Going into this book about a fictitious professional soccer team, I thought I would be in for a most enjoyable read, because the first two books made for fun reads.
The Atlanta Skyline, as with many a soccer teams, is made up of multi-nation players. But in this book Brendan Young, the Skyline’s goal keeper, is an American-born player. He’s played in Europe most of his career but wants to finish up back in his home country. However, things haven’t gone as planned. Instead of winding up with a bang, he’s been busted gambling on soccer, though not on his league at all. As punishment he’s been benched. Then when the ban is up, the current coach has brought in a new goal keeper and Brendan continues being benched. In fact, he’s not even dressing for games, since he’s been relegated way down the list. So now he’s just finishing up his illustrious career and will still be remembered for the great player he was.
But things are about to get worse for Brendan in the form of Erin Bailey, the new ethics director. The two of them know each other from attending the same college and shared a night of passion a few months before the book opens. Erin’s real purpose is to highlight and encourage women’s soccer, being she was a soccer star herself. But her boss wants to make an example of the sins of gambling, using Brendan as an example. As Brendan doesn’t feel he has an issue, it’s more of a relaxation mechanism for his overactive brain. The money’s not really important, though it is a bit of a bonus and he uses most of it for his charity work with special kids.
Needless to say, he’s furious they will be using him in their campaign and ensuring he will be remembered as the player who gambles. Thus begins a battle of the sexes.
Everything sounds interesting, doesn’t it? Well, I didn’t find this book even close to the caliber of the first two for a number of reasons.
Erin is a Very Nasty character. She is a HUGE hypocrite who has next to no qualms about ruining Brendan’s legacy to get what she wants. What I find especially heinous is she had a crush on him while they were in college; in fact, he even helped her. But did that matter to her? Nope. She treated him like the proverbial shit after their night together. Brendan wanted to see her again with the hope of a relationship, but she wiped her hands of him, said that was it; she wasn’t the ‘relationship’ kind of person and it was only about the sex. Nasty. As the story moves on, she decides she still finds him very sexy and wants to have a ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement. But, again, Brendan is reluctant. He wants more than that. I loathe this woman so, so much. There are other reasons, but I don’t want to say too much, except that she also strongly encourages Brendan to keep up his betting, though he’s stopped while still just playing the odds. What a truly nasty person she is to want him to keep doing the thing that’s almost destroyed him. In return, she will try to change her boss’ focus on Brendan if he gives up other players who have gambled.
And the character of Brendan I find interesting, kind of repulsive and far from fully drawn. He seems to be a great guy in many ways and I was digging him. But then he’d do something I found disturbing, like giving up others to save himself. Not very noble of him, even though gambling is wrong. That’s not why he did it, though. It’s self-preservation only.
And his character is woefully underdeveloped. He has family issues, but that’s never really explored as to the reason. He has a younger brother with special needs, but that’s never explored except in passing. Why add it then? Why and what is the personality conflict between he and his coach. Brendan seems like a real good guy, yet his coach never really gives him a chance, even though he was a star in Europe. And my biggest question is: what the hell does he see in Erin?
I will confess at this point that I made it to 78% of the book, hoping things would get better and I could start enjoying it the way I did the previous books But at that point I realized it was too late. I wasn’t going to overcome my loathing for Erin and too many unanswered things about Brendan. I did skip to the end, so it was probably only 10% or so between 78 and 88 that I didn’t read. But it was more than enough to know I can’t recommend this one and that’s a real bummer.
Atlanta Skyline’s benched goalkeeper Brendan Young would have been happy to ride out the end of his contract after his gambling addiction was splashed all over the news media. Instead, his teammates’ injuries have unexpectedly put him back in the game. A new face in his weekly Gamblers Anonymous meeting provides another surprise spike—of pure attraction. Why is Erin Bailey, former world champion women’s soccer player, at this meeting? And why can’t he stop thinking about their red-hot one-night stand?
Six months ago, one reckless night in Vegas ended with Erin in Brendan’s bed. She’s sworn off dating athletes, especially those whose reputations could destroy her new career as the Championship Soccer League’s Director of Ethics and Advocacy. But the secret they share—and the crazy heat they generate—makes it impossible to keep her distance.
Both have choices to make about the future, but no matter how steeply the odds are stacked against them, walking away could be the riskiest move of all . . .
No excerpt available.
Other books in this series: