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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:  Sweet Home by Tillie Cole

REVIEW: Sweet Home by Tillie Cole

Sweet Home Tillie Cole

Dear Tillie Cole:

This book was/is burning up the Kindle bestseller list. A football hero and an English transplant? Buying it was a no brainer to me but there were so many things wrong with this story.

First off, the football. The hero is the starting quarterback for the Alabama Crimson Tide and is talked about as a number one draft pick. However, his Alabama parents hate that he plays football and his father believes his son, Romeo Prince, is wasting his time. Football is a religion to Tide fans and there is just no way that Alabama parents aren’t in love with the fame and glory attendant to a Tide starting QB who is leading his team to a National Championship game.

Here’s where it is interesting. It was clear to me that there was some research done, but it was written by someone who didn’t have a clear understanding of football or how to interpret her research. For instance, when Alabama played Notre Dame in the book, the players are referred to as “Dame linebacker”. Romeo is constantly referred to as a first draft not a first pick in the draft or a first draft pick. The phrase “first draft” was so irritating throughout the book. When the next play or set of downs is described, it is referred to as the next phase:

For over three hours we’d watched as Alabama scored, swiftly followed by Notre Dame. Alabama now had the offensive team on the field and with seconds left, they could take the win, if Romeo successfully completed the last phase.

I gave some leeway considering the narrator was a young British woman so I excused the use of pitch to describe the football field or referring to the distance in meters instead of yards. But just the feel of it was wrong. Early on in the book, the heroine, Molly Shakespeare, attends the football game and the hero throws a ball that hits her in the glasses. Romeo then runs off the field and into the stands to cradle her in his arms and then give her a kiss.

Nothing about that scene is remotely plausible. How crappy of a QB are you if you are throwing the ball into the stands? Sure, you have a gun for an arm, but your aim is so bad that even the Bad News Bears are going to bench you. And a QB running off the field into the stands? Sure, if he could fight through all the people on the sidelines, past the security guards that ring the interior, and then over the chest high barrier.

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Because football was such a big part of the story and so many of the elements were so obviously wrong, it was really hard to give myself over to the narrative. My mental red pen was out at every juncture (not to mention some cringing typos like “with a vicious growl, he wrenched my legs apart to straddle him, his hardness lying perfectly against my scolding centre.” She has vagina dentata? I mean that’s the only way I can figure out that her “centre” is capable of scolding anyone.

His tongue wrestled with mine, and he drew out all of my latent need with every wet lash. With an exasperated sigh, he broke us apart, his tan skin a scolding temperature to the touch.

he wrenched my legs apart to straddle him, his hardness lying perfectly against my scolding centre.

Scolding tears ran down my face as I clawed at his forearm. “Romeo, I’m so sorry.”

I don’t know. Is that a British spelling for scalding? But if you can set all that is wrong about the football aside and close your eyes to the grammatical issues, the plotline is so over the top ridiculous. Romeo Prince’s parents treat him like crap and yes there is a somewhat (although weak) explanation at the end, their actions are vaudeville like. Romeo’s father punches him in the face one early morning on campus. (Like this wouldn’t have been all over ESPN and the blogs) At another juncture, Romeo’s mother gets physical with Molly.

Romeo is a dominant in the bedroom and out of nowhere, starts ordering Molly around. The sex scenes were probably the best part of the story, scolding centre aside.  He likes to be in control and that’s the one area that he has it. (He’d also have it on the football field, but whatever).

Molly is a TA from Oxford at the age of twenty. She’s helping a professor prepare a paper that will be presented at Oxford. In the meantime, she’s randomly inducted into a sorority and then moves into the sorority house right away. (Let’s not even begin to talk about how inaccurate the sorority representation in the story was – Molly and her two friends get into the sorority by agreeing to kiss a frat boy blindfolded and guess what he ate. Okay.).

The larger girl in the story is a friend of Molly’s and I think it was supposed to be a positive presentation but it came off so wrong. She was portrayed as a vulgar food obsessed woman. When Molly is knocked off her feet by the football, Cass asks where her “large bag of chips and root beer” is. Cass is described as chowing down on her third corn dog and then loving meatloaf. All the other women in the book either don’t eat or drink diet and eat salads.  Cass likes crotchless panties and cut out boob bras and lube.  Our delicate heroine likes “soft, subtle” and not “pornographic” or “hooker” like attire.

So that was disappointing. It’s not an unreadable book as evidenced by the fact that I finished it but the football was all wrong, the portrayal of Cass was offensive, the over the top soapy extreme characterizations obviously worked for a lot of people but not for me.  D

Best regards,

Jane

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