TBR Challenge Review: Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson

Game for Marriage by Karen Erickson
Contemporary romance released by Entangled Publishing on January 11, 2013

He’s going in deep to make her his…

Struggling artist Sheridan Harper never imagined she’d spend a sizzling night with Jared Quinn, the smoking-hot star quarterback of her local professional football team, the San Jose Hawks. And she’s even more shocked when Jared’s publicist offers her a proposition: a fake marriage to keep Jared out of the gossip mags. Being that close to Jared would be too tempting, so to protect her heart, she insists on secretly including a clause forbidding sex between them.

Jared just wants to keep his starting QB job and keep it in San Jose. His reputation as a ladies’ man has landed him in the headlines one too many times, but there’s something about his kind, passionate new wife that tempts him beyond reason. Any sort of intimacy between them is completely forbidden, but as their bodies fall in deep, will their hearts follow suit?

I love football. I love romances that involve football. After reading the blurb for the book I immediately got a copy. As I’ve read other books by Karen Erickson before, I had high hopes going in. I wasn’t disappointed. In fact, despite modern day marriage of conveniences being not really my thing, I was sold. I didn’t even get caught up in the legal potentialities!

Sheridan Harper is a great heroine. Although she’s only 25, she’s got a good head on her shoulders and great sense of self. Sure, she’s a little flighty and flaky at times, but I think that has more to do with Jared, than her. Sheridan is like every woman plus. She’s normal – other than being super hot, and having an inheritance. I like that she’s an artist, but still worries about the mundane. Paying for things, keeping her studio, and so on. Ms. Erickson writes a great balance, adding those details perfectly, making Sheridan real and relatable, instead of bogging down the story. Sheridan got major bonus points in my book for being rational and down to earth.

Jared Quinn is an entertaining hero. He’s a quarterback in the NFL, so you know his life (at least currently) is cake-like. Especially since he leads a team that does well. I liked that Jared was a home town boy and that he wanted to stay there. (Not quite actually believable or feasible in real life, but that’s why it’s fiction!) The sentiment is there though, and the fact that Jared has to work so hard to stay with the team. I also liked that he knew he was an ass, but outgrew it. He’s a reformed bad boy hero. What also authenticates this transformation is that Jared has some nudging from the team’s PR people. And that Sheridan makes him work for it. After all, Jared knows full well what he’s got and uses it to his advantage.

The fact that the characters are real and have flaws add that perfect touch. The story is pretty charmed – marriage of convenience that happens to work out. Beyond that, the premise seems like it might be a bit weak, yet Ms. Erickson makes it play out naturally. The setting, story line, developing relationship, and situations Jared and Quinn are thrown into all work together. I liked that Jared and Quinn both have good friends that are there for them. (The fact that the best friends fall for each other was obvious series bait, but I’m willing to give them a chance.)

There were some other minor things that bothered me. For example, Jared gripes that the ring he gets Sheridon costs over $100,000, but then adds how he would never tell her the cost or she’d never wear it. But lo and behold! Sheridan happens to be a connoisseur of diamond rings! And she slips it on happily. Or the fact that the owner would out Jared from the team for behavior issues. Unless you’re Bill Gates and can burn cash for warmth, or don’t care about winning… it doesn’t make sense for an owner to act thus. Yes, I am a picky reader.

But! The heat is there, and the romance is really there. I quite enjoyed Game for Marriage, and I think anyone who reads contemporary romances will like it too. In fact, I can see myself re-reading it in the future. The sports angle is just a bonus if you happen to like football. Ms. Erickson is a great writer and story teller. I’m definitely looking for her next release – in any genre.

Grade: B

You can read an excerpt here or buy a copy here.

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