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REVIEW: Changing the Game by Jaci Burton

Dear Ms. Burton:

As you know, I really enjoyed The Perfect Play. I love football and I felt like the story captured elements of the athlete hero fairly well.  It was scorching hot and had a believable love story with a great heroine.  I knew from hints within The Perfect Play and by the included excerpt that the next book would feature Gavin and his agent, Elizabeth.

Changing the Game - Jaci BurtonWhen I first read this book, I put it down and skimmed to the end but then I felt like I should finish it for a review because I had reviewed and recommended the first in the series.  My initial problem was the set up.  Gavin is a baseball player in St. Louis.  Liz is his agent.  They decide that they are going to sleep together, not a friends-with-benefits sort of thing, but just “fucking each other brainless until one of us gets tired of the other.

Gavin is a professional athlete, a rich and good-looking athlete.  He could have more chicks on his stick in one night than he could service in a month.  So why Elizabeth, who, as Gavin describes in the beginning of the book:

Even if Liz had messed with Mick’s personal life, had hurt Mick’s girlfriend and her son, and had done just about everything humanly possible to piss his brother off.

Would a brother who has hot chicks throwing themselves at him constantly really go out of his way to pursue a woman who decked his brother over in a bad way? I understand that part of the conflict was that Gavin, the middle brother, struggled with feelings of inadequacy compared to his saintly older brother Mick, but I didn’t see that as the reason behind Gavin’s pursuit of Elizabeth. His pursuit was that she was hot and available — their initial connections shallow. If you are going to have shallow connections, why with someone who had the potential to impair an important relationship (the one with his brother?)

Further, Gavin and Liz were supposedly friends and Gavin thought Liz was one of the best agents around.  There is no discussion or thought about what sleeping together would do to that relationship.  For adults, both Gavin and Liz seemed to be so lust driven as to not be capable of rational thought.  This wasn’t appealing and made both of them, primarily Gavin look immature.  Liz had crushed on Gavin secretly for a long time so her falling into his bed was more believable.

As this is a romance, the feelings change overtime although Gavin really grappled with the concept of falling in love.  I’m not sure why.  Gavin grew up with two parents that loved each other.  It wasn’t as if Gavin appeared in the book that he wanted more time to screw a different chick in every town.  Instead, he wanted Liz and thus his animosity toward the idea of coupledom that grew in the later stages of the book and then his resulting cruelty toward Liz wasn’t understandable.

I will say that I grew to like Liz quite a bit.  She was a control freak and that was what made her so good at her job.  Obviously she had boundary and ethical issues. I wasn’t quite sure that the ethical issues were ever addressed. She was sorry that she hurt Mick and lost him as a client.  Was she changed? I wasn’t convinced of that.  I like that Liz was a great agent, making her way in a man’s sport. I understood that she had to be tough but there were some points where I wish she had been presented as more consistent.  Early on in the story, when Gavin and Liz first start sleeping together, he literally demands to know how long it has been for her since her last lover.  Two years, Liz confesses and Gavin was then appeased. But why? Why should he be appeased with her two year abstinence? Would he have wanted her less if she had just dumped a lover 2 months ago?

I didn’t enjoy how the story progressed forward, either, with Gavin being emotionally stunned by his father’s illness. Gavin sits out of baseball, during the season, and I just found that really implausible.   I had read this book before the NBA finals this year, but this implausible position was hammered home even more when the story of Mike Miller. Miller’s new daughter was born during the playoffs and had a hole in her heart. He played his games well, but would be flying back to his daughter’s bedside.  There is multiplicity of stories like this in sports.  While this was a minor point in the overall story, it just added to the already disconnected feeling I had with the book.  I wasn’t convinced of characters’ motives or actions.   Further, much of the story was actually simply sex scenes and perhaps a few less or shorter scenes could have provided the space for more character development.  Yes, I am saying there was too much sex in this story.  How can that be, right?  It’s like complaining that a Hershey’s bar is too chocolate-y.  C-

My dissatisfaction with Changing the Game has not diminished my interest in the sister’s story at all. Bring it on!

