Gridiron #4


Jen Frederick

✮✮✮ 3 STARS ✮✮✮

She’s been playing it close…
Ara Martin and college football star Ty Masters have been best friends since the first day of school when Ty literally ran her over. She fell for him immediately, but having lived under the shadow of her famous father, she knows a relationship with irresistible Ty would only end in heartbreak. For four years, she’s kept her feelings hidden. But one drunken encounter weeks before graduation is about to expose Ara’s biggest secret and destroy her most treasured relationship. 
He’s been playing for keeps…
Ty is about to be drafted into the NFL, but his personal life is a mess. He’s got an agent he doesn’t like, a brother who can’t stop offering his opinion, and a beautiful woman he craves but can’t have. He can fire his agent and ignore his brother, but he’s not sure what to do about Ara. Ty’s been able to run down every quarterback he’s faced, but his sexy, stubborn best friend keeps slipping through his fingers.
Luckily, he’s not one for giving up, and once he gets his hands on her, he’s never letting go. 

I love Jen Frederick. Her books usually never fail to make me laugh and put a stupid grin on my face. Downed released almost a year ago so I was more than ready to get another Gridiron story. I also love the friends-to-lovers trope but unfortunately Played missed the mark this time for me. Let me explain:

I get that if you have a wonderful friendship you care about you do everything to protect it. I understand the fear of jeopardizing it by admitting to deeper feelings but there comes a point when a heroine should stop running away and acting like a chicken, grow some balls and just stop being so frustratingly immature.

Ara is the daughter of a famous sculpture and close to the final exams for her art major. She works at a gallery with a jerk of a colleague who walks over her and she doesn’t do so much as blink about that. Ara wants to be successful in a branch that doesn’t have a lot of jobs on the market to begin with and she wants to succeed without her father’s help. It was woefully frustrating to see her harping on about wanting a spot in the sunlight but not using her resources available to get there. And that attitude leaked into every part in her life.

When she met Ty four years ago, she fell hard for him but seeing all of her father’s marriages ending in tears she is convinced that a friendship rather than a relationship would keep Ty in her life. And here is the second thing that made me grind my teeth. Ara is a coward. Note: it’s not becoming to be a coward. It makes a person look insecure and we know how attractive that is. And the part where she shoves him into the arms of another woman and then harping on about it in her inner monologues was ridiculous.

Ty gave me a bit whiplash and while he was an indifferent jerk with all his former girlfriends he was mostly sweet with Ara.

I’ve always loved Ara the person. She’s the first one I think of when I wake up and the last one I contact before I go to sleep. She never falls lower than two on my text list. 

He loves her and their friendship is one aspect that was wonderfully portrayed and I adored about this story. They just trust in one another, knowing the other one would be there if things went downhill. But he’s also a bit clueless and contradicts himself.

If she made even the first sign that she wanted me, I’d be over there in a heartbeat. But she’s turned me down cold. I can get the hint. Her friendship is too precious for me to fuck it up with sex. I can get that anywhere. I won’t find someone as loyal, kind, funny as Ara. Or as hot, my dick reminds me.

So he wants her and would totally act on it and he doesn’t because she turned him own? And then he values her friendship too much? What is it now? You see, he confused me a little bit.

At least he got his head on straight fast and went after what he wanted most.
There was also the a little drama on social media with Ty’s ex-girlfriend and how that would influence the NFL draft was a bit unrealistic and OTT – why would the NFL care about ex-girlfriend drama of a future prospect professional football player? What they expect from their players is that they are 100% focused on the job – and Ty was all in and committed to his career.

This story doesn’t sound like the ones I’m used to from Jen Frederick. It lacked the witty dialogues, the engaging story line and most of the time I felt a bit detached – I never really connected with the characters or their romance but I did love their friendship and maybe that’s what they should have stayed – friends.
With all that being said, I still enjoyed parts of the book and I hope that the next one will be a winner again. As always the reminder that you check out other reviews, I might be totally in the minority and you might end up loving it!

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