Series: Out of Bounds series

Review: Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim

Posted December 4, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 1 Comment

Review: Foolish Games by Tracy SolheimReviewer: Tracy
Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim
Series: Out of Bounds series #2
Also in this series: Game On, Game On, Foolish Games
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Bridal gown designer, Julianne Marchione knows better than to lose her head at a client’s wedding. But, much to her embarrassment, a mix of migraine medication and a smoking hot football player lead to a steamy one night stand resulting in a surprise pregnancy. Julianne has every intention of leaving her NFL hookup far in the past until her son, Owen, is born with a life-threatening blood disorder that requires a transfusion—and Julianne is not a match.

Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly grew up tough, shouldering the stigma of being a bastard child born on the wrong side of the tracks. He refuses to let any child face the same discrimination. When he finds out about Owen, he’s furious that Julianne kept his son a secret. But when he sees her again at the hospital, he realizes that his feelings for her go far beyond anger.

Will insists that Owen recuperate at his home in North Carolina, and he’s adamant that Julianne become his wife—even if it’s only a temporary marriage in name only. But will their simmering attraction ever lead to a real connection? Or are they just playing foolish games?

Will Connelly is completely blindsided when he’s called to a Senator’s office and told that he’s someone’s father. Not only is little Owen’s father but Owen needs a blood transfusion to save his life and the doctors are positive that Will’s blood will provide the antibodies to save the baby’s life. Will is pissed that he has a son and no one told him about it but especially at the mother, Julianne.

Julianne Marchione had a one night stand with Will and never planned on telling anyone who Owen’s father was. Now not only does she have to tell but endure Will’s wrath for not having told him. Not only is Will mad but he insists on getting married so that he can be near to and bond with his son. Julianne and Will get married with a prenup and an already signed separation agreement in hand.

The attraction that Will and Julianne feel for each other can’t be denied and the couple are acting on their passion in no time. They create a wonderful little family unit but Will has trust issues that he can’t get past with Julianne. She’s falling in love with him but he’s not sure what to make of it all.

When it comes to light that Will is subpenoed in a racketeering scheme and he believes that Julianne sold him out for money, Will can’t get away fast enough but is he correct in his beliefs or did he just walk away from the best thing that had ever happened to him?

This was a great follow up to the first book in the Out of Bounds series. I had some issues with the first book but still liked it. This was definitely a better read for me.

Will was the strong and silent type and had serious trust issues. He also had self-esteem issues as well. Despite those issues I really liked the guy. He could be a bit brash but seeing him with Owen made me think the man was just a big glob of goo on the inside that hard shell exterior. When he loved he loved with his whole heart and I had to admire him for that. Now, did he jump to conclusions with Julianne? Oh yeah he did and he wouldn’t let her explain which I found frustrating. He wouldn’t even talk to his Mom as he felt she would tell him what Julianne had said. Stubborn thy name is Will. Seriously! He was, however, one that would admit his mistakes when he made them and made up for them well, I must say.

Julianne came across to Will as an airhead and a fly by the seat of your pants girl. She was those things in some respects but she was also a savvy businesswoman and intelligent. She was a devoted mother and would stop at nothing to do the best for her son. She definitely made mistakes during the book – some really ridiculous ones too but she had a huge heart and I really liked that about her. She may do dumb things but they had the right thoughts behind them.

The romance had its ups and downs but it was pretty good overall. It was originally based strictly on sex but Will and Julianne got past that eventually. The supporting cast in this story were wonderful. We got to see more of Shane and Carly, Will’s mom Annabeth, Will’s GM Hank Osbourne and his daughter Sophie as well as Will’s best friend Gavin and fellow teammate Brody. All of these well written characters played a part and contributed to make this a story worth reading.

Rating: 4 out of 5

 

four-stars

Review: Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim

Posted December 3, 2013 by Rowena in Reviews | 0 Comments

Review: Foolish Games by Tracy SolheimReviewer: Rowena
Foolish Games by Tracy Solheim
Series: Out of Bounds series #2
Also in this series: Game On, Game On, Foolish Games
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: December 3, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

A Hail Mary play for the heart.

