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I’ve been texting the wife I lost, the woman I loved beyond measure ... Now someone else has answered back.

Gunnar Bond is broken.

Three years ago, he lived through the car crash that took his wife and twins away from him—though “lived” barely describes his current state. Giving up professional hockey, going off grid, and drinking himself into oblivion are his coping mechanisms. Another is texting his dead wife about his days without her. Therapeutic? Doubtful. Crazy? Definitely. But those messages into the ether are virtually the only thing stopping him from spiraling to even darker places.

Until someone texts back …

Sadie Yates is losing it.

Suddenly guardian to a little sister she doesn’t know and a misbehaving hound she’d rather not know at all, she’s had to upend her (sort of) glamorous life in LA and move back to Chicago. The nanny has quit, the money’s running out, and her job is on the line. The last thing she needs is her sister’s hockey camp counselor, a judgmental Viking type, telling her she sucks at this parenting lark. Thank the goddess for her sweet, sensitive, and—fingers crossed—sexy text buddy who always knows the right thing to say. In the same city at last, they can finally see if their online chemistry is mirrored in real life. She just needs to set up a meeting …

A ruined man who claims to have used up all his love is surely a bad bet, but Sadie’s never been afraid of a challenge … even one that might shatter her heart into a million pieces.

358 pages, Kindle Edition

First published July 28, 2020

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About the author

Kate Meader

49 books3,069 followers
Kate writes sexy contemporary romance with strong guys and amazing women and men who match their heroes quip for quip. In her latest series, Rookie Rebels, a new generation of players take to the ice and learn that all’s fair in love and hockey.

Sign up for her newsletter to get updates on sales, giveaways, and new releases.

The Rookie Rebels spins off her bestselling Chicago Rebels hockey romance series.
1. GOOD GUY (Levi and Jordan)
2. INSTACRUSH (Theo and Elle)
3. MAN DOWN (Gunnar and Sadie)
4. FOREPLAYER (Cal and Mia)
5. DEAR ROOMIE (Reid and Kennedy)
6. REBEL YULE (Erik and Casey)
7. JOCK WANTED (Fitz and Tara)
8. SUPERSTAR (Bast and Pepper)

The Hot in Chicago Rookies series heads back to Engine 6 for more steamy firefighter romances.
1. UP IN SMOKE (Roman and Abby)
2. DOWN IN FLAMES (Jude and Hudson)

The Laws of Attraction series about sexy divorce lawyers:
1. DOWN WITH LOVE (Max and Charlie)
2. ILLEGALLY YOURS (Lucas and Trinity)
3. THEN CAME YOU (Grant and Aubrey)

The Chicago Rebels series about sexy hockey players:
0.5 IN SKATES TROUBLE (Ford and Addison) - FREE!
1. IRRESISTIBLE YOU (Remy and Harper)
2. SO OVER YOU (Vadim and Isobel)
3. UNDONE BY YOU (Dante and Cade)
4. HOOKED ON YOU (Bren and Violet)
5. WRAPPED UP IN YOU (More Dante and Cade)

The Hot in Chicago series about sexy firefighters:
0.5 REKINDLE THE FLAME (Beck and Darcy)
1. FLIRTING WITH FIRE (Luke and Kinsey)
1.5 MELTING POINT (Gage and Brady)
2. PLAYING WITH FIRE (Eli and Alex)
3. SPARKING THE FIRE (Wyatt and Molly)
3.5 FOREVER IN FIRE (More Eli and Alex)
3.6 COMING IN HOT, Men in Uniform anthology (Tyler and Evie)

The Hot in the Kitchen series about sexy chefs:
1. FEEL THE HEAT (Jack and Lili)
2. ALL FIRED UP (Shane and Cara)
3. HOT AND BOTHERED (Tad and Jules)

The Tall, Dark, and Texan series about sexy tycoons:
1. EVEN THE SCORE (Hunter and Tess)
2. TAKING THE SCORE (Brody and Emma)
3. ONE WEEK TO SCORE (Flynn and Olivia)

... however each book can also be read as a standalone novel or novella.

For excerpts, news, and giveaways, visit: http://katemeader.com

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 320 reviews
Profile Image for Kate Meader.
Author 49 books3,069 followers
June 14, 2020
Are you ready for Gunnar, my most heartbroken (and heartbreaking) hero yet? This was a tough one to write and I actually cried while reading the last chapters and epilogue--which I never do! After 25 books (!) I should be a total automaton so it's nice to know I can still surprise myself.

What's it all about? Well, you've probably read those news stories about people texting their deceased loved ones and the phone number getting recycled. I loved the idea of a stranger comforting a grieving person like that, so that's the premise here. And then I thought: what if your supposed soulmate turned out to be kind of a jerk (at least, initially)? This books explores the ways we connect and how preconceptions and expectations can set people up to go one direction, but the reality is completely different. I can't wait for you to read about Gunnar and Sadie's rocky journey to happiness!
Profile Image for Astrid - The Bookish Sweet Tooth.
794 reviews876 followers
July 27, 2020

AUTHOR: Kate Meader
SERIES: Rookie Rebels #3
RELEASE DATE: July 28, 2020
GENRE: Sports Romance
THEMES & TROPES: Grief, Loss
RATING: 5 Stars


I have read quite a number of books by Kate Meader and I liked them all. But you know what's thrilling? When you find your favorite book by an author you are familiar with. MAN DOWN is hands-down her best story yet and I felt so much joy reading about Gunnar and Sadie.

You would think that a story about a widower who lost his wife and children in a car accident must be really depressing. I will say this: the flashbacks were sad and the foreboding of the tragic end caused my windpipe to close up at times. The story itself is emotional but Kate Meader loosens up the hard parts by the on-point banter between Gunnar and Sadie.

