Series: Playbook #4
Author: Alexa Martin
Tropes: Sports, Enemies-to-Lovers
Edition/Pages: Paperback, 336 Pages
I received an ARC copy of this from Berkely via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
Elliot Reed is trying to live her best life. She has the job of her dreams and owes it to her father’s memory to be happy. But when the new quarterback becomes the first Mustang’s player to kneel during the anthem, her job becomes much more difficult.
Now she has to has to work with Quinton to smooth things back out. But their initial meeting is rocky and tensions are high. Quinton refuses to let this opportunity to make real change pass him by while Elliot doesn’t want to ruffle any feathers.
➸ POV: 1st Person, Elle’s POV
➸ Elliot Reed: 31, Biracial Black woman, Strategic Communications Manager for the Denver Mustangs, Recently lost her father to cancer, Struggling with grief and coping
➸ Quinton Howard Jr: 7th season NFL Quarterback and new Quarterback for the Denver Mustangs, Father was a NFL lineman, Private
➸ Content Warnings: Cancer, Grief, Death of a Parent, Racism, Microaggressions, CTE/Brain Injuries, Anxiety
This book is very different from the rest of the series so it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. However this book held so many important discussions all while maintaining a really adorable romance. And I personally adored it.
Let’s start with the characters –
Elle is one of those characters that will be difficult for a lot of readers to love. She’s difficult, and stubborn, and an all around hot mess. But I personally connected with her immediately. Elle is very driven and is doing the best she can to cope. Her priorities are often poorly directed and she’s quick to judge and react. Her coping mechanisms are without a doubt flawed, but I think everyone can relate to brushing things off, burying their feelings, or laughing off offenses. Elle’s character isn’t “unrealistic” she’s just not your typical “strong” female character. She’s flawed and struggling and often times leaves the reader feeling uncomfortable.
Quinton is similar – although readers seem much quicker to forgive his transgressions. He’s quick to judge (admit it, he was a bit of a jerk those first few pages) and puts up walls to protect himself. But behind those defenses, he’s kind and caring and desperately wants be heard.
I think one of my favorite things about this story was the discussions on coping. This story really explores all the facets of coping. From anger to sadness to ignoring the problem entirely. Both Elle and Quinton are struggling with both familial and work place pressures. And Elle has many internalized and deeply unhealthy coping mechanisms that often lead her to self-sabotage.
And like in every other Alexa Martin book – the chemistry was great, the side characters are everything, and discussions of football’s impact on players lives is fantastically handled.
I will say the ending wasn’t my absolute favorite. I thought the grand gesture was a little much and worked out a little too cleanly and perfectly. And I also wish we had gotten chapters from Quinton’s POV! This is just a personal preference though – I love dual POV romances!
NOTE: Read the authors note. This book is very personal to the author’s own experiences and I’ve seen a lot of reviews about the validity of story. Remember – just because a book doesn’t represent your own experiences doesn’t mean it’s “unrealistic”.
Overall, I adore this series and adored this addition to it. I really, really hope we get Vonnie’s story!! She’s probably my favorite side character ever and she deserves her own HEA!