Reviewed by Chris
TITLE: Match Point
SERIES: Sports of the Seasons #1
AUTHOR: Leigh Carman
PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
LENGTH: 200 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 20, 2016
Two stubborn men.
One is a rude jerk. The other, the life of the party.
It was hate at first sight.
Pro beach volleyball players Finn Callahan and Dexter Savage have been rivals since college. While Finn always comes out on top on the court, Dexter’s carefree and fun-loving personality earns him scores of adoring men and women. And as much as Finn fights to deny it, there’s another reason for the tension he feels when Dex is around. Hate wasn’t the only thing he felt when he first laid eyes on his opponent.
When they’re forced to team up, the two men must bury their differences—on and off the court—if either of them is going to succeed professionally.
Finn and Dex have been rivals and near-enemies since almost the moment they met in college. Now facing off against each other in the pro-volleyball league has only heightened the tension between the two. But when Finn and Dex both lose their team partners, they will have to fight their animosity in the hopes that their team can pull off a winning season. It isn’t just the anger they will have to fight, though, as the chemistry between them becomes a lot more heated in a much more personal way.
When this series was originally slated to come out (before it got picked up by Dreamspinner) I decided to review all four books since they looked fun and with the exception of the ones centered on hockey, I don’t read a lot of books about sports. I don’t know a lot about volleyball (other than the not-so-fond memories of high school P.E.) but two hot sweaty men battling each other and their own feelings? Yeah, that sounded like something I could get behind. As long as I’m not the one battling a bloody nose because some arse on the other team decided to spike the ball right into my face, that is (I know, I know, it has been nearly 15 years, I should probably let that go).
And I did really like the whole enemies-to-lovers aspect of this book. They were proper enemies as well. For a lot of the book. I liked how it wasn’t just a chapter or two of watered-down loathing followed by a sudden and overwhelming urge to hug it out. You can totally tell that these two have some very very strong feelings about each other…and when the switch goes from I wanna kill you to I wanna fuck you…and then probably still wanna kill you a little bit it is no less explosive.
However I found the constant use of the fight/run-away combo a bit tiresome by the tenth time it happens. It was getting pretty damn predictable that whenever they were in a room together someone was gonna pick a fight, the other would get offended, someone would storm out of the room, and the other would be left glaring at the door. I was pretty sure the only way to get the two of them to stay in the same vicinity and talk shit out would be to lock them in a cage together. And even then I’m not convinced that one of them wouldn’t try to squeeze themselves thru the bars like that dude in the first X-men movie.
The book also had a really jerky feel to it, what with all the really short scenes. It skipped around a lot (both from pov to pov, and with big time jumps) and it left the story feeling a bit incohesive. There were also times where it skipped really big scenes (that I feel really needed to be experienced by the reader if you wanted them to have any real impact) only then to talk about them in exposition or flashback. This left me feeling really confused with the constant tonal shifts in the story, and more than a little disconnected from the characters and the plot in whole.
While the chemistry between the two was definitely high, the rest of the story just didn’t have the sense of purpose to support the growing romance between them. These scenes that the author chose to keep, while discarding the larger and more impactful ones, were too repetitive in their content and intent. I did love the love-hate between them, but in the end I needed more than that and the story just didn’t fully deliver. There was plenty there to work with, it was just a bit mismanaged, in my opinion. And it made the story fall a bit flat in the end.