I adored their story from being accidental text buddies to (unbeknownst to both) enemies and then friends with benefits. Gunnar's inability to admit that he'd already lost his heart to Sadie made for some well-placed delicious angst. I loved him so much. He was a family man through and through and his grief was tangible.
"We started talking and I started looking forward instead of back. Forward to your bad jokes and check-ins. Forward to waking up instead of longing for the night to come. Forward."

Sadie could have easily come across as a doormat but I never thought her weak so kudos to the author for making me see that things are never clean-cut. Yes, her little sister was a little annoying with her rudeness and passive aggression but Lauren was a teenager who'd not only lost her mother Zoe to cancer but her dad went to prison and she had to live with a sister she hadn't talked to her whole life. Sadie hat kindness in troves about her, and although she was fluid in sassy speak she was also a gentle soul.

It must be so hard to write a book about a widower. The challenge is to make the reader believe that the new woman in this man's life is worthy and never second best. The connection must be so that in the end we know that the hero's love is as strong and true. Kate Meader succeeded with flying colors. Gunnar was stuck in the past until he met Sadie. She managed what no one else could - she took his hand and guided him out of the darkness, little by little.
 "I wasn’t expecting this—you—and it took me by surprise.”

This can definitely be read as a standalone but I think you'd get a kick out of all the cameos of previous favorite characters. Especially Dante and Theo's appearance were highlights for me. Their wisdom and friendship, their support gave me life.

MAN DOWN is gut-wrenching emotions paired with this author's wit and so beautifully romantic that I flew through this story. Definitely a must-read!
I won’t lean on you for everything but if I could rely on you a little …” He squeezed her tight to him. “Maybe you can keep my heart safe.”

Profile Image for Dali.
1,799 reviews457 followers
July 29, 2020
There are books that are nice to read and then there are stories that you must. I LOVED this story. It pulls at the heartstrings with its raw vulnerability while mending wounds with patience, understanding without judgement and sexy tenderness.

Gunnar Bond has been existing ever since a car accident took the lives of his wife and children three years ago. He left his NHL career to live alone in the woods. Self-managing his grief by sending text messages to his dead wife. For the longest time it was his lifeline until someone answered back.

Sadie Yates’ life was turned upside down when she had to move to Chicago to take care of the tween half-sister she hardly knew. The only saving grace is that she’s now in the same city as the man she’s been texting with and now has the chance to meet him.

On paper, Sadie and Gunnar have too much baggage for a relationship to thrive, but life and AT&T (inside joke) found a way for them to cross paths. Can they overcome the guilt and insecurities that plague them in order to find happiness together?

Heroine: Sadie Yates has a huge heart and unflappable spirit. She took life by the horns and faced each challenge with bravery and care. How could I not love a heroine like that?

Hero: Gunnar was so broken I couldn’t fathom how he’d be able to find happiness of any kind, much less of the romantic kind. But Ms. Meader handles the seriousness of the situation with care, respect and skill.

Feels:.Man Down is brimming with a full range of emotion. From LOL moments with Theo (from Instacrush), to tear jerking ones when reading about Gunnar’s sadness and guilt, to sweet and tender and sexy ones between Sadie and Gunnar.

Facts: Man Down is book #3 of the Rookie Rebels series by Kate Meader. It is told from both points of view with a happy ending.

Overall rating: 5

Amazon -> https://amzn.to/2WO6bLR

* I was given an ARC of this book courtesy of the author. The excerpts are from that copy. I am voluntarily reviewing this title. *

Stalk me on FaceBook * Instagram * More reviews
Profile Image for Bookgasms Book Blog.
2,761 reviews1,335 followers
July 16, 2020
Y'all I was just not prepared for this emotional ride.

I mean, I read the blurb. And I've read the entire series so far. So I should have known, right?


Kate Meader completely outdid herself with this heartbreaking - no - heartwrenching tale of love, loss, and the resurrection of Gunnar Bond.

It was lovely. Literally my thought as I turned the last page -- just...lovely. Never mind that I had just spent the majority of the book having my heart bruised, battered, teased, and titillated - a veritable rollercoaster ride of emotions that left it feeling raw and aching only to have it all swept away by the sweet beauty of the ending and the overwhelming rightness of Gunnar and Sadie.

I absolutely adored these two. Sadie's heart as big as the world, and her unsinkable spirit won me over immediately. How many punches can a heroine take and still get up and do the right thing by the people she loves? This woman was extraordinary. And broken, wounded Gunnar. The unsinkable alpha male whose heart and body and mind fought each other throughout most of this entire story. Watching him heal and come back to life was just a beautiful thing. It was impossible not to love them - from the unorthodox way they met, to the tenuous friendship they formed, to the moment they realized that resistance was futile because there was never anything more right than the way they loved and cared for each other.

Don't get me wrong, it's not all smooth sailing. In fact, there's hardly any smooth sailing. Ms. Meader handled the gravity of the storyline very respectfully and with a loveliness that sometimes took my breath away. There is a brutal beauty to a man reconciling that his life will never be what he expected it to be, and the woman who helps him realize that it's not over. I can't emphasize enough just how beautifully this was written.

I also loved the secondary storylines. I enjoyed the honesty of Sadie and Lauren's relationship. I might even have liked a little bit more resolution to their story - but that's not a complaint because I really was satisfied with what I got and happy with their healing relationship. I also loved getting more time with that scene-stealing devil, Theo Kershaw and the rest of the Rebels family. Books like this one are the reason sports romance is one of my all-time favorite tropes. There's a team/family love story threaded into every romance and I will never get enough of it.

