Sunday 7 May 2017
#CBR Book 42: "The Hot Shot" by Kristen Callihan
Rating: 4 stars
First of all, I want to warn my fellow romance readers that there are a LOT of distracting typos in this book. Normally, while I'm a complete grammar nazi in my daily life(comes with being a language teacher, I suspect), I am nonetheless usually able to ignore the occasional typo in my romances, mainly because I don't tend to read them all THAT closely. But in this book, there were enough that it bothered even me and took me out of the story on occasion. I know stuff like that can be a deal-breaker for some, hence the friendly warning.
Chester "Chess" Cooper (her parents thought they were getting a boy, and met at a screening of The Goonies, so stuck with the name they'd decided on, even when they got a girl) is a high profile fashion photographer who feels like she's pretty much just going through the motions. She's bored, she hasn't met a guy she liked in ages and has never really found a guy she clicked with. She's photographed a ton of handsome naked men for a variety of charity calendars, without ever being affected, so she's certainly not expecting anything to be different when she's due to shoot the local football team. That she gets all hot and bothered by the pretty boy quarterback Finn Mannus is certainly a surprise.
Finn Mannus is instantly taken with Chess, but since she makes it clear she's looking for something permanent and he's more of a one night stand kind of guy, he suggests that they just be friends, even when it's clear to everyone around them that their chemistry is off the charts. When Chess' apartment/studio burns down and she is left homeless, without even a working laptop, Finn insists that Chess move in with him at least until she gets her insurance money, and hitting on his room mate would just be rude, right? Both of them undeniably like living together, but despite their obvious attraction to each other, neither of them makes a move to change things, until Finn's going home for the holidays.
He invites Chess to come with him, and persuades her to pose as his girlfriend, as his mother seems to be nagging him to settle down. While Chess is initially reluctant, she eventually agrees. It doesn't take long before their relationship is no longer just pretend. Both Chess and Finn have issues in their past, though, and scorching personal chemistry and mutual attraction won't be enough if they're going to have a chance at a long-term future together.
I was very happy to discover that Kristen Callihan had written another Game On book, because while I really like her three contemporary New Adult books in this series, especially The Game Plan, where the action actually runs concurrently to the plot of this book, I have not really been all that impressed with her other contemporary romance series, VIP, or her paranormal historical romances. While this book is probably the weakest of all the four books in this series so far, it's still much more what I was hoping for and expecting based on the first three books, and it was an entertaining read (if you ignore all the aforementioned typos).
Both Chess and Finn are likable characters and it's fun to see them trying to initiate a platonic friendship because they have different expectations from dating and don't want to mess things up. That it takes them so long to realise that they are absolutely besotted with each other is part of the charm of the book. Their various friends certainly find it amusing. Finn's support network is obviously his teammates, while Chess' best friend is her bisexual assistant, James (who has a pretty adorable crush on Finn, yet is SO excited at the prospect of Chess actually dating him).
While most of Finn's dating history has been extremely casual, with no significant relationships, he did have a hook-up a while back that had unexpected consequences and both he and the woman in question, a beautiful Scandinavian supermodel, still seem to be working through the after effects definitely present some hurdles in the initial stages of Chess' and Finn's romance, not least because Chess cannot help but to compare herself unfavourably against Finn's gorgeous ex. Generally, Chess' low self-esteem causes rather a lot of conflict before the couple sort things out and have a chance at their HEA.
I don't know if Callihan is planning more contemporary romances about other football players on Finn and Dex' team, but as these books are so much better than her rather underwhelming rock band related ones, and there seem to be a number of hunky players to chose from as future heroes, I certainly hope this is where she focuses her attentions in the future. She would do well to invest in some decent proof-reading before publishing them, though.
Judging a book by its cover: Ms. Callihan self-publishes these, and as romance covers go, I'm sure it's perfectly fine. I'm assuming the cover model is supposed to be Finn, our athletic hero, and I suppose he bears a passing resemblance with the muscles and the tattoo and the pose the photo is taken in, but this guy doesn't fit my mental picture at all. Still, it's not offensively bad or anything.
Crossposted on Cannonball Read.