ARC Review: The Game of Love by Jeanette Murray

Format: E-book
Read with: iBooks for iPad
Length: Novel
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Standalone
Publisher: Carina Press
Hero: Brett Wallace
Heroine: Christina St. James
Date of Publication: August 29, 2011
Started On: August 29, 2011
Finished On: August 31, 2011

As most of you all already know, I am someone who loves a good contemporary romance. In fact, contemporary is my preferred genre and I would be one happy chick if authors continue to pen just straight old contemporary romances without the mystery, suspense or paranormal aspects in the mix. Don’t get me wrong, I love reading a mix of all these genres from time to time, but still at heart I am a big fan of plain old contemporary romances when it comes down to it.

34 year old Brett Wallace is a retired pro-football player and now the highschool football coach back in his hometown. Divorced from his ex-wife Lilith which could have turned real ugly if not for the prenup he had signed up before marrying her, needless to say Brett is leery of taking a step towards anything that remotely resembles a relationship with the opposite sex.

28 year old Christina St. James is an ex-pro tennis player who retires from a world from which she wants no part of and moves to Northeastern high school to teach Mathematics and lands the job of coaching their tennis team. Having being burnt badly in a relationship with a pro-athlete whose sole purpose of hanging onto Chris had been to boost his ego and image in front of supporters and the media, Chris has no intention of getting involved with the opposite sex anytime soon, much less Brett Wallace who oozes testosterone just by entering a room.

From the start both Brett and Chris who brings forth a lot of baggage from their previous relationships form misconceived opinions about the other which just delays the inevitability of them getting together. Chris is wary than most and is prickly as a hedgehog when she first encounters Brett and labels him to be just another Dax who would never be content with letting her be herself.

But time and time again, Brett proves that he is just the polar opposite of every misconceived perception that Chris has thought up of and before she knows it, Brett somehow worms his way into her life and into her heart making her yearn for things that she seems incapable of voicing. With a past that continually tries to invade into the present, Chris nearly loses Brett and what he offers until towards the very satisfying end to the story.

Jeanette Murray might be a new author for me, but I felt right at home with her voice that rings with the unbeatable combination of humor, passion and those sweet romantic moments that I just felt right at home with. I loved the way the story flowed, the way she developed both Chris and Brett and inevitably got them together.

Being not much of a fan of sports romances, I tend to stay away from them most of the time. But The Game of Love seemed to call my name when I came across its very well done and drool inducing cover and I am glad I did pay heed to the calling since this is a romance that indeed balances things out in every aspect. Jeanette surely knows her subject matter when it comes to sports and it definitely comes across during the whole story.

Brett Wallace is the dreamiest and sexiest sports jock hero I have come across to date. He is sexy, kind, funny, charming, endearing and knows his way around the erogenous zones of the female anatomy quite well I would say. His past that has left some emotional scars behind makes him cautious and at times tends to let him make a fool out of himself. But the way he is the ultimate good guy all around and nevertheless give the total alpha-male-in-control vibe without going overboard just makes him into my list of yummy heroes.

I just flat out loved the way Brett worms his way into Chris’s life, catching her unawares which in the end gives them both the best thing to happen to both of them in a long while. The thing that endeared Brett most to me was how he always seems to know Chris and her needs even when her overly cautious nature refuses to confide in Brett of her painful past. The way he comforts her when she seems in dire need of it – I could definitely use someone like Brett in my life.

Chris on the other hand had the whole prickly female thing going on for her when the story started, a trait which I am not much of a fan of. But once I got deeper into her character, the way she had grown up with a set of parents who lost sight of the happiness of their little girl a long time back and the way her past relationship had shaped out to be, hell I would have been prickly myself after going through all that.

In the end, Chris’s character develops along nicely, Brett’s understanding and loving nature working its magic over her battered emotions and soul until she is ready to face the concept of being in love and making herself vulnerable to another once again. Once Chris gives into the heady passion between herself and Brett, the heat factor is on and I just couldn’t get enough of the light amusement that always seems a part of their heady lovemaking sessions. And the way Brett continually spaces out into fantasy land featuring Chris in various get-ups just makes him totally and irrevocably male in my opinion!

I have got to say that I just adored Katie’s character who is Chris’s best friend and a hugley pregnant one at that, who just made me howl out in laughter with her quirky thoughts and laugh-out-loud variety interactions with both Chris and Brett.