It was so good. So compulsively readable and so wonderfully rewarding. It was tragic and redemptive and I loved every punch delivered, and reveled in every balm it placed upon my heart. Buckle up - this one's going to hurt a little. But it's worth every minute. ~ Shelly, 5 Stars
Profile Image for Carol (StarAngel's Reviews) Allen.
1,683 reviews597 followers
August 24, 2020
4.75 Stars

This is the story of Sadie and Gunnar and the coincidence of a recycled cell number and a temporary move to Chicago to take care of a sister who plays at a hockey camp.

The way that Ms Meader sewed this story together with coincidences tied together with faith had me staying up to get just one more chapter in.

This was filled with angst, heartbreak, and so much more that I had my fill of feels and gained a story that will stay with me for a long time!
Profile Image for Dísir.
1,665 reviews170 followers
August 24, 2020
Grief and bereavement aren’t the easiest things to write about, particularly when it comes the (in)ability of the protagonist to move on and fully commit to the love interest, especially if his/her previous relationship was established and near impossible to let go of.

‘Man Down’ however, is one that’s written compellingly about bereavement and the complicated emotional and mental journey of the grieving character. Kate Meader explores Gunnar Bond’s guilt, his pain and rawness (and by extension, his dilemma between wanting to stay where he is out of misplaced loyalty and being able to move forward with someone else), and puts him alongside with a compassionate heroine who has so many things on her plate.

Gunnar’s and Sadie’s meeting has the written-in-the-stars sort of vibe: there’s accidental texting, initial faceless communication and later, a huge coincidence finally bring them face to face though it isn’t as swoony as you’d expect. There’re pockets of friction and sparks and a whole hockey team that surrounds the pairing as a support system—and the inevitable dishing of angst given the topic at hand. Both Gunnar and Sadie as a pairing are generally easy to get behind; their motivations are explained and dealt with in ways that I may not always agree with but could understand. I did wish that Sadie had a harder streak in her at times however as she she copped one too many on the chin when I thought she could have easily pushed back—all well within her rights to do so.

‘Man Down’ definitely feels like it has a more heartfelt, more sensitive emotional core that I don’t always observe in Meader’s books. It’s one that reads differently anyhow—more stripped down, more chipping away in order to expose the bare bones of the human psyche than I’d expected but it’s always welcome in my opinion. The result is a more engaging, more satisfying read that shows love in its shades of grey for people both dead and alive and that it’s way more malleable than what we always like to make of it.
Profile Image for Simply Love Book Reviews.
6,949 reviews827 followers
July 28, 2020
Man Down by Kate Meader is an incredibly well written and emotional story, but for me it was much too depressing during this crazy, awful time. I don’t fault Kate at all, it’s a good story but, I had a hard time finishing it. I can look at this book objectively and know that the author wrote a fantastic story, I didn’t enjoy it very much although I’m sure many people will. I’ve read this author for many years and it pains me to write this type of review, but it’s how I feel and I’m always very honest in my reviews.

I loved the way Gunner and Sadie “met” even though that was kind of painful. The twists and turns in this book were phenomenal and Ms. Meader did a great job keeping the characters and the readers on their toes, there’s no doubt about that at all.

Gunner’s back story is tragic and heavy and I felt so much for him and the guilt he lived with and how much he loved his wife and children. I adored the way he jumped in to be a champion for Lauren from the start and the bond they shared. I honestly think she helped him heal his heart just by being someone who needed a friend.

Sadie drove me a bit crazy with her incessant need to please everyone. There was no doubt she had some baggage stemming from her childhood and beyond and I did ache for her as she tried to bond with Lauren and make peace with her father.

I liked Gunner and Sadie together, they found each other at the right time (both times), but I really needed to see them both having more carefree happy times; this book was heavy and a downer.

Writing and superior plot made this book, but for me it was depressing and a bit of a miss.

Review copy provided for a voluntary review.
Profile Image for Aly is so frigging bored.
1,627 reviews274 followers
December 21, 2020
2nd read: December 2020

1st read: July 2020
I was lucky enough to win an ARC of this book from Ms Meader's facebook group. I read it all in a day and I'm not even sorry :D

I was curious about Gunnar since the last book and he didn't disappoint. He's such a good guy and also an introvert, that doesn't happen as much in sports romance(not at least the ones I read :D). He has a tragic backstory and the author treats his grief with respect and compassion and so does Sadie. She's really nice and a bit of a pushover with people. Both of them have been dealt shitty cards and they make things work!

Gunnar is struggling with the loss of his family and he doesn't know how to adapt to a life without them. He's really resistent to change, but at the same time he doesn't know how not to care about Sadie or the people in his life. I loved seeing them heal and fall in love.

After finishing this wonderful book and revisiting favorite characters I want to reread both series :)) I recommend this to anyone who loves good writing and amazing stories.
Profile Image for A Klue.
1,499 reviews299 followers
July 28, 2020
Rating: 4.5 stars

Man Down couldn’t be a more appropriate title here. Gunnar, the hero’s life was shot down three years ago, so he has good reason to still feel like a broken hearted man. I certainly felt emotionally gutted and grieved right alongside him after learning his sad story. He may appear to be living and breathing from the outside now, but inside he’s definitely still bleeding out in total despair and deep, dark sadness. It takes Sadie, the sweet, sassy, sympathetic leading lady, to rescue him and put him back on the path of life and healing love. It will take time and determination though to get him fully on the road of recovery. Yeah, it seems to be all about baby steps for this giant, alpha protective, teddy bear hearted, knucklehead, mountain man of professional hockey player muscle.

