Mary Catherine's Reviews > The Game of Love

The Game of Love by Jeanette Murray
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Apr 07, 2012

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Read from April 07 to 09, 2012

Posted on Ordinary People, Extraordinary Works

Sports and romance. It's hard to find something wrong with that equation, especially when it looks like football is part of the story, but Jeanette Murray's THE GAME OF LOVE falls short on what could have been a brilliant romance.

Christina St. James - simply known as Chris - is a retired tennis pro who's just moved to a small town in hopes of escaping a past she finds embarrassing and shameful. She's the new coach for the local high school's women's tennis team and she wastes no time in speaking out against her fellow coaches, namely Brett Wallace. Once known as "The Wall" when he played for the NFL, Brett's back in his hometown after divorcing woman who seemed to only care about his money and fame. His first interactions with Chris aren't exactly the best - first, his football staff wolf-whistles at her; then, Chris lobbies against extra funds automatically being given to the football team for a scoreboard when her tennis girls need new uniforms more.

Thus begins a tale of two people clashing, which tends to be a popular plot line in romance.

As characters, Chris and Brett are normal if not a bit over-exaggerated with their attitudes toward pros and pro-hos, what Brett calls women like his ex-wife. However, it reads well on paper. The conversations and/or arguments between them are amusing and witty, with Brett realizing he's interested and Chris not wanting anything to do with him. It's not just their interactions with each other that made me like them though. Murray created relationships between different characters that helped round out personalities, something that isn't always seen in romances. Chris clearly cares for her team, working with them day in and day out, but one of my favorite scenes occurs outside of a team practice when a student seeks her out for help. In the same vein, Brett's relationship with his family is realistic and reminiscent of my own family gatherings. He loves his mother but becomes annoyed with her meddling like any son, and he tends to goof around whenever a brother is present.

The only big criticism or issue I had with the book, minus the not-as-smooth-as-I'd-have-liked writing, was that for brief periods of time, I wondered why Chris was being stupid. No, she didn't hit the too stupid to live mark but some of her choices or non-choices, as the case may be, are questionable and it annoyed me slightly as I was reading. Perhaps this is a testament to the author for making me care enough to become annoyed but I think it was more that there was never really a reason given for the character flaw. Chris has her secrets but we don't exactly know why she kept them that way, even after she and Brett started a relationship of sorts.

While THE GAME OF LOVE is, in short, a cute book with a bit of tension and anger, the writing didn't always seem to flow for me, which is what really jarred me out of my element while reading and what made it lose a few stars. The plot is sweet, with two seemingly different people realizing they have a lot more in common than expected. The characters, from the hero and heroine to the quirky best friends, from the rambunctious teenagers in search of guidance to the villain of Chris' ex-boyfriend, are solid for the most part. If Jeanette Murray were to write another romance, I'd give it a chance. While I wasn't completely enamored by this debut, I was far from hating it.
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