Body Check, by Deirdre Martin

>> Tuesday, February 01, 2011

TITLE: Body Check
AUTHOR: Deirdre Martin

PAGES: 336

SETTING: Contemporary New York
TYPE: Romance
SERIES: First in the New York Blades series

REASON FOR READING: A few years ago I read and absolutely loved Fair Play, and meant to go back and read the first book. Jane reviewed it at Dear Author recently and reminded me that I meant to read it.

This game's going into overtime.

Janna MacNeil is a publicist on a mission to change the image of the bad boys of hockey: the Stanley Cup Champion New York Blades.

Ty Gallagher is a captain on a mission— to get his team to win the Cup again... at any cost. His determination is legendary, as well as his unwillingness to toe the corporate line.

When the persistent publicist and the sttubborn captain butt heads, it's hard enough to crack the ice. But they may end up melting it instead...
The New York Blades are flying high. They recently won the Stanley Cup (ice hockey, for those of you who, like me, know nothing about the sport), and are gearing up to win it for the second time running in the upcoming season. Problem is, some of the players were a bit overenthusiastic in their celebrations, and their corporate owners, the fanatically family-friendly Kidco, weren't particularly happy to see photographs of strippers having fun with the Cup in the papers.

Janna MacNeil is an up-and-coming publicist who's hired by Kidco's PR company to help make over the team's image. Her big idea is to make the players sign up for charity gig after charity gig. That should generate warm fuzzies with the public. For things to work, though, she's going to need to convince the team's captain, Ty Gallagher, to cooperate. Ty's very much the leader of the team, so Janna knows that if he agrees, the rest of the team will definitely follow.

Unfortunately for her, Ty isn't at all interested in helping Kidco eke out even more profits out of the team. He's got nothing against charity projects, and is happy to help out in his own time, but damned if he'll make a show of it for the sake of people who don't give a shit about his team. But Janna is not one to take no for an answer...

This is a fun, very modern-feeling romance, with lots of banter and chemistry between the characters. However, things were not light and fluffy. There was also quite a lot of things that made me think and debate with myself, even a few where I couldn't really make up my mind where I stood.

The original conflict between Janna and Ty was really interesting, because while I got the feeling I was meant to back Janna, at least at the beginning, I was very much on Ty's side from the very start. Fuck Kidco and their demands. It really annoys me the way we demand athletes to behave as role models outside the pitch. I do draw some lines, and I wouldn't want a guy playing for my team who's done stuff that's against the law, but being rowdy off the pitch, womanising, that sort of thing? As long as it doesn't affect their game, I don't particularly care. I won't like the players involved, but hey, I don't need to like them. I can't decide if the fact that Kidco's demands arose from pure profit calculation, rather than a moralistic motivation, makes it better or worse. I just thank heavens that my beloved Nacional isn't owned by anyone in particular, whether a corporation or an individual. It's owned by the fans, and that's the way it should be in sports, I say!

So that one was a pretty easy one for me, but others were not. The main one was an episode in which Janna's roommate, Theresa (heroine of book 2 in the series), has a very bad experience with one of the guys on Ty's team. She goes out on a date with him, and he attempts to rape her. Theresa is a very strong woman, and, with Janna's full support, decides to go to the police with it, even though she knows that sort of thing will be very hard for her to prove and that the team's publicists will do all they can to smear her in the media.

Neither Janna nor Ty came out of that situation smelling like roses, let me tell you, but it was clearly a difficult position for for each of them to be in. Should Janna have quit a job where it's clearly acceptable to work to smear the reputation of a woman whose only crime is to have accused a spoilt athlete of attempted rape? Should she be trying to convince Theresa to settle her claim out of court and get lots and lots of money off her attempted rapist, since it's clear she'd just be slaughtered in court? Should Ty have backed his teammate when the accusation came up? Janna assures him that Theresa isn't lying, but it's not the first time someone's made up a rape accusation against an athlete. Should his first priority be his team (which needs that player's contribution)? Once it becomes clear the accusation is true, is the punishment meted out by the team enough? Or is it self-serving and more about the potential impact on the team than about the guy's crime against a pesky woman? Some of these questions I had very clear answers to (and I think from the way I posed the questions you might guess what they were), some weren't so clear-cut. I liked that about Body Check, I always appreciate being made to think and question my assumptions.

Ok, but this is a romance, so how did it do on that end? Well, my feelings about that were a bit mixed. There's a lot of chemistry between Ty and Jenna, and as I said above, I loved the banter. I also liked how Janna didn't get Ty get away with not treating her well. If she was annoyed with him, she let him know. No pandering to the great athlete's ego from Janna! When it came to love, though, I wasn't that convinced, especially on Ty's part. It seems a bit contradictory of me to complain of this, since I did say earlier that with my teams' players I care only what they do on the pitch, but for the romance to work completely, I would have wanted Ty to care much more about Janna than about hockey, but I got the feeling it was an even thing, with the hockey actually edging Janna slightly.

