This book is not a ‘good’ book, but it’s one I enjoyed. It’s biggest downfall is lack of editing. It runs nearly 700 pages and she repeatedly misuses the word ‘passed’ for ‘past’. No, seriously, I’m not sure what was wrong with me when reading this. Misusing words like that would normally be a complete dealbreaker for me, and yet, here we are. I actively chose this book because it was the first week of the NFL season and I wanted to get in the mood. 😉
Vanessa Mazur has been the personal assistant/chef to Aiden “The Wall of Winnipeg” Graves for the past two years. Aiden is the best defensive back in the National Football Organization (I see what you did there) and does not have time for friends, family or basically any life outside of football. Vanessa has been using the time to live frugally and save her money so she can go out on her own as a graphic artist. It has been a chilly relationship over the two years and Vanessa reaches a breaking point when she finally has enough money to do what she wants in life, so she quits. Shortly thereafter Aiden shows up at her doorstep and begs her to come back. When she refuses he asks her to marry him to help him get his Green Card and stay in the U.S. (*Marriage of Convenience* squee!). Vanessa does not want to marry him and is scared of the legal consequences of the deception, but Aiden promises to pay off her substantial student debt and buy her a house if she will stick it out for 5 years. The rest of the book is the definition of Slow Burn.
There were some good things about this book. While I will always love an “I’ve secretly loved you the whole time why didn’t you ever realize it you idiot” story line, this is truly a story of two people learning to love and care about each other. Trigger Warning: there is discussion of both child abuse and domestic violence. It does not happen “on screen” but it is discussed in some detail. This is not a subject that I like to touch on in my escapist reading, but the similar backgrounds that they come from and shared experiences really let me believe that they understood each other in a way that no one else could.
I rolled my eyes at Vanessa because she took on $200K in student loans to get her graphic arts degree and put herself in a terrible position. But, I also appreciate a mid-20s protagonist who is not independently wealthy. It gave her a reason to agree to the fake relationship. She didn’t have any aspirations to his money, she just wanted a little security in her life. She kept her own goals always at the forefront and never subverted them for Aiden. This was a refreshing change from much in the romance genre. She even set new goals during the story and keeps her own friends who are outside of her relationship.
The whole thing is told from Vanessa’s point of view, so Aiden is a harder character to know, and the 700 pages often got repetitive. Aiden is 6’4″ and 280lbs of pure muscle. He is huge and silent. Aiden is 6’4″ and 280lbs of pure muscle. He wears only baggy shorts and t-shirts. Aiden is 6’4″ and 280lbs. of pure muscle. See what I did there? I annoyed the crap out of you. And I only repeated it 3 times. Imagine having 700 pages in which I could repeat myself. 🙁 I did not find a whole lot of interest in his character or much redeeming in him. He’s not a bad guy – just boring.
This was a mostly clean romance. Which is pretty odd for a sports book. I would say most of the time they are on the racier end of contemporary romances. This one was clean…until it wasn’t. At the 98% mark in the book there is our only sex scene (with maybe? one kissing scene before that) and it is pretty explicit. This does not bother me (and is something I consider a bonus when written well), but it felt SO out of left field it left me uncomfortable.
Conclusion: This wasn’t a good book. I don’t recommend it. I enjoyed it and am embarrassed by that fact.