Monday, December 30, 2019

Fumbled and Blitzed by Alexa Martin (The Playbook #2 and #3)

I’ve been all about series this year and closed out 2019 by finishing up Alexa Martin’s Playbook series. While all three books exist in the same world, Fumbled and Blitzed read like companion books and both take place several years after the events of Intercepted.

In Fumbled our heroine is 27-year-old Poppy Patterson, a single mother who was kicked out after getting pregnant as a teenager. She's determined to be the best mother she can be for her son--including not telling him his absent father is TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, who left Poppy when she told him she was pregnant. But when TK crashes back into her life, Poppy realizes things may not have been what they seemed back in high school and she finally gets a chance to have the family she only dreamed about.

Fumbled felt more like a romance than Intercepted, which read more women’s fiction-y. The rekindled romance between TK and Poppy is the center of the story but in an interesting twist it is not the conflict. Which is unexpected for a book that has the whole secret-baby-with-an-NFL-player plot. TK actually gets over secret baby part pretty quickly and the book finds most of its conflict in Poppy adjusting to being a WAG, TK’s potential CTE and a stalker thrown in for good measure.

This is my first time listening to narrator N'Jameh Camara and I enjoyed her for the most part. When given dialogue tags she just takes it away but when there were none her performance fell flat. She did swallow some of the words and read slow so I had to up it to 2x speed for myself. - 

I immediately jumped into Blitzed, which takes place literally seconds from where Fumbled ends. Our heroine this time is Brynn Sterling, owner of HERS the female-centered sports bar where the WAGS hangout. Our hero is the Denver Mustangs defensive back Maxwell Lewis.

This book shares a lot of DNA with a Small Change by Roan Parrish, a book I read before diving back into this series. They are both from the POV of irreverent women in their 30’s who aren’t great at the “adulting” thing, run a business in a male-dominated field and fall in love with cinnamon roll heroes that provide for them. Blitzed handles the scenario a little less realistically because with the way Brynn is portrayed there is no way her bar could still be in business.  It sort of has a sitcom-y feel because she’s never at work, is hiring people left and right and is always giving away free alcohol.

Blitzed was much more pop culture fueled ride than the previous two books. I think there is a big cross-section of romance readers who love Hamilton and NBC's Parks and Recreation will feel seen in this book.

The thing that makes this a 3.5 book instead of a 4 star for me is how Maxwell is treated. Throughout the book we know he is dealing with something he can’t talk about and *mild spoiler* in the last 80% we find out it’s a #MeToo situation that also touches a little on race. It felt like whiplash to have hop to the HEA so quickly after the accusation. I wish we could have seen them work through it more as a couple, instead of the storyline about Brynn's mom. We, of course, find out he didn’t do it but IDK...a storyline about an athlete being wrongly accused of sexual assault felt tone-deaf. I wish it could have been finessed better.

I loved audiobook narrator Kristen Sieh’s voice, it has this great scratchy quality that I’ve never heard in a romance audiobook. Sullivan Jones also makes an appearance on this audiobook for the prologue--which is interesting because none of the other books have prologues. - ★ +.5

I will say Martin’s books do have this underlying cattiness between women. It’s something that falls away with each book and she does a better job building female friendships but there is still this weird undercurrent of Not Like The Other Girls that nags at me.

If you are looking for a modern, fun, female-centered, rom-com that feels like your favorite reality show mixed with a network romance sitcom you won’t find anything better than the Playbook series. I went stalking on Martin’s Instagram and I see there is 4th book called Snapped coming out this Fall 2020...

I think Berkley really dropped the ball on the cover for Blitzed. It kind of looks fine from a distance but up close the eyes on Maxwell look so odd. I wonder what was behind this choice? Especially since everyone else on these covers is wearing sunglasses.

There is ALOT of talk of the show Park and Recreation in this book and Aziz Ansari is name-checked specifically. I wonder if there was any talk about using him as a reference since he was implicated in a type of sexual assault.

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