Monday, October 7, 2013

The Striker's Chance by Rebecca Crowley

Landing the PR contract for North Carolina's new soccer team could take Holly Taylor's career to the next level. Her task? Make Kepler "Killer" de Klerk, an athlete with a party-hard reputation, a star. But revamping the sexy footballer's image while battling her unwanted attraction to him is easier said than done.

The car accident that derailed Kepler's European career also gave him some much-needed perspective. He's ready to give up on fame and focus on the game he loves. The last thing he needs is a headstrong brunette pushing him back into the spotlight, even if butting heads with her is the most fun he's had in ages.

The more time Holly spends with Kepler, the more she sees how different he is from his tabloid persona. But when she's offered her dream job for a price, she finds herself torn between the career she's spent years building and the man she doesn't want to give up.

Type: Contemporary Romance, Sports, Novella
Heat: 3 out of 5-- though not much
Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Amazon All Romance Goodreads
Shallow, shallow, girl, I know, but heeeeelllo sexy cover! And even sexier hero. Whew, The Striker's Chance was my first sports romance featuring a soccer player, and gotta say, I was totally digging the change of pace and getting to check out a new sport. The swoon-worthy hero, the great concept and easy writing didn't hurt either and kept me enjoying the sporty read despite some issues that popped up along the way.

I really enjoyed the set up for this one. Or rather the idea of the set up. Soccer star Kepler's bad boy reputation has sent his career into a nose dive and he's been traded to a struggling American team in a last ditch effort to salvage the career he loves. The powerful, instantaneous attraction to his new PR manager, Holly, and the sparks that fly definitely wasn't something he was expecting...

Kepler was pretty much a dream hero. This guy, gah, he totally made me melt and had me tearing up a few times. He's spent most of his life traveling with different teams and having little control over the decisions affecting his life and it's left him isolated, lonely and really with no one to turn to for support. You can see the pain, sadness and desire for more come through and it absolutely tore at my heart. He's just a good guy that's thoughtful, sweet, loves children and puts everything he is into what he does. He was really easy for me to love and feel protective over.

Holly though was a hard sell for me and in the end she didn't quite make it. She runs hot and cold, is willing to hide major things from Kepler in order to advance her own career--knowing it will devastate him-- and then sleeps with him before coming clean which bothered me. I really struggled to keep liking her character and couldn't really figure out what exactly he saw in her to make him so smitten.
He snapped his fingers. "I meant to tell you, I had a word with Sven. He's arranged free tickets for the kids for Saturday's match."

She bit her lip in annoyance. "Damn, I wish I'd known that in time to get it in the article. That would've given it real put-your-money-where-your-mouth-is hook."

"Yeah, well, what's important is that they'll get to see a professional game in a full-size stadium. That's a good thing whether or not anyone knows about it."

"Of course," she replied, distracted.
And that leads in to why I said I liked the idea of this one but not really the actual carry through. Everyone wanted to change Kepler, or use him, or just didn't see...him. And that frustrated me to no end. He loves his sport with a passion and doesn't want to lie to fans by creating an image of himself that isn't true and that would tarnish the value of his word. He's also shy and uncomfortable doing certain things but he was railroaded into them by Holly who just completely overlooked his feelings--even when he begged for her to not make him do something in the name of publicity. And that made me resent the hell out of her. There were times she'd get it right but then she was always looking for a way to spin things and came across cold and calculating.

So, a bit torn on The Striker's Chance. I really liked the actual writing--it's easy to read, moves fairly quickly and kept me turning the pages. And I loved the hero and the little peak into soccer--I'll totally be searching out more of these. But heroine issues put a damper on it for me. I wanted Kepler happy and for him to get his dream of more, of setting down roots, and finding someone to love him. I just didn't really want it to be Holly in the end. It could just be me though. I've been having a hard time with heroines as of late and I do think this is a worthwhile read if you enjoy sporty romances it just wasn't quite what I was hoping.

Have you read Crowly? What did you think?
Do you have a favorite sporty romance?

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