Best regards,

Jane

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Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

24 Comments

  1. morineko
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:20:16

    I’m still on chapter 2 so can’t address the particular situation in this book, but from what I can see there’s slightly more acceptance in MLB than in other sports for giving players time off for family issues as well as for emotional issues. (Also in the NBA, the Timberwolves’ Luke Ridnour missed a significant amount of time dealing with a problem with one of his newborns last season; Miller’s situation may have just been because, you know, playoffs.)

  2. Praxidike
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:27:12

    I was waiting for this review. I just loathed this book. The character development was sorely lacking, the writing itself was bland and definitely not comparable to the first book in the series.

    Like you, I found it odd that Gavin would gravitate towards Liz after what she’d done to his brother in the first book. And I also found Mick’s attitude insufferable. By the end of the book, I didn’t feel that Liz had ever been “redeemed”, and Tara’s quick forgiveness of her didn’t quite ring true to me, either. Though I hate to say it, the complete lack of realism in the book really turned me off.

    Sex scenes are nice. But when they come at the expense of character development and common sense… not so much. I doubt I will buy the third book.

  3. Jayne
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 15:45:46

    Cover comment: Is he holding something under his right arm or is that picture just….”off” somehow?

  4. Jamie Michele
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:06:28

    Maybe it’s a hat? Certainly looks to be something under there. Either way, I’d like to order the poor guy a pizza and draw him a cool glass of water. Lovely body, of course, but he looks like he’s starving and dehydrated. I know men with that much musculature and that little body fat exist, but they’re often a little obsessive about their bodies, no? I’d rather he be obsessed with mine…

  5. Jayne
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:26:15

    Maybe it is a hat. At first glance, it looks as if he’s been photoshopped like the Victoria Secret models to make his torso look slimmer which puts him out of proportion to the width of his shoulders.

  6. cayenne
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:29:38

    Haven’t read the book yet, though I’m still looking forward to it despite the review.

    @Jayne, re the pic: I’ve thought that since I first saw it; it’s like there might be something there, but indistinct. However, I’ve seen some weirdly-developed muscles, including lats, in life drawing, so I accepted it as musculature. It’s like having a bat-wing shirt for a back, or a built-in upside-down delta wing.

  7. Lindsey
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 16:36:16

    As soon as I found out that Liz was going to be the protagonist of this book, I decided I was going to leave it. Judging by this review, I’m glad I made that choice. I loved Perfect Play, and I think I would have had difficulty getting past what Liz did in that book to the point where I could root for her as a heroine.

  8. kathybaug
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 17:32:25

    After the hotness that was the first book’s cover, this cover is very disappointing. He’s too veiny and bumpy and out of proportion. I would be very surprised to find out that this is an untouched picture of a real guy. However, the cover of the next book is back to hotness again :)

  9. Jaclyn
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 19:31:46

    I also Perfect Play was a great story and while Liz was horrible, I have been interested in learning more about her in this book–I’m more interested in Liz’s background and story than in what’s up with Gavin.

    I wonder if the second book in a series is really hard to write? Especially when we readers like the first so much.

  10. Lynn S.
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 19:36:03

    I think the problem is a combination of the background and a lighting effect on the area underneath the title which causes the wonky look—that and a bit of underarm hair. If you click on the cover to pull up the largest image on Jaci Burton’s blog post, Changing the Game, you’ll see it’s not a hat.

  11. SHZ
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 20:11:19

    I couldn’t figure out all those “Best Contemporary Romance of 2011” reviews on Amazon. This book was just sex, sex and more sex with no plot and no character development. The first book was no masterpiece, but at least it was a fun read. This one? I tried so hard to like it, but nothing about it worked. I also disliked the heroine. There was no proper reason given for why she was such a bitch in the first book and so different here.

  12. Keishon
    Aug 11, 2011 @ 22:50:17

    I thought the cover pic seemed off as well.

  13. Mary G
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 07:31:30

    What timing. I loved it. I was up till 4AM reading it. I thought it was romantic & hot. I believe Gavin says in the beginning that he always thought Liz was hot and her pulling away intrigued him. I was prepared to hate Liz but I understood where she came from & she did learn from her mistakes in PP.

