Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Book review: Playing For Fun by Tracey Alvarez

Another great story of friendship and love in the sixth book in the Due South Series, Playing For Fun will not disappoint fans of author Tracey Alvarez’s books. But if you’re new to the series, the good news is you can start at this point and get pulled into the Due South world without any problems. The good thing about this series is that every book works well as a standalone, but it is obviously enjoyed that little bit more if you’ve read all the previous books and met all the side characters (by the way, book one In Too Deep – and my personal favorite – is free for you to enjoy, and you get book two, Melting Into You, free too if you subscribe to the author’s newsletter).

Playing For Fun is the story of two characters who have always been rather in the background in the previous books, always the best friends but never the leading characters. Having read all the previous books in the series, I was curious to read what the author had in store for them. Before I start my review, I have to point out that I am a little partial to a certain character (namely, Ryan “West” Westlake, the hero in book one) so no other hero has ever measured up to him – even though I’ve liked all the previous books in this series.

However, when I started reading the book I couldn’t help liking Ford. He’s the brooding, introverted and handsome hero any girl would like to cuddle. I know the image the author meant to give was probably completely different, but I imagined him like a giant teddy bear with dreadlocks – one that you can’t help wanting to hug and squeeze like a teddy bear. 

His shoulder-length dreads swayed as he shook his head. Even through closed doors and the rumble of conversation, Ford’s bark of laughter reverberated through her. He stabbed a finger to emphasize a point, biceps bunching under the soft cotton.
Holly rubbed the warm skin at the base of her throat, blinked as her fingertips registered the rapid thud-thud-thud of her pulse. Then shit-balls—Ford turned.
He did a double take at her hovering like an idiot outside then curled his index finger. His dark-brown eyes softened to melted chocolate, his debate forgotten as one hundred percent of his intensity focused on her.

Holly, just like every other heroine in the series, is super easy to relate to and a girl you’d like to be friends with. I’m happy the author decided to tell her story, because she deserved a little spotlight. My only complaint is that I would’ve liked for the author to delve a little bit deeper into Holly’s family problems, which played a big part in her past and in the way she grew up but were only briefly mentioned, whereas we get to read more about Ford’s family and his troubled past.

Following the style of the previous books, there is humor and banter and there are funny small-town community moments (Mrs. Taylor is hilarious) and as usual, I enjoyed the camaraderie all the guys and girls on the island share. They’re all friends who grew up together, and even the outsiders who have now become a part of the community are treated like family. I’ve loved this small island setting from the very first book, to the point that I’ve been dreaming of moving to New Zealand. But I’m sure if you read these books, you too will be tempted to get on a plane and find out if an adorable little island with friendly and funny locals really exists, somewhere in the Southern Emisphere. 

“Y’know, Ben,” Holly said with saccharine sweetness. “If Shaye is unable to be the second support person when your niece or nephew’s born, Piper will drag you into the delivery room to hold her hand.”
Ben faked a yawn and set down his beer. “No probs. And Ford here can bring his guitar and play soothing music while new daddy West takes photos of Piper’s lady parts experiencing the miracle of birth.”
The three women switched their you men are so dead glares between Ben and Ford.
Ford held up his palms. “Dude, relatives only in the delivery room. You’re on your own.”

Like in the previous books, there is steam when the two leading characters decide to give in to their feelings. And well, in this book there is a loooot of steam. Prudish as it sounds, I have to say that the author went a little overboard with the sex scenes in this book. Even though the previous books also contained adult material, I felt that the scenes between Holly and Ford were a little too graphic and left me a little surprised since I wasn’t expecting that side of Ford. To be honest, the giant teddy bear didn’t feel like one anymore, after I read their intimate moments… It is only a personal opinion though, so don’t let this discourage you from reading this book because you would definitely miss out on a great friends-to-lovers story if you did. 

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