Desert Isle Keeper
Scoring Off the Field
Book two in Naima Simone’s WAGs series, Scoring Off the Field stars Washington Warriors quarterback Dominic Anderson and Tennyson Clark, his best friend since a childhood they both spent in the foster care system. One time, in college, Tenny told Dom she loved him and wanted a dating relationship; Dom shot her down; they both silently agreed to pretend it was the alcohol. A decade later, Tenny is working as Dom’s personal assistant, but she’s still not over him. Determined to cut the cord, she tells Dom she’s quitting. But Dom doesn’t want to lose the only person who’s been with him through it all. Plus, the thought of Tenny on dates is making him feel possessive, and not in a foster brother-ly way.
A good friends-to-lovers romance like this, where you really feel the depth of the relationship and the way the characters know and care about each other so thoroughly, always ruins me for just-met hookups for at least a couple of reads. The author doesn’t just make me feel their mutual caring here; she makes me feel their chemistry. Simone is a star at writing sizzle.
The ‘we can’t ruin our friendship with sex’ excuse isn’t wildly original, but I like how the author sets it up so that two people in Dom and Tenny’s friendship group actually did ruin their friendship by hooking up, so they have that example in front of them. Plus, Tenny and Dom reach the point where they’re having sex regularly, and things still aren’t settled between them. Dom has an obsessive need to succeed in football, the one thing that provided him with stability when his parents died. He’s fighting to keep his starting position and fears a relationship will distract him because in college, he almost lost everything to a malicious user girlfriend. But years later, Tenny has realized she wants more than what’s left of someone whose true priority is elsewhere. This is a juicy conflict and makes the story stronger than the original premise suggests.
The prose here is readable and strong. Without tipping over into toxic masculinity, Simone has an ear for jock dialogue. When a friend tells Dom that he’s overly dependent on Tenny and needs to let her go, he calls Dom a dependent baby: “You just have to pop that titty out of your mouth and deal.” I didn’t even mind the recurrences of characters from the first WAGs book, Scoring with the Wrong Twin, because they’re handled discreetly.
Scoring Off the Field is a book I enjoyed and a book I’ll definitely re-read. This isn’t my longest or most detailed review, but sometimes, that’s all there is to say!
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I'm a history geek and educator, and I've lived in five different countries in North America, Asia, and Europe. In addition to the usual subgenres, I'm partial to YA, Sci-fi/Fantasy, and graphic novels. I love to cook.