Sadie’s had more than her fair share of hard luck past, as well. She takes a lot on the chin and soldiers through, even when it’s emotionally painful. Tough, resilient, with a marshmallow heart, she was a light in Gunnar’s darkness. I did, however, find her character somewhat of a doormat at times. Take the smex without strings situation. It had me lowering my head and shaking it in shame for the sisterhood, folks. She wanted and deserved better in this avid romantic at heart's opinion. Honestly, I was geared up for a completely different response from this sassy lady. Sure, it aided and abetted the set up of scorching, steamy lust to falling in love progress between these two, but I wanted Gunnar to have to get down on his knees and really work more for it and for her. Instead, she usually made things pretty easy for him.

Make no mistake, I really enjoyed this riveting, relationship angst story line. Ms. Meader seems to always make a way to interject lots of great back and forth banter, sizzling hot chemistry, and perfect for each other main couple connections and drama.

So listen up! Hands down..I think if you want to score an entertaining romantic read, you should consider letting Kate Meader make your day. Whether it be in the kitchen, on the hockey rink, fire station, or court room, she always has great romances going on. You owe it to yourself to check out all her series: Hot in the Kitchen, Chicago Rebels, Hot in Chicago, and Laws of Attraction. She seems to nail it perfectly each and every time. You’ll see that description often in my reviews of her books, because, well, I find it worth repeating, my fellow romance book loving friends.

Romance Safety Gang:

Title: Man Down, Series: Rookie Rebels (Book 3), Author: Kate Meader: Pages: 354, stand-alone but part of a series, prof hockey player hero, relationship angst, still loves deceased wife, tragic loss hero, sweet, sympathetic, sassy, likable but doormat at times heroine, a couple graphic very smexy scenes late in book, baggage of her own heroine, may not be romance safe for some due to strong feelings for deceased wife, tragic loss of children, couldn’t put it down, hot/sexy bookcover! Rating: 4.5 stars

Book 1 - Good Guy (Levi & Jordan), 7/30/19
Book 2 - Instacrush (Theo & Elle), 12/10/19
Book 3 - Man Down (Gunnar & Sadie), 7/28/20
Book 4 - Foreplayer (details not yet available)

(I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced reader copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I was not given any payment or compensation for this review. There is no affiliation or relationship between this reviewer and the author, publisher, or PR firm.)
Profile Image for Darcy.
12.4k reviews425 followers
July 15, 2022
This one is tough to read. I feel for Gunnar, he had the worst happen to him, it has to be hard to come back from that. So while I was rooting for him and Sadie to end up together, I felt bad for wishing for that, because it meant that Gunnar left those he loved behind. I have a feeling due to how their relationship evolved Sadie won't let Gunnar ever forget his first family, that they will be with them as needed, but also there is the space for them to have something new, something both of them deserved.

As much as I liked seeing things happen with Gunnar and Sadie, I also liked seeing Sadie come to terms with her past and how she dealt with her family. It wasn't easy and Lauren didn't help, she was horrible. I get it though, Lauren has lost everything in her life and now a stranger is there taking care of her dictating what was going to happen to her now. I'm glad that by the end of the book the sisters have made peace and found out a way to have a good relationship.
Profile Image for Auntee.
1,280 reviews1,380 followers
August 1, 2020
Just a tad slow at times, and that little sister's attitude bugged me a bit, but overall a pretty good read. Lots of heart in this one--some really sad parts that made me tear up too. So glad that Sadie and Gunner found each other--I loved them together and so hoped they'd be able to start fresh in their lives.

One little bonus like: Sadie was a size 16 and not one mention about how she hated her size, and nothing but appreciation from Gunner about her size. So glad that this wasn't an issue in the story.
4 stars
Profile Image for Kristina Birch.
742 reviews22 followers
July 30, 2020
Romance Reader Down!

Y’all this book...whoa...

Gunner and Sadie “meet” via text at a turning point in both their lives. Neither expected to feel the connection that they feel to one another; they also didn’t expect to meet in person, not knowing who each other is, and rub each other the wrong way while also feeling very good about it.

On the surface the tough stuff about this book is Gunner’s grief but Sadie’s issues of inadequacy and self doubt are just as heart wrenching. I loved the epistolary style of the texts, allowing for so much intimacy and emotional growth while also not making the story or relationship feel rushed or superficial. And his interactions with Lauren were so sweet.

My favorite things about a Kate Meader book are the extremely witty dialogue, humor, and steamy sex but also that she’s not afraid to delve deep with the dynamics of relationships and emotions, but even that didn’t prepare me for the emotional wallop Man Down delivered. Snappy banter, laugh out loud Theo moments, panty stealing scenes (literally), and so much loss and love are packed into this one story.

I adore this series and just more as fast as possible.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book but all opinions are my own.
Profile Image for M.E. Carter.
Author 50 books1,035 followers
May 19, 2021
This might me my favorite Kate Meador book. Oh the tears!!!
Profile Image for Kimberly / Love Notes Book Blog.
2,317 reviews114 followers
July 30, 2020
3 stars. Man Down is the 3rd book in the Rookie Rebels series. I liked this book in parts, but I didn't completely love it. This book is Gunnar and Sadie's story. Gunnar is a pro hockey player on the Chicago Rebels with a tragic past. His wife and two young children were killed in a car accident. He is now a shell of a man, just trying to make his way through the grief. After his losses, he still regularly texted his dead wife's phone number his daily thoughts and how much he missed her. One day, someone texts back. Sadie gets a new phone number and it is the one that used to belong to Gunnar's wife. She lets him know it is her number now, but she is sympathetic and they start texting back and forth. They can tell each other their thoughts without consequence or judgement and develop a sort of anonymous friendship. But after many months of texting and a few missed chances to meet up, they finally come face to face in a surprising way. When sparks fly between them and feelings get involved, will Gunnar be ready to move on and find new love with Sadie?

