Sunday, 5 May 2013

Review: The Perfect Play (Play by Play #1) - Jaci Burton

Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game...
For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara's not interested in getting to know football's most notorious playboy any better.
As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara's life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick's latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn't intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.
But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind.

The Perfect Play is a novel that I really wanted to enjoy, especially after it was recommended to me by a friend after having enjoyed the 'Pacific Heat' series by Jill Shalvis. The Perfect Play is a story about Mick Riley, an NFL player at the top of his game who, sick of dating ‘fake’ fame seeking women, strikes up a relationship with, at first, reluctant single mother and event-planner, Tara. While not considering myself overly sentimental, I found this book to be quite crude and distant. Normally, I shy away from overly emotional books, finding them a bit much for my tastes, but I found myself wishing that there was an ounce of emotion in this novel at all. 

The Perfect Play, read, to me, more like poorly written erotica rather than a romance novel/chick-lit. In my opinion there was an over abundance of sex in the story and it was repetitive, boring and failed to develop throughout the novel. I came to dread chapters where one of the characters would seek the other out knowing that yet another five page sex scene was to follow. The characters also seemed entirely one-dimensional. Mick has suffered a troubled past and has a loving and supporting family, sick of dating ‘fake’ women he seeks something more real in Tara. Tara, is a ‘real’ woman, so ‘real’ in fact that we are reminded of this fact every other page, if it wasn’t for the overused sex throughout the novel she would come across quite homely and boring. Tara’s characterisation, similar to that of Mick’s, is based entirely in her past and in her dedication to give up her own life for her son. I felt that we learnt very little of the characters through their own actions within the novel and we instead had to rely on their troubled pasts to reassure ourselves that they were good people that we should care an iota about. Furthermore, it seemed that we should be rooting for the characters based simply on the fact that they deserved something good to happen to them.

Finally, I found Burton’s juxtaposition of female characters in the book particularly interesting. The only female characters we get to know in any detail are: our heroine, Tara; Mick’s agent, Liz; and Mick’s mother. Burton presented both Tara and Mick’s mother (who was so bland her name escapes me mere minutes after finishing the novel) as domestic angels – or perhaps, more accurately, martyrs – sacrificing themselves willingly for the sake of their family and home. Liz, in contrast, is portrayed as the ├╝ber feminist, high powered job to match her high powered wardrobe, willing to do anything and crush anyone to get the job done. I found Liz to be a particularly detestable character whose story, despite her sudden realisation at the end of the novel, I don’t think I can bring myself to read.

Also, for a sporting novel there really was not much sporting detail used, which I found to be quite disappointing.

Overall, I think people may be confusing the cover with the contents of the novel in their enthusiasm. I wanted to like the first in Burton’s promising 'Play by Play' series but sadly found it lacking and do not think that I will be trying another.

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