I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The Player Next Door by Kathy Lyons
Published by Entangled Lovestruck on July 21st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, Romantic Comedy
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An unexpected catch...
NBA star Mike Giamaria doesn't mix basketball with love. Ever. Then Mike meets Tori Williams, his cute, quirky new neighbor who seems hell bent on refurbishing her death trap of a house on her own. When she falls from her roof and into his arms, Mike knows he's just caught a whole heap of trouble.
Trouble sums up Tori's life. Despite her academic success, no one believes she can take care of herself-not her family, not her ex-boyfriend. She's determined to live her life on her own terms, and if that includes a hot summer fling with the super-sexy athlete next door, so much the better.
But when Tori's around, Mike can't keep his mind on basketball. He wants...more. And to his horror, not just more time on the court. When training starts, it's game over-it has to be-unless Tori can convince Mike that love doesn't belong on the sidelines.
My God. This was just incredibly cute and sweet but hot and funny. It is almost IMPOSSIBLE to find that kind of combination but I found it in The Player Next Door.
So, I saw KatieBabs reading this a few days ago and was intrigued. I was ready to start reading as soon as I finished the blurb…and that’s when I found out it hadn’t been released yet. O_O I RAN to NetGalley to request an ARC and I was very lucky to receive one.
I started reading The Player Next Door as soon as I got my approval email. And it was glorious.
I ripped into The Player Next Door and devoured it like a starving woman. I thought Mike and Tori were wonderful together. They…understood each other. Which is so incredibly important. One of the things I loved the most about Tori and Mike was the fact that – unlike the majority of Tori’s family – he took her seriously and he paid attention to her. He treated her like a person – unlike her previous (gigantic douchebag) boyfriend, Edward.
She had no true interest in making sushi and was well known for getting distracted while… Well, while doing anything. It was how she was made, and Edward always said it was charming in a rare, overbred toy dog kind of way. She could never survive alone in the wild, according to him, but he appreciated having a purpose in life as her owner.
Tori was known for being witless and her family treated her like a natural disaster waiting to happen. Only Mike was able to see the humor in the things Tori said and he was able to follow her train(s) of thought.
Mike’s biggest Achilles heel was his hyper-intensive focus on basketball. He was so focused that he eschewed relationships so that he could stay focused – too often he felt regret when he wasn’t 100% focused on his game. Tori is the exact opposite of Mike so she helped him loosen up a bit and just enjoy life.
“Can I tell you a secret?”
He grinned. “Sure.”
“I never regret anything. Ever. People try to make me regret things. They tell me how I was stupid or not thinking or something. Usually they’re right, so I pretend to be sad so they’ll go away. But really and truly, I never regret anything.”
He tried to imagine living like that. Never looking back and wishing you could do it all over again.
Mike didn’t want to fall in love with Tori: she was a distraction from his basketball game and his achivement goals but Tori cut through all of Mike’s defenses and stole his heart. And I was entranced. I loved, loved, loved watching Mike fall in love even though that’s the only thing he didn’t want to do.
“You know,” Joey said, his tone conversational. “I’ve listened to every superstition you nutcases can dream up. Lucky shorts, purple socks, three green beans with a steak dinner. I’m sure one of you dances naked and howls at the moon before every game. I’m all for whatever gets you to a winning season, but, Mike, your system is straight up stupid.”
“It’s not stupid. It’s about focus and time. There’s only so much—”
Mike dropped his arm and glared at Joey. “You don’t have to understand it. Just know that it works.”
“Fine, it works. You’re a monk. But I’m giving you until your next barbecue to get your head out of your ass or I’m moving in.”
“I’ve got a thing for smart blondes.”
Mike rose to his most intimidating height. “You’re uninvited.”
“I’ll crash it.”
“I could pick you up and throw you across the room.”
“Not without ripping up your shoulder, you can’t.”
It was a measure of how insane Mike was that he actually considered it. But after a few furious breaths, he realized the ass was right.
So. If we’re going for 100% disclosure, I was Not. A. Fan. of the ending. At all. It felt awkward and nothing like the preceding parts of the novel. It was infuriating when I first read it that I skimmed through to the end in a bit of a funk. Then I decided to re-read the ending and…it worked a lot better for me and was much cuter. In parts. There’s still one thing that just drives me bananas View Spoiler » WHY the fuck did Tori bring that douchebag with her to visit the guy she’s currently banging???!!?! I’ve twisted it around in my head a million times but it just doesn’t work for me. It makes no sense. WHY WAS HE THERE?????? « Hide Spoiler. It honestly felt – to me – that the entire situation was a set up for the quirky ending. And that just killed it for me.
This would have been a 4.5-5 star read for me except for parts of the ending. That dropped the rating down to 4 stars.
All in all, this is an adorable, funny and quirky love story that really warmed my heart. I certainly recommend it.