Game On by debut author Tracy Solheim is an easy, entertaining – if somewhat predictable – summer read.
Shane Devlin is an NFL quarterback recently fired from his team, in part because of his bad-boy image. He’s spending some time in Cabo San Lucas to decompress while he waits for news from his agent about a new team. Also staying at his resort is a beautiful woman, whom he only knows as “Dorothy” because of her Wizard of Oz ringtone. He’s very attracted to her but she consistently shoots him down when he tries to get to know her. Shane assumes she’s the assistant to the fashion designer that’s always in her company, because the designer is having fun while “Dorothy” is always working.
“Dorothy”, actually Carly March, is indeed working. She’s the assistant to the GM of the Baltimore Blaze, an NFL team that is considering Shane, and while on vacation Carly has been compiling information about Shane from internet sources. Carly finds Shane very attractive, but can’t get involved with him because, for one, she’s already had a relationship with a professional athlete that ended in disaster, and two, they may end up working together and a vacation fling would be inappropriate. One evening Shane catches Carly in an unguarded moment and they share a romantic dance and an aborted kiss, leaving them both with frustrating memories. Shane is shocked and chagrined, Carly embarrassed, when he is hired by the Blaze and they meet for the first time in the team’s offices.
The rest of the plot is extremely involved. Shane’s father is an ex-pro football player that ran out on his family, leaving Shane to be raised in a trailer by his dead mother’s parents. Part of Shane’s tarnished image is due to actions taken in a childish need to scandalize his father, the rest is a product of the paparazzi and tabloid media. Carly has also been a media victim for most of her life. Her mother was a famous reporter that was murdered in a Middle Eastern desert, the event made even more famous by a blockbuster movie. The fact that her father is also famous and that she was very publicly dumped by her sports star fiance only add fuel to the fire. Yet, one of the first tasks Carly and Shane have to accomplish is using the media to clean up Shane’s image. Other things that have to be dealt with include Shane’s young half-brother, whom he’s never met, Shane and Carly’s attraction, Carly’s family, Shane’s stunted emotional development and Carly’s psycho stalker.
In fact, there is so much going on that the book just skims major issues. For instance, Carly’s sister, a major secondary character, if you can call one of about 30 major, is being treated for cancer. Carly contributed bone marrow to save her sister’s life, but the event warranted only about one sentence, mentioned only in passing. Only one short scene is devoted to their attempt to whitewash Shane’s reputation. A little more time is spent with Shane’s brother and how that relationship affects Carly’s relationship with Shane, and Carly’s stalker makes several short appearances. But for the most part, each scenario, including the love story, is treated lightly. While the lack of depth could be disappointingly to some, I found it made very easy reading.
Easy is a good word to describe most aspects of Game On. It’s well written, well edited, and the author has a deft hand with dialog. The love scenes fall into that just right place where there aren’t too many or too few, and the prose isn’t too purple. Shane is slightly emotionally stunted, not crazy, Carly is a little wary, not defensive and angry. The secondary characters are likable, even if we don’t get to know them very well. Even the plot is easy, as in, I knew exactly what was going to happen at every turn. So while I couldn’t say I found the book exciting, there is something comforting about reading a book that goes where you expect it to.