The Striker's Chance

Carina: Harlequin. Sept. 2013. 149p. ebk. ISBN 9781426896255. $2.99. CONTEMPORARY ROMANCE
Sports PR specialist Holly Taylor attempts to remake soccer player Kepler "Killer" de Klerk's off-the-field image from that of hard-partying playboy into respectable community leader. Kepler is looking for a place to play the sport he loves for a few more years—his last couple of years. He's 30, and the car accident that booted him out of Europe nearly finished his career. He wants to go out playing. Then he starts to fall in love, not just with Holly but with the idea of putting down roots and finding a place to call home. It's just too bad that the owners of his North Carolina team have other plans and that Holly's dreams just might take her in another direction altogether. Or maybe the man he's become can change her mind.
VERDICT This solid contemporary sports romance builds in several unusual twists by featuring soccer over the more familiar football or baseball tropes; being set in North Carolina and not featuring NASCAR; and introducing an unapologetic and unrepentant career woman as the heroine. While the chemistry here isn't off the charts, it exists in a very plausible way, and the romance develops naturally without treating readers to unrealistic insta-anything. The growth of Kepler's character from selfish and self-absorbed to a real leader and coach is particularly well done. Recommended for sports romance fans.
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