MY GRADE: A strong B.


Anonymous,  2 February 2011 at 13:12  

Hey there : )
You are shopping on line or in-store? which usually would you go for? truly wondering lol.. i love in-store only because i don't really like expecting it to come!

CD,  4 February 2011 at 20:13  

Have to say that that book is the only book that I absolutely hated.  Not just got bored or annoyed but actually HATED on a visceral level.  And it was down to Janna (and to a lesser extent Ty)'s reaction to Theresa's attempted rape.  I still remember it now and how much I despised the character for defending someone who tried to rape her friend.  I couldn't get past that.  No job is worth that - especially the type of superficial job that Jenna had.

Maybe Martin was trying something different by making such unlikable characters the leads, but the book didn't read like that up to that point - it read like a normal sports romantic comedy, not a gritty "horrible people fall in love as well" type book.  Definite fail for me although I'm glad you enjoyed it.

CD,  4 February 2011 at 20:14  

And just want to say that I'm glad you're back!!  Looking forward to the review of all those books you read over your break...

rosario001,  6 February 2011 at 08:52  

I think I didn't feel Janna defended the guy for even a moment (she stood by Theresa from the start, as far as I can remember), but I didn't see why she didn't have a bigger ethical problem working for a PR agency that would go all out for character assassination of a woman whose only "crime" was to accuse an athlete of attempted rape. Never mind that this was her friend they were doing that to, she should have had a problem with that MO whoever they were doing it to. 

Did this one make you not want to read Deirdre Martin again?

CD,  7 February 2011 at 21:30  

Bear i mind I did read the book years ago when it first came out so I could very well be remembering it wrongly.  I have this one memory which may or may not be true of a scene where Ty was thinking about how much he admired Jenna for going on TV defending his team mate in public while hating his guts in private.  My thought, unsurprisingly, was that that sort of compartmentalizing is nothing AT ALL to admire - the whole idea that "it's just a job" and what you do doesn't reflect on you morally is something that I can't stand. 

If there had been a reason given as to why she felt she had to stay in the job: economic circumstances or a more utilitarian argument that she did more moral good by staying than by quitting, I could understand. But none of that was mentioned - indeed, there was no questioning that I remember on whether to stay on or not - it was just taken as read that she would.  And from what remember, she was well off and we were told how good she was at her job so presumbly it wouldn't have been too difficult to find another.  And I agree with you that I felt her job was ridiculous and a little morally suspect in and of itself.

And to let off an attempted rapist with just a beating simply because he's a good athelete - that just made me sick.  What about the next girl? 

Anyway, I was expecting another Gibson SEE JANE SCORE type of book (which I loved) but ended up with a book which hit a number of my personal bugbears.  I think I threw it against the floor and swore at it - almost ripped the pages out because I was so disgusted at the whole attitude displayed in the book.  It was a shame because up till then, I had been enjoying it - not hugely because I found the characters rather annoying even beforehand, but it had been an above average read. 

And I've definitely steered clear of Deirdre Martin since then.  My blood pressure can't handle it...

rosario001,  7 February 2011 at 22:04  

Oh, no, I don't remember that at all! It's been a couple of months (I read this late November), but I would have hated something like that as well, it would definitely have caused a bit of wall-banging. I'd offer to reread it and check, but I didn't like it that much!

She did stay in her job, though, which I thought was bad enough. I'm more like you I guess, I wouldn't respect someone who stays in a job with which they have moral issues, unless they felt they had to for some reason. Janna could very easily have left, you're right that she would have got another job easily enough, maybe for less money, but she wasn't exactly hurting for cash. As far as any justification went, all we got that I can remember was that it wouldn't have helped Teresa in any way if Janna had quit, which I guess is true enough, but still not good enough for me.

And I agree, the horrid rapist was let off much too easily. Oh, and by the way, I couldn't believe how chilled out about it Michael (the guy who had a big crush on Teresa) was about it. I'd read his and Teresa's book first (and I really did like it, in case you ever wanted to give Martin another try), and in that one he does something about it, but in Body Check, he doesn't seem to particularly care, which I thought was weird.

PS - I absolutely loved See Jane Score, too. I was off RAchel Gibson for a while after the online dating one, but I read Nothing But Trouble last month and it was sooo good!

CD,  7 February 2011 at 22:31  

Oh well, I may well have made up the whole scene then  ;) !  Apologies to Martin for all the abuse that has subsequently been hurled her direction.  That time of the month - you understand how it is...

Still not quite sure I can bring myself to read any of her other books though.  She's been my bete noire for so long that reading one of her books, no matter how good, would be like admitting that Tony Blair did do some good things during his premiership.  Can't do it.  Just can't.  Fingers in ears - la la la la la ...

Hmmmnnnn...  I went off Gibson for a while but might just try her again then.  Although, talking about hockey books - just read THE PERFECT PLAY by Jaci Burton.  Yes, the sex scenes were rather too numerous but otherwise, it was fantastic.  A refreshing adult relationship.

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