Every time I open a New Adult book I try to expect something unique. It’s true there’s a distinct formula that goes along with the genre, but whenever I start another book I try to forget about that formula and simply enjoy the book. Sometimes this works, and sometimes I find out that the story in my hands doesn’t just use the same tired plot devices. Unfortunately, Beautiful Player wasn’t quite one of those unique stories.
Hanna Bergstrom is a grad student so busy working in her lab that life seems to have passed her by. She’s in New York City in the prime of her life, but her days consist only of eating, sleeping, and working. She’s in a sad way, and her elder brother has no problem with pointing this out to her. He tells his little sister she needs to get out more, and that a good way to do that might be to call up his old friend Will Sumner, who also lives in the city. Will can help Hanna get out a little more, show her all the cool nightclubs, etc.
Unbeknownst to her brother, Hanna has had a crush on Will since childhood. Calling him up is bound to bring back all those old feelings, but Hanna knows her life needs to change. Thanks to her brother’s prodding, she’s finally ready to take that step. So Hanna calls Will.
Now, poor Will Sumner has fallen into a little bit of a rut. His best friends are all in great relationships, but he’s still stuck as the perpetual playboy. Will’s just starting to realize that he’s unsatisfied with his life when Hanna calls up to ask for his help. Always happy to help out an old friend (or the sister of a friend), Will arranges to meet Hanna in Central Park for a run.
Naturally, as soon as Will and Hanna meet they’re deeply attracted to each other. Each of them has a reason not to pursue the other, so they do the friend dance for a while, texting 24/7 and pretending they’re not dying to have sex. Eventually, they come to realize their reasons for avoiding a relationship don’t really matter, so they jump into bed and proceed to spend the rest of the book (around 200 pages) having sex.
There was a plot in there underneath all the sex, I will confess. Due to her initial request—assistance in developing a social life, so that she could meet guys and date someone—Will thought Hanna didn’t want commitment from him. Hanna assumed that because Will had been quite the player before they got together, he wouldn’t want commitment either. Commence with the Big Misunderstanding, which I’m convinced could have been all worked out in twenty pages or less if Will and Hanna ever chose to talk rather than have sex.
Alas, they did not do so. I liked Will and Hanna well enough as people—Hanna reminded me at times of some of my friends, who tend to forget about real life in favor of school and their jobs. Unfortunately, the Big Misunderstanding, which took up the entire second half of the book (and perhaps a good chunk of the first half as well), was off-putting enough that I cannot consider this book anything more than “okay.”