This was a good story and I enjoyed the way the couple met. But this trope is very tricky for me. It has to be written very carefully in a way to make me not feel like the new love is lesser than the old love. I just didn't quite feel that way with this one. I held out hope that Gunnar would come to love Sadie as strongly as his dead wife, but I never really felt like he moved on completely. I felt bad for Sadie. But she let him and others walk all over her. She was too patient and understanding. I wanted at least an epilogue that focused just on Sadie and Gunnar and them looking to the future together, but we don't even get that. I wanted Sadie to have someone that loved her as more than just a consolation prize. I liked Gunnar as person, but I never felt like he more than liked Sadie and felt like he was settling for her and taking advantage of her love for him. Sadie's self-esteem issues made it even worse. She deserved someone who worked for her love, but she made it way too easy on Gunnar. The story had potential though. It would have been a good meet cute for a man who was really ready to move on to a new love. But Gunnar was a mess and it took the entire book for him to even be ready to take the first step to moving on. I just didn't feel like he truly loved and appreciated Sadie the way that she did him and the way that she deserved.

Overall, I did enjoy parts of the book. It just never quite got where I wanted it to by the end. Still, I did enjoy the writing and the story, as well as catching up with other characters from the series. I still enjoy this series and look forward to more from Ms. Meader in the future.

*arc provided in exchange for an honest review*
Profile Image for Jaime Fiction Fangirls.
1,589 reviews148 followers
July 29, 2020
First...that cover though! 😍

I knew going into this book that Gunnar’s story was going to be heartbreaking but as much as I thought I was prepared for it, I WAS NOT PREPARED FOR IT!!

Kate Meader just jumps right in from the first page and starts tugging at your heartstrings but you’ll immediately fall in love with Gunnar just as hard as your heart will break for him. But fear not friends, Sadie will step in at just the right moment with just the right joke to lighten the mood and therefore set the tone of their story in the most perfect way.

Sadie and Gunnar’s romance is a slow-burn, sort-of mistaken-identity, friends with benefits romance that blends some pretty heavy topics with just enough humor that you’re not too weighed down with emotion.

Between Sadie’s angsty teen sister, her hateful father, and the memories that haunt Gunnar, preventing him from wanting to move on, this story could have easily turned into an angst fest. However, there were plenty of light-hearted and sweet moments to break up the sad ones. Plus, Theo Kershaw played a huge role in this story and you just can’t NOT laugh when he is involved.

I will admit that a part of me struggled with worry that the connection that Sadie and Gunnar formed through his late-wife’s phone number might not be a solid way for them to start off, so I appreciate that they formed a different connection without the tie-in of the memory of his wife. I needed that to accept that Sadie was more than just the rebound from his grief.

All in all, I highly recommend this book! Kate Meader never fails to deliver a great story. Each new book becomes my new favorite and as soon as I finish I’m already looking forward to what comes next!! I can’t wait for Mia’s book!

*I received an ARC from the author for voluntary review
Profile Image for Lauren Reads Romance.
388 reviews46 followers
September 9, 2021
CW: Death of a parent, spouse, and children. Anxiety and depression.

3.75 stars

Amazing premise, well-written, emotional—so be prepared for a sniffle or two.

I enjoyed this one a lot. Gunnar Bond—gosh, where do I even begin? This hero’s backstory and pain is intense and tragic. Years ago, he lost his wife and young children in a car accident and has been grieving ever since. Seeking to hang onto the memory of his dead wife, he texts her phone, emptying his feelings in the void. Until her number gets recycled and a new person texts back.

Sadie Yates is a woman trapped in limbo. She has personal business ambitions but works as a personal assistant to make ends meet. After her estranged father is sent to prison for fraud, she upends her life in LA, and moves back to Chicago to become the legal guardian for her twelve year old half-sister.

There is a lot to unpack, but it was heartwarming to read Gunnar and Sadie’s romance, as well as their paths to healing. Great story, heavy subject matter, a lot of love and support from their group of friends.
Profile Image for Heather.
244 reviews3 followers
July 12, 2020
Oh, Gunner. Dear, sweet, tormented Gunner. The hero in Kate Meader’s latest installment of her Chicago Rebels series is both tragic and endearing. A family man who lost his wife and children in a horrific accident, Gunner is stuck in limbo. He has abandoned his life as a successful hockey player and is hiding out at a cabin playing mountain man. In an attempt to deal with his suffocating grief, he begins texting his late wife. Unbeknownst to him, her cell number has been re-issued, and instead of his messages disappearing into the ether, they make their way to a woman in the midst of her own problems. Sadie is stuck in her own personal limbo. A thankless job as a personal assistant to an online influencer has her dreams of being a designer stalled. Her estranged father has been caught stealing from his clients, and Sadie suddenly finds herself back in her hometown of Chicago, attempting to reunite with her teenage sister who has now been left in her care. When she answered Gunner’s texts months ago, neither of them realized that they would begin a relationship, but over time they have come to rely on one another, lost “LonelyHeart” and his “Angel.” While they continue to play out their relationship in text, the two are brought together in real life and their first meeting is less than perfect. Slowly the two warm to one another, and eventually Sadie figures out that Gunner and “LonelyHeart” are one and the same. They agree to embark on a fling, but it’s obvious that both are harboring much deeper feelings for each other. Kate Meader manages to make the rather fantastical story seem possible. She handles Gunner’s grief with a deft hand, and while he is a wounded hero she imbues the character with hope. What could be a very weighty and somber storyline is buoyed by the crackling tension between the two main characters. Sadie comes off as a bit of a doormat to the people in her life, but is saved by her spunk and confrontational attitude toward Gunner. As she slowly finds her way in her new reality as a guardian to her antagonist sister, Gunner is still attempting to bury his grief. Their story was engrossing and heartbreaking, their banter witty, their struggles endearing. Ultimately, a story that could have been far too heavy was lifted by Kate Meader’s deft writing and those dark moments never overtook the joy of Gunner and Sadie’s journey. And of course, this being part of a series, we also get glimpses of characters from past installments, as well as mention of characters from other series by Kate Meader. The book can be read as a stand-alone, but those brief moments with the characters is a fun way to catch up with them. I highly recommend this book, as well as all the other books in this series.
Profile Image for Michele.
2,044 reviews
August 4, 2020
Actual Rating: 4.5 Stars
See the full review at HarlequinJunkie

