Saturday, December 28, 2019

Rosalind James - Silver-Tongued Devil

Blake Orbison’s pro football career with the Portland Devils may have come crashing to an end, but not calling the signals anymore just gives him more time to devote to his business enterprises, including the latest and greatest: the opening of the Wild Horse Resort in scenic north Idaho. And that other one, too. Blake’s on the marriage track now, and he’s got a game plan. But when he runs into a trespasser leaping from his shoreline boulders into his lake, what’s a good ol’ boy to do but strip down and join her?
Dakota Savage is nobody’s temporary diversion, least of all the man responsible for her family’s semi-desperate circumstances. Some people may think she has a piercing too many, but she’s had more than enough of being called trash in this town. She’s come home to Wild Horse to run her stepfather’s painting business, and any extra time she has goes into creating her stained glass. An overpaid, entitled, infuriating NFL quarterback is no part of her life plan, no matter how sweet he talks. No matter how slow he smiles. No matter what.

Comment: I can't remember why this got into my TBR but after reading I can guess it was because it features a couple from different class and when done well, I tend to really like the way their differences don't matter if they are in love.

The hero of this book is Blake Orbinson, a ex football player who had to stop because of a knee injury so he now fully dedicates himself to his enterprise and projects in real estate.
One of those projects is in a scenic location in north Idaho and that is how he meets the heroine Dakota, since she is swimming in a lake near the resort, somehow getting there through a path in his propriety. It's not like he wanted to tell her off, especially after he gets closer and likes what he sees. Still, they meet, they seem to be attracted to one another but Dakota only realizes who he is after she puts her glasses on.
Since their meeting wasn't as smooth as that, Blake is surprised to discover Dakota is one of the team painters who is working on his resort. They don't seem to have a lot in common, both carry some baggage, Dakota in particular, but they start spending time together and seem to become closer the more they see each other. Although Dakota is decided on leaving after fixing some issues and Blake is looking to marry at some point someone who should be the complete opposite of Dakota, they can't stay away.
Will they finally reach common ground?

I should say this is not a sports romance. The only sports references are secondary, allusions to Blake's career, his status as a player in a big team, talks to his team mates in a very rare scene... the cover and series description is very wrong (I've checked and the second book is not about any player), which means those looking for scenes sports related won't find much here.

What made me want to read this book, I can see now, was not this although I don't mind sports romances. I liked the fact the couple was in different extremes of life: he is confident, has humble roots but now has fame and money without turning into arrogance or carelessness and she is poor, has had setbacks and a lot of painful situations to go thorough but is still loyal and caring of those close to her.
I was really looking for to see how the author would put two people who are at different points of their emotional lives (a derivation, I could say, from their financial status too) and make them work.

The romance is a key plot element. I liked the fact it was rather slow burn, I liked how patient Blake was with Dakota, I liked how they hid some of their tender feelings - and not just for one another - but they are decent people and have their notion of fairness and responsibility well placed. Of course they are not perfect otherwise why would we need a conflict but it was a good detail for me how they cared for one another, how they did things even when it might ot work out and I did feel for Dakota at some point when she was mistreated at a party. However, Dakota and Blake talk, they accept their flaws and they become better people through the novel, for many things but mainly because they are in each other's company.
I just kept feeling that despite this being all good at so many levels, there is something missing, perhaps some more romantic scenes with them and their families even though this happens too, or maybe something else, but the romance was just almost there.

The story has some interesting situations, namely related to Dakota and Blake's jobs and how that can be a way for them to know each other better, depending on their attitude towards others.
The secondary characters aren't much developed, except one or two and the setting for the next novel is a little bit evident after we see who the protagonists will be.
The villains, if we can call them that, are rather one dimensional but also play a part in how the story evolves. I got the feeling they were presented that way to be a more obvious distinction to the "good guys". We don't really get a better reason for their pettiness and bad choices besides greed and notions of entitlement because some had money.

There are interesting elements in this novel that made me like it: Dakota's art with glass, her friend Evan's desire to raise his little girl alone, how her stepfather Russell loves her and shows it, how Blake has good and friendly parents, how he wants to help those he thinks will be great with the opportunity to be so, how considerate he is with Dakota after he learns some things about how she was treated... I just think everything could have been upped a bit to make this an even more emotional story, with more romantic details to really put the romance in a superior level or something.

All in all, this was a good story, it has many positive elements but the way they were treated, the reactions the characters had regarding certain situations and here and there, a slight feel things didn't quite reach their best potential make me think the experience of reading was just nice but I might read the sequel one day too.
Grade: 7/10

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