Got Game?, by Stephanie Doyle

>> Sunday, April 28, 2013

TITLE: Got Game?
AUTHOR: Stephanie Doyle

PAGES: 317
PUBLISHER: Self-published

SETTING: Contemporary
TYPE: Romance

Oh, Yeah. Game On!

The world of professional golf is rocked when the new ranking system allows Reilly Carr - the country’s best female player--to compete with the big boys. Now everyone wants to know if she will or won't play in golf's premier event…The American.

But her tough choices are complicated further when Luke Nolan - her on again, off again lover - suddenly decides now is the time to turn their friends-with-benefits set up into a real relationship!

If she's going to make the cut she'll need to battle her game, the press and most of all her heart. The stakes have never been higher.
I'm not the biggest golf fan, but the idea of it being the heroine who was the superstar athlete, rather than the hero, drew me in.

Reilly Carr has been the best player on the women's golf circuit for a quite a while. She's so good that she's miles ahead of the competition; so much so that things have started to feel a bit boring for her. And then a new ranking system is introduced, and it turns out that Reilly's new rank automatically qualifies her to play in the top tournament, where obviously, no woman has ever played.

Whether to take that chance is a difficult decision. Will she make a fool of herself, given that basic physiology means that even the strongest female player can never hit the ball as far as the best male players? Will it ruin the rest of her career in the women's circuit, if they feel that Reilly doesn't think that circuit is good enough for her?

After some soul-searching, Reilly decides to take the chance (no spoiler, it's pretty obvious, really!). It will require her to train her ass off, but she's ready for it. However, she didn't count on the complications. First, there's Luke Nolan, a former golfer himself, with whom she's been having a sort of fuck-buddy relationship. Luke has suddenly decided he wants more. And Reilly seems to have acquired a stalker, who really isn't happy about her recent choices and wants her to know it.

There was some really good stuff here. Reilly is definitely not your typical romance heroine. She's supposed to be an elite, extremely succesful athlete, and she acts like it. She's confident to the point of arrogance, a bit jockish and very, very driven. Her personal life has been pretty eventful, as well. She's been married and divorced twice, and has an additional broken engagement. And it's not a problem. Doyle allows her to be like that and still be a romance heroine.

I also really liked the golf stuff. I was really interested in the preparation and what steps Reilly took to improve her game, and the actual playing scenes were tense and exciting. I loved that Doyle was able to give us a happy ending in that area that didn't feel unrealistic.

I did, however, like the golf more than the romance. The latter was a bit boring, mainly because there was no real tension. The problem was that there were no real obstacles to keep these two apart. Luke decides to be very devious and play games with Reilly, but I never really understood why he found it necessary, instead of just being straighforward.

I wasn't crazy about the suspense subplot, either. It felt like a very standard, typical stalker plot, and it was too easy to guess the culprit.

This is a self-published work, so I should mention that it was ok on the writing end. No excessive typos/garbled phrasing or anything like that. The story did feel a bit bloated round the middle, though, a bit too long and in need of a bit of judicious editing and trimming. It says 317 pages on the kindle page at amazon, but it felt much longer (I’ve tried to check the number of words, but I can't find the information). Still, I've seen plenty of professionally edited books with sagging middles, so I won't automatically conclude that the fact that it was self-pubbed was the issue.



Brie 30 April 2013 at 22:28  

I pretty much agree with everything you said, except that the romance worked better for me. I liked both characters, and I liked them together, so the chemistry was enough to keep me going.

The suspense subplot was what almost ruined it for me. It was forced and contrived. It's probably because, as you said, there wasn't enough romantic conflict so the author went for the external conflict and made a bit of a mess out of it.

I really love Doyle's books, though. Or at least her ideas. She has a fresh voice and is constantly playing with genre conventions and pushing boundaries, which makes her stories interesting and unique. She still needs to polish the execution, but at this point I'm willing to read anything she writes.

Rosario 1 May 2013 at 07:27  

It really annoys me how so many authors seem to think a suspense subplot can be any old thing, as long as it creates a threat to the characters. I wish they'd put a lot more thought into them, and if they're not good at writing them, then they shouldn't.

It was my first Doyle book, and (in spite of the suspense plot issue) it made very interested in reading more of hers. Her others are all harlequins, aren't they? Any one that you'd particularly recommend?

Brie 3 May 2013 at 14:01  

Yep. I really liked her two Supers: The Way Back and (now I can't remember the title of the second). The former is, IMO, the best one, but the latter deals with something I've never seen in Romance.... Line never, never ;-) She also published a book with Harlequin's RS line, that I really enjoyed, mostly because of the main characters; the suspense part was a bit weak, but it's getting harder and harder to find RS authors that are actually good at the S part.

Rosario 4 May 2013 at 09:21  

Ok, I think I'm going to try The Way Back next. I do want to read One Final Step, but I've managed to spoil myself on what that something is, so I might just buy it, put it on my kindle, and hope I'll forget why I bought it!

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