Oh, my heart! Kate Meader outdid herself with the newest Rookie Rebels novel, Man Down. It explored the depths of grief, the joy of new connections, the guilt of moving on after loss, family dramatics, and everything in between.

I adore Kate Meader’s writing style. How she can pull so many emotions into each scene seamlessly and truly make you feel the same things the characters are feeling. In Gunnar Bond’s case, it might honestly be a bit much for some sensitive readers. Because even knowing he would likely relive the tragic loss of his wife and twins, I was absolutely gutted emotionally in those flashback scenes/dreams. *sob* Read More
Profile Image for Erin Lewis.
4,199 reviews133 followers
May 16, 2021
5 star review Man Down (Rookie Rebels #3) by Kate Meader

Hard to believe but Kate Meader is a new author to me. Narrator Ramona Master is new to me too and she did a good job although I felt her male voices were distracting but that is just my opinion.

This story had me laughing and crying and I felt as though I was on an emotional roller coaster.

Loved the story so much that I went and purchased the rest of the series, now I just need time to listen to them.
Profile Image for Jewlsbookblog.
2,133 reviews67 followers
July 28, 2020
Man Down packed a wallop of emotion! If I wasn’t laughing over something Theo did or something Sadie said in jest, I was totally teary-eyed over Gunnar’s grieving text messages to his deceased wife, and omg, those messages could break the heart with his sadness and guilt.

Sadie had her own share of drama with her crazy ‘vajajay promoting’ boss, a criminal parent, and her half-sister, Lauren. Kudos to Sadie for keeping her sanity because oy, I’d have lost my cool long before she did.

Romantically speaking, I felt Sadie and Gunnar were forming strong bonds of friendship that could potentially develop in to a deeper, affectionate relationship. I felt their relationship was a rebound for Gunnar to dip his toes back into the dating pool rather than a potentially serious relationship, which was okay considering Gunnar’s total devastation. However, that left things at a HFN rather than a total HEA (what can I say?! I love my HEA’s and Sadie and Gunnar both really deserve one!) so fingers crossed I’ll see more of these two in the future.

I received an advance reader copy from the author and this is my honest review.
Profile Image for Christi (christireadsalot).
1,727 reviews481 followers
June 24, 2022
2nd Read, June 2022:
I loved this even more a year later upon re-read. I listened to the audio this time and the story was everything I remembered. I love the emotions this book taps into and the journey of grief and loss that Gunnar is going through. I love Sadie’s story with her younger half sister and just the whole relationship evolution with Gunnar. This hit me in the feels a little bit more this time and the flashbacks really got to me!

1st Read, May 2021:
Man Down is a contemporary romance with a sports/hockey hero who took time off after tragedy in his life, but is getting back in the game. Gunnar and Sadie’s story is filled with so much grief and loss and heartache, but I really enjoyed it. Gunnar is a widower who lost his wife and children almost 3 years ago when the story starts, he was a hockey player but kind of went off the grid after the accident to grieve on his own. He has been texting his wife’s old phone number as part of his grieving process and one day he gets a response back, as her number got recycled to a new person. Sadie is also going through a lot and she starts responding and having conversations with Gunnar via text. They’re both dealing with things in their lives and kind of just need/want someone to connect to. They end up being text buddies for almost a year and by coincidental circumstances end up both in Chicago at the same time and meet (all while not realizing they’re one another’s text buddy). They sort of get off to a wrong start in person and it was fun seeing them deal with their chemistry towards one another while also being like “yeah I don’t really like you.”

Definitely tons of loss and grief in this one, Gunnar’s flashbacks are so sad. 🥺 Sadie also has some complicated family life going on, her estranged dad just got arrested and she’s given legal guardianship of her 12-year-old half sister Lauren who wants nothing to do with Sadie. Gunnar and Lauren (Sadie’s sister) actually meet in person first because of hockey camp, he’s a coach at Lauren’s hockey camp and it was sweet to see Gunnar & Lauren work together. This is when Gunnar & Sadie first meet in person and it doesn’t go well, he assumes some things and she thinks he’s a jerk. I loved how protective and gruff/mixed with sweet Gunnar was. This was definitely a quick, bittersweet read and I’ll have to check out more from this author now.
Profile Image for maggieandteddy.
1,052 reviews122 followers
August 22, 2021
I really enjoy this author's writing. (I've read several) I listened to the audio, but I think that if you don't do audios, the ebook would be great as well.
This is 3rd person POV Sadie and Gunnar.
Gunnar is beyond grief stricken after his wife and 2 children died in a car crash. He's been texting his wife's cell phone#.. He's been pouring out his broken heart. One day Sadie responds and tells him that it's her phone# now. He's shocked that his private thoughts and messages to his beloved Kelly have been read by someone.
Sadie starts to respond back with supportive messages and listens (reads his texts).
Sadie and Gunnar don't know the other's real name. Hockey is what brings them together.
Sadie mentions that she lives in Los Angeles and Gunnar says he lives in the Chicago area.
Sadie has to go to Chicago to take care of her sister that she hasn't seen in several years.
The chance meeting of Sadie and Gunnar should not be spoiled. It did have shades of "You've Got Mail"
Ramona Master is the narrator and does all the voices. Her voice for Sadie is very cheerful and upbeat most of the time. The voice for Gunnar is sad, sullen and a little monotone. The voice used for Sadie's sister Lauren is so natural.
Lauren is missing her dad and resents Sadie taking care of her.
I really felt for Gunnar. He was so stuck in his grief and guilt over losing his family.
Sadie understands that Gunnar is in no place for a new relationship, but gets closer to Sadie. It's gradual and seems like a natural progression.
Sadie is trying to do right by her young sister that really needed her but didn't want her.
There were some funny, dry humor moments. There's some supporting characters from the previous Rookie Rebels & the the Chicago Rebel's series.
The middle was a little slow, but picked up the last 25% or so.
4.5 stars. I know that some might not want a hero that was hung up on his late wife. I really wanted him to have a better life than just barely hanging on. Sadie really was a good match for him. I hope that I catch up on their story in the next book....
Profile Image for Aly.
2,328 reviews67 followers
August 28, 2020

