Review: Playing by Her Rules

cover-playing by her rulesTitle: Playing by Her Rules
Author: Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby #1
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Length: Short novel
Available: 11th July

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In this grudge match, the first to score…

When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.

…could win it all!

Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!


Source: ARC from Entangled: Brazen via NetGalley

I’m a big fan of Amy Andrews and I also like rugby, so this book looked like a win-win. Sadly, though, it missed the mark for me. Part of this was the difference in Aussie sporting terminology compared to my British view, but mostly it was the characters.

I won’t go through all the sports stuff, because that could get boring, except to say that I had no idea whether he was Union or League, which is kind of an important distinction (and gets cleared up in the notes at the very end of the book). I’m also curious as to what position Tanner played and why he picked three field (drop) goals over a try (other than one being easier than the other, I guess, in which case, poor show, Tanner).

Sporting stuff aside, these two need to grow up. Matilda had her heart broken by Tanner as a teenager, which has left her utterly unable to trust another man ever again. Because of this, when she’s told to write a set of features on Tanner or effectively lose her career, she decides revenge is the best way forward. Not professional journalism or a chance to rise above the pain and show how amazing she is. No, she must prove to everyone that he’s a great big fake because he broke her heart and she never spoke to him again.

While that kind of behaviour is understandable from a seventeen year old, is rather less acceptable in a twenty six year old professional.

Then there’s Tanner. The rugby god who everybody loves because he’s such a great guy. Except he insists on calling her Tilly when she continually tells him not to (nice sign of respect that), and layers all their conversations with so much innuendo that Matilda would have been well within her rights to have him up on sexual harassment charges. I’m sure it’s supposed to be sexy and a way of proving they have so much chemistry. For me, though, it just proved that he’s a massive, childish jerk who can’t get his head out of the gutter for five minutes.

So neither of them exactly won me over in this book. Which is a shame, because I love second chance romances, and I wanted to be able to sympathise with Matilda over the way Tanner broke her heart. The trouble was the whole thing dragged out a bit too long, making her seem like she was overreacting to something that had happened so long ago and with the benefit of hindsight was stupid but not end-of-the-world awful. There’s also a section where she decides to blame herself, and I very nearly gave up, because no, just no.

Overall this one just didn’t work for me – possibly because I had my sights set too high. The set up of the Sydney Smokes does look interesting, though, and I found some of the secondary characters intriguing enough that I might come back for more – especially now that I’m used to the differences in terminology.


Playing by Her Rules is out July 11th.
Visit Amy Andrews for more details.

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