After testing positive for performance enhancing drugs, football star Blake retired and moved home but he’s struggling with how he views himself. He doesn’t think he deserves love or acceptance. Annabelle cares for her mother, who can’t get around easily, and spends her whole life working and helping others. After her ex-husband’s cheating, she knows she wants the real thing and a fling isn’t what she’s interested in.
I am very conflicted over this book and really waffled between 2 and 3 stars, ultimately settling on 3 since I did finish the book and I plan to read the next. There were instances that felt like this book had split personalities. A fade-to-black romance with some very dirty thoughts throughout. Blake, himself, was a bit of a throwback with his subtle chauvinism. He respects Annabelle but he also believes that it’s inevitable that he’ll have her and that she can’t resist him. There’s also a lot of references to needing to be manly, or do manly things and not being weak or a “pussy”. Now people do talk and think this way so I understand it’s too be expected in a sense, but it occurred enough that it became noticeable and somewhat annoying.
Blake has a very sexy demeanor toward Annabelle and he loves teasing her. Even though he says he’s not in it for the long haul he takes to courting Annabelle like a pro. I also found it interesting that both characters acknowledge to themselves that they are in love before they ever sleep together. I will say that this is a fade-to-black romance, which doesn’t bother me but may bother others. I must admit, I didn’t really connect with Annabelle; she’s too focused on being in everyone business and being a bit of a know-it-all. She does recognize this trait about herself but still. I just struggled with liking her.
I also enjoyed some of the side characters (Stella, Brandon, & Cameron) who will surely appear in their own books in the future.
Content Note: drug abuse
••• Book Details •••
Champion Valley #1 • Romance, Contemporary • Forever Romance • August 30, 2016
Money. Fame. Endorsements. Blake Carpenter had it all—before his professional football career spiraled out of control. Determined to rebuild his life, he takes on coaching the high school team in his Colorado hometown. Despite a few fumbles, Blake knows he can lead these boys to victory. As long as he can keep his eyes on the prize and off the team’s distractingly gorgeous physical therapist.
Annabelle Turner knows all about the scandal that cost Blake his NFL career, and she’ll be damned if she’s going to let hismistakes hurt her team. What she doesn’t count on is the intense attraction that turns every heated run-in they have into a wildly erotic competition. Point by point, play by play, kiss by kiss, they try to keep things professional for the good of the team. But when the score is this close—and the passion this fierce—it’s anybody’s game.