Reviewed: July 31, 2013
Genre: Contemporary Romance; Sports Romance
Series: Play Action, Book 1
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Length: 145 Pages
Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by Brazen publisher Entangled Publishing via NetGalley.
This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own.
When NFL quarterback and hometown hero Cade Reynolds returns to Harper Falls for the first time in sixteen years to do a favor for his old high school football coach, the town's welcome is...well...slightly underwhelming. No one even recognizes him. At least, no one but the stunningly sexy woman who is on her way out of the coffee shop when she sees him sitting at a table.
The heated recognition that flares in her eyes puts Cade's blood flow on a southward bound sex train. He should probably meet her first, however, before asking her to be his lusty conductor.
Angie Peterson couldn't imagine what her former high school crush was doing back in Harper Falls after all these years. She knows he's still rehabbing the shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game for almost two seasons, but all reports indicate he should be heading back to the sport soon. She should know, she's followed Cade's career as devotedly as she follows football. One is her life and her passion, the other, well, a different sort of passion. So the frank interest she sees in his eyes when she meets his gaze thrills her to her core.
Thankfully, he doesn't seem to remember her. That opens the door for all sorts of delightful recreation. After all, it's not like the illustrious Cade Reynolds is likely to be in town for long.
After a decadent night of unbridled passion, Angie returns to the real world and her job as math teacher and assistant football coach for the high school. Coming face-to-face with Cade at work so soon after relegating their fabulous night together to the past is a shock, but it's finding out exactly why Cade is back in town that really tilts Angie's world on its axis and threatens everything she's worked so hard to achieve.
He may be there to take a job that should rightfully be hers, but when it comes to football, Angie is a master at strategy, and this is a game she has every intention of winning. Even if it is against the only man she's ever truly wanted.
As a mostly cute and wickedly sexy little contemporary romance with heavy sports influences, Barbosa's series debut works nicely and even has a few nifty little unorthodox touches. I enjoyed both characters, even though Cade's character stayed fairly consistent with the wounded sports hero stereotype. He had enough charming traits that went against-type to keep him interesting. It was Angie's character, though, that really brought a breath of fresh air to the read for me.
I loved that she's not only an assistant coach, but she's brilliant with game strategy and play calling. That was a particularly nice touch in a sub-genre where the female protagonists are usually stuck working for a sports team's front office or as some sort of sports reporter.
Angie and Cade had excellent chemistry, too, and the level of competition between them set the evolution of their relationship on a very nice simmer as the story progressed. And it has to be said...Barbosa completely delivered on the page-burning, sizzling sex. It was fan-worthy and positively delicious.
The overall plot wasn't terribly complex, and the few threads of external conflict were fairly anemic in both depth and definition, with a resolution that I found lacking. Still, this isn't the sort of story that necessitates a tremendous amount of complexity to be entertaining. Some elements were pretty far from realistic, others could have been a little more believable with a little more foundation, but those are really pretty minor issues, all things considered.
I didn't like the end of the book, though. That was a problem. And I hate when a book ends an unsatisfying or disappointing note when so much else in the story works for me. Whenever that happens, my overall impression of the read takes a hit. Too much about this ending, though, felt more like a setup for the next book than a satisfying conclusion to this one and I just wasn't happy with it.
I was happy with much of the rest of it, though. It was sexy as hell, with solid characters in a contentious but fiery romance and a story that had just enough individuality to make it memorable. A steamy-hot way to spent a few fun reading hours. Speaking as a football lover, I'd say this one made it to the end zone, even if it missed the extra point.
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