Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes.
Contemporary Romance is my all-time favorite genre, which means that I’m always on the lookout for new authors. Jeanette Murray is my newest find, when I saw this book on Netgalley it looked like it would be an enjoyable read and so I requested (besides, the cover was very appealing). The book was pretty much what I expected and despite having some issues here and there I enjoyed it very much and I’m looking forward to read Murray's future books.
Our heroine is Chris St. James. She used to be a pro tennis player but she walked away from it because she wasn’t happy anymore. But tennis wasn’t all she left behind, she also dumped his abusive boyfriend (a NHL player) and put some distance between herself and her overbearing parents. Now she is about to start her new life teaching and coaching tennis at a local High School. When school is about to start she meets Brett Wallace, he is the town’s golden boy and the school’s football coach, he also happens to be a former NFL player. At first they collide over how to use the money from a donation (he wants a new scoreboard, she wants new uniforms for her team) and also because they both have serious misconceptions about each other, but there’s an unmistakable attraction between them and they will have to fight their issues to find a way to be together.
At first I was a bit unsure about the characters. Brett didn’t cause a better first impression on me than he did on Chris, he came across a bit assholish and I thought that I was going to have to suffer him throughout the entire book. But he was far from that, he was a sweet guy who was badly hurt by an ex-wife who married him for his money. But he was a gentleman and he fell hard and fast for Chris.
Chris was your typical contemporary romance heroine. She was hiding a lot of insecurities and pain behind a tough façade but she really was a nice, hardworking woman looking for happiness and a normal life. She was reticent to accept Brett’s advances because she had a terrible experience with her ex-boyfriend and saw someone similar in Brett, but instead, she got someone who wanted her just like she was, someone who cherished and respected her.
Brett comes from a big family and the scenes with his brothers were hilarious. The family dynamics was fantastic and my favorite part of the book. I was actually disappointed to see that all the brothers were happily married because they would have made great heroes, but maybe we will get some prequels where we get to see how each one of them got their happily ever after.
It was also interesting to see how Brett and Chris were alike in some aspects, like being pro athletes and their bad luck in love, but very different in others, their families being the main one. Brett’s family was big and loving and very tight whereas Chris’ was the opposite, her parents were cold and more interested in her career than her happiness. It was an interesting contrast between them.
Another thing that I liked about the book was that Brett and Chris jumped into the relationship with both feet. Yes they were somewhat traumatized by previous experiences but they were able to see that what they had between them was different and special, and this is the reason why I was so annoyed by the “big misunderstanding”. I’m not sure why there’s a need to add some drama in these stories because I think that a book about two people falling in love and developing a relationship is good enough without the external problem. In this case Chris’ ex comes back and wreaks havoc, and Brett falls for it hook, line and sinker. That annoyed me a lot because I found it completely unnecessary and the worst part was that he dealt with it in a very assholish way, so we ended up as we started. There’s a HEA and it was a nice ending but I couldn’t get rid of the bad aftertaste.
Overall this is a sweet story, with interesting and likeable characters, fun situations and very steamy. I enjoyed a lot and I think you will too, the ending didn’t ruin the book for me but I could have done without. This was the perfect beach read and a good contemporary romance. As I said before, I’m looking forward to reading more from Murray.
Review by Brie
Chris St. James is ready for normal. After walking away from her pro tennis career and a toxic relationship with a star hockey player, she's starting a new life as a teacher and tennis coach in a small town. Now all she needs is an average guy to share it with.Brett Wallace is no average guy. Forced to retire from the NFL after an injury—and suddenly single after being dumped by his status-conscious wife—he's returned to his hometown to coach the varsity football team. Wary of women interested only in his celebrity, Brett finds Chris's indifference to his former career refreshing.The last thing Chris needs is to get involved with another pro athlete, but she can't deny the sparks that fly between them. So she agrees to a purely physical, no-strings-attached affair. But the rules of the game change when she falls for him…
Carina Press. August 29, 2011.