  14. joanne
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 09:48:01

    @Jayne: Completely off topic but Jo Goodman shared a cover where the hero has something ‘more’ under his belt! http://tiny.cc/gi2ct

  15. Janet P.
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 09:54:05

    I really liked Perfect Play and also thought this one was a huge stinker pretty much point by point with Jane’s review.

    I felt the same way about the ball player’s extended leave of absence from the game. Family Emergency leave is built into the union contract but no way would a team just adopt a “oh, just whenever you feel like coming back is okay” attitude about a star player. Especially once his Father was discharged from the hospital and well into recovery at home. Pro teams don’t get into paying millions of dollars for their players to sit at home watching ballgames on tv.

    Too much sex – never thought I’d say that about Jaci Burton.

  16. Jeannie
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 12:16:57

    I’m going to throw myself into the minority here and admit that I wasn’t really blown away by the first one and I LOVE sports themed romances. I liked Mick a lot and I liked that Tara was so devoted to her son and ambitious but her constant resistance of him got old. He’d proved he was a decent guy in the way he treated her son. And the sex scenes were a little porny to me. The never felt really tender and loving. I absolutely hate when the characters announce that they’re coming. Good Lord. Anyway, the whole thing with Liz kinda turned me off on this one too. I hate to say this but I think the hot covers help sell the book, and they are HAWT!

  17. Anne
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 12:18:29

    Me? I’m not going to read this book, but I am going to take another moment to appreciate its cover. Wow. Just wow.

  18. Jayne
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 13:37:13

    @joanne: OMG, bwhahahaha! Initially you just don’t see that dick for the oar. But once you do….

  19. LethalLovely
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 13:38:58

    @Jeannie:

    I’ll jump into the minority with you! TPP was such a disappointment for many of the reasons you listed. Mick was so considerate & kind to Tara, yet she was forever thinking the worse of him. I couldn’t stand her. As for Mick? Perfect. Too perfect. He had zero flaws. Even his “deep dark secret” wasn’t particularly dark or deep. TPP became very boring over time & while I’d love to read Gavin’s story, I don’t think I can put myself through that disappointment again.

  20. Jane
    Aug 12, 2011 @ 15:13:29

    @Jayne There was a cover image of Gena Showalter’s that suffered from the same photoshop problem.

  21. Kaetrin
    Aug 13, 2011 @ 22:22:20

    @ Joanne – so funny – it took me a while to see it but now I can’t not! :)

    I wasn’t a huge fan of the first book – it was “okay but not great” for me. I think I’ll pass on this one – I didn’t like Liz in the first book at all and the excerpt in the back of it for this book didn’t make me want to read it. I am interested in the sister’s book however.

  22. Jeannie
    Aug 15, 2011 @ 13:16:33

    I think the problem with the cover is that’s the shadow of his arm bisecting his side. See how it goes all the way down to his hip? It’s distracting, yes, but hell, who cares? Move your eyes to the right and glory in those abs, photoshopped or not.

  23. Heather
    Aug 16, 2011 @ 08:38:51

    @LethalLovely:

    (1) I hated TPP, and (2) I loved Changing the Game.

    I never felt that Gavin didn’t have reasons to like Liz. He admits his respect for her intelligence, love for her body, but was unwilling to change things. And then she starts to ignore him, which peaks his interest without her really meaning to.

    I think that most men, even if they find that they are “in love,” still fight that, regardless of seeing happy family relationships at home. And it has nothing to do with wanting to bang every woman out there, more about the fear of having to live up to someone else’s expectations.

    As to Liz, I don’t feel like she has to move forward. She admitted her responsibility, owned up to it in a mature way (even speaking to Tara’s son privately), and has moved on.

    I can’t wait for their sister’s book!

  24. September Kindle Winner - Dear Author
    Sep 18, 2011 @ 04:00:40

    […] trackbacks, and that left us with a little under 3,000 comments.  The winning comment is morineko who left the following comment on the review to Changing the Game by Jaci Burton. I’m still on chapter 2 so can’t […]

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