Jackie's Reviews > Love in Straight Sets

Love in Straight Sets by Rebecca Crowley
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really liked it

3.5

The author kindly provided me with a copy of her book, for consideration for my blog, ROMANCE NOVELS FOR FEMINISTS. I didn't think it quite right for the blog, but am happy to review it here.

Temperamental Regan Hunter doesn't want her professional tennis career to end without having captured at least one grand slam title. At thirty, she's at the top of her game, but yet again without a coach (she has a penchant for driving coaches away). She can't imagine one-shot wunderkind Ben Percy, who mysteriously dropped out of the sport after winning one Grand Slam at 17, could be the coach who can push her over the top. Her own attraction to Ben makes the controlling Regan even more determined to force Ben to quit (she can't fire him, as she's promised her manager to give Ben a chance).

Both Regan and Ben have interesting back stories: Regan comes from a working-class background, was always looked down upon by the country club set. But now that she's financially well-off, she feels that her family doesn't quite get her anymore, doesn't understand why she doesn't want to go back to the life she used to have after she retires. Though he was born to privilege, South African Ben has been struggling financially for years, ever since his father embezzled all his tennis winnings, forcing him from competition. It's rare for a contemporary novel to engage in such clear discussions of issues of social class, never mind use class experiences as a reason why two people might make for suitable romantic partners.

I also liked that Ben appreciated Regan's more typically "masculine" qualities: competitiveness, drive, confidence. My favorite lines:

"You jerk off to photos of me looking like an angry bitch?"
"I jerk off to photos of you looking strong and confident and unstoppable.... I'm not here right now because I want that airbrushed woman in the swimsuit edition, all sweet smiles and beckoning fingers. I want the real deal—smart, complicated, tough as nails and sexy as sin."

I wasn't as fond of Regan's penchant for selfish choices, for doing things without thinking through their implications, although it made for an interestingly flawed character. Regan's other issue (she's neurotically controlling, because (view spoiler)) also makes her intriguingly flawed, although I'm beginning to wonder at just how many romance novels of late are all about a woman learning to "give up control," and the feminist (or anti-feminist) implications of that trend. Crowley's book in particular doesn't strike me as problematic in this way, since Regan's character is convincingly developed, but as part of a more general trend, it does give me pause.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
March 28, 2014 – Finished Reading
April 2, 2014 – Shelved

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