Friday, September 16, 2022

Jamie W. Matlock - Love Aced

Kole Masters has a problem. Well, problems actually. After injuring her knee at the French Open, she flees from a hospital in Paris to Marbella, Spain to escape the pressures of her manager father and the indecisions about her career – specifically, the future of it. What makes untangling her chaotic mess of a life on the shores of a Spanish beach undesirable? The fact that her now, ex-best friend Selene (she planned to announce her demotion the next time they saw each other), failed to mention the parts of the plan that involved the fiery, outspoken, anti-American tennis player Santiago Martinez.
So with a bum knee, an uncomfortable living situation and uncertainties about her future, her life isn’t exactly going as peachy as she’d planned.
Kole begins to understand that in order to figure out her future, she must sort through, and come to terms with, her past. Easy right? Not hardly. And the fact that her feelings towards Santiago – somehow and most certainly against her will – have progressed past snide remarks, heated conversations and death threats to longing for caresses that she can’t understand, jealousy that won’t go away and, eventually, the most incredible sexual experiences of her life…Well, she’s in it up to her elbows.

Comment: I felt like wanting to read this book after seeing it would feature tennis players and although I'm not particularly devoted to sports romances, I was curious enough to read this, as I had read another book featuring tennis players (by a different author) which I liked and I kind of wanted to repeat that feeling. Sadly, it wasn't the case.

In this story we meet professional tennis player Kole Masters right as she is playing a game which isn't going too well, since her knee is giving her such pain that it is taking all her effort to pretend and lie as if it's all alright. Eventually, she collapses and later on we find she will need surgery if she wants to have any hope of continuing competing in the future. Her relationship with her father - and agent - isn't good so she escapes to Spain, not to the house of her best friend Selene as would be expected, but to Santiago Martinez's, a fellow tennis player who gets on her nerves. Although she can't understand why he would accept this favor, she does start her recover there and they finally become closer. However, Kole has many secrets, will she be able to trust Santiago and share them with him?

On paper and by the blurb, this did seem quite a good premise. I imagined conversations on tennis, some practices here and there, some physical therapy for Kole, some romance while they battled their feelings, closed proximity since they would be in the same house.. but the plot wasn't as fascinating as that and while there is some talk on tennis and on other things, I feel it wasn't quite enough to make me like this book.

This isn't a bad story, actually, and there were enough elements to make it interesting. As I've said, the tennis talk has its merit, even though it isn't a game I know a lot of or about, but having this would make me believe the characters were professionals and that the sport would be their lives and something they love. I still wish there had been more talk on the subject.
The family issues Kole faces were also quite a lot, especially psychological and it was easy to accept this obviously affected her perception of herself, of her game, of those around her...

However, the whole story felt weak to me because I simply didn't enjoy the way the narrative is told. The story is told only from Kole's POV and while it is true I don't tend to like most romances with first person narrator - which I also wasn't fond of in this one - I think the biggest issue here was the writing itself. Sometimes first person can sound as if the narrator is childish or juvenile in how they speak about themselves or how they describe dialogues and other things but the story is readable and fluid even if I don't particularly like it.

I would not say it was the case here. I think the writing presented was too confusing, lacking cohesion and proper structure. Kole is just too inconsistent as a character to make her someone I could think of as being a person I'd like to know. She can be likable because she faced adversity but the way we get to know these things, along with the behavior she demonstrates now and how the interacts with others is just so... inadequate, that I struggled to find reason why others would defend her so much. I would not mind seeing this as a "regaining one's worth" kind of novel and, in part, I suppose this was a goal? but I disliked how the story is told.

In regards to the romance with Santiago, there is way too many references to "cultural differences" to showcase the ways they sometimes weren't on the same page. Added that Kole is actually rather inexperienced in romance, that she has a secret besides how much pain she had felt before her injury and the fact Santiago is completely cliché, two dimensional and not that developed, I wasn't truly interested in seeing how they would suit. I know this would be a given at the end, when the HEA would be settled.

I think I can see where the author would be going with this story but her style felt disjointed, unappealing, sometimes there were confusing situations being described or there were weird jumps from one situation to the other... for instance, the story begins with Kole being prepared to do an interview with someone she disliked, then the plot begins months before (if I remember correctly), and when it's finally moment for that interview, we don't see it nor do we know how it even went, since the chapter ends as she is about to do it and the next chapter is already some time after that. Not that I mind not having the interview but why set it up as if it would be a big deal?

Anyway, I feel sad this wasn't as special as I imagined, but that's the way these things are, some books work out for you, others not so much!
Grade: 4/10

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