The Game Plan by Kristen Callihan
Series: Game On #3
Also in this series: The Hook Up, The Friend Zone
Published by NLA Digital LLC
Publication Date: November 1st 2015
Genres: Fiction, Romance, New Adult, Contemporary, Coming of Age, Sports
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.
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 friends. 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.
Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away; they live vastly different lives in separate cities. And Dex is looking for a forever girl. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.
*We call this a joint review but really it’s just the two of us discussing the book. There may be spoilers and bad language.
Holly: Fiona is Ivy’s younger sister. We met her in the previous book, The Friend Zone. We also met Dex in the previous book (I don’t remember him from book 1). He was the wise, quiet one in that book and we learn here that he’s like that all the time. He has deep thoughts and tends to be introspective.
He’s also huge, tattooed, bearded, has a man-bun and he’s a virgin. SWOON.
Rowena: I feel like this review is going to be me fan girling over how much I loved Dex.
Like it’s going to be filled with heart eye emoji’s and that’s it.
But IDGAD, let’s do this.
Holly: Now Dex is in the NFL and like her sister, Fiona wants nothing to do with professional athletes. Her father was a professional basketball player before becoming a sports agent. He cheated on their mom and has mostly been absent from their lives. Fi wants nothing to do with anyone who might even closely resemble their dad. But right from the beginning Dex is different. He’s quiet and observant, funny and sweet…she doesn’t want anything to do with him, but she can’t stay away. I loved how drawn they were to each other.
Rowena: The story really takes off right from the very beginning and I like that we didn’t have to slog through huge backstory to get to the meat of their romance. I liked seeing them both become aware of each other and I loved the forthright way that Ethan was with Fiona. There was none of that silly back and forth between these two. Fiona knew where Ethan stood right from the very beginning. I dug that
Holly: I dug that, too. And I liked that Fiona decided to be just as forthright with Ethan. She could have played games, but instead she met his honesty with her own. There were a couple times I thought she was going to close down or not share with him what was going on in her head, but she always came through.
The first half of the book worked better than the second for me. Something about the big drama rubbed me the wrong way. It’s not that I disliked it, or thought the reactions of the characters weren’t appropriate, but I guess I felt like it was a bit over the top.
Rowena: I thought the big drama was pretty interesting, especially considering everything that went down in the real world with a similar big drama. Does that make sense?
Holly: Yeah, it makes sense. I guess it just felt really dramatic. Though, you’re right, in this day and age it isn’t outside the realm of possibility. I think maybe I struggled so much because she was so selfish during the whole ordeal. She wasn’t the only one affected, yet she was the only one she thought about. Would I have acted differently? I can’t say. But the fact that Ethan fought for her the whole time, yet she turned him away when he needed her most..well. I guess I didn’t like that.
Rowena: That’s kind of realistic though, isn’t it? Wouldn’t you be more worried about yourself because it’s your naked body out there for the masses eyes. For your parents to see, everyone at work, at school, at CHURCH, everyone has access to private photos of you and they got it without your permission. I think I would have been more worried about myself first and foremost. I wouldn’t have thought about Dex for at least two days. ;D
Holly: Sure, I get that. I even agree. But the theme of the entire book was Fiona pulling away and Ethan working for her, for them. So then this big thing happens and yes, it definitely affected her, but it affected him, too. He had his own issues and he got fucked with, too, over that. So this one time, when he really needed her, she couldn’t have looked past her own issues to help him with his?
Rowena: I guess not. Ha.
One of the things that low key frustrated me was Fiona’s workplace issues. I wish Fiona would have been as forthright with her boss, or maybe not even the boss but the problem girl, as she was with Dex. I really liked her revenge though. That was some shady and petty goodness.
Holly: You’re right, she shouldn’t have been so quiet about what was happening. I get sometimes you have to eat shit at work. You can’t just run around and demand things. I get that. But she said nothing.
I did love her form of revenge, though. It was petty and shady, but I still laughed. Though, thinking on it a bit more, it was pretty immature. I’m going to laugh instead of worrying about it, though, because that girl at work deserved everything she got. And so did her boss.
Rowena: Holy cow, how dumb was that girl?
Holly: That girl was a moron. For real.
Rowena: The thing that kept me frustrated was that the stuff at work happened more than once. I get not wanting to be the office snitch but hell, don’t be the office bitch eithe/r. Stand up for yourself. Put that bitch in her place. I’ve had to do that and it’s not easy but it needs to be done sooner rather than later because that shit is not cool. At all. Those people are messing with your livelihood. Don’t let them. I kept wanting to yell at Fiona to cut that bitch up (professionally, of course…can you cut a bitch up professionally? Eh, you know what I mean) and I felt like it took too long for her to fix that shit.
Holly: I completely agree. She needed to stand up for herself way sooner than she did. That was no time to be timid and wait for something to magically change on its own.
Rowena: I did like her office friend Alice. We all need someone at work like Alice.
Holly: Yes, Alice was great and I’m glad Fiona had someone she could talk to.
Rowena: As far as the romance goes? I liked it. I liked that their feelings for each other weren’t in question. It was dealing with the dynamics of their lives that was the issue. She lives in New York, he lives in New Orleans. Him being on the road all the time, her hating that lifestyle because of the issues she had with it growing up. That world is so foreign to me so I found that part of their romance quite interesting. I wish I had the kind of money where if my bestie in New York City needed me, I’d be on the first flight out there. To bad for you, since if you need me, you have to settle for phone calls and cyber hugs. Sigh.
Holly: Ha. I wish we could afford to fly to each other every weekend. I will say, I loved that they were both willing to do that for each other.
The romance was sweet. They had good chemistry and a solid understanding of how the other worked.
Rowena: I thought that Callihan handled Dex’s story incredibly well. His insecurities and his background made perfect sense and sold me on Ethan Dexter as a whole. I loved the person that he grew up to be…and I really loved that his friendship with Grey and Drew was solid and long lasting.
Holly: I agree. Dex was wonderful. One of the best aspects of this entire series is the friendship between the guys. I love that they’ve maintained it even after their lives split and they ended up in different cities and on different teams.
Rowena: OMG, what about how Dex flew to San Francisco to watch the baby so that Gray and Ivy can catch up on their sleep? Gah. He’s the best.
Holly: I LOVED THAT! When he was like “I know babies and you need help” I about died. I want a Dex!
I loved Fiona. I loved Dex. Like, OMFG LOVED him. I thought the major drama toward the end of the book – or, more specifically, Fiona’s reaction to it – was a bit disappointing, but that didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment of the book. I loved the way their romance developed and I wanted to see them work it out.
I’m going to give this a 4 out of 5
Rowena: Like you, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Dex. I loved Fiona. I loved getting all of the Gray and Ivy and Baby Grayson bits. The romance between Dex and Fiona was hot and believable and my favorite part of the entire book. The minor disappointments of the happenings at Fi’s work didn’t take too much away from my enjoyment of the book because in the end, that revenge rocked my socks.
I’m giving this book 4.25 out of 5.
Holly : 4/5
Rowena : 4.25/5