Review: Playing to Win by Shelley Munro

playing to winReviewed by Shelly

I wanted to like this story much more than I did. It had such potential. I assumed, as it’s a republished novel that it would have been revamped since its initial release back in 2008.

Famous rugby player Lane Gerrard just found out, through the media, that he has a 9 year-old son. Kate Alexander has been a mother to 9 year-old Jamie since her sister’s passing and is shocked to find Lane on her doorstep claiming that he’s the father to the child that she’s been raising.

Starting out slowly, this story took a while for me to warm up to it and I’m not sure that I ever did. There’s a lot of descriptive narrative about feelings and not enough dialogue or action to get the story going. It dragged for about the first 60%. Kate is a single mom to her nephew and she’s clearly hardworking. She’s a good provider and she loves him and always claims him as her son – that counts for a lot. I can’t say that he’s legally her son because she never legally adopted him, not that I read anyway.

Kate also has a history of verbal and physical abuse that happened three relationships ago with some jerk named Steve. At some point she decided to report him to the police, after which he was arrested, convicted and served time. There was mention that he was out on parole but that was for naught because he never made an appearance. I was disheartened about that because that would have added some foil. But for some reason she kept using that abusive relationship as an explanation to why she was leery of Lane. By this time, she’s known Lane for a couple of days and had no reason to think he was physically or verbally abusive. I think if anything, Kate has poor judgment when it came to men and I didn’t see the connection between Steve, the abuser, and Lane specifically because she had two pseudo relationships in between where any type of abuse was a factor. So that told me she at least knew the signs and that plays into why she was so suspicious of Lane.

The story had potential to pick up when a stalker started stalking Kate. The build up to that resolution was okay, if not predictable. I was disappointed to see how unexciting Lane was. He never popped off the pages and he certainly didn’t have that macho man personality that I would expect with a rugby player. That’s a pretty rugged and tough sport and I know some of those guys are gentle giants but Lane wasn’t supposed to be that.

Something that really bothered me was when Jamie perpetrated his own kidnapping – his punishment was to go away on holiday with Kate’s best friend and her family. Seriously, that’s punishment for scaring the crap out of the woman who’s been raising you, worrying her and all your friends and getting the police involved? Maybe in Australia they raise their children not to reap the consequences of their actions.

The chemistry between Kate and Lane felt bland. There was no pizzazz and I never felt that they really connected other than being parents to this child. If you’re a Munro fan you might enjoy this and she does mention ‘vegemite’.

Happy reading folks!

Rating: C

*ARC provided by publisher via NetGalley

Click to purchase: Amazon

Playing to Win
by Shelley Munro
Re-Release Date: March 23, 2014
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave

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