Thursday, January 10, 2013

Bad Is a Relative Term for This Boy

Why are sports figures so compelling to readers?  What players do and what readers do are so different that you'd think they'd never cross paths.  But Jaci Burton's Play-by-Play series is just a tip of the iceberg that encompasses sports-related romances.  My review of her latest, Playing to Win, went live today on AAR.

My biggest question about the book is how bad is bad.  Cole Riley, the wide receiver protagonist, seems more burnt out and bored than "bad."  Supposedly, he gets really feisty with the press, and (oh, shocker here!) plays the field with an assortment of women.  He also likes to go to a club with what he terms "friends" even though most of them are just happy to be around someone famous.

All that is "bad"?  Uh, no, not really.  Misguided.  Juvenile, maybe.  But bad?  Hardly.  Now if he threw a photographer through a window, hit a woman, trashed a hotel bedroom, or some of the other nasty stuff we read about, then yes, I'd say he was "bad."

I got the feeling while reading the book that Burton can't really afford to have her heroes be "bad" in the real sense.  It would definitely take more than a few hundred pages for a reader to come to like and accept a really bad boy's transformation.  With Burton's upbeat, glossy style, transforming a true bad boy wouldn't be the kind of book her readers expect.

So the term "bad" is relative in her books.  She's not Sarah Mayberry, Amy Lane, or Anne Stuart.

(Although I absolutely HATE cover art that cuts off faces, I'll make an exception this time.  Go figure.)

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