the romantic roles they played and in the ways they seemed caught up in family and cultural ties. Definitely the book to pick up if you're looking for a refresher of a Romance when feeling a bit jaded by all the same old, same old.

This isn't your usual, white-bread, contemporary, here. There are both stylistic and content things in the book that are a bit challenging. Firstly, when talking about Romance, the elephant in the r
Nov 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Heartbeat Braves is a rare book, a Mf romance that I don't instinctively hate. Now that leaves me more at a mild like but it's still very impressive. The tone of the book is very pleasant, while still including
conflict in the form of a poor-luck cultural center.The leads and most of the aurillary characters are fully developed with their own priorities and personalities, crucially for me, no one I'm expected to like goes through any behaving line an abusive
jerk phases. I can't claim to feel all
Jul 15, 2020 added it
Dry, boring, and I wanted for the book to work! You rarely see a romance book with native Americans in the forefront!
Dnf at 16%
Dec 20, 2020 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 29, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2020
Workplace rivals-to-lovers romance, very heavy on the work part. Nepotism blech. Mostly fade-to-black sex scenes. Enjoyed it enough but probably won't read the rest of the series. ...more
Vona Stewart
Dec 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm not much of a romance reader, but this was recommended to me by a friend, and I enjoyed it.

Loved that the characters were native. The Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center and all of its problems (funding, inexplicable red-tape, services, etc.) made for a realistic and interesting backdrop to the romance (& burgeoning romance). I liked the characters and found them well fleshed out. I especially liked how their lives weren't perfect and how the struggles they had didn't feel contrived. For examp
A warm and enjoyable contemporary romance that showcases its characters well-rounded lives. The romance between Rayanne and Henry is the book's focus, but their relationships with their families, co-workers, friends, and community--as well as their life goals in general--are not shoved to the sidelines, either. I thought the balance worked well, but I wouldn't recommend this to a reader wanting to read a very distilled romance.

One of the things I liked most about the protagonists was that they f
Aug 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars. Enjoyable romance in a setting I haven't read in a romance before. This is a new adult, rivals to lovers, work romance - I enjoyed both characters and their banter and the strong sense of community.

There is a lot going on in this story and some of it felt underdeveloped or rushed. There's a secondary romance that will be resolved in a later book. Some of the writing was a little choppy for my taste.
Chris S.
Nov 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Read for Indigathon 2020

This is a sweet, cozy romance that doesn't seem to take itself too seriously but also covers some relevant issues for urban Native communities, albeit in a way that could likely be improved upon, as pointed out by Native reviewers. It's relatively uneventful- there's no major fireworks, although there's a bit of an enemies-to-lovers trope going on, but I wouldn't necessarily say that it's that prominent, given that our two lead characters, Henry and Rayanne, aren't exactl
I read this book with the Romance Sparks Joy book club, and we had a chat on Discord with the author, too, which was great!!
The Native American characters and setting was super interesting--want to read more by this ownvoices author!

I liked Rayanne, I could identify with her a lot, from her organization and work ethic to her desire to connect with people and frustration at being passed over for the job she deserved. I also liked Henry's character a lot too--I thought it was super realistic to h
May 15, 2021 rated it liked it
There was a lot to enjoy about this book. Prior to this, the only books I'd read about contemporary Native American people were Literary and Depressing, so reading a breezy but very real chick lit book by a Native author, about Native people, was nice, and I recommend it. Rayanne is a great, grounded heroine, and anyone who has spent ANY time around nonprofits will recognize the struggles of Crooked Rock. There were great side characters, too: Rayanne's grandfather, and quick-witted coworker Est ...more
Sandra Kelso
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Cute love story

I find myself conflicted with this one. It's hard to put into words why as well. I really enjoyed the writing skill. There was the right amount of description and character building while not being too much. I think what I'm most disappointed in was the time line. She goes from active dislike to jumping his bones in a few days without much more than physical attraction. I concede how his honesty about himself and his failings to find/keep jobs and a place to live can be attractive
Nov 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
This was a cute, sweet, short, romantic read. I enjoyed it and it didn't take me long to get through. There were times I wanted to shake the character's for their actions and I think that's more to do with the fact that they were young fresh out of college twenty-somethings and I am not. By any stretch of the imagination. Still, it was a sweet read. I loved Rayanne's passion for the elders and how she as always concerned about them and that was her driving force. However she also had to be
Mar 25, 2021 rated it liked it
This was a solid start to a series. The banter and chemistry between the couple was off the charts cute in the second half of the book. There was many laugh out loud moments, this book kept me thoroughly entertained... however, I did have some issues with it...

The start of our protagonists relationship was very abrupt. They really didn’t have any thoughts about each other except for that first meeting where they found each other attractive. The rest of the time, she was mad he was hired on and s
Jun 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
(3.5 stars but rounding up)

Beautifully Bookish Bethany is reading this as part of her Indigenous Romance Read-a-thon over on YouTube, which I highly recommend checking out.

Heartbeat Braves is a charming romance about a struggling non-profit, and, as someone who has worked in several non-profits, the accuracy of its depiction was amusing and hit close to home. I love that the romance genre is rapidly expanding to not just be about affluent white thin straight people and I loved the exploration o
Jan 30, 2019 rated it it was ok
This book struck me as more women's fiction than romance, in that workplace details and family/friend relationships were foregrounded rather than the primary love story. The book's slow pace caused me to put it down and read two other novels before picking it up again, and while I'm glad I gave it another chance, it still ended up being just an okay read for me. I actually really like reading about people being good at their jobs, but even my deep capacity for that was tapped out at all the info ...more
Annalisa Ely
Dec 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed the plot, the characters, and the romance elements, except for the one aspect of Henry thinking his mom is being hard on him for not being happy about him living with her when he admits he was a horrible roommate the last time he lived with her and he makes no effort to assure her this won't be the case again. Also, he's an able-bodied neurotypical man, who might struggle to find a job because of racism, but this isn't brought up as one of his reasons for being unemployed. He ha ...more
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Support a Native Author!

Crooked Rock Book #4

Urban Indian romance continues.

Book 4 is the story of Linda running out of options as the Crooked Rock Urban Indian Center struggles to keep going. Arnie is distracted by his own troubles when his leadership is questioned. These two have never been able to figure out whether they're friends, colleagues, or something more and now they need each other more

Other books in the series

Crooked Rock (4 books)
  • Lovesick Braves (Crooked Rock, #2)
  • Sweetheart Braves (Crooked Rock #3)
  • Crooked Rock Braves (Crooked Rock, #4)

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