Sunday, April 6, 2014

Third And Long
As a librarian I get asked the question (a lot) of why people choose to read romance.  The fact is, there are a lot of reasons why, and far be it from me to try to tell anyone why I think they're reading what they're reading.  I mean, they could just be reading it because they like it.  When it comes to answering that question for category romance, I'm a bit more forthcoming.  The appeal of category, I think, is that the shorter word count means a strong, intense focus on the romance.  And really, at the end of the day, aren't we all reading romance novels because we want the romance?  Which is where Night Games by Lisa Marie Perry stumbles for me.  As a family drama?  It's good.  As a soap opera?  It's borderline great.  As a romance?  Um, not so much.

Even though Charlotte Blue has a complicated relationship with her parents she accepts a job offer with the NFL team, the Las Vegas Slayers, that they just purchased.  Charlotte is an athletic trainer and isn't afraid to stand-up for herself in a male-dominated workplace.  Standing in her way?  Nate Franco, also an athletic trainer, whose father used to own the franchise before the Blue family "swindled" it out from under him.  The corker?  Nate and Charlotte have met before, in a club, where the sparks going off between them almost led to them burning up the sheets.  So needless to say?  Between the coitus interruptus and the family dynamic, things are a little complicated between them.

The problem with this story has everything to do with the pacing.  As a romance, a category romance at that, it just doesn't work.  Nate and Charlotte spend little to no time together for the vast majority of the story - which is instead spent on world-building (OK, normally a good thing), a plethora of secondary characters, and drama that is only peripherally related to the romantic conflict.  What this story wants to be, and really should be, is a full-length, full-blown, family saga.  You know the kind - the disapproving parents, the kids eager to prove themselves, the various villains working behind the scenes, the family secrets, the exes that just won't stay gone - that kind of family drama.

There's just too much going on outside of the romance, which means when it comes to the romance?  Charlotte and Nate get lost in the shuffle.  Honestly I was much more interested in all that family drama stuff than I was in the romance, and for what is supposed to be a romance novel?  That's the kiss of death.

There were also a few hiccups with plot and characterization.  Nate comes off as an entitled prick on occasion because of the fact that he feels the Blue family swindled him out of his family birthright.  Um, OK.  Listen cupcake.  The franchise was your Dad's business.  How about taking that silver spoon out of your butt and getting your own damn life?  Then there's the fact that I'm supposed to believe that Charlotte's twenty-two year-old sister would be in charge of PR for an NFL team.  OK nepotism, but really?!?!?!  Finally there's the idea that the NFL commissioner's office wouldn't be all over the sale of a franchise.  Heck, even when that runs smoothly (and there are no accusations of dirty dealing) you can bet your bottom dollar they'd be up to their armpits in it.

This leaves me feeling OK, albeit disappointed.  There's a lot of stuff going on here and because of that I never felt like the romance was center stage.  However it does leave me curious.  What will the next book in the Blue Dynasty series be like?  Now that the author has laid a fair amount of groundwork - will the next story, featuring a disgruntled quarterback and one of Charlotte's sisters, have a stronger focus on the love story?  Will I get all of the drama plus a strong, focused romance?  Time will tell.

Final Grade = C


Laura Vivanco said...

There was a short prequel free at eHarlequin to read online. It's pretty focused on the romance.

Wendy said...

Oooh, thanks Laura! I didn't realize she had a free read over at eHarlequin. Will check it out!