Bridal gown designer, Julianne Marchione knows better than to lose her head at a client’s wedding. But, much to her embarrassment, a mix of migraine medication and a smoking hot football player lead to a steamy one night stand resulting in a surprise pregnancy. Julianne has every intention of leaving her NFL hookup far in the past until her son, Owen, is born with a life-threatening blood disorder that requires a transfusion—and Julianne is not a match.

Will “William the Conqueror” Connelly grew up tough, shouldering the stigma of being a bastard child born on the wrong side of the tracks. He refuses to let any child face the same discrimination. When he finds out about Owen, he’s furious that Julianne kept his son a secret. But when he sees her again at the hospital, he realizes that his feelings for her go far beyond anger.

Rowena’s review of Foolish Games (Out of Bounds #2) by Tracy Solheim.

Will insists that Owen recuperate at his home in North Carolina, and he’s adamant that Julianne become his wife—even if it’s only a temporary marriage in name only. But will their simmering attraction ever lead to a real connection? Or are they just playing foolish games?

I’ve seen this series around and have been interested in reading it but haven’t ever gotten around to it…until now. This book was filled with a whole lot of drama but interestingly enough, it worked for me. I enjoyed getting to know both Julianne and Will. I’m not usually a fan of secret baby plots but this one worked for me.

So this is Book Two in the Out of Bounds series by Tracy Solheim and while I haven’t read the first book, I thought this book did well as a stand alone book. I wasn’t confused or anything throughout any of the book so you don’t need to read the first book to get this one. This book follows William the Conqueror from the Baltimore Blaze and wedding gown designer Julianne Marchione. They had a one night stand and a baby happened afterward. Within weeks of the baby being born, Julianne realizes that she’s going to have to go to the one person she never thought she’d see again to save her baby. She knew that he was going to be pissed off when he found out about the baby but she didn’t have a choice. She needed him.

And he came.

He came and he was pissed and he was unsure that the baby was actually his but he came because on the off chance that the baby was his, he was going to do whatever he needed to do to save him.

I was wrapped up in Will and Julianne’s drama just as much as I was wrapped up in Annabeth and Hank’s romance. I thought Solheim did a great job of blending both stories together and keeping me invested in their lives. They weren’t perfect characters but I loved them all anyway. There’s a wide array of characters that bring a little something to the story and I loved each and every single person. Well, except for Coach Zavalos.

Will was a great hero, even though his faith in Julianne wasn’t as strong as I’d hoped it would be after everything that they’d been through. He was a fantastic father to Owen and he really opened himself up to being vulnerable with Julianne and I thought it was adorable, the way that he loved her. He was a big bonehead as well (with the whole not having enough faith in Julianne) but I forgave him for being a bonehead because there wasn’t a doubt in my mind that he adored Julianne. That he wasn’t crazy about Owen. He was stubborn, he was strong and he was just all around a great guy. It wasn’t hard to see why Julianne was completely head over heels in love with him.

Julianne was a great heroine. I loved how she owned up to her mistakes and she loved those around her unconditionally and was a really great Mom to Owen. His happiness and his well being came first and foremost in her mind, all the time. As uncomfortable as she was with Will and moving her life from Italy back to the states, she did it so that her son can have a relationship with his father. She was a strong woman who dealt with change extremely well and even though she made her share of boneheaded mistakes, I still really liked her. I liked who she was, who she wanted to be and the way she loved Will was too cute for words.

I really enjoyed the secondary romance between Hank (Will’s boss) and Annabeth (Will’s Mom). I thought that was adorable and even enjoyed seeing how pissed off Will was about that whole relationship. Annabeth was such a strong woman who deserved happiness in her life and was glad when she finally found it with Hank. I also adored the relationship that she formed with Sophie, Hank’s daughter.

Overall, this book was a good read and I’m glad that I read it. I’m really looking forward to reading Brody’s book. This will not be the last book that I read by this author and I definitely recommend this book. It’s a good one.

Grade: 4 out of 5

This book is available from Berkley. You can purchase it here or here in e-format. This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

four-stars

Guest Review: Game On by Tracy Solheim.

Posted September 9, 2013 by Book Binge Guest Blogger in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Game On by Tracy Solheim.Reviewer: Jennifer
Game On by Tracy Solheim
Series: Out of Bounds series #1
Also in this series: Game On, Foolish Games, Foolish Games
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary Romance
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
two-half-stars

The only way to win is to score…

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?

Jennifer’s review of Game On by Tracy Solheim.

