Sports romance is one of the many ways you could describe my reading life in 2019 and 2020. From Elle Kennedy’s Off-Campus and Briar U series to Lyssa Kay Adams’ The Bromance Book Club, I have been especially craving new adult and adult romance series that involve protagonists who are in relationships with professional athletes. I find myself rating almost all of these books 5 out of 5 stars because I genuinely enjoy them so, so much!
Enter Alexa Martin’s football romance series, Playbook, which includes Intercepted, Fumbled, and Blitzed. The wife of an ex-NFL football player, I love how Alexa Martin brings some personal experience to this series. As a football fan myself, I really appreciated how this series incorporates football alongside romance, family, friendship, and the plot overall.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Intercepted was easily one of my favorite binge-reads of 2019. I read this book in two sittings, between the first one hundred pages and then the remainder of the book. Intercepted follows Marlee, a website designer and long-time girlfriend of Denver Mustangs football player, Chris. Marlee struggles fitting in with the Denver Mustangs WAGS (wives and girlfriends) club, the Lady Mustangs. Things get way more complicated when a football-playing, one night hook-up from her past, Gavin Pope, joins the Mustangs. When Chris cheats on Marlee one last time, Marlee finds herself once again falling for Gavin.
Intercepted was such a fun and entertaining read. A few reviews I’ve read have had problems with Marlee’s use of hashtags, but I didn’t really mind them and found myself relating to a few. “#SaintLukeBryan” is a personal favorite of mine! Much of the plot revolves Marlee’s combatting of the Lady Mustangs with her best friend, Naomi, and the pressure and gossip surrounding her relationship with Gavin. However, one of the other major plot lines that I really enjoyed was Marlee’s balancing her career and personal apsirations with dating a NFL star like Gavin. Marleee does not at all want to give up her career and personal goals to become Gavin’s personal cheerleader- not that Gavin expected her to. Marlee is such a strong character and Gavin gives her space while yes, helping her fight some battles.
When it comes to the romance, Alexa Martin certainly delivers on the steam. There aren’t too many romance chapters, but the five to six scenes were very well-written. Outside of the romance, I really liked this installment’s balance of plot with football Marlee certainly knows her football, and I loved how realistic the story became when it came to contracts and free agents.
My Rating: 4/5 Stars
My final read of 2019, Fumbled was another great binge-read. I didn’t loveeeee it as much as I loved Intercepted, but it was a really solid installment in this companion series. I wasn’t into the premise as much as I had been with Intercepted, but the relationship development, plot, and characters were still really well done. Fumbled follows single mother Poppy Patterson, who feels like she’s finally found a new normal while raising her nine year-old son in Denver. When she unexpectedly runs into her ex-boyfriend and starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, TK Moore, at the club she works at, their suppressed feelings for one another suddenly rush back in. There’s some pretty big secrets between the two that make their relationship anything but easy.
I really liked how Fumbled’s plot began right from the get-go. Poppy and TK meet in the very first chapter, and Poppy does not take too long to reveal the big secret she’s been hiding from TK for almost ten years. I really felt Poppy and TK’s chemistry and the openness between them. In another book, things might have been so easy for the two of them to adjust to their new reality together with a kid, but their transition was quite smooth. Like Intercepted, the romance scenes in Fumbled were also very well done. The sports in the sports romance overall was really well executed. There’s a considerable amount of football scenes, and Poppy and TK also contend with TK’s decision to play through his injuries and Poppy’s refusal to let her son play. The book’s plot development towards the end is a bit similar to Intercepted, but I still liked Fumbled’s conclusion and epilogue. I also enjoyed the references and cameos to characters from Intercepted.
My Rating: 5/5 Stars
Having read Intercepted and Fumbled at the end of 2019, I had to save some more Playbook for 2020 and waited until March to pick up Blitzed. I couldn’t wait to dive into this one, especially since it follows one of my favorite characters in the series, Brynn. The owner of the increasingly successful and popular female-orientated bar, HERS, Brynn finds herself too busy between running a business and hanging out with the Lady Mustangs to ever imagine herself in a relationship, especially with the Denver Mustangs’ star defensive back. Maxwell has always caught Brynn’s eye (and vice versa) and fate finally seems to be throwing them together, even though Maxwell’s past and secrets make it even harder for Brynn to figure out if they’ll ever move out of the friend zone.
I had a feeling that I was going to love Blitzed, but I absolutely knew for sure as soon as Brynn made a Parks and Recreation reference about Ginuwine during her and Maxwell’s car ride home together! As a Pawnee goddess myself, I loved how Brynn forces Maxwell to watch Parks and Rec, and they precede to have binge-watching sessions together throughout the book. Here’s my personal favorite Parks & Rec related quote:
“ ‘Not just a show, it’s the best show ever,’ I tell him, feeling unbelievably offended on behalf of the entire cast and crew” (50).
While I obviously had much love for Maxwell and Brynn (steamy scenes included), my favorite relationships in Blitzed were between Brynn and the Lady Mustangs. The women are so supportive of one another and will do whatever it takes to help Brynn with HERS and Maxwell. As I mention HERS here, petition that we seriously need to create a real-life HERS! The bar was the main setting, which I didn’t mind because it provided such a great atmosphere. I loved all the cameos so much, and I forgot how much I loved Vonnie. I loved how her and Poppy are Brynn’s go-to women. While the book isn’t about Poppy, I really enjoyed getting to see the progress of TK and Poppy’s relationship. The football games in Vonnie’s suite were among some of my favorite scenes.
However, Blitzed was not the most perfect five star read for me. Similarly to the first two books, there’s a reveal near the end that makes or break the couple and I thought it really wasn’t necessary. I think there was a lot of build-up and suspicion about Maxwell’s relationship with his brother that could have been answered earlier. Nevertheless, I was really happy with the ending and enjoyed the epilogue.
I really thought that Blitzed was going to be the last book in the Playbook series, so I was beyond excited when Alexa Martin announced that there will be a forth book, Snapped, coming in October!
Have you read any of the books in the Playbook series? What are some of your favorite contemporary romances? Share in the comments!