This was almost a book I put down within the first quarter. I’ve just read so many of the same type of romances recently with the same themes.
Roommate/Fake boyfriend, discovers he’s actually queer because he’s has a crush/lust/affection for the fake boyfriend/roommate. Who feels the same back immediately. Within the story there’s a drama or something. HEA. Sports NFL/NHL universe. The End.
I believe Bolden has written a few herself but they are all blurring together at the moment because it’s such a familiar trope that unless the characters have exceptionally interesting or strong characters and the storyline is very different then any of the usual that’s out there, then it’s hard to pick one out from another.
Dylan Leonard, kicker, has been traded to the Miami Piranhas and instantly (just walked into the office) acquired a bestie and roommate in Logan Banks. Logan is another recent trade. Another factor ? The Miami team, a queer friendly organization, knows he’s gay, but not out to the public. Dylan? Straight at the moment he becomes a roommate in Logan’s home.
Fast forward, and I mean blink and they go from introduction to best friends, with no exposition within the book, except a few scenes of cooking and vid game playing. Nothing to give them or a relationship any depth.
Still under 35 percent.
And they’re discovering feelings and attraction towards each other. Maybe Dylan’s not so straight. A question or two answered from a queer player about sexuality and Dylan’s ok with his feelings and new status on the spectrum.
I wouldn’t have a issue with that except that there’s no foundation laid for anything that’s happening here. We and the characters are just zooming along the author’s story zip line. Foundation and depth is the stuff whizzing past us underneath.
At 40%, Logan and Dylan are moving past fake. But I’m still waiting for something other than cute. Both men are sweet but I keep waiting for something of substance.
Halfway, Bolden’s storyline and characters gets more dimensional and with the arrival of the foundation we’d been missing at the start.
These men are starting NFL players in a new team in a changeover framework, with a coach under scrutiny. There’s a team that needs to work on its dynamics and line chemistry. A team that needs to win. This is where the story energizes, as it locates back to the locker room, the playing field, and the team’s players.
This section of the book felt believable with Dylan’s search for stability and confidence in his role, Logan’s not exactly being comfortable with his public face as a out gay player after being outed by a hookup, and the player ‘s issues as they work to pull together as a team.
What fell flat was the resolution about the person who’s been creating such a huge media embarrassment and potential legal issues that all the following storyline were fabricated to counterattack him. But he’s just a nonentity that’s handled in a few paragraphs. Basically a disposable villain. SMH.
So back to what did work.
Bolden has a good grasp of the issues and stresses that press in on players at this level, and her writing conveys that emotional and physical cost to each of them.
As cute a instant couple Dylan and Logan prove to be, it’s the team and their problems and battles to win that finally kept me reading.
I believe most readers who love contemporary romance will enjoy Playing The Player (Miami Piranhas#2) by Beth Bolden. They will find the roommate/fake boyfriend/sexual awakening theme a favorite trope and grab it immediately.
For me, a small wish. That authors decide to take a new path, maybe create a whole new trope, to bring their characters to romance and whatever else is in store.
That’s a really exciting thought. I’m just casting it out there!
Meanwhile, here the Miami Piranhas series so far.
✓ Playing for Keeps #1
✓ Playing the Player #2
✓ Playing by the Rules #3 -Release Date: October 12,2022
Center Logan Banks didn’t come to Miami looking for a best friend.
He came for football and for a chance at freedom—the freedom to live out of the closet.
But after a water main break, he lands an unexpected roommate, the new Piranhas kicker, Dylan Leonard. Between practices, games, and too many late nights on the couch, a best friend is exactly what he gets.
When Logan’s past rears its ugly head and threatens to destroy the freedom he’s hoped for, Dylan becomes more than just a friend. He becomes a lifeline.
But then their friendship gets incorrectly labeled as something more, and Dylan shocks Logan by suggesting they play along with a fake relationship.
Logan knows it’s off limits to fall in love with Dylan. He’s supposed to be straight, he’s his best friend, his roommate, and his teammate. But the closer they grow, and the more he and Dylan fake falling in love, the more real it feels.
The more real Logan wants it to be.
Making a play for love is the biggest risk he’s ever taken, but he wants it all and he wants it with Dylan.
Unless it’s noted, all books reviewed have been purchased by the reviewer.