SBD: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton

Happy Valentine’s Day.  Or not, depending on your perspective.  FWIW, I think of the holiday as Love Sucks Day, because one of my roommates used to wear black and refuse to participate in the whole thing.  How about happy Monday instead?  

Today’s SBD is brought to you by Groupon and its awesome $20 for $10 Barnes & Noble gift certificate.  Otherwise, I would not have bought The Perfect Play, no matter how pretty the cover art is, because the Kindle sample I downloaded kind of irritated me.

Football pro Mick Riley is an All-Star. Both on the field and in the bedroom.  But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game…

For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune and a different girl in every city.  But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand.  Too bad Tara’s not interested in getting to know football’s most notorious playboy any better.

As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley, even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable.  her life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick’s latest girl du jour.  Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn’t intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.

But when Mick sets his sights to win, nothing will stop him.  And he has the perfect play in mind.

Objectively, this book is fine.  Its prose isn’t particularly fluid or artist, but it is steady and serviceable.  The plot advances evenly and is well-paced.  And I wanted to love it — the cover is gorgeous and it’s a sports romance!

But it just didn’t work for me.  Let me count the ways it did not work for me:

  • "I don’t do this kind of thing."  Bitch, please, you’re having a one night stand with a total stranger: obviously you *do*.  Own what you are doing.
  • Thin world building, in terms of Tara’s history and family, which is given a huge weight in terms of why she is who she is and justifying or explaining her situation and parenting approach, but is explained late and is somewhat hollow.
  • Mick’s constant denigration of the women he dated and screwed before meeting Tara: it reflects poorly on him that he thinks so badly of them, yet he continued to date them and have sex with them because it was convenient.  
  • The also constant effort to show that Tara was both sophisticated and an aww-shucks down to earth gal.
  • The wibbling about whether or not they were in a relationship.  Dude, the instant you introduced Mick to your son, it became a relationship, because you do NOT introduce your children to your booty call.  So either it’s a relationship or you are the trashiest person ever.
  • The big conflict at the end, which required the vilification of an otherwise interesting character, did not impress me.  Yes, yes, that character gets to be redeemed in the next book of the series.  But that brings up another point:  female sports agents are rare, and in a male-dominated industry, under a huge amount of scrutiny.  Having your female sports agent sleep with one of her clients?  Instantly kills her credibility and reputation; even if she ends up marrying him later, it is potentially career sinking if they get caught or when news of it leaks, unless it’s totally on the down low until they announce their marriage.  
  • Also, what appears to be a trend in this series:  slutty heroes and heroines who haven’t had sex in years.  

This is the second or third Burton book that I’ve tried; I think that perhaps she’s just not an author to my taste.  Which is a shame (for me), because I appreciate her online persona and professional demeanor.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “SBD: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton

  1. Your first bullet point had me snorting tea through my nose! hehe
    Also, I so very much agree with “Which is a shame (for me), because I appreciate her online persona and professional demeanor.” as I get really bummed when I admire an individual but don’t like their work. I want the two to always coincide. (I also get seriously bummed when I fall in love with a work and then the individual repels me.)

    • I want the two to coincide also. Although I don’t often put an author on the “do not buy” list based on internet behavior alone, there are some authors who’ve lost a lot of my respect. It’s unfair of me in some ways, but it comes down to professionalism and having a lot of options available for my entertainment dollars.

  2. Anonymous

    Rachel,
    The first scenario is no fun, but that second one–nasty person writing great books–can break your heart. I loved Ender’s Game and a couple of other books in that series. When I found out what a homophobic, misogynistic goober Scott Card is, I wanted to cry.

    • I’ve heard that about Card, which I why I haven’t managed to get Ender’s Game out of the TBR pile.

    • Kate – heart-breaking is a perfect way to describe it. I’m sure it sounds a little ridiculous but I end up feeling betrayed. I know it’s not personal (obviously) but when I’ve internalized a piece of art and want to think well of the artist I really do get a broken heart thing going on.

    • I love this point. I don’t usually feel guilty that I don’t care for an author’s work, even when I like them personally very much, because it’s kind of going to happen in my line of work, you know? (happens a lot, actually). But I positively HATE it when an author I don’t like writes good books. And I do generally avoid those books, because I figure there are enough books out there, I can find something else to read and not be too deprived.

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