Three years ago, the life of Gunnar Bond shattered. He lost his wife and two kids in a car accident and the only way he could try to deal with it was to left his hockey team and go lives in the wood. And send text messages on his wife's phone. But one day, someone answer back...

Sadie Yates's life might not be as tragic, but it still sent her plenty of hardship. She didn't have a very good family situation but it's just getting more peculiar now that her father is in prison and she suddenly find herself becoming her half-sister's guardian. And let's not talk about her crazy boss, a "Gwyneth" wannabe kind of influencer.

Gunnar and Sadie just met in real life. Not a good first impression for both of them, thanks to a few misunderstanding. So how will they learn that they're each other's text messages pal and what will be their reaction to the news? Read the third books in the Rookie Rebels series to know😛.

Kate Meader always deliver on the sweet and sizzling romance but this book was particularly touching and my favorite of the series so far! I just wished more pages with Gunnar and Sadie at the end because we didn't see enough of their "finally get together for good" moments. I also really appreciated that the author didn't made a big deal of the heroine being curvy or plus-sized. It normalize it, just like it should be.
Profile Image for Irina.
282 reviews11 followers
June 7, 2021
Quite the dramatic story, which dropped of a little bit after the true identities of the former chat partners were revealed. Their arrangement (sex but no relationship) clearly doesn't work like planned from the very beginning, because especially Gunnar behaves very protective und affectionate. Obviously, he DOES care for Sadie and her sister, whatever he claims to feel.

It's still a pretty good read with interesting characters (and many wonderful appearances of former heroes from the "Chicago Rebels" and "Rookie Rebels" series). Gunnar's tragic history might be a bit over the top, but handled well by the author–and the heroine. Sadie is a nice character overall, for my taste she's too altruistic at times, though.

Best book in this series so far. (I wasn't the biggest fans of the previous two books, though.)
Profile Image for Megan.
584 reviews52 followers
July 25, 2020
This author's hockey books have been some of my favorite sports romances I've ever read! I really enjoyed this book, but it was just such a heartwrenching backstory for our hero. A Dead Ex is usually a pass for me, and there have been TWO in this series! But this author keeps me loving her characters, and coming back for more of her words, no matter what.

Gunnar Bond lost his family in a horrific car accident three years ago. Then, he quit hockey and left his whole life behind to go toil away, and suffer in peace, in a rustic cabin in New Hampshire. After a few months of not coping well at all, he started texting his dead wife's phone number, telling her all the things he wished he could still say in person. Then, after almost 2 years, someone texted back. Though he initially was angry at the interruption of this ongoing, one-sided convo with his wife, and thought of blocking the number, he didn't. Turns out it was easy to talk to this stranger, whose name and story he didn't know, and who didn't know him. He started to come out of his drunken, depressed fog, with her daily jokes, and his slow release of some truths to another, living person. When the Chicago Rebels came calling, he felt he could still play, so he went back to work, and slowly started to make his way back to life. But his Angel in LA was still a mystery to him. Until she wasn't.

Sadie Yates is having a hard time. She left home at 18, with her mother long dead- and her father uncaring, having moved on with a new wife a baby daughter- and never really looked back. She moved to LA with dreams of being a designer, but she's been working menial jobs ever since. Now she's the personal assistant for a crazy Instagram influencer, who hocks ridiculous products related to a woman's "intimate" health. But, Sadie's father has just been on trial for defrauding his hedge funds clients out of millions, only months after his wife passed away, and now he's been convicted, and sent to prison. So, Sadie must return to Chicago to care for her teenage half sister, Lauren, who doesn't know her, but still hates her guts. Her only bright spot is the texts with the mysterious man she's nicknamed LonelyHeart, but when they decide to meet in person, everything gets crazy, because they've recently met before. Gunnar is Lauren's hockey camp coach, and he and Sadie got WAY off on the wrong foot at their first meeting. How can someone she's come to care for so much over text, be this grumpy, jerk of a Viking, who doesn't seem to like her at all??

Sadie and Gunnar had mega chemistry from the beginning, which was super inconvenient for them both, since they made each other crazy too, and not in a fun way. But Lauren really loved her hockey camp, and Gunnar was so good with her, that Sadie couldn't help but continue interacting with him. Then, she got even more involved when she met the group of Rebels players, and WAGS, and other friends of the team who all showed up at the camp throughout the weeks. When she finally set a meet up with LonelyHeart, and figured out he and Gunnar were one and the same, she didn't know what to do. Once she came clean to him, they both had to figure out how to feel about their prior knowledge of each other, and how it affected their attraction to each other even more.

