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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Digital Review: Fourth And Goal

My reputation for being Little Miss Crabby Pants seems to be getting out.  Or at least my annoyance with romance authors who include professional sports in their books and muck up the details.  My various tirades on this subject is what led Jami Davenport to e-mail me about her latest ebook, Fourth And Goal.  Ms. Davenport assured me that she knew exactly how I felt, as she's a football (Seattle Seahawks) and baseball (Seattle Mariners) fan herself.  She asked if I would be interested in reading her latest for review, and after a quick perusal of the excerpt, I signed on.

Derek Ramsey is a wide receiver for the Seattle Lumberjacks - he's just not sure for how long.  A star athlete in high school and college, his career in the NFL has so far been a bust.  He's well aware this is his last shot, and he's going to work his ass off to make it work.  What he doesn't need are any distractions, so when he hires old friend Rachel McCormick to be a live-in caretaker for his property, he really questions his sanity.

Buddies growing up, Rachel and Derek shared one wild and passionate weekend of Hot Nookie.  She made the mistake of confessing her true feelings, and he bolted faster than you can say "Wham, bam thank you ma'am."  Coupled with the hurt feelings over this incident, Rachel's father, Derek's high school football coach, has become embroiled in an old points-shaving scandal.  Rachel knows that Daddy is innocent, which means he's taking the fall for one of his old players.  Derek seems like a good place to start snooping.

I love a good reunion story, especially when the reunion involves a love affair gone bust.  Rachel adored Derek, so when he spurned her affections, it left her deeply wounded.  For his part, Derek is a moron.  He has feelings for Rachel, and can't seem to quite get her out of head, but since he's a guy, it takes him a while to admit it.  All this gets complicated when they tumble back into bed together (boy howdy, do they tumble!), and Derek has the best game in his fledgling NFL career.  Hey, ballplayers are nothing if not superstitious.  They're just going to have to keep on burning up the sheets!

I really enjoyed the fact that Rachel is a heroine who knows football.  She lives and breathes it.  While she's the nonathletic klutz in a family of athletes, that doesn't mean she didn't learn a thing or two.  In fact, Derek was such a good player in high school and college because she worked with him breaking down game tape.  Her father's troubles led the arena league team she was working for to let her go (guilt by association).  She needs to snoop on Derek to clear her father's name, to give herself a chance at a career she wants, but frankly, she also needs the money.  She also needs to figure out what she wants to do.  She wants to get into scouting, but between her father's troubles and the fact that she doesn't have a penis, it's proving to be difficult.

This is an erotic romance, and I generally go into this genre expecting "sexy and fun."  So when an author gives me some depth, it's always, in my opinion, a nice addition.  While there are plenty of Sexy Times between Rachel and Derek, their mutual back stories, coupled with Derek's burgeoning stardom (once the team starts winning!) gave this story such a lovely feel.  Nobody knows the Lumberjacks exist, until they go on a winning streak, and with that comes more demands on Derek's time.  Who does he say no to?  I also appreciated the added touches of Derek's beat-up body surviving the grind of an NFL season, and also that he wasn't a mega-super-duper-star right out of the gate.  You know how many guys have great college careers but are either a bust or "just OK" in the NFL?  Quite a few.

I do have a couple of nit-picks, because you know - this is me we're talking about here.  First, point-shaving in football is not an easy thing to do.  Unlike basketball, teams aren't scoring points every other minute.  In order for it to work, you pretty much need the quarterback in the mix.  Derek, as a wide receiver, wouldn't be the best guy for the job, because WR is a "dependent" position.  In other words, someone needs to throw him the damn ball.  I suspect the author realized this, so she stacks the deck in her favor by making the QB Derek's cousin-but-they-might-as-well-be-brothers, Tyler.  So Rachel thinks that either Derek could be protecting Tyler, or they were in cahoots together.  I'll admit it, I nit-picked this aspect of the story half to death, but the author wraps it up in a way that I was sold on it by the end.

The writing itself is quite good.  It does take a little while to get to the Sexy Times, so some readers might find the first portion of the story "slow" - but it worked well for me as far as setting the stage is concerned.  The one aspect that didn't always gel was the author's tendency to use football lingo/euphemisms in the story - especially during love scenes.  A couple of times, this can be cute.  More than that?  We land in eye-rolling territory.  Less definitely would have been more.

But you know what?  I really enjoyed this story.  A lot.  With my nit-picks, my final grade would generally be around B- or B territory.  However, I gotta say it, I got sucked into this book.  I mean, hook line and sinker sucked in.  I was deeply invested in these characters.  Not just Derek and Rachel, but all of them.  Even Derek's asshole cousin, Tyler, who cannot string a sentence together without dropping the F-bomb half a dozen times.  Hooked folks, I'm positively hooked.  So....

Final Grade = B+

When does the next book come out?  Dang.

Note: This title is currently only available as an ebook.  You can purchase it via Loose ID and wherever their titles are sold.


Jami Davenport said...

Wendy, Thanks so much for the wonderful review.

Derek's story has been floating around in my head for years. If I have a book of my heart, this is it.

BTW, F&G will be at distributors sometime after the first of July.

Gail Dayton said...

Oooh, this sounds like a good one. I like me a good football story. However, the guy on the cover? Has no butt. Just sayin'.

Allie K. Adams said...

I LOVED this story. Please tell me Tyler will get his own story. I can't wait to see him redeemed. You know how us ladies love them bad boys...


Dr J said...

After we spoke of this book this past Saturday I made a point of looking it up and finding out where I could buy this one online. I think the more I read about it the more I would enjoy it. With two football coaches in my family, I learned about the game more in self-defense than anything else initially, but now I really enjoy it. Great review!

Wendy said...

Jami: You're welcome! This story kept me entertained while I was on babysitting duty over the weekend :)

Gail: LOL! Yeah, I noticed the butt too. I'm not sure what that says about us. Probably nothing good ;)

Allie: If you go to the author's web site, she has a teeny blurb up about Tyler's story. Alas, it sounds like he and Cass are going to bite the dust.

Dr. J: After nit-picking it to death with you guys on Saturday, I *almost* finished it while babysitting that evening. I ended up buying into the point-shaving scandal, and I got REALLY invested in these characters. It's a solid, solid read. I think you'll enjoy it :) Right now, you can get it through Loose Id, but it should be available at other e-retailers in a couple of weeks.

Jami Davenport said...

Sigh on the butt. I guess it's hard to find football players in the stock photos. :)

Allie, thanks for you encouragement and your help plotting this story.

Dr.J, I hope you like F&G!!!

Leslie said...

Loved the review! And since I like reunion stories & football this should be a good one for me. :)

Wendy said...

Leslie: The reunion trope is done well here, and the football "stuff" is really solid. But what really made this story for me were the characters. I was really invested in their fictional lives by the end of it.

Jami Davenport said...

I had to stop back by and let everyone know that Fourth and Goal is now with distributors, including Amazon, Fictionwise, All Romance Ebooks, and Nook.