Over the years I've been cantankerous on the subject of sports romances (authors not doing research being my main bugaboo) and series (OMG, where have all the stand-alone novels gone?!). So just to be contrary, it would make perfect sense that I would find myself addicted to Jami Davenport's Seattle Lumberjacks series. You know, it being a series about a professional football team. Hey, it's a girl's prerogative to change her mind - right?
Forward Passes in the second book in the series, and features hotshot, asshole quarterback Tyler Harris. Tyler has just won his second Super Bowl. He should be on top of the world, and instead all he feels is empty. The death of a young fan from cancer has effected him deeply, and he's now feeling stifled by the cocksure, devil-may-care persona he's carved out for himself in the league. Then fate steps in after he smashes his car into the back of a police cruiser (no, it was not a DUI, no matter what the media says) and his great uncle passes away. Tyler spent time with the old guy when he moved to a nursing home in Seattle and now the old man has left him his rambling, falling down monstrosity of a house on the San Juans.
Lavender Mead has a long, nightmarish track record with jocks. Her football coach father abandoned her and her brother after their mother died - essentially meaning that Lavender was raised by her shrewish grandmother. Then there were the string of jock boyfriends who were one step up from pond scum on the evolutionary scale. So while she may find Tyler sexier than sexy, he's all look, no touch. Um, except he seems like a nice guy behind all that conceited bravado and he has a PhD in flirting. He may be all wrong for her as far as relationship material, but who says they need to have a "relationship" beyond enjoying each other's company for a short period of time. He's only on the island until his inheritance sticks (a stipulation of the will) and after that he's flying the coop. Or is he?
I've been really looking forward to this book ever since I read the first book in the series, Fourth And Goal - Tyler being the main selling point. He's all guy. He's a rock star professional quarterback with a killer smile, killer body and killer attitude. He plays up this persona for a number of reasons, and he swears enough to make drunken sailors blush. He acts like a guy, talks like a guy, but underneath that Alpha asshole persona there's a gooey, squishy Beta heart beating away in his chest.
Lavender is a girl with baggage. Her family life is in the pits, and she tries her best to keep the peace with a grandmother that could give Evil Romance Land Mothers a run for their money. She has a soft spot for senior citizens, and the uppity cat (named "Cat") that Tyler inherits from his great uncle. She's scared to death of what Tyler represents, even early on when all he represents is one heck of a good time in bed. When these two start burning up the sheets, it's only natural that their emotions start getting in the way. They both have baggage and they both recognize a little bit of themselves in each other.
Every reader has those books they enjoy despite any flaws that might be on the page. It just all works for them as an individual. That's the experience I had with Forward Passes. I'll be honest, I found the writing a little lumpy in the early chapters, mostly because there was a little too much repetition. But once I was settled in, Tyler and Lavender start tap-dancing around each other, it all smoothed out for me. Plus, I walked into this story already deeply invested in Tyler. I think readers unfamiliar with the first book will do just fine starting with this one, but I have to admit that being already "plugged in" to the series did increase my enjoyment of this story right out of the gate.
Davenport does lay groundwork for the next book in the series with this installment, but it's never intrusive and the future hero actually (::le gasp!::) plays a significant role in this story. While I felt the writing could have been smoother in parts, it didn't detract from my overall enjoyment, and I inhaled it in one sitting. I also appreciated that while it would have been extremely easy to make villains out of certain characters, the author paints them with a bit more of a complex brush. You don't agree with their actions, but you can understand why certain elements of the back-story happened.
I cannot wait to read more books in this series, which features well-done football scenarios, interesting and believable characters, and enough steamy sex to turn a blue-haired grandma's hair more blue. I may have had to wait a while for Tyler's story, but it was worth the wait.
Final Grade = B