Meanwhile Gunnar is still heavily grieving for his family, and he's never really done anything about it. He's never gotten any kind of professional help, and until he does, he won't be able to move on in any real way. The problem is, though he knows it's not "healthy", he doesn't WANT to move on. His pain keeps him feeling close to them, and he's not ready to let that go. In addition to the pain, is the GUILT, not only for surviving, but for feeling responsible for the accident that killed them. He can't let it go. When he offers a no strings arrangement to Sadie, he hopes to burn off his attraction to her in a way where neither one of them can get hurt, and where he doesn't have to actually change anything about his life.

Sadie's family situation was a hot mess. Lauren was a total pill, but as a hormonal teenager, who recently lost both parents, one to death and one to prison, it was understandable, and mostly forgivable. However, Sadie's dad was a nightmare, and so callous and cold to her, especially considering all she was giving up to take care of Lauren, when she had no one else. This was made even more galling since her dad is the one to blame for Lauren being alone in the first place, because of his crimes. Sadie just took everything her crazy boss, and her sister, and her dad, dished out to her without a word. Not to mention anything anyone else wanted to yell at her about her dad too, as if any of that was her fault. She had become something of a people pleasing doormat, and she didn't know how to fix it. Then, she took whatever crumbs Gunnar was willing to give her, because she was falling for him, and knew he could never feel the same about her, and she only had so much time with him. I was sad for her turning her power over to everyone else, until she finally figured out how to get it back, and fight for herself again.

This book was really heartbreaking in so many ways, but there was a lot of heart-mending along the way too. The side characters here were awesome as they always are in this series full of awesome people. I enjoyed the ways that Gunnar and Sadie cared for each other, even when they didn't realize it, and how that affected their connection when they tried to figure out if, and how, to move forward. I really believed in them, in the end, though the journey they had to take was so painful. Ultimately this was a hopeful story, about moving on from tragedy and making the best of your life. I really cared about these characters, and I'll always be thrilled to keep reading more in this series.

ARC provided by Author in exchange for an honest review.
Reviewed by Megan from Alpha Book Club
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Profile Image for Jennifer Brown.
439 reviews17 followers
June 13, 2021
3.5 rounded up

Wow! This one is a heartbreaker, the hero's past is tragic. The heroine didn't have an easy life either but between the two of them they find the strength to have a happy ending. There's laughs, there's tears, joy, sorrow, sexy times, and hope.

This is my first Meader story and since it's the middle of a very large connected series, I felt lost at times or at least really confused by all the side characters.

Overall, I recommend this story
Profile Image for Mari.
2,115 reviews5 followers
August 19, 2020
I'm in a hockey mood especially since it's playoff time. I've been happy watching and this was a great distraction after that scary read. I've been waiting for Gunnar's story and we know before this it's a doozy. This a rollercoaster of emotions from grieving to some light jabs to sibling stuff.

Last we saw Gunnar still grieving when we saw him but he started his journey by joining the team. This is like a flashback to before then how the texts started. He's been dealing with things the way he knew how. To keep his wife's memory alive he keep texting her only to receive a reply from someone else. He didn't know it but it was his cry for help that someone answered and listened. I have to feel for him you really saw his anguish over what happened. Fast forward to meeting her but they clashed.

That time they talked honestly was a reprieve from both of them. But it started that relationship. While there was a mistaken identity when they did first meet and confusion after. I think it made their communication better. Sadie was kickass but at a stalemate with her job. Her family life in Chicago wasn't easy to face but she did. Gunnar needed help with his grief but didn't want therapy. Teaching kids hockey camp helped him though somehow. Getting close to other kids.

It's interesting how texting and seeing each other in real life changed how they acted when they found out. They had the chemistry and even not seeing the other, now in person they couldn't pass on it. Now in person they can't hide behind the screen it brought out things they have to open to and deal with. Sadie and her half sister, her dad and her career. Gunnar's difficulty in moving forward and opening up. When they explored their that attraction it became more complicated. It might have start out as the as no strings and they denied it.

It took a while for them to figure it out and it wasn't all about the physical and communication separate. It's nice to see them tackle that bit and dig into it. Gunnar finally realizing he needed help, they both helped the other when needed. So much growth between them. I really liked the parts with other Rebels, they made this story fun. Theo is always a blast. More than hockey it's a story of heartbreak, getting back up and healing. Having a a support system helped. Good sports romance right here.
Profile Image for Paige.
859 reviews82 followers
December 16, 2021
3.5 stars rounded down.

There were several (4?) extended sections depicting nightmares of the car crash where his family died. These played out in more or less real time and were extremely graphic. I skipped most of them, and didn’t feel like I missed much.

Even skipping those, this book does not pull its punches. Extremely emotional and grief-stricken and explicit in showing the pain these characters are experiencing.

Both of them. Not just the hero. There’s a lot going on.

Overall, it did work for me. Balanced the Issues of the two leads well. Personal taste, but for me all the focus on grief took away from the development of the romance. I bought the chemistry and connection between our main characters, but I didn’t actually buy that they were in love (yet).

CW: death of wife and children in car crash (very graphic!); death of mom (x2; past, offscreen); dad imprisoned for embezzlement; mention of child abuse (fabricated); fat shaming; emotionally abusive dad; vandalism

Contains: pro hockey hero, hockey camp coach hero, PA to gwyneth Paltrow-lite heroine, you’ve got mail/two person love triangle, texting, bicker to bang, sudden guardianship of half-sister, angry preteen (12), mountains of grief, therapy, Chicago, sex-without-feelings-but-oops-definitely-feelings, meddling friends

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