Book Review: Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Goodreads: Beauty and the Baller (Strangers in Love #1)
Published: 29 March 2022
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

Panda Rating:

(4.5 pandas)

Gorgeous, talented, and brilliant, NFL quarterback Ronan Smith has the world in his hands. But after losing his career and his fiancée in a car accident, he falls into a pit of grief and bad choices. When a mysterious girl shows up to his party, he feels drawn to her and makes her his…for one night.

Former beauty queen Nova Morgan is on a mission. Scantily clad as a princess from a galaxy far, far away, she sneaks into a high-profile party to capture the attention of her favorite quarterback. But her hopes crash after an awful one-night stand.

Fast-forward two years. Broke and desperate, Nova returns home to Blue Belle, Texas, where, by a cosmic twist of fate, her broody neighbor is none other than Ronan, the shiny new football coach everyone adores. But he has no idea who she is.

The booster club keeps shoving women at Ronan to keep him in town. His solution? He proposes fake dating to Nova. But things heat up for real under these Friday-night lights when he realizes she’s the one who slipped away.

Has this jaded beauty found her forever baller, or will his past keep them apart? 

TL;DR: This was swoony, sweet, banter-filled and exactly the read that I was looking for right now. I really enjoyed this fake-dating semi-second-chances romance set in a football-obsessed small-town in Texas. All the characters were wonderful and the different relationships that developed throughout the story were so great! I don’t reread often but I can definitely see this being a comfort read—it was just so heartwarmingly good. 💜

Let’s just say that Ronan and Nova’s meet-cute was more than a little awkward especially when the night comes to an end. Oof, it made me cringe hard! Fast forward to two years later and they miraculously find themselves together again in small-town Texas and to make matters even more awkward? He doesn’t remember who she is. Oop! 🙈 Yet it’s hard to avoid each other when you live in such a small town, wind up being neighbours, and have nosy and pushy community matchmakers (who mean well) trying to set you up. Despite their many awkward beginnings, Nova and Ronan had such great chemistry and I loved their silly banter so much—they really had such fun with one another but they also took their time getting to know each other. They’re both good people with big hearts and it wasn’t hard to root for their HEA. They both had issues that were barriers to their romance so it was a bit of a slow burn but when they finally move past that it was absolutely explosive! 🥵 They were seriously adorable and their romance had me giggling quite a few times!

Other than their main relationship, I also liked the different relationships that developed with and between the other characters. Nova’s sister Sabine was great and I loved how they supported and care for each other. Skeet and Sonia were also fantastic supporting characters and Skeet especially had me cracking up with his endearing, golden-retriever energy! 😂 I also loved the bonds that Ronan formed with his players especially Toby and how he gave back so much to the community and helped the kids succeed. Nova also developed a strong bond with her English students and it was heartwarming to see her get through to the kids who really needed it. I was invested in all these characters and I wish we could get stories for all of them—I wouldn’t hesitate to read Skeet & Sonia’s story but also Tuck’s story (he’s too precious and adorable)!

It’s kinda hard to believe that this is my first book by Ilsa Madden-Mills but I know it most definitely won’t be my last! Seriously, bring on the next book in the series, please?! 😃

Have you read Beauty and the Baller or is it on your TBR?

14 thoughts on “Book Review: Beauty and the Baller by Ilsa Madden-Mills

    • Ooh, I think I subbed to that podcast but still haven’t listened to an episode of it yet 😂 This was definitely a pleasant surprise and I can’t wait for the next book in this series. I hope you enjoy this one if you pick it up 😉


  1. This one is on my tbr after seeing so many fellow bloggers rave about it. I’m happy to see that you enjoyed it, as well! I’m always intrigued by the small Texas town books since I’m from one. 😉 Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. hgdghdgsdgh i’ve never heard of this book before BUT THE COVER LOOKS STUNNING, PLUS THE ENTIRE STORY JUST SOUNDS AMAZING?? i mean, fake dating + sister dynamics??? I NEED!! also small town romances ARE JUST THE BEST OK!! so glad you enjoyed this AND ABSOLUTELY LOVE THE REVIEW

    Liked by 1 person

    • I loved the cover as well! It definitely caught my eye and made me want to pick it up asap 😂 I’m so glad that I listened to my gut cos I lovedit! I’m such a sucker for small town romances. 💜


  3. *happy dancing* I loved this book, and I love that YOU loved this book. I totally agree with everything you said. I adore all the characters too which is why I am so excited that Madden-Mills wrote more books in this world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOO! I’m so glad that I picked this up on a whim and I honestly can’t wait for the next book in the series. I was so sad that I saw it up on NG but couldn’t request it (damn location lol) but I’m definitely highly anticipating it! 😍 I also really want to read more by this author!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I feel like I need to read Sports Romances, haha. I haven’t really besides some of the Bromance books and some of them playing a sport.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sports romances have definitely grown on me and I’ve started reading more and more of them now 😂 I still have to read more of the Bromance books especially Vlad’s! 😍


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