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02 April 2014

Review: Game On by Tracy Solheim

Author: Tracy Solheim
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance
Find It: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, Book Depository
Source: Purchased

The only way to win is to score…

With a reputation for fast moves on the gridiron and even faster moves off the field, Shane Devlin was a player in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, his bad-boy persona has made him a risky prospect as a quarterback, and only the Baltimore Blaze are willing to give him a chance. And he’s about to take a hit he never expected.

Working for the Blaze, Carly March knows too well how jocks think—and what they think with—so she’s always made a point of keeping them at arm’s length. But when she shares a kiss with the devilishly handsome Shane, she finds it hard to play by her own rules—and even harder to resist him.

Can a football hero and a business-minded beauty take it all the way? Or will their mutual attraction cost them the big game?

What do you do with a story where you actually like both the hero and heroine but you want to still knock them upside of the head? This was my dilemma with Game On by Tracy Solheim. First, let me say, I gave it 4 stars because overall, I enjoyed it. When I read a book nearly straight through with only necessary life breaks, I have to give it at least 4 stars for grabbing my attention. Additionally, Solheim made me want to see what would transpire between the two main characters.

In Game On, Solheim has given readers a sexy, hot, bad boy of football in her hero, Shane Devlin. Devlin is a talented athlete but has a few flaws that resulted in teams not wanting to touch him thanks to his reputation. However, the Baltimore Blaze is giving Devlin a last chance to play when their starting quarterback is out with an injury for the season. Despite being offered a contract, Devlin recognizes that he still needs to prove he should be the starting quarterback while being monitored by the conservative Blaze owner.

Our heroine, Carly March works for the Blaze and just happens to be the sister-in-law of the Head Coach. Carly’s past history comes quickly to light. Her mother, a famous reporter, died when she was a child, which landed Carly in the eye of the media. Additionally, Carly’s recent relationship with a European soccer player ended up in a very public break-up. Consequently, she isn't interested in dating another athlete or dealing with the paparazzi.

Most romance writers would stop with just the challenges two characters would face given working for the same organization and some past history. However, Solheim does not shy away from adding in some additional issues. On one level, I truly appreciate Solheim's desire to create a more complex story than just a hot and steamy romance. However, at times, I was left wondering if there were too many issues.

In addition to the conflict of Carly working for the Blaze and Shane's need to focus on making the team as starting quarterback and  that it's probably best to stay away from the Head Coach's  attractive sister-in-law, Solheim brings in a few more threads. Both Shane and Carly lost their mothers when they were children. Though this gives them a common ground, their reactions to this significant life event has shaped them both in different ways. Shane struggles with issues with his father and feeling abandoned by him as a child. When his father and stepmother die in an accident, Shane needs to confront issues related to his father, general commitment issues, and the pressing need of caring for his 12 year old half-brother. Throw in another thread where Carly is dealing with a stalker and the book becomes weighted down at times.

As a result, I felt Solheim was ambitious in drawing in so many levels of conflict for her main characters. When I did find myself “eye-rolling” over certain actions by Shane or Carly, or my annoyance with Shane’s resisting change or Carly’s being too kind, I wondered if I was being fair in my judgement. How much of their actions were justified because of what they were dealing with? Together they were good even if both were afraid to commit -Shane more so than Carly. And Carly was good for Shane, though I wasn't always so sure Shane was good for Carly other than she had great chemistry with him, coupled with passion, hot sex, and a sense of security.

Since this was Solheim’s first book, I decided to rate this with four stars. I have high hopes for Solheim and I look forward to seeing her grow as a writer, and I would love to see her continue with complex stories without things feeling like there is a little too much going on. I do like her characters and plan to pick up Foolish Games (Out of Bounds #2) and read about Carly's friend Julianne.

Visit the author online at tracysolheim.comFacebook and follow her on Twitter @tracyksolheim

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