Published: November 1, 2015
Genre: Romance (Contemporary)
Source: Personal Copy
You might enjoy this book if you like: Football, Lumbersexuals, Bearded Guys, Strong heroines who doubt their own strength
NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friend. That ends now.
Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.
Dex is looking for a forever girl, but they live vastly different lives in separate cities. Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he's her forever man.
Hey guys...did you hear? IT IS FOOTBALL SEASON! Okay, it is always football season when it comes to my guilty pleasure reading, which is why I love this Game On series more than I'd like to admit.
While the first two books focused on a team of players at a vague southern College, this one is the first where the players are in the NFL. The team from the previous books is obviously scattered, but Drew, Anna, Gray, and Ivy--the subjects of those books--play roles in this one as well. I appreciated that Callihan was able to write these characters into the story in a way that they aren't just "there" but they also don't overshadow Dex and Fi's story.
I do have to say that Fi ended up being my favorite of the heroines so far--which is interesting, because I didn't particularly like her in the second installment, The Friend Zone. I found her to be authentic and well-rounded. Callihan doesn't hesitate to show us her vulnerabilities and her growth as a person is completely believable. I also bought without question her feelings towards Dex.
Dex is a very good hero--in fact, he's a bit too good to be true. Strangely, I wish that Callihan had actually made him a bit more flawed. I also felt that, at times, his character just didn't really gel with me. It was almost like Callihan had taken a trope, the bearded/tattooed/pierced lumbersexual, and decided to just do the exact opposite of what you would expect. I think there was room for more nuance with him and the novel would have benefited from it.
I think, though, that my biggest complaint with this book is that it falls victim to one of my biggest pet peeves in romance novels. We sort of skip the development of the relationship and the characters seem to be almost automatically in love. This is more the case with Dex than with Fi, but I still wanted more of the falling part of falling in love. That is why I read romance--to see the relationship. If I just wanted to read about the physical side, I'd read erotica.
There were two other things that really stuck out in a not-good way for me. One is that Dex's explanation for this "Tebow" status is, well, crude and disturbing. I really wish that Callihan had come up with something else there because I really didn't need to read that. Let's just say it falls well into the realm of rapey and that is something that I really don't appreciate in romance.
Secondly, and admittedly this is minor, there is a baby in some scenes. That in itself is not a problem. The issue is that, when the baby is there, he isn't always there. Basically, there is a scene and the baby is there--and then everyone seems to forget about the baby for a few pages, and then the baby magically reappears. As a mom, I kept wanting to yell, "KEEP YOUR EYES ON THE BABY!" It was just incredibly strange. Either the baby was necessary and should have been integrated into the scene, or the baby was unnecessary and should have been...elsewhere--asleep, with Grandma, whatever.
By far, though, the worst part of this book is that I have to wait until January 2017 (I think) for the 4th installment in this series. Really! I need my fix!
This wasn't the best book in the series, and I did have my issues with it, but I still ate it up. I think, instead of recommending this particular book, I would recommend the entire series (including this one). I can't wait to see what Callihan gives us next.
I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.