Jaci Burton is one of my favorite writers when it comes to sports romances. You can tell she cares about sports, is passionate about them, and knows what she is talking about. That comes through in all aspects of her storytelling in the Play-by-Play series and it definitely shines in her newest book, The Final Score.
Two athletic dynasties are about to come together and fall madly in love, even if they refuse to acknowledge it at first. To each other, they are just friends. When Nathan Riley and Mia Cassidy are both living in the same city, the reconnect as friends. Nathan is really unsure about his soon to be professional career. Yes, he has the talent but there’s something intimidating knowing he is about to be a part of the NFL, that he is in many ways a LEGACY PLAYER. Mia calms him down but she also majorly gets his blood racing. They had a drunken interlude in college that Mia has never let Nathan dwell on for fear of ruining their friendship. But being in the same city again, being surrounded by his ol’ buddy Mia, well, Nathan is starting to want her in a way he has tried to suppress for years.
Jaci Burton does football and chemistry SO WELL. Her writing is energetic in the way I think of sports games (my go-to sport is hockey but even so!). I love a woman who can explain a sport to me, can make me care about a sport and its players, without dumbing things down for me and that is exactly what Jaci Burton does.
And of course, she does something else super well. She develops her characters in realistic and human ways. Nathan is far from perfect and the same can be said from Mia but I liked them both so much. They are professionals and working hard in their fields. Mia has started her own company, of course related to sports, and she is doing all the work that an up-and-coming new business entails. It is not easy and she has to be motivated and darn it, she is. I liked her energy and ambition.
Nathan wants to succeed on the football field but as the story goes on, he realizes he is missing a connection that he sees with his mother and father. He is looking for something more than a hook-up and when he thinks about, Mia is the person that comes to mind.
Their friendship is real but honestly, from the moment they are together on the page, it is obvious that there is a sparking lust between them. While I do believe that men and women can be just friends, this is not the case for Nathan and Mia. Too many suppressed feelings and words of love.
This is the thirteenth book in the Play-by-Play series but to me, it doesn’t show at all. Jaci Burton is just as nuanced with this story as she is with Nathan’s father (his stepfather really but Mick is definitely a true father) and mother’s story in The Perfect Play. Personally, I recommend reading that book first, just to get the full back story about Mick and Nathan’s relationship, but if you’re eager for Nathan and Mia’s story, well, just jump on in.
The Final Score is a satisfying and emotionally resonant story. For me, it was just plain wonderful.
The Final Score is available now.
ARC provided by publisher for review.
Tagged: Jaci Burton
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