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Tracy Solheim

REVIEW:  Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim

REVIEW: Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim

Foolish Games (Out of Bounds #2) by Tracy Solheim

Dear Ms. Solheim:

Julianne Marchione is a famous bridal gown designer who has a one night stand which results in a surprise pregnancy. Determined to raise the child on her own, she never reconnects with Will Connelly, a pro football player. When her baby  has a life threatening illness requiring a blood transfusion, however, she is compelled to seek Will out.

A bastard himself, Will is furious at Julianne and demands that he not only marry her but that he be given his rightful place as Owen’s father. Julianne agrees because this is the only way she will save her son but refuses to be anything but an in-name only wife. Will and Julianne’s relationship starts off on a bad note and initially does not get better.

Will is initially very cold to Julianne and given that she was going to keep his son from him that was probably deserved.  As the two spend time together in Will’s hometown, a place that he kind of loathes because of how he and his mother were treated when she was a poor young single parent, Will begins to thaw as he begins to see how great of a mother Julianne is to Owen.

Julianne is a … frustrating character at times. Her initial plans to raise her son on her own were somewhat understandable but then she sells her successful bridal business to pay Owen’s medical bills even after Will agreed to cover them (and likely Will’s insurance could help in that regard).  She meekly agrees to Will’s marriage plans because she has no financial resources to fight him BUT her brother is a wealthy senator. It seems like she had other options but I understand she couldn’t choose those because otherwise how would we get Will and Julianne in a house together?

Notwithstanding the setup, I did enjoy the progression of the romance which largely centers around their unabated attraction for each other and their love for Owen. Both are impressed with the other’s devotion to their son and it is really the newborn that brings them together.  I was convinced that they were a good match. Will needed someone like Julianne who was more expressive with her feelings, more willing to take an emotional chance.

Will and Julianne’s burgeoning romance is imperiled by a bounty scandal that involves his former college coach at Yale and now defensive coordinator the NFL. Will would never turn on his former coach because without the coach’s championing, Will would not be in the NFL at all.

As the two fall for each other conflicts arise in the form of Julianne refusing to share the details of a new business with Will and Will’s scandal but there was a point in the book where I wanted to reach through the book and slap Julianne silly for something that she does to Will.  I know it was inadvertent but her lack of discretion as it related to private, secret things that Will told her was infuriating.

As for the secondary characters, I loved Will’s mother and the relationship that the two had. They were devoted to seeing that the other was happy and the tough times that they’d had together only made them a stronger, tighter unit.  But Julianne’s family was frustrating. Perhaps it was to show us that the rich don’t have better families than the poor, but the use of Julianne’s brother both as a villain and a hero came off as contrived and inconsistent. Of all the actors in the story, he was the least believable and the most flat.

I think readers of sports fans would like this book but Julianne’s behavior in the beginning and the end could have cratered the book if not for the positive ending brought about by other characters. Overall though I liked the blend of sports, the relationship between Will and his mother, and the romance between Julianna and Will. B-

Best regards,

Jane

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REVIEW:  Game On by Tracy Solheim

REVIEW: Game On by Tracy Solheim

Dear Ms. Solheim:

I love a good football book and while I thought the sports element was well integrated into the story, I struggled with the romance.  Ironically, my struggles differed than other readers. Shane Devlin and Carly March meet and share a romantic interlude while they are both away from their homes.  What Shane doesn’t realize is that Carly works in the PR and Marketing department of the Baltimore Blaze, Shane’s new team.

Game On by Tracy SolheimOn the tail end of his career, Shane has a lot to prove. He is still driven to best his father’s records.  Shane’s father was a famous pro quarterback who got Shane’s mother pregnant and then abandoned both of them. Shane’s father then remarried, had another kid.  In Bruce Devlin’s tell all biography, he confesses that his biggest regret was hawking his Super Bowl ring to pay for alcohol.  It is treatment like this that prevented Shane from ever reconciling with his father.

And it causes Shane deep seeded resentment toward Bruce’s other son, the 10 year old Troy.  Shane’s interaction with Troy wasn’t always nice but I found it to be believable. Unlike other reviewers, this aspect of Shane’s personality never bothered me because not everyone is well suited to be a parent. Should Shane have manned up and been less selfish and into his own drama, sure, but then where would the conflict be?

Carly, on the other hand, had a similar neglectful father.  Her mother was Veronica March, a media heiress who was killed by terrorists when Carly was ten.  It was after her mother’s death that it was learned Carly’s father was the “love child” of a married American news anchor.  Carly, unlike Shane, holds no animosity toward either her half sister or her father, even when Carly is treated less than by her still living father.  Because of Carly’s attachment to her family and her easy forgiveness of her father’s lack of emotional support, she doesn’t understand Shane’s position.  (And frankly I thought that should be a real red flag to Carly as to whether Shane was going to be a suitable partner for her). But the emotional arc for Shane is to move from his position to Carly’s.  Where the reader falls on this spectrum will likely affect the reader’s enjoyment of this book.

There was an understated romance between the head of security and Carly’s best friend and co worker which I would have enjoyed seeing more of.  The interaction Carly had with her half sister and half sister’s family was sweet. I appreciated that this heroine had a wide circle of people who loved her and she wasn’t a virgin and this wasn’t set in a small town.  The on page chemistry between the two came off genuine as well.

I think a number of the issues that I had with the book could have been resolved through a less not more philosophy. MinnChica wrote in her review that there was so much added to the book from the stalker to the family death to a new addition to a family that it seemed to detract from the central relationship issue. I’m definitely on board with another Solheim book even if this one didn’t work out perfectly for me.  C+

Best regards,

Jane

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