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REVIEW: Power Play by Deirdre Martin

Dear Ms. Martin:

book review So I’ve bemoaning the economy this past week (so glad I’m not retiring for decades) and I got an email from a publicist declaring that in this depressing time I had to read a book about a doomed tsarina and it would sweep me away. My first response was, um no, during this time of sturm und dang, I need happiness, not doomed tsarinas. Thank god, I read romance and in particular, thank goodness I had to read this book. Admittedly, I didn’t have to. I wanted to.


Power Play
tells the story of Eric Mitchell, the hotheaded, playboy twin brother of the hero in Chasing Stanley. The two are pro hockey players and Eric has just been traded to the NY Blades. The Blades aren’t having a great season and some look at Eric with resentment. One of the team favorites was traded to get Eric’s stick on the NY Blade ice and because the team is not winning, many of them don’t believe he was worth the loss.

Monica Geary is an established soap star on the top rated The Wild and the Free. A new, younger co-star is brought onto the show. This co-star in true All About Eve fashion is willing to do anything to be come a star right now, and that pretty much means muscling Monica out of the picture. Worried that her star is fading, Monica contacts her publicist and demands help. Help comes in the form of Eric Mitchell. Pretend the two of you are having an affair and the tabloids will eat it up.

So Monica and Eric enter into this tentative pact where Eric provides credibility to Monica as an attractive star, encouraging tabloid articles, and Monica makes Eric popular with his teammates who are addicts of The Wild and the Free.

Everyone in the league watched The Wild and the Free. Soaps were a favorite way for them to pass the time in hotel rooms when they were on the road, and they all watched when they were home, too, since the teams’ workout and weight rooms had TVs. Eric couldn’t count the times he’d been sweating his ass off on a cross trainer with his eyes glued to Monica Geary.

Jason had a faraway look in his eyes. “Remember that time Roxie’s fiance plunged into a volcano, but it turned out he didn’t really die, and he secretly came back to Garrett City, gaslighting Roxie for a while?”

“That was great,” Eric agreed. Talking about the show was getting him pumped.

“Or the time Roxie was reunited with the baby she’d given birth to in high school but didn’t know she had, because she’d been kicked in the head at the prom by a runaway horse and got amnesia?”

“Oh, man. The way Monica turned on the tears during that scene? You could hear guys sniffling all over the weight room that day. She’s a great actress.”

The funny thing is that Monica thinks Eric is a bit of no nothing jock who is a bad actor. His humungous ego takes a bit of beating at her hands. What I thought was great about this story was that Eric and Monica were definitely opposites whose weaknesses were offset by the others’ strengths. It was easy to see that these two not only belong together as a couple but would be strong far after the pages of the story closed. Both characters showed character growth. Eric learns that being in love makes you vulnerable and Monica learns that being vulnerable is the only way to be in love. The two of them deeply needed to be loved and at first, they sought it in different ways. Monica from her fans which means not taking risks and Eric by spreading his favors around in superficial ways.

And for any readers out there that think this is an unbelievable set up, it’s totally true that many, many pro sports players watch soap operas. This requires no suspension of disbelief. In fact, there is a sportscaster for ESPN named Mike Mark Schlereth. He had wanted to be a soap star and it became kind of a running joke until Guiding Light had him on as a guest star and now he has a recurring role. Pretty funny. I saw in your first sale letter that you had wrote for Soap Opera digest and it shows. This story reeks of authenticity.

By the way, while I know you have no say over your covers, if you did, I would ask never to use powder blue on the cover again because it looks like the guy is wearing his pajamas and it’s kind of hard to get “bad ass hockey player” when half dressed in powder blue. This book doesn’t topple my favorite Martin which was Body Check, but it rates right up there. It’s definitely a book that can take your mind off the dreary economy for a few hours. B

Best regards,

Jane

This book can be purchased in mass market from Amazon or Powells or ebook format.

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

11 Comments

  1. Corrine
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 13:33:25

    I’m just starting this series, so I’m uber-excited about this review. I can’t wait!

  2. Patty L.
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 13:36:20

    I love Diedre’s books and I can’t wait to get my hands on this book. Being a total sports nut and demolishing any and every book with a sports hero, this books sounds like it’s right up my alley.

  3. jmc
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 14:40:04

    Mark Schlereth? On Guiding Light? The same MS who was a guard for the Broncos? I might have to check out Youtube for some clips of that.

  4. Jane
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 14:44:58

    Yes, same guy. His name is Roc something. It was very funny bit on Mike and Mike in the morning a few years ago.

  5. Kitty
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 15:49:46

    You mean Mark Schlereth, right?

  6. Jane
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 15:51:41

    oh yes, Mark. Oops.

  7. Kalen Hughes
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 15:56:14

    And for any readers out there that think this is an unbelievable set up, it's totally true that many, many pro sports players watch soap operas. This requires no suspension of disbelief.

