Alexa Martin burst into the romance scene with Intercepted, a frothy pop-culture fueled heroine-centric romance about a biracial woman finding her way. I inhaled it. But each of the subsequent books in this series wowed me less and less. In this one Martin takes on racism and player pensions which feels out of step given her lighter writing style.
Our hero, 26-year-old quarterback Quinton Howard, has begun kneeling and blacking out his team’s logo in protest of how CTE is handled and because players who retired before pensions were instituted have been left destitue. 31-year-old Elliot Reed, the Mustang’s strategic communications manager, has been sent in to wrangle in Quinton’s protest.
This book didn’t work for me at all. It never felt grounded in the world of the series. I mean why isn’t TK from Fumbled, who (spoiler alert) left the team because he had early signs of CTE not shown support for Quinton or speak on the topic? The issues presented in this book are big and never reckoned with–I wish we’d focused more on the fact that Quinton’s dad is one of the players who was left destitute.
In a letter to the reader Martin (who is biracial and raised by the white side of her family like Elliot) talks about coming into her own Blackness when she married her Black husband and how via the heroine she put some of her struggles in this book,
This is is the second Berkley book that I’ve read (The other is Not The Girl You Marry) that had an author’s note before the book explaining the author’s #ownvoices experience being biracial and raised by a white family. I haven’t seen these author’s notes in other Berkley books. Does Berkley not think these books can speak for themselves on these topics?
I tried to come into this with an open mind but was just not interested or invested in this romance. I’m not sure what Quinton would see in Elliot and the handling of the issues felt clumsy. I try not to look at books for what I wanted them to be but Elliot really should have been a journalist uncovering the corruption in the league It would have also given Quinton more of a reason to share his life with her.
Nitpick: The ARC has this whole thing where Elliot’s white friend says she should wear her natural curls for once and Elliot’s narration goes into this detailed description about how she flat irons her hair because relaxers are damaging and evil. I recently went natural myself and don’t love relaxers but what is with the relaxer slander? It’s not any worse than heat damage and going natural is hard. The only traditionally published book I’ve read where a character explicitly has relaxed hair that doesn’t make a big deal about it is Get A Life, Chloe Brown.
Also, lol did no one check the name Elliot Reed for a woman ?
ARC received for review from NetGalley