The Game of Love by Jeanette Murray is a romance that delivers exceptionally well on all counts, a contemporary not to be missed if you are a fan of light hearted romance with the bite of toe-curling passion in the mix!

Memorable Quotes:

(Chris) “Katie, seriously. He’s a jock with entitlement issues. What about that could I possibly like?”
“Well…” Her friend trailed off and Chris could hear Katie’s fingers drumming a pattern on the table. “You guys have a lot in common.”
Chris snorted and started mixing the salad with two large forks. “What, we both convert oxygen into carbon dioxide?”

He (Brett) handed her the drink over her shoulder. She looked up and smiled, saying thanks. The table was covered with notepads and pens. And when he sat down across from her, she reached in her bag and brought out a pair of glasses.
His body froze, hand clutched around his drink. Naughty librarian daydream come to life.
Oh, good Christ.

(Brett) “Making friends?”
She jerked, then her spine straightened into posture nuns would be proud of and she turned her head. “He’s hard to resist, really.” Another belly rub. “You’re late.”
He crouched down to sit on his heels, and his knees spanned to either side of her arms. Reaching around, he scratched Beans behind the ears. Brett was positive the dog actually sighed with happiness. “I’ve been here, just didn’t think to look for you on the floor.”

His smile was slow to spread over his face. As it grew, something warm slid through her belly, warming her from the inside like a pumpkin spice latte on a cool fall night.
Red alert. That’s a ten-forty-two. Charming jock in progress, proceed with caution.
He took her hand in his, shook it once, then let go. Very proper, very simple. And it would have stayed that way had she not looked him in the eye and seen it.
Hunger, as clear as if he were a starving man looking at a T-bone.
And that was the T-bone’s cue to make for the hills.

Following their line of vision, he found the distraction. The damn tennis team, running the perimeter of the football field in some half-assed formation, following their fearless leader. They weren’t looking at the field, weren’t yelling or causing a scene. Just concentrating on keeping up with Chris.
Having been a teenage boy himself, the draw was obvious. Teenage girls. Short shorts. No brainer. At thirty-four, he was past that.
Except his eyes didn’t seem to get the “I’m Too Old For This” memo. They were tracking Chris like a hawk tracks a field mouse.

She’d been given gifts before. Earrings, necklaces, bracelets. Weekend trips to the Bahamas or a day at the spa. Expensive—but meaningless—trinkets that showed Dax didn’t have a clue what to give her, that he didn’t listen to her. Things that could be meant for any woman. Nothing that said she was special, that what she thought and wanted mattered.
A set of aluminum bleachers full of teenage boys meant more than any of those things combined.

His tongue swept in, gentle and sweet, but also intense. She tasted spearmint, like he’d been chewing gum. He smelled like grass from the field.
One hand smoothed a path up her back under her sweatshirt but over her tank. His palm made lazy circles on her back that mimicked the rhythm of their kiss. It was a light, almost reverent touch, and she finally knew what Katie meant when she had once said she loved kissing so much she could do it for hours alone. If this was how it was supposed to be done, sign her up for a marathon event.

(Brett) “Never been to a football game either?” His voice lowered to a gravelly hush. “Well, like I said. We’ll make up for lost time.” He bent down and kissed her. “See you Friday?”
Dazed, all she could contribute was, “Yeah, Friday…” before he turned and went back to his car.
She walked inside, shut the door, leaned her back against it and concentrated on the rise and fall of her chest. It felt like he’d stolen her breath. And her heart. She was pretty sure he had taken a small piece of it with him.

As she relaxed against his chest, he pulled her in closer. Turning her face into his shirt, she breathed in the calming scent that was him. “I’m sorry,” she mumbled into the fabric.
One big hand stroked over her head, down her long ponytail to rub her back in soothing circles. “No, I’m sorry. You’ve told me before it made you uncomfortable and I pushed. That was an asshole move. You’re entitled to your feelings and I shouldn’t fight against them. I’m sorry.” He dropped a kiss on her temple.
And with that little apology, she stepped off the cliff of denial and fell headfirst into love with Brett Wallace.

Purchase Links: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes&Noble

[xrr rating=4.5/5]

Caliber Seal: AMAZING READ!