Smart and sexy Dani Carr knows as much about football as any man–maybe more. It’s always been her dream to make a living talking about the game she loves. But Dani’s not interested in being just the usual eye-candy sideline reporter; she wants to be the first woman analyst on a pre-game show, the ultimate in exclusive boys-club jobs. And it turns out, that despite the odds, she has the talent to get her there.
Star quarterback-and heartthrob–Tyson Palmer always did things in spectacular fashion, including ruining his career after debuting as a first-round draft pick. When the head coach of the Austin Mavericks refuses to let him waste his million dollar arm, Tyson makes a Hail Mary pass at redemption and succeeds with everyone…except Dani, who appears to be using her high-profile commentator job to make a name for herself at his expense.
Dani refuses to let anyone forget about Tyson’s transgressions….and for good reason. There’s history between these two, sizzling history that dates back to their college days, and it ended in another spectacular flame-out of Tyson’s. He’s conveniently forgotten all about that episode because Dani is no longer the cute girl next door he barely remembers–she’s a bombshell with huge ratings and a long memory.
But can a woman trying to claw her way to the top and a quarterback who knows all about rock bottom make it to the Super Bowl without destroying each other in the process? And what will happen when Tyson-riding high on his career comeback-realizes he needs to make an even more important comeback with Dani?
Tyson scowled defensively, before leaning his forearms down on the table between them. “Then I guess there really isn’t any story left to tell. Sounds like you know it all.” He was sorry he had offered her a seat, much less his drink.
“I told you, Tyson, I want to try to help you,” she reiterated.
“Because I believe in you,” Ella stated with conviction, as if that was enough to earn his trust. But Tyson Palmer was long past trusting anyone, including himself.
“Why?” he repeated, now angry.
Ella looked down at the table for a moment, then said quietly, “Because I remember the guy I tutored. Who was serious about his game and never had a problem taking no for an answer.”
He wanted to laugh in her naïve face. To mockingly tell her at the time she hadn’t been worth the pursuit, if for no other reason than to get her to leave him alone. He wanted her to stop looking at him in the way she was, like he was not a total disaster. But most of all, he no longer wanted to be reminded of when he was in control and held the world in the palm of his football-throwing hand.
“That kid doesn’t exist anymore. When you graduate and join the real world, you’ll realize that people change, usually not for the better,” he spat out cynically.
“I refuse to believe that.”
Tyson sighed and ran his hand through the shaggy brown hair that had outgrown his clean cut months ago. She was being way too persistent, but her sincerity was admirable, and part of him wanted to believe her.
“Okay. We’re friends, now what?”
She brightened with his acquiescence. And she really did have a pretty smile. “Now you let me be a good friend and help take care of you. You look so tired. ”
This time he didn’t hold back the laugh, and while it wasn’t exactly harsh, it still was hollow. She wasn’t able to help him any more than he could help himself. And she made it sound so easy, like she could perform some sort of exorcism and all his demons would flee. The more likely story was she was trying to get close to him under the misguided impression that he had something left to offer.
“You’re good, Mother Teresa. Why don’t we go someplace quiet where I can confess my sins and you can absolve me? Make sure you turn your phone on to record, so you don’t miss the good stuff.”
“You’re wrong, but I understand you being leery,” she patiently explained. “I . . . I always liked you, Tyson, and you were always so nice to me. You deserve to have someone on your side. I know this is all just your circumstances talking.”
“Sorry, not interested.” Tyson took back his now-empty glass and went back to sucking the last remnants of Gentleman Jack off the ice. Damn his mouth was dry, always so dry. As far as he was concerned, the conversation was closed. He wanted her to get out before he settled back into the dark side.
“What would it take for me to get you interested? For you to consider coming home with me, at least for a decent night’s sleep?”
Maybe it was the way she asked it, completely oblivious to the fact that the question itself made her sound like a hooker. Maybe it was the pity or her dogged insistence that he see himself for something other than he was, which was a lost cause. And then, like a lighthouse shining through the fog in his brain, it dawned on him. His cute little virtuous tutor had joined the ranks of pleasure seekers and was trying to get him into bed. At least that explanation turned the exchange from ludicrous to one that made sense.
“You still a virgin, Ella Bella?” He answered her question with one of his own, accompanied by a smile of complete impropriety.
Finally she blinked. Her grip tightened around the handle of the purse in her lap, and she stared at it before looking back up at him and meeting his gaze head-on.
“Yes.” She spoke her one-word answer unemotionally, even as the flush crept up to her cheeks.
Tyson sat back in his chair, the recesses of his drug-addled mind jarred. Wrong answer. She was supposed to have forsaken her outdated notion of chastity. She was supposed to have been tainted by now, like everyone he knew. As corrupted as he was.
“Hey Ella Bella, what do you say to you and me going someplace to get freaky?” Part of it was said in jest, trying to recover from just how badly she managed to throw him. Another part of him longed to engage in just a little bit of the same harmless banter from the days when she was a sweetheart and he was a hero.
“Your place or mine?” Her answer was so unexpected and sounded just as foreign to his ears.
Years ago Dani was a tutor to the campus quarterback, Tyson. He was attracted to her but was too busy living up to his “player” status, and Dani was unwilling to be another nameless woman in his bed. Years pass, and Tyson makes it big, but it doesn’t last long. He’s about to be kicked out of professional football because of his addiction to alcohol and painkillers. Dani sees him in a bar and thinks she can help him, but you have to want to help yourself, and Tyson doesn’t. Dani shares one night of passion that ends in disaster and heartbreak for her. That’s the night Tyson and Dani’s lives change. Tyson gets an opportunity to get clean and sober, and Dani moves forward working hard in her career in sports broadcasting. Fate isn’t done with either of them. Their paths will cross again, and this time can they get it right?
I loved both characters because they aren’t just survivors, they are fighters. They work hard to achieve their personal goals despite the roadblocks they face, and I liked the fact that Evanovich didn’t just skim over those parts. She detailed all that each character went through to become the people they were. She did the same with the romance…it wasn’t fast and hurried. It developed over time as it should. Dani was burned badly by Tyson, and she was very leery in trusting him, and she should have been. There is a twist that could affect their relationship, but I want spoil it for you…you will know what it is fairly quickly. I loved the addition of Marcus. He was a bit of a mystery, and I hope at some point we get more of his story.
I’m a first time reader of Stephanie Evanovich, and I like the way she writes. I love the way she pulled me into the story, not just with the plot but with the character development as well. She makes you care and empathize with them despite their faults. I will definitely be checking out her earlier novels, and I will be waiting to read her next book.
a full-fledged Jersey girl from Asbury Park who began writing fiction while
waiting for her cues during countless community theater projects. She attended
New York’s School of Film and Television and acted in several improvisational
troupes and a few small-budget movies, all in preparation for the greatest job
she ever had, raising her two sons. Now a full-time writer, she’s an avid
sports fan who holds a black belt in tae kwon do.