Monday, October 2, 2017

Book Review: 'The Play' by J.H. Croix

Maine author J.H. Croix makes her home in a small town and from that quiet farmland atmosphere she gives reign to writing her sexy contemporary romance and steamy paranormal shifter romance with strong independent women and rugged alpha men who aren't afraid to show some emotion. And she quickly adds that her love for quirky small-towns and the characters that inhabit them shines through in her writing.

That Croix understands the lingo of sports talk and British humor and outlook is obvious as she introduces the male star of this romance - “Bloody hell,” I mumbled. I gave my knee a test bend, only to grit my teeth at the bolt of pain. “Easy mate,” Alex said. “No need to be stupid about it.” I glanced to Alex and rolled my eyes. Alex Gordon was waiting with me at the sleek, state of the art medical facility in Seattle. I was sitting there with a badly twisted knee waiting for the surgeon who was supposed to work wonders and make me good as new. “At least we won,” I said, latching onto something other than the throbbing pain in my knee. Alex chuckled and leaned his head against the wall behind him. Not for the first time, I was damn grateful he happened to be here with me. A month ago, we were signed to an American team on the heels of a crushing loss in a championship game in England. I’d known Alex since we were best mates in grammar school in a small town outside of London. We grew up playing football together, went to university together and got lucky enough to be signed to the same team back in England. Two months ago when my mum died from a stroke out of nowhere, I lost my focus, and our team lost its shot at the championship game. Before I came out of my stupor, our harebrained management ended our contracts and next thing I knew, my best shot at a good contract was with the Seattle Stars, a team paying big money for talent. Seeing as they signed me along with Alex and two other teammates from England, I went for it. “It’d be nice if they called football by its proper name here,” I said, my favorite complaint ever since we landed on American soil. Alex ran a hand through his messy brown hair, giving a roll of his brown eyes. “Not happening, mate. American football is way more popular than soccer here.” “Bloody stupid to call it something else when everywhere else it’s football,” I mumbled.’

The chapters are divided equally between the male (Liam) and female (Olivia) characters and as is her style Croix delivers a tasty summary of the action to get us into her fine little book: ‘A famous Brit footballer Liam Reed is off his game. A young doctor who wants nothing to do with a drool-worthy, cocky player. Dr Olivia Bowen is his doctor, the last woman he should fall for. But…he’s never been one to play by the rules. Liam is just a little bit cranky. On the heels of a crushing loss for his team back in Britain, he finds himself signed to a US team. A potentially career ending injury lands him in the hospital where he takes one look at Olivia Bowen, the renowned surgeon assigned to make him good as new, and decides he must have her. Olivia Bowen is an overachiever of the worst sort. Straight-A student – check. Bordering on crazy anxious because of always trying to be perfect at everything – check. Well, perfect at anything to do with being a doctor and an utter disaster at most everything else. Olivia takes one look at Liam, internationally renowned for his play and adored for his looks and casual British swagger, and almost goes running. The last thing she needs is the pressure to get him back on the field with nothing less than a perfect recovery. Even worse, she can hardly be in the same room with him because her body goes haywire. Liam is powerfully drawn to the challenge Olivia offers, yet neither of them is prepared for their hearts getting in on the action. Playing ball is easy. Falling in love is complicated.’

Sports, doctor/patient relationships, and steamy erotica are all here and very well delivered. If this is Book 1….what a series opener! Grady Harp, March 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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