Game On by Tracy Solheim
Series: Out of Bounds series #1
Also in this series: Game On, Foolish Games, Foolish Games
Publisher: Berkley, Penguin
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
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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?
Carly is the assistant to the General Manager of the Baltimore Blaze – a professional football team and sister-in-law to the head coach. Shane Devlin just got picked up to be a quarterback for that team. They both know that a relationship between the two of them is a incredibly bad idea but they can’t seem to keep their hands off each other.
Carly is a woman who had an infamous mother and the paparazzi love to hate her. She’s actually a pretty nice woman but no matter what she does the press just seem to cast her in a bad light. She leaves Europe, where she grew up, and is enjoying her anonymity in Baltimore. She is a fixer of things (read: people) and she loves to be needed. With her sister needing her bone marrow and her sisters kids needing an aunt she’s in heaven. When Shane comes along she is in lust but she also wants desperately to fix his issues with families and relationships – even though she knows it’s pretty much a lost cause.
Shane is on a mission. He loves football but what he’s really after is to break all of his famous father’s football records. His dad was non-existent in his life and had a drug addiction as well. When Shane’s mom got cancer the father was still out of the picture. Shane never forgave his father for his abandonment even though he eventually got clean and started a new life. His father, new wife, and their son Troy had reached out to Shane but he was too bitter and angry to accept. From the moment he sees Carly he’s in lust and the more he gets to know the more he likes. Shane doesn’t do families though – in fact he almost gets panicky when he’s around the head coach’s family. He just doesn’t do long term and definitely no family.
Carly and Shane do eventually fall into bed together. Carly knows that Shane isn’t in any way a “long-term relationship” guy but she can’t seem to keep her hands off him. That’s until Shane’s dad dies and Shane’s named as guardian of his 12 year old half-brother – Shane wants nothing to do with Troy. By pushing Troy away he pushes Carly as well as she’s disgusted with his treatment of Troy. Shane knows he’s screwing up but he doesn’t know how to fix it and though he knows that he wants Carly in his life in some fashion he’s not sure that can happen.
Let’s start with the negative and end on the positive. There were a couple things that I didn’t like about the story but I felt were very true to life. First was Shane’s hatred of his father. He really was quite affected by his childhood and though his grandparents raised him from the age of 10 (which was a good thing) those early years left him incredibly emotionally scarred. I appreciated the fact that Solheim didn’t try to make Shane out to be anything other than he was. He was pissed about having to take care of Troy as he just wasn’t a family guy and he didn’t hide that. He was messed up emotionally for most of his life and wasn’t handling this transition well at all. Now Shane’s emotional immaturity (for that’s what I felt it was) was mentioned time and again and Carly knew this but yet she expected him to act differently about Troy than he did. Carly actually annoyed me at that point because she was looking to him to make things better when he truly had no experience in doing so and no desire to start now.
The other thing I had issue with was the fact that Carly had a stalker. Not that unusual but this felt contrived to A) put Carly in jeopardy so that Shane could save her and B) to make him realize how much he needed both Troy and Carly in his life. Unfortunately I felt that the book could have focused a bit more on the romance between Carly and Shane (more page time of them together when they weren’t having sex) and less about the crazy stalker.
The book showed Shane’s emotional growth and I really liked that. His interactions with Troy were harsh at first but when Shane started coming to terms with his life and how he’d led it the interactions changed and at one point I even teared up during a scene with Troy and Shane. As I said above, I would have liked more page time between Shane and Carly when they weren’t in bed together. At one point they are at a cabin (Shane, Carly and Troy) and spend days hiking, etc. I would have loved to have seen the conversations between Carly and Shane during these hikes – but that might just be me.
In the end Game On is a novel that has a lot going for it. Pretty great characters (not all the time but most of it), wonderful family dynamics, friendship, love and redemption and writing that kept me engaged. All of that put together made for a very readable book and I forward to reading more from this author.
Rating 3.25 out of 5