Wednesday, December 7, 2016

ARC Review: Rules of Contact by Jaci Burton

Series:     Play-by-Play #12
Pub. Date:Dec. 6, 2016
Publisher:Berkley
Length:352 pages
Source:NetGalley

Can you believe that this is my first read from Jaci Burton? I know, I know... what the heck is wrong with me? I have actually had this series on my TBR List for a couple years, but someone told me I needed to read from the beginning and I just haven't had the time to fit 10+ books onto the reading calendar. But I am very happy that I finally took the plunge and started reading about these yummy athletic heroes! Not having read the earlier books, I didn't feel lost. There were other couples popping in and out which I assume are from earlier books, but those stories were not vital to the romance at issue.

Flynn Cassidy is the oldest of five siblings and is the defensive end for the San Francisco Sabers football team. He is beautiful and built and tattooed... and is also a restaurant owner and minor chef. Flynn has been having a bad run of luck with women, repeatedly ending up with opportunists seeking their 15 minutes in front of the camera. After several of these women in a row, Flynn starts noticing someone a little closer to home and more familiar to him... the head chef at his restaurant, Ninety-Two (which happens to be his jersey number). Flynn was an awesome hero! He was a genuinely nice guy from this huge tight-knit and athletic family. I liked that he was good in the kitchen, but seemed to be shy about his culinary talent. But his talents were not limited to the kitchen and football field, the man has some serious mojo. I was impressed (and totally envious of our heroine).

Amelia Lawrence is the head chef at Ninety-Two and has been watching Flynn's parade of bad dates thinking that he could do so much better... she just never thought she would be the better choice! Amelia is a divorcee with a d-bag for an ex-husband who had ridiculous and unwarranted trust issues. Because of the ex's borderline stalker behavior, Amelia isn't all that crazy to jump back on the dating bandwagon. This worried me somewhat at first. I was afraid that Amelia's issues were going to be front and center in the story - but they weren't! Can we get an Amen! for mature heroines! I was so proud of Amelia for not letting her past color her future. She handled relationship growing pains with aplomb and was brave in the face of her insecurity. I'm always happy to find a heroine in contemporary romance who doesn't annoy me.

Speaking of, I would like to applaud this couple on their lack of drama! This was a straightforward sweet and steamy romance without an abundance of angst! Woo Hoo! No whiny new adult millennials to make me feel like a decrepit old crone. This one hit a 4 on the sultry scale for me... it was sexy and hot without crossing the line to erotica. But that steam was balanced out by an almost sweet relationship that was building between our main characters, and so it had that "feel good romance" vibe going on.

I liked the detail with regard to football (actual game play was involved) and also with regard to the food and cooking (though it made me damn hungry). The multitude of other couples and family members that popped up in this story made me curious about those relationships, so I will definitely be trying to work them into the reading calendar over the next year. I love that the Cassidy's are a family of footballers (and one baseballer) with a little sis thrown in to be protected by the house full of testosterone. Life on their ranch sounds like a dream.

I voluntarily reviewed an advanced copy of this book that I received from the publisher, Berkley.

And in case you are still working on your list for Santa... here's 12 things to ask for!