    Really? I have to admit that this seems totally ridiculous to me. I'll take your word for it (since I don't watch soaps or follow sports I'm doubly ignorant), but it doesn't seem like it would be true (and sometimes the truth really is too strange for fiction ).

  8. Jane
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 16:00:18

    @Kalen Hughes: Really. I listen to Mike & Mike in the mornings and watch SportsCenter every evening. This article might convince you:

    http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=alipour/070530&sportCat=mlb

    In 2006, men accounted for 21 percent of the estimated 6 million soap opera viewers. Turns out, some of those chaps were jocks who, given accommodating daytime schedules, aren’t immune to the trappings of today’s metrosexual male culture. “Believe it or not, we mostly reach out because word gets back to us that these guys are fans,” explains “General Hospital” casting director Mark Teschner. “For them, it’s a thrill.”

    Like Brewers outfielder Bill Hall, who’d sneak away at lunch hour in high school with a girlfriend to catch “Days of Our Lives,” Montreal Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray admits that his afternoon naps are preceded by daily doses of “Days.” “Like anyone else, athletes get addicted to the drama, and before we know it, we’re all closet soap junkies,” says Souray, who was so soap-smitten that he married Angelica Bridges, a Days regular (’04). “I knew she was on ‘Baywatch,’ but when she mentioned she was on ‘Days,’ I was like ‘Wow, you had me at hello.’

  9. Shannon Stacey
    Oct 08, 2008 @ 16:57:18

    Would you mind sharing the doomed tsarina’s title?

    And I was confused by the cover. I thought they were figure skater. But I love sports books, so I’ll be grabbing it.

  10. Jane
    Oct 09, 2008 @ 09:52:09

    @Shannon Stacey – yes, it’s the Tsarina’s Daughter and it got a rave review in People.

  11. Jennie
    Oct 24, 2008 @ 21:49:15

    I just finished this and liked it a lot. I’d give it a B+. I’ve read one or two Martins but haven’t been *that* impressed; I kind of feel like I need to give her a second look, now.

    What I liked:

    As you stated in your review, both characters showed some realistic growth in the course of the book. Neither underwent a personality transplant, but this was one of those books where falling in love really does make the hero and heroine better and stronger people, and I find that really romantic and appealing.

    Monica's insecurity and need for attention; this is true of actors, and everyone knows it, but usually a romance heroine isn’t allowed to be needy or egotistical in that way.

    That Eric did change believably; I wasn’t sure if Martin could pull it off, but she did a pretty good job of it.

    I liked that Monica really didn’t like Eric at first; she had some stirrings of lust for him, but he was a creep and she treated him like she was too good for him, which she was, considering how he acted at times.

    That they each had mixed motives at times for their relationship; there was a maturity and a realistic sensibility about the way that worked that you don’t often see in romance.

    I liked Monica's insecurity about her soaps work, and the resolution of that. I wasn’t sure if I wanted her to give up soaps and become a film star, but I appreciated that in the end she realized that damn it, she liked what she did for a living.

    It was quite witty and funny at times. I liked Eric’s poem.

    It was a quick read; I can’t tell you the last time I finished a romance in under a week (I think I finished this in about five days).

    What I didn’t like:

    There were some cliches that had me wincing a bit; the whole heroine as semi-frigid (though this is only really touched on once) while the heroine is a stud who will bang anything that breathes. I’m so sick of this. And there wasn’t any particular reason given for it; I mean, I get sick of heroes with flimsy motivations for not getting into relationships, but that doesn’t mean I want there to be *no* motivation. That just leaves me feeling that it’s a plot device to explain why a 30ish man has never had a serious relationship.

    Wow, Eric really was a jerk at first. And even in the middle at times. I never really got why there was a “jerk Eric” and a “real Eric” – again, some motivation might’ve helped. But I definitely disliked him at times and had trouble seeing how he would reform (but again, if you look at my likes, that was resolved in a way that worked for me).

    Certain things were kind of cartoony/unrealistic. Not a big deal, but considering that there was some real realness (excuse the inarticulateness tonight) between Monica and Eric, I thought the consistently broad portrayal of the other hockey players, for instance, was a bit much. Also, no way would the romance of a hockey player and a soap star get so much play in NYC. Maybe if she were a big movie star, or it was a smaller market, but I can’t believe NY fans would be *that* impressed.

    Really didn’t like Eric calling his brother “fag” at one point. Not cool. Even the liberal use of “pussy” was preferable, though when I really think about the meaning of that phrase, it pisses me off too. I realize these are rough and tumble hockey players, and I don’t need them to talk like nuns, but I also don’t need to hear really offensive slurs.

    Not so much a “dislike”, but I was surprised that the possibility of a sexual harassment suit never came up in regards to the heroine’s situation. I could understand why she wouldn’t want to file such a suit, but it was weird to me that it wasn’t even mentioned as an option.

    All in all, as I said, I really liked this. I’d have to check my book log (I’m at work now), but I think it may be one of the best contemporaries I’ve read this year (of course, I don’t read many straight contemporary romances, but still…)

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