These co-writes have been a bit uneven for me, and the streak continues with this one. As a long-time fan of Loring’s work, it’s easy to see Crais’ influence, and that has its pros and cons. Pros include getting the dude’s perspective right, making this series feel like true sports romance, and (of course) the quality of the audiobooks. Cons include a departure from Loring’s smile-inducing, playful charm and focus on sexual tension paired with a strong emotional connection. Here, it’s much more lust-focused, and the insta-attraction was obvious but the connection was not. I did not feel the chemistry, and the extended timeline meant that these two stayed in f-buddy mode for… a long, l-o-n-g time. It felt like it was focused on everything BUT building up the emotional connection, and that was disappointing for me. That being said, it’s still a light and sexy sports romance, just not quite the kind I was hoping for.
The story follows Dash, a football player with a reputation for being aggressive. He’s a giant beast of a man, and his college football coach recommended that he take some ballet classes to loosen him up – mentally and physically. It was there that Dash met Charlie, a ballet dancer with aspirations of going pro. They bond over their intense, physical careers, but Dash’s aggression gets the best of him. Fast-forward two years, and these two opposites meet again. They’ve both focused on their careers in their time apart, and Dash is hoping that they can make things work this time around. They certainly have a sexual spark, and it’s not long before they’re connecting in the bedroom. But when Charlie accidentally becomes pregnant, it forces them to re-evaluate their relationship and determine if Dash is really boyfriend material after all.
I kinda feel like I’m spoiling part of the story by talking about the pregnancy, because it doesn’t happen for quite awhile. The book spans over three years, so it’s sort of a shifting timeline as things progress. That was a little awkward for me, and probably part of the reason why the emotional connection was lacking. We get these moments between Charlie and Dash – many of them physical – and then the timeline advances once again. I think the book would’ve been much stronger if they’d simply met in present day and gotten pregnant towards the start, but that’s just me. The friends with benefits/lack of emotional connection was the biggest detractor for me, but there IS a lot of good stuff going on in the story. Dash is kind of adorable; this giant, smirky guy who has a marshmallow heart. I loved getting to know him better, and I can see him being an awesome dad. The parallels between their careers were also interesting – we’ve got this tiny dancer and this huge football player, but their jobs are both very important to them, very exhausting, and incredibly strenuous. That’s definitely an area where they were able to connect. The book is also low angst and steamy, with tons of potential. I just wish it had settled in a little more and showed us all of the reasons why Dash and Charlie are perfect for each other outside of the bedroom.
The audio is great, no complaints! It’s duet-style, which is a MAJOR plus, and there are even appearances by other narrators to really make it feel immersive. Crais does an excellent job voicing Dash, and he infuses plenty of alpha/sweetheart personality into his performance. The audio makes the story fly by, and helped to hold my interest whenever the book started to lose me – I switched back and forth between the text and audio. It’s also perfect for bingeing, with a runtime that’s short enough (under 10 hours) to finish in a single day. The plot is light enough to make this a good choice for a workday listen, though the sexiness of the storyline might make you blush at the office. I’d recommend the audio version for sure.
#99 Dash Taylor. Rookie defensive end for the Boston Tomcats. 285 pounds of fast-twitch muscle. Nickname: Big D.
I’ve been sacking quarterbacks since junior high and causing trouble since I was born.
My college coach thinks I have a bad attitude, so he makes me take ballet lessons as punishment. If I don’t turn things around on the field next season, he’ll bench me. I have no idea what ballet has to do with football, but it turns out the real punishment is that the beautiful dance teacher refuses to get involved with me.
Two years later, we cross paths again, and it’s not the other team’s offensive line who brings me to my knees—it’s a hundred-pound ballerina.
She doesn’t think I’m boyfriend material, and I used to think that too.
I’ve been a beast on the field and in the bedroom, but now I’m going to prove that I can be a man for her…and for our surprise baby.
I thought I was all about the smash and dash.
But getting Charlie Bardot pregnant changed everything.
***This is a 93,000 word novel. It is the second standalone in the Boston Tomcats football romance series. You do not have to read DECKER: Changing the Play in order to enjoy or understand DASH. But you’d probably like DECKER—so maybe read that one too when you’re in the mood for more dreamy-cocky-football-hero-who-falls-for-a-strong-heroine goodness.***
Start the series today!
#12 Johnny Decker. Star quarterback for the Boston Tomcats. Two-time Super Bowl MVP…a decade ago. Nickname: Decker the Panty Wrecker.
I get tackled for a living by men who are built like rhinos. I could take the wings off a fly with a football from 30 yards away. (I wouldn’t, but I could.) Being a veteran quarterback means I’m a mentally alert, fine-tuned athletic machine who can make split-second decisions.
It’s my job to anticipate what’s going to happen next and adapt. But I couldn’t have anticipated the death of our beloved team owner.
His estranged daughter Hannah Strong is a finance nerd from New York. She knows less than nothing about football. Know what she didn’t anticipate? Inheriting the Boston Tomcats.
She’s stubborn, uptight, infuriating, and wrong about absolutely everything—from pizza to how to run my team. And I don’t want to talk about how good she looks in a skirt. Or daydream about how good she’d look out of it.
Really, I don’t.
I’m not Decker the Panty Wrecker anymore—I’ve changed.
I can’t stop arguing with her.
Or thinking about her.
I thought I had a winning play.
But Hannah Strong changed everything.
Read the review here
About the Authors:
ABOUT KAYLEY LORING
Before writing steamy romantic comedy novels, Kayley Loring got a BFA in creative writing and had a fifteen-year career as a screenwriter in Los Angeles (under a different name). She mostly wrote PG-13 family comedies that studios would pay her lots of money for and then never make into movies. In 2017 she decided to move to the Pacific Northwest and write about all the fun stuff that she wasn’t allowed to write about in those PG-13 scripts. Now she’s an Amazon Top 25 bestselling author who is breathing cleaner air and writing dirtier words. It’s an adjustment she’s happily getting used to.
Rest assured that her funny sexy sweet romances have no cheating or cliffhangers, and always have HEAs!
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ABOUT CONNOR CRAIS
Connor Crais is a classically trained actor living in the Midwest with his wife, two kids, and rescue greyhound. He has been both a stage and television actor, and before plunging into the romance genre, he had been narrating commercials, audiobooks, and explainers for well over a decade from his home studio. From alphas to bosses to cocky sports stars (a particular favorite), he loves sparring with beautiful, sassy heroines (and their talented narrators) but also loves winning them over and reaching that happily ever after. He is excited to now create those stories as an author.
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