I initially found Alexa Martin on NPR’s annual book recommendations. I began with Intercepted, which I enjoyed enough to pick up Martin’s next book, Fumbled (2019). My reaction to Fumbled was very similar to how I felt about Intercepted. I liked that it was set in Denver by someone knowledgeable about Denver. I liked the characters, and the book made me feel some real emotion. On the other hand, I did have a couple of nit picky problems that sometimes distracted me while I was reading.
Poppy Patterson is a single mother of 9-year-old Ace, living in the Five Points neighborhood of Denver. She is a waitress at a high-end strip club called the Emerald Cabaret (most likely inspired by the real Diamond Cabaret in Denver). Everything is going all right until a bunch of Denver Mustang (Broncos) players show up at the club. T.K. Moore is among them and he just happens to be a star player and the father of Poppy’s son.
T.K. and Poppy were high school sweethearts. When Poppy got pregnant, she tried to get in touch with T.K., but another girl answered his phone. T.K.’s mom finally told Poppy that he wanted her to get an abortion. However, Poppy can’t go through with it and keeps the baby. Her parents kick her out, and Poppy moves to Denver to live with her aunt. She never told T.K. that she kept the baby, and she’s afraid of what he’ll do when he finds out.
The scene when Poppy tells T.K. about his child was very dramatic and moving. I’m pretty sure I cried. Poppy and T.K. have to figure out what happened in the past in order to address how they want to move forward. They begin to spend time together and Ace finally meets his super hero football father–a dream come true. Now they have to figure out if they can make it work.
Although I enjoyed this book on the whole, there were a number of things that kept me from loving it. First, there’s something about the whole scene of football wives that turns me off. Poppy only likes the “nice” wives who aren’t incredible snobs, but the whole scene is entrenched with bitchiness. Everyone is so focused on appearances that it’s off putting. Even among the nice wives, Poppy describes a waitress embarrassed that the football wives are so much better looking than her. I would obviously not fit in that environment.
Second, the characters’ primary way of showing their emotions was by rolling their eyes. This is fine once in a while, but it was constant. Poppy would roll her eyes, half roll her eyes, or roll her eyes to the back of her head. Also, the book is from Polly’s POV, but once in a while Polly would describe things that she would not have been able to see. “I turn my back on him, missing it as his beard catches his falling tears.” My last complaint is that the stalker felt a little tacked on and unnecessary to the plot.
However, I was impressed that Martin tackled the issue of brain injuries in a football romance. Polly tells T.K., a professional football player, that she doesn’t want her son playing football. And she effectively argues with him until her point is made and he agrees with her. It was impressive to see her stand up for her son. In addition, T.K. suffers from some effects of the many concussions he’s had. ***SPOILER*** In the end, T.K. goes and gets help and discovers that he’s suffering from CTE–a common brain disorder in football players. Although this problem seemed to be fixed a little too quickly and easily, I appreciate that Martin addressed this issue. ***END SPOILER***
I just checked Martin on Amazon and realized that she already has a third book out, with a fourth coming out in October. I think I’ll be reading them.
You can find all of my reviews on my blog.