Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Playing Hurt

Playing Hurt by Holly Schindler (Woodbury, MN: Flux, 2011).

Chelsea "Nitro" Keyes is having a brutally hard time re-establishing her identity after the horrible, career-ending hip injury that's left her scarred inside and out. She has the perfect boyfriend, Gabe, and friends, but feels disconnected without basketball. And she feels as if her father blames her for the accident. He thinks that working out at a boot camp with a personal trainer while they're on a family vacation will help bring her out of her funk. Instead, Chelsea finds herself madly attracted to her trainer, Clint. And he's equally attracted to her--even though he's still nursing a heart broken by the tragic loss of his first love. Rosie had been traveling to see him play hockey when she lost control of her car. Clint blames himself for her death and has quit playing hockey and thrown himself into his work--three jobs plus university courses. Chelsea and Clint try to deny their feelings, but in the end they can't and have to deal with the fallout. Chelsea, in particular, has to face her boyfriend who has stood by her during her entire recovery.

This is a romance novel masquerading as something more serious. If you like steamy romances, you will love this novel. It's mainly about sexy times for Chelsea and Clint. Yes, Chelsea and Clint have both suffered losses, but the novel really devotes a lot of verbiage to their sexual tension and (unsuccessful) efforts to conquer it and not really too much to their sadness, which their hormones pretty much annihilate. The treatment of Chelsea's relationship with Gabe is somewhat uneven because as soon as Chelsea sees Clint, Gabe is all but forgotten. Gabe seems controlling and possessive even before Chelsea meets Clint and that only becomes more apparent afterward. Chelsea's relationships with her father, mother, and brother are more footnotes than integral parts of the story. That goes for the Minnesota setting, too, and the so-called boot camp. (And, by the way, isn't Minnesota home to monster mosquitoes in the summer months? Not in this novel.) Fine for ages 14 &up. Sexual situations, alcohol, language.

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