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.
On 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+