As my cell phone rings, Tony mumbles that he’s going to grab us a few more beers, and then he disappears into the hallway. I do not recognize the number on the caller ID, but I do know the 215 area code. Philadelphia.
I press the button to answer, and before I can even say hello, a woman on the other end of the line says, “Parker, this is Coach. Mickey wanted me to call personally, so here you go. You’ve got me for all of two minutes and thirteen seconds.
It takes me a minute to remember the name before I realize it’s Mickey’s girl, Charlotte Coachman. Her voice is so stern and confident, yet she’s exactly what I expected from what I’d heard about her from Mickey and some of her clients. She has made a name for herself in the sports world, and she’s one of the few women who didn’t sleep her way into that position, which is rare in this business.
Hello to you, too, sweetheart.
At first, she chuckles, but then her laughter slowly turns into a cackle. “Call me that again, Parker, and watch what happens. Let’s get something straight. I’m not one of your puck bunnies. I have a name. That name is Coach or Charlie, but it sure as hell isn’t sweetheart. You got that?
This chick is crazy and feisty, and I kind of like it.
One minute and thirty seconds.” She sounds like she’s chewing glass, the words harsh and painful on the tip of her tongue. “In the interest of saving ourselves the headache, I’ve arranged for my secretary to meet you at the apartment building. Please don’t look at her, smile in her direction, or flirt with her because I’m sick of replacing secretaries. I did you a solid with the Philly deal, so I’d appreciate you doing the same and keeping your hands to yourself.
She went from intriguing to working my last nerve in a matter of seconds.
Give me some credit at least. You make me out to be a total creep.
That’s not entirely off base, Parker. You seem to have a problem with keeping your pants on—or is it finding them?
I can hear her covering the phone and chuckling to herself before she returns to being a mega bitch.
Damn those stupid YouTube videos.
What is her problem?
She’s so uptight, she might snap in half.
Like I was saying, Kayla will meet you at the building with the keys. If you need food, clothes, whatever, just let her know, and she will have it delivered. I put my ass on the line for you. Please make sure you’re at practice on time.
Sure thing, boss lady. Anything else?
She sighs loudly into the receiver. “No. My cab is here, and I have to hang up. Mickey said you had the address and Kayla’s contact info. Just call her when you arrive. That’s all.
I’m about to speak when I realize she already hung up on me and without even saying good-bye. I guess she sucks with them as much as I do.
Every second of our phone call replays in my mind as I try to wrap my head around what the hell just happened. It’s not hard to see why Charlotte is Mickey’s favorite agent and close friend. She’s the female version of him.
Alex Parker is prime for a makeover given his caddish behavior, but a not entirely unexpected trade (bad boys don’t make for the best PR campaigns) lands him in a new town with a new team and some new hearts to break. Charlotte Coachman, aka Coach, is used to dealing with charlatans as a sports agent. She’s confident, competent and doesn’t have time for frivolities. Perfect match? Only in romance fiction.
Their collaboration starts off simple enough when Coach becomes Alex’s de facto babysitter. As a sports agent, it does not seem unreasonable that Coach has to mind Alex, but it certainly doesn’t set the tone for romantic fare. Unless of course, the female lead is of the Florence Nightengale type and the male lead is a hot hockey player, that needs some saving.
Work fraternization policies are damned as these two get together after some mutual visual appreciation and a night in bed. Don’t get too excited as the sleepover is as innocous as it is dubious. “Forcing” an inebriated, but otherwise healthy man, into your bed so as to keep an eye on him is a bit of a reach especially when you just live next door, and there are plenty of other places to lay your weary head. Surely romantic fiction has come farther than a woman deciding to sleep in the same bed with a (passed out) guy because she’s too stressed to walk the 20 feet to her room. It’s not like I don’t recognize that romance has to get the leads together in some fashion, but make it believable. I want to root for the heroine not question her motives. I’d have more respect for Coach had said she was horny, lazy, lonely, or all three, not just too stressed/tired. But cue the next morning’s big misunderstanding, which is quickly explained and set aside.
In this case, proximity breeds more proximity, as these two grow closer, which as a romance fan, you expect. However, the pacing doesn’t match the relationship timeline. Bedroom scenes are rushed and rudimentary. The chemistry is tepid and needs more build. From the meet-cute to living together to secret sharing to sex within a chapter or two is unbelievable. Scenes are repetitive and replete with unnecessary exposition. It is a shame because the characters backstories of substance abuse, grief, and its aftermath are compelling and pass by too quickly. Instead, opposites attract theme that lacks chemistry and passion is center stage. Parker is not a horrible story, but the telling offers nothing fresh or new. My rec? Wait for a sale to pick this one up.
About the Author
Jillian loves Mafia men, sports, bad boys, dirty talkers, strong female characters, and books with plenty of heat, all of which you will find in her books. As a lover of all things bookish, she has a serious book hoarding problem and runs a book blog in her free time. When she’s not reading, writing, or blogging, she’s obsessively fangirling over hockey players and can be found wherever she can catch the next hockey game.