Defenseless (Diamond Girls #3)
by Elisa Dane
Release Date: 01/17/15
High school senior, Claire Reilly’s world revolves around All-Star cheerleading. The Diamond Girls, are gearing up for a major competition, which, if they win will allow them to compete at Worlds for the first time. But the unimaginable happens, and both Claire and her team are rocked by a devastating loss. Determined to get to Worlds any way she can, Claire finds help from the last person she imagined would give it—up and coming UFC fighter and notorious bad boy, Ryker Vaughn.
Fouled out of the octagon by a dirty opponent and a vicious kick to the head, Ryker loses control when he learns he may never fight again. Angry over the loss of his mother, an unsupportive family, and the world in general, he gives up, gives in, and unleashes his rage—destroying part of his cousin’s cheer gym in the process. Things go from bad to worse when Ryker is given an ultimatum: help the Diamond Girls compete for a bid to Worlds, or go to jail.
Overwhelmed with anger, sadness, and grief, the unlikely pair learn that what you see is not always what you get, and that the most difficult losses sometimes open the door to a frightening, yet amazing new future.
I've read all three of the Diamond Girls books. Each book can be read as a stand alone but it would seem a pity to miss the other two. It would be tough to name my favorite. Having said that, I loved the main character's voice in this one.
Claire certainly goes through some extremes of emotion. At one point I was sure she was properly depressed, not just sad and trying to cope with the loss of her friend. I wasn't sure she would be able to pick herself up and get going again. But she had a lot of help, in the unexpected shape of Ryker Vaghn. Ryker is not what meets the eye. He has his own issues to deal with. His family have treated him abysmally and his baggage isn't all his at all.
Then, there is the Diamond Girls, Claire's cheer team. This is a bunch of girls who consider their friends as family. They are tough athletes and work hard without the need to sacrifice every other part of their lives. If I had a daughter, these are the sort of girls I'd love her to be friends with and look up to.
I have to admit that going into reading the first book, Ex-Factor, I was a bit worried I wouldn't be able to keep up with the jargon. Elisa Dane makes it easy. Without going into too much detail, she manages to explain just enough that the reader feels confident navigating the world of competitive cheer.
But these books aren't so much about cheer, so much as cheer is the world they are set in. The girls and guys have so much more going on in their lives, from dealing with the consequences of drunk driving in the first book, domestic abuse in the second, and alcoholism and grief in the third. All the while navigating the eruption of teen hormones and budding romance.
All the books give a sense of achievement and overcoming personal obstacles, but Defenseless, felt a little like an accumulation, like I've been getting to know the characters all along and this is where I was heading with them.
I will be very sorry to say goodbye to this series. I recommend them to anyone who enjoys YA, regardless of age.