 

Shane Devlin is an NFL quarterback desperately in need of a team, and he’s thrilled when the Baltimore Blaze decide to take a chance on him after their quarterback is injured. The Blaze management want their players to be upstanding, moral examples for the community, though, and Shane has a very checkered past. The tabloids have had a field day with various (mostly untrue) accusations of illegitimate children, sexual harassment, and general playboy behavior. He has to be on his best behavior on and off the field because he really, really wants the starting QB spot. Carly March is the assistant to the Blaze’s general manager, and she too has a very rocky history with the press, reaching all the way back to her childhood. She finally has some anonymity and just wants to live a normal life. She and Shane have an immediate attraction, but they know that any sort of relationship with each other would jeopardize both their careers and reputation with everyone at the organization.

Shane has PILES of daddy issues. His father was also a professional football player, not to mention a lousy dad, and Shane has spent most of his life hating his dad and trying to get as far away from him as he can. Despite the fact that his dad remarried and had another son and repeatedly reached out to him, Shane can’t get past his dad’s previous treatment. He’s learned to mistrust everyone and to keep his feelings bottled up, to what I felt was a ridiculous degree. It’s hard to talk about Shane’s anger without spoilers, so I’ll just say that he kept bouncing back and forth between being a seemingly sweet guy and being an angry jerk, and I was never quite convinced which one was the real Shane. Carly talks about how he is so “vulnerable”, but he’s also a grown man. A lousy childhood doesn’t give someone an eternal pass to act selfish, and I had a hard time excusing Shane’s behavior when it went on for so long. His step brother, who ostensibly helps bring about Shane’s transformation, felt more like a plot device than a developed character, too. I just wasn’t convinced either of them were headed in a new direction.

Another weak point of the book was the stalker subplot. A weirdo has become obsessed with Carly, and he quickly escalates from creep to full on stalker. At first I was on board–a little bit of danger can be an effective way to bring a hero and heroine closer–but I felt like the plot just went off the rails later on. This guy keeps getting to her, despite many precautions (including restraining orders, arrests, etc). It was hard to believe because he’s just a regular guy, not some sort of ex-military guy where you could understand how he could be so clever, and there’s no real explanation of how he does all this. The whole subplot felt forced, awkward, and poorly explained.

In fact, there were all kinds of unexplained things in this book. For instance, Carly has been dealing with the new wife of the Blaze’s injured quarterback, who is arguing over his contract. Based on the details the book gives, it seemed like there was some sort of sub-story (why is the wife arguing? where is her husband who is supposedly good friends with Carly? etc), but then absolutely nothing comes of it. These kind of unresolved issues come up several times. Another thing that didn’t make sense was the beginning. The book starts out in a Mexican resort town where both Shane and Carly are staying, only Shane doesn’t know Carly works for the team he’s hoping to join. Shane is there trying to relax, but there’s no real explanation given for why Carly is there. Did she follow Shane there for some professional reason (to spy or something?), and if so how would she know he was going there and why would her going be beneficial? In fact even the main early conflict in the book–the fact that the Blaze organization demands such perfect behavior–is barely addressed once Carly and Shane get involved. All of this left the story feeling forced rather than natural.

The thing that definitely had me really rolling my eyes is the ending, though. The book uses my own personal least favorite mechanism for “proving” that the hero has changed. Aside from my own personal bias against this particular plot device, what happens seems out of character for Carly in particular, overly convenient, and syrupy sweet. It just annoyed the hell out of me, and by the time I got to the epilogue and its blatant sequel bait I was ready to be done with these characters.

The book wasn’t a total loss. I thought Carly’s back story was interesting, and I wish we had gotten to hear a bit more about it. Shane had some really tender, wonderful moments, and I liked the sports setting. Still, I felt like this story had too many holes and cliches for me.

Grade: 2.5 out of 5

This book is available from Berkley.  You can purchase it here or here in e-format.  This book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

two-half-stars

Guest Review: Game On by Tracy Solheim

Posted May 8, 2013 by Tracy in Reviews | 0 Comments

Guest Review: Game On by Tracy SolheimReviewer: Tracy
Game On by Tracy Solheim
Series: Out of Bounds series #1
Also in this series: Game On, Foolish Games, Foolish Games
Published by Berkley
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
three-half-stars

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

three-half-stars