Jul 6 2011
Dear Ms. Davenport:
Thank you for sending me your football book. I must say that your review pitch was one of the best I have read. You pointed to my long and public quest for more romance books about sports. Fourth and Goal displayed a deep and comfortable knowledge of football but strangely enough it wasn’t the on field shenanigans that I enjoyed the most, but the off the field relationships that the characters developed.
Rachel McCormick and Derek Ramsey used to be good friends until they slept together five years ago. Until Rachel’s father was involved in a point shaving scandal. Until Derek’s once promising pro football career was about to be extinguished and Rachel was let go from her job. When the two reunite five years later, they are both looking for redemption only not with each other. Derek’s been traded to the Seattle Lumberjacks and this is his last chance to make a go of a pro career. Rachel McCormick is looking for any job, but would love one in football, a sport that she knows inside and out.
Derek and Rachel inevitably fall into bed with one another as Rachel agrees to watch Derek’s recent property purchase while he is in training camp and over the season. She needs the money, for one thing, but she also has an ulterior motive. She never believed her father was involved in the point shaving scandal but that he was covering for someone, perhaps his two star high school athletes, Derek Ramsey and his cousin, Tyler. Rachel plans to find out if Derek really was involved.
There are a number of things going on in the story. There is the reunited lovers theme. The deception and betrayal theme. The redemption theme. There is the story of the girl trying to break into a man’s sport. The struggle of dealing with family members and where one’s allegiance falls. The strongest storylines were the redemption theme
The multiplicity of plot elements combined with secondary character plotlines that didn’t fit in well with the main story but served mostly as sequel bait served to hamper the flow. Time was spent watching Tyler seemingly nail everything that had girl parts and then make up and break up with his girlfriend Cass. I never understood what their storyline contributed to Derek and Rachel’s. Their relationship conflicts were quite different and unresolved at the end. Sequel, was the only thing I could come up with.
The part of the story that had the most emotional power were the connections that Rachel and Derek made and the one that Derek makes with a young kid who was terminally ill. I also enjoyed seeing Rachel finally understand her skill set (management) and how to marry that with the sport she loved. The book starts off slow, introducing what I thought were unimportant plot elements. However, about half way through, the pace of the story and the romance picked up and I was captivated for the last half.
I did wonder, though, whether the on the field scenes would be as interesting to non fans as they were to fans. I am guessing no. I wished that there were more team moments. I love the inside the locker room feel and I didn’t get that here. I also questioned whether the quarterback for a team could be seen boozing it up every night before the big game. I kept thinking that these players need their rest!
The biggest problem that I had, though, was with the constant metaphors. Holy, metaphorpalooza. January commented on the many varied uses of the metaphor in this review, but I think Fourth and Goal has Ellen Connor’s book beat.
- Five years ago, his one-weekend affair with Rachel McCormick had tackled him for an emotional loss.
- “Do you think there’s a chance we could be friends again?” Derek leaned forward. His chocolate eyes, earnest and bright, searched hers. Rachel looked away and forced all expression from her face. “Let’s not run that play yet.” It might be the one play that’d drop them both for a loss.
- He’d dropped another perfect pass and added one more nail in the coffin of his pro-football career.
- It sounded cocky, but a football player who didn’t believe in himself wasn’t worth the turf he played on.
- Rachel buried her fingers in his hair. “Take it down the field, big guy. It’d be a shame if you had to punt.”
- “So, Dare, what are you waiting for? You’re in the red zone; time to score.”
- His cock grew harder than a goalpost.
- Never mess with a woman ready to call a trick play when the game was on the line.