by Alexa Martin Series: Playbook #1 Publisher: Berkley Publication Date:
September 4, 2018 Genres: Romance Pages:
320 Source: First to Read
I received this book for free from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there's a new player on the horizon, and he's in a league of his own...
Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.
Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team's wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee's return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.
Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin's relationship to survive the season.
Trigger warnings: gas lighting, racism
I’m probably the last person you’d want reviewing a football romance, since my knowledge of the sport is pretty much zip, despite (perhaps because of) sitting through a relative’s endless high school football games as a kid. However, the cover was just so gorgeous that I couldn’t resist, and I’m glad I didn’t! This is a delightfully snarky debut romance, and one where you don’t really need to know much about football to enjoy.
He might’ve been a good guy today, but I’ve been around this life for too long to be tricked.
No more athletes, and definitely no quarterbacks.
After ten years of dating her high school sweetheart, she’s ready for Chris to put a ring on it. It’s not that they haven’t had their ups and downs – Marlee had a particularly memorable one night stand during one of their breaks four years ago – but that she’s basically settled into her life with him and, partly, is sick of the mean girls at the football wives’ charity club making snide remarks at her. Until she discovers that he’s cheating on – that he has been cheating on her – and swears off football players forever. The only problem is Gavin, the new quarterback on the team, who also just happens to be the man she had that one night stand with. Marlee can’t deny her attraction to him, but he keeps popping up whenever she needs help. A rebound fling is the last thing she needs, and he can’t possibly be as perfect as he seems – or can he?
Why is he thoughtful? There should be a limit on the charm one could possess. Like Chris, for example. He’s hot, but a giant douchelord, so the balance of the world is in check. Gavin, however, is unbelievably handsome, a gentleman, kind, a fantastic kisser and those skills do not diminish in bed, and he’s one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the NFL. What the hell, universe?
There are several elements in this book that seemed more like women’s fiction than straight-up romance (starting out the book with her dating a man who’s not the hero, the focus on the mean girls, etc). While it worked for me – mostly because of Marlee’s voice – I definitely think it’ll turn off other readers. The voice really makes this book – it’s solely from Marlee’s first-person POV, and, honestly, it was the best part of the book for me. She’s snarky, hilarious, says her mind, and has the tendency to hashtag everything, which I thought would get annoying but was actually downright hilarious. After her break-up with her cheating boyfriend, she sets out on her own for her first time in her adult life, and watching her get her footing and blossom as a single person was very enjoyable. All the while, though, Gavin keeps popping up, and her attraction to him is just as strong as it was four years ago. Gavin may be her white knight riding to the rescue, but the problem is, Marlee doesn’t want him to fight all her battles. After ten years in a relationship that she admits, in hindsight, she knew was going nowhere, she’s afraid she’ll lose herself again in another person.
The big misunderstanding was one area I struggled with, and this was the one point in the book where I wished we could’ve had Gavin’s POV as well. I don’t think it was entirely out of character, as he’d done lesser versions of it before, she’d called him on it, and he’d apologized. The problem was, he kept doing it, and even escalating it, so it was obvious that he didn’t understand what he was doing wrong, even though he saw that his actions were hurting her. I did have some worries that that would be his default reaction again. To balance that out, though, at least he was an excellent groveler! The other issue was some of the conflict. Marlee’s biracial, and many of the other football wives were white, so there was a definite racial undertone in some of the barbs sent her way. I’m certainly not going to try to say that that’s unrealistic, but it did feel like a shorthand way of showing how basically irredeemably bad guy the other football wives were.
Overall, though, I absolutely adored this book, and I’m very much looking forward to Ms. Martin’s next novel!