If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all. - Oscar Wilde
We shouldn't teach great books; we should teach a love of reading. - B. F. Skinner
No entertainment is so cheap as reading, nor any pleasure so lasting. - Mary Wortley Montagu

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review: Game On by Collette West / @Collette_West

Title: New York Kings #3: Game On
Author: Collette West
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: October 13, 2014
Genre: Contemporary, New Adult, Sports, Romance
ARC Received From: Tasty Book Tours

(Due to unexpected events, I wasn't sure if I would be able to post a review or not. Tasty Book Tours was notified of my dilemma and my blog was removed from the TBT's schedule for this book. Thankfully, I am able to post a review but it is separate of TBT's tour. The ARC was received from TBT and credit has been noted.)

Pitching phenom Bruce "Jilly" Gillette has a hard time talking to women. His hulking presence of tattoos and muscles is what makes him an intimidating closer on the mound, yet off the field, he's painfully shy, uncomfortable in his own skin. 

Desperate to revamp his loner image, the New York Kings hold a dream date contest, granting the lucky winner a night on the town with their surly reliever, doing whatever it takes to force Jilly out of his comfort zone. 

Hailey Halpert enters the contest on a whim, looking for answers as to why her high school relationship with Jilly hit the skids. Now she’s a popular romance author writing under a pen name, and her reappearance in Jilly's life is no accident. It turns out that her novels are all about the sexy players on the Kings, and Jilly has no clue that he's about to become her new leading man.

Other books in this series

I'm up in the air with this story.

Jilly was a great lead. He's focused, loyal, and honorable. His love for the game is obvious; pitching is all he's known and he's damn good at it. I loved his surliness, the lonely boy aura he wore like a second skin. It added a layer of mystery to him that I wanted to peel back. I wanted to know more about him, understand why he was so distant even when surrounded by men who considered him family. His trip home when he was injured gave much needed insight into his past and how he came to be friends with Hailey. Their past relationship was very organic, developing in its own time and at its own pace.

Hailey rubbed me wrong. From her first POV, something was...off. She came off as genuine, sweet, caring, and strong. If anyone could pull off the role of a professional athlete's significant other, she could. But I could shake this overwhelming sense of apprehension I had about her. It was the way her POVs ended that clued me in. The further I got into the story, the stronger that feeling became. When everything came to a head and blew up in her face, I was speechless.

And I hated her.

I crossed my fingers and hoped Jilly would give her middle finger, tell her to f*** herself and leave him alone. The backlash he suffered because of her secret was heartbreaking to read. That she didn't bother to reach out to him during that time made my dislike of her run deeper. I wanted Jilly happy. God knew he deserved it after all he'd been through.

Since the story was about Jilly and Hailey, it was obvious they would end up together. How? Promises, apologies, and reconciliations. Hailey needed to grow up. She needed to understand that how she acted and reacted to situations wasn't okay, and that it would only ruin what they shared. Did she finally get it? I'm proud to say yes, but it took an unexpected decision on Jilly's part for her to get it. Still, better late than never was a good thing for this couple.

Time apart gave Jilly time to heal from his injury. Time apart gave Hailey a chance to change for the better. It gave them each a chance to see what they had, and could continue to have, in a relationship with one another.

As I said, I'm up in the air with this story. There's a lot I can forgive lead characters for doing, but deliberate childish behavior is hard to see past. I could reason that Hailey's past played a huge part in how she treated Jilly, but that's a fallback response and not a good enough reason to explain her behavior. At some point, characters should grow considerably. They should remember how well bad reactions didn't work out for them in the past and consciously strive to react differently when similar situations arise. That kind of growth has the potential to save the leads a lot of unnecessary heartache and give them time they need to build a relationship that's healthy and healing.

Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three.

A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven. Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad.

When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers.