I've been in a bit of a reading slump. I have no problem re-reading books, but new ones? I just don't know what I feel like reading ^_^; Ah well, if I can't read, why don't I review? :) It's funny how some books are easier to review than others... I was going to cover Changing the Game in my Monthly Read post of August, but it just begged for a post of its own :) So here it is! Enjoy!
Changing the Game by Jaci Burton
published by Berkley in August 2011
Most people play by the rules. Gavin and Liz aren't most people...Genre: Sport romance
Win at any cost. That's always been the mantra of sports agent Liz Darnell. When she carries things too far and risks losing her number-one client, baseball pro Gavin Riley, Liz realizes that she'll have to work extra innings to win him back. It might not be too much of a stretch. She's had a thing for this player's moves since she first laid eyes on him, and by the looks of it, he wants her just as bad.
Gavin's more than ready—especially when Liz is offering herself as part of the bargain. And as much of her as Gavin wants. For added thrills, he decides to throw a little curve ball Liz's way to see just how far she's truly willing to go to keep him as a client. But when love unexpectedly enters the playing field, neither Liz nor Gavin are ready for the biggest game-changer of them all.
Series: Play by Play trilogy, Book #2
The Story: Liz has had a crush on Gavin Riley for a long time, but never acted on it because he was her client. After losing Mick, Liz believes that Gavin will side with Mick and fire her as well, so she gives in her long-time crush and kisses him at the end of Perfect Play. It's been months now since the kiss and Liz has been avoiding Gavin. When they find themselves at the same sport banquet, it is time for Liz to face the music. However, instead of being fired as she expected, Liz ends up having very hot sex with Gavin.
Gavin has no intention of firing Liz as she's done a good job with his career. He's always kept his relationship with Liz professional, but with the kiss and Liz' belief that she'll be fired, things have changed. He's seen a different side of Liz, one that he wouldn't mind exploring. Soon, Gavin and Liz find themselves embarking in a fling - one that they both enjoy.
However, is it good to mix pleasure and business? Especially when not everyone in Gavin's entourage is welcoming Liz?
My Opinion: Like many readers, I had my doubts when I started Changing the Game because I didn't really like Liz' character in Perfect Play. However, Liz turned out to be a pleasant surprise and instead, Gavin is the one who didn't measure up.
I really enjoyed the first half of the book. It was all about Gavin and Liz and they were fun to read about :) I liked seeing them together, enjoying each other's company and getting to know each other better. While Gavin and Liz have known each other for years, it's always been more on a professional level. Sure, over the years, Liz has become a family friend, but I suspect she always kept more distance between herself and Gavin than she did with Mick and as a result, there was a lot about him that she didn't know. Inversely, Gavin learned more about Liz - her life, family and her motivation for her job. All in all, I think they made a great couple and I enjoyed them together with the baseball setting as a backdrop :)
As I mentioned earlier, I ended up liking Liz' character a lot more than I expected. Mainly because she was nicer, but also more real and more sincere. In Perfect Play, she was portrayed as the villain, a bit one-dimensional, but in truth, her character has a lot of depth and Ms Burton did a great job at fleshing it out. I really liked the fact that she had to deal with the fall-out of her action and that she learned a valuable lesson. Though she did make a mistake meddling in Mick's love life; ultimately, it wasn't with bad intent and that made her more sympathetic to me. I liked that her complex character was paired up with someone "simpler" like Gavin. By simpler, I mean that Gavin is just a regular guy who plays professional baseball. Sure, he has enjoyed the high life and the perks of his job - who wouldn't? But he wasn't too much of a jock, didn't have a big, dark secret in his closet or a sob story as his past. That contributed to make the couple more fun and easier to enjoy. And oh, let's not forget the sizzling chemistry that Gavin and Liz shared :)
Other things that I enjoyed from this book was the Riley family - well, Gavin's parents and his sister, Jenna :) The parents are really good people, genuinely nice and they kept their sons grounded to earth :) Jenna is spunky and doesn't let people walk over her which is good considering how popular her brothers are. I really liked that they didn't hold a grudge against Liz for her actions in Perfectly Play and welcome her back. I also think that Ms Burton did a great job at giving this contemporary romance its "sporty" atmosphere. It was just the right amount of baseball and jocks for this to really feel like a sport romance and I liked that she stayed away from the clichés :)
Unfortunately, I had some issues with this book. I enjoyed the first half, but I think the book started losing some steam about half-way. Why? Well because, there was no real storyline going on ^_^; The first half was pretty much about Liz and Gavin fooling around and getting to know each other better. Lots of sex going on - a bit too much in my opinion - and not much else. So when the conflict appeared, it seemed a bit out of no where... I don't want to give too much away, but I just don't understand how Gavin could say that to Liz. He spent half the book taking Liz' side and then suddenly, does a 180 and is suspicious of her?!? It didn't make sense to me and it was really hurtful for Liz. The worst is that I don't think he really believed what he was saying... it was more as if he wanted to hurt her with his words! I'm really glad Liz didn't let him treat the way he did and she walked out. However, I have to say it ruined his character a little bit for me. Also, I don't really get Gavin's attitude or reaction towards his father's heart attack. I understand being concerned and I think that him taking time off to care for his father was very filial. But not going back to play... when you want to play? Especially when his father was recovering well and urging him to go back? It seemed out of character for me.
One more thing that really bothered me throughout Changing the Game was Mick. Oh gosh, he was a jerk and soooo annoying!!! I understand that he was mad at Liz for what she did... but Liz has apologized and even paid for it and Tara has forgiven her. So what else did he want? He kept harping on it like a broken record and in the process, poisoned Gavin and Liz' relationship a little... and at the end of it all, he asks Liz to be his agent again?!?! Are you kidding me? Have I been Liz, I would have turned him down.
Overall, I think that Changing the Game started off well. I enjoyed the chemistry between Liz and Gavin, the interactions between Liz and the Rileys... However, I feel there was a lack of direction in the book which was reflected in the lack of goal/purpose for the H/H. Good chemistry and hot sex can only carry a book so far. That being said, I'm curious about Jenna's book. She's very different from Tara and Liz and from what we've seen, she seems to have enough personality to carry the book on her own :)
My Grade: C+.