Marlee Harper has spent a good chunk of her life being the perfect football girlfriend. From lasagna meals for his teammates to always being there to cheer him on, she’s been her NFL-star’s number one fan. She’s confident that after over a decade of being together – aside from a few breaks – they are finally ready to make it official. Then he shows up: star quarterback Gavin Pope. The hot one-night stand from four years ago during one of the breaks. He’s been hired by the team Marlee’s man plays for. Marlee’s never been able to forget him but she’s sure hoping he’s forgotten her.
Gavin never forgot the woman who disappeared after one perfect night. He can’t believe she’s the longtime girlfriend of his new teammate, a guy known for being one of the biggest philanderers in the game. He tries to keep his distance but when Marlee finally learns her man has been cheating big time and leaves him, Gavin makes sure to be there for her. His plan? Show her he’s nothing like her ex. But it’s going to take a lot to convince Marlee to re-enter the world of big egos, nasty player wives, gossipy fans and endless groupies out to steal your guy.
A tale of second chances, adulting in the twenty-first Century, good friends and the importance of always keeping wine on hand, Intercepted is an intriguing look at life as an NFL girlfriend from an author with firsthand knowledge of the experience.
AAR staffers Maggie Boyd and Lisa Fernandes share their thoughts Alexa Martin’s Intercepted, a funny, poignant tale about life in the limelight.
Maggie: One of the things that most excited me about this story was the chance to read about being an NFL girlfriend/wife from someone who is married to a former NFL player, and I felt that authenticity really came through in this tale. From the family room for between/after games to the hierarchy among the players’ wives I sensed readers I was getting a genuine look at what it’s like to be dating/married to a football player.
Lisa: Alexa Martin’s writing voice was absolutely terrific, wasn’t it? The novel has a great balance of realistic, emotionally grounded stuff (Marlee’s life as a football girlfriend, how the Lady Mustangs know and interact with one another, the entire social structure of the Lady Mustangs, and the way Marlee had to start over from scratch as a businesswoman and human being) was FABULOUS, and told in a really great, really fun, unique voice, to boot. Martin has a great eye for both the lifestyle and a point of view that she wanted to project through Marlee’s eyes.
Maggie: Another thing I felt was really authentic about this tale was the way “adulting” is handled. Marlee has to essentially start over after the breakup with her ex. For young people in the twenty-first century, where low salaries, poorly paid starting positions and high rents/food/transportation are the norm, stepping into adult life isn’t as easy as it was historically. I was glad that Marlee had to at least start at a very basic job when she went looking for one and didn’t just land into her dream position as so many romance heroines do. She also had to live in a small apartment in a less than stellar neighborhood and use public transportation, two other realities of modern new adult life. What did you think of that aspect of the tale?
Lisa: I loved the honesty about her riches to rags tale; the crummy apartment in a bad neighborhood, the job tending bar, the struggle to put something, anything, into savings.
Maggie: Another thing I really enjoyed about this one was the humor, especially the hashtags (#funny). Did you find humor in the story and the hashtags or was that aspect a bit of a fumble for you?
Lisa: Oh my God, I loved that part. The general sense of humor, the biting sarcasm of Marlee’s voice, and her observational voice; everything about that part of the novel was perfect. I SOMETIMES found the hashtags distracting/gimmicky, but very, very rarely. That may be a YMMV thing for the reader, though, if they don’t like that sort of narrative quirk. Speaking of social media, I loved the way that Ms. Martin has Marlee doing things like hate searching herself – and the trolls were all angry football fans blaming her for Gavin’s injury! Somewhere, Jessica Simpson is nodding her head in sympathy.
Maggie: This story is told in first person PoV by Marlee and we experience Gavin only through her eyes. This bothered me a little bit as I felt I never really got to know him beyond the kind of information you find out about someone during the first weeks of a relationship. I liked most of what I saw of him, but I sure did want more. What did you think of Gavin?
Lisa: I liked him more than you did, I think! Gavin felt very much like a nice, stand-up guy, but also a little bland in a way because of the first person narrative choice you mentioned – but that also made him the perfect foil for Marlee’s outré nature. I did like some of the things he did, and I really liked how much he approved of her choices and loved what she did even when she’d gone from riches to rags – Gavin is, at least, the kind of guy who saves an important necklace when it falls from the body of his one night stand for several years, which tells me a lot about his character. That’s the kind of hopeless romantic you wanna fall in love with.
Maggie: I liked Marlee but her life drove me a bit crazy. It seemed as though she landed in one crisis after another, whether it was a problem with her ex, a problem with the other wives/girlfriends of the team members, problems in the media or on social media, befriending the wrong person – she seemed to endlessly be running from trouble or into it. I was glad that she took some time to herself at the end of the novel, to see if she could stand on her own, although I’m not sure if it was long enough. What are your thoughts on Marlee?
Lisa: I’ve known lots of women like Marlee in my life; living life loudly to the point of sometimes annoying others around them (and yes, occasionally Marlee was a TINY bit irritating in that respect, but I was willing to ignore that part of her personality). She’s a pretty bad judge of character but gets lucky landing Gavin. I think the novel sufficiently calls her out on that trait. Her sense of humor really kept me reading and enjoying the piece.
How did you feel about the supporting characters? Martin made each of the Lady Mustangs pop out to me in 3D, which is an accomplishment and a half, because there are a half-dozen of them. I found Courtney – particularly her Sally Albright-like way of ordering food – extremely amusing, and I loved Marlee’s dad and trash talking Donny, Gavin’s agent. My only caveat is that I really, really didn’t like Madison and found her to be yet another stereotypical Nasty Villainess.
Maggie: I thought they were pretty typical supporting characters for a romance novel. I liked or hated them as the author intended me to but once I finished the book they faded from my mind.
I felt hot sex was probably the primary positive component of Marlee and Gavin’s relationship. That’s a nice place to start but I’m not sure their personalities were very compatible beyond the bedroom. I had a feeling that Gavin would always want to take charge of Marlee’s messes and she would always get bent out of shape when he did. I saw some growth towards the end of the story, but I didn’t see enough to convince me these two would have an HEA. More like a happy for a while, rather than a happily ever after. What are your thoughts on the relationship?
Lisa: The biggest problem with the Gavin/Marlee relationship was that it was clearly predestined; it was so obvious Marlee/Chris wasn’t a viable option because Chris was an abusive jerk and Gavin was very much a gentleman. Chris is such a child throughout the early part of the novel and the break-up, that when Gavin and Marlee finally hooked back up you knew that most of the conflict between them was going to have to come from one of them doing some pretty foolish things – and Marlee does at least one of them, something that made me facepalm hard when I read it. The mistakes tend to land on Marlee’s side of the fence more than Gavin’s; he’s almost too perfect as to be beyond reproach.
But he was so good and nice to her, and protective and understanding without overwhelming her light, which was a refreshing thing to read. I don’t know if I agree that Marlee and Gavin’s romance was pretty HFN, since he was very committed to her, and very much there for her during all of her operatic mistakes and she was super appreciative of that.
My biggest problem with the two of them is their third act disagreement. Which was ridiculous, could have been solved with communication, and made Gavin look unreasonable (who the hell surprises someone with life-changing news like that?).
Maggie: My overall grade for this one is a B. I really wanted to know Gavin better and I would have liked to have seen more relationship building but I liked the story enough that I will be reading the next book in the series. What about you?
Lisa: I’m going a bit higher than you on this one! The humor, the sharp character voices and the heat of the romance made me give this an A-. I agree that Gavin needed more of a defined PoV and some of the narrative choices grated, which is what keeps it from wholehearted A territory for me.
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