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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:  Play by Holly S. Roberts

REVIEW: Play by Holly S. Roberts

Dear Ms. Roberts:

I read on twitter the other day that it only takes a person 1/5th of a second to fall in love (not sure how this is quantified) so I’m not sure I sure be knocking authors for the insta love setups but I prefer watching a couple fall in love. It makes their HEA more believable.

Play Holly S. RobertsRebecca and Killian MacGregor in this story seem to fall faster than a hummingbird flaps its wings (that’s 55 times a second). One minute, Rebecca is at a party and the next the star quarterback for the local NFL team is spiriting her home and telling her he wants to see her again. Only the next month is radio silence from Killian and Rebecca writes off their chance encounter as just that until he sends her tickets to his first pre season opener.

Right away, Rebecca is treated differently because that’s how we know she’s the heroine and the hero’s one true love. She gets to sit in the owner’s box. He blows her a kiss from the sidelines. He takes her to the store to make sure she buys extra soap, shampoo, makeup and the like so she doesn’t have to be shuttling things back and forth. We are informed via another player’s wife that this is just not ordinary Killian behavior. It’s predictable that Rebecca succumbs to this; how could she not? Hard to to turn away the famous rich guy with a killer body who is expressing serious interest.

Rebecca, the narrator of the story, tries to keep a level head. She’s attending college and trying to train for her track competition. One part of the story that I really enjoyed was when Killain tried to run with Rebecca but had to wimp out after mile five or so. Rebecca ran 12-13 miles a day.

All is not perfect in their world because Killian is a real jerk on game day and a real asshole if he loses. Rebecca’s response was gratifying. Mix in one dose of guilt, a brother in jeopardy, a hateful sister and you’ve got a fun and sexy sports book that really doesn’t fully explain why the two fall in love or how they’ll keep their love going but in the moment, the book is entertaining.

There are things you might have to overlook like the constant threat Rebecca’s exposed female parts present to upholstery. More than once we are told that she is in danger of ruining fabrics due to her extensive lust. I know I was supposed to see this is sexy and maybe slightly funny but it was actually a bit too much. The love scenes are graphic and I think that a little subtlety could have gone a long way.

The football aspect is well done and completely believable. Rebecca meets Killian during pre season which makes his intense pursuit during that time period a little more believable and there’s a good blend of football details without overwhelming a non familiar reader.

And I read this shortly after Sweet Home and the football stuff is so much better (but given that the author’s husband was apparently a pro football player, that makes sense). C+

Jane

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