Fair Play, by Deirdre Martin

>> Friday, May 14, 2004

I haven't been able to post much this week, so to catch up, I think I'll just write only a few lines about my most recent reads. First up: Fair Play (read an excerpt), by Deirdre Martin, a new-to-me author and one who's actually pretty new on the whole.

This one's the sequel to Martin's first book, Body Check, which I haven't yet read. I planned to wait until after I'd read that one to start Fair Play, but I couldn't resist the temptation.

Theresa Falconetti has it all: brains, beauty, a quick wit, and her own PR business. To the Deep disappointment of her large family, she never dates Italians, men from her old Brooklyn neighborhood, or professional athletes. Especially not athletes...

Michael Dante, popular hometown hero and winger for the Stanley Cup champion New York Blades is all three—and he is head over heels for her.

For Michael, Theresa's NO HOCKEY PLAYERS rule is a check to the heart. Nothing he does seems to melt her resolve. His stubborn refusal to give up on this wisecracking brunette, who—he knows—is hiding from her roots, is driving them both nuts. And whe he hires her to publicize his family's restaurant, more than the kitchen heats up. Then Theresa finds herself an Upper East Side kind of guy and Micheal is forced to take his game to the next level.
It's been a few weeks since I last read a book that was such a page-turner, and this one didn't even have a suspense subplot, or anything like that. And still, I tried to put it down a couple of times to finish a crossword puzzle and I was unable to do so. Or rather, I'd put it down, only to give up and pick it up 5 minutes later. Excellent, an A-.

I get the feeling a lot of the setup for Fair Play took place in Body Check. I don't know if it was on- or off-stage, but when FP starts, Michael and Theresa already have a "history", in a way. I don't think my not having read BC hampered my enjoyment of their story, but this did make me even more anxious to read about their first meetings.

Fair Play had a lot of elements I always enjoy, and they were very well done. There was the beta, nice-guy hero: Michael was yummy (once I got over his being toothless, LOL!) and an honourable, kind guy, whose patience with Theresa I found endearing.

We also have a story with a hero who's nuts about the heroine and keeps pursuing and is even willing to look foolish in order to "woo" her. I loved Michael from the beginning, but when he visited his cousin for advice, he definitely had me.

I also loved the way this was very much an urban story, very much a romance, with the focus on the romance and the couple, but also with a kind of "chick-lit" feel to it.

And it's a bit of a guilty pleasure, because I almost feel guilty for enjoying it when a wonderful guy like Michael is suffering, but I always like romantic triangles when it's 2 guys and our heroine. In this case I found it especially good, because I was rooting for Theresa to defy her family in this, so the fact that she'd keep seeing this other guy even though her family was interfering and pressuring her to go out with Michael, was positive to me.

Actually, my feelings were a bit ambiguous here. On one hand, I loved Michael and despised the other guy, so of course I wanted Theresa to end up with Mike and I knew it was the right thing for her. On the other, though, I kind of resented the fact that in the end, the woman is shown not to be able to make the right decision. Shades of "Daddy knows best" and all that.

Speaking of Theresa's and Mike's Italian families, this background was enjoyable to me. Actually, I come from what would be considered an Italian family myself: my granddad emigrated to Uruguay and I even have double citizenship, Uruguayan and Italian, and hold passports from both countries. And yet, I cannot pass judgement on whether the Falconettis and the Dantes feel authentic, because Italo-American and Italo-Uruguayan, from what I've seen in books and movies, don't seem to have much in common. I can only say that I found their families sympathetic and that I was glad they weren't as overbearing and irritating as, say, the families in Millie Criswell's What To Do About Annie, where they completely ruined the book for me.

I'm glad I read this, I'm eagerly anticipating this author's next. Do I hear it's about Michael's cousin Gemma?

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