Reviewed by Vicki
TITLE: Roller Girl
SERIES: Lake Lovelace #3
AUTHOR: Vanessa North
PUBLISHER: Riptide Publishing
LENGTH: 154 pages
RELEASE DATE: July 25th, 2016
Recently divorced Tina Durham is trying to be self-sufficient, but her personal-training career is floundering, her closest friends are swept up in new relationships, and her washing machine has just flooded her kitchen. It’s enough to make a girl cry.
Instead, she calls a plumbing service, and Joanne “Joe Mama” Delario comes to the rescue. Joe is sweet, funny, and good at fixing things. She also sees something special in Tina and invites her to try out for the roller derby team she coaches.
Derby offers Tina an outlet for her frustrations, a chance to excel, and the female friendships she’s never had before. And as Tina starts to thrive at derby, the tension between her and Joe cranks up. Despite their player/coach relationship, they give in to their mutual attraction. Sex in secret is hot, but Tina can’t help but want more.
With work still on the rocks and her relationship in the closet, Tina is forced to reevaluate her life. Can she be content with a secret lover? Or with being dependent on someone else again? It’s time for Tina to tackle her fears, both on and off the track.
Back to Lake Lovelace we go! I enjoyed both of the previous books in this story quite a bit and I was intrigued by Tina, so seeing this one on the coming soon page made me happy!
Tina is a trans woman, before her transition she was a wakeboarder which is how she fits in with the other characters in the previous books. The series has followed the wakeboarding scene in Lake Lovelace, but this time we take a turn in a different direction and are introduced to roller derby. Something new to me! I’ve obviously heard of it, but it was never a sport I had any interest in, and knew nothing about. Pretty much the same as wakeboarding, which was also new to me at the beginning of Double Up. So this book follows Tina as she is beginning to make a life for herself after her divorce and transition, with the help of a new group of friends.
It appears Tina was pretty pampered in her married life, and is thrown for a loop when her washing machine begins to leak all over her floor in the middle of the night. This is something her wife would have handled, and it nearly causes a panic attack. She calls for some advice, calms down, and calls a plumber in the morning. She’s also a bit nervous about the plumber coming to her house when she’s alone, but is pleasantly surprised to see it’s a female plumber, and a hot one at that! She and Joe chat, in addition to Joe solving her plumbing issue, and indulge in a little flirting. Tina agrees to go out for a drink, where she is introduced to Joe’s real passion, roller derby.
Tina is invited to try out for the local team, which brings her the group of women that she has really needed. It also brings her to a sticky situation with Joe, as they begin to date on the side, but Joe doesn’t want their fellow team mates to know they are dating. Tina isn’t sure how long she wants to keep it all quiet, and some tension develops between them.
So there were certainly things I enjoyed about this story, I liked all of the characters, especially Tina and Joe. But I never really connected the two of them in my head as a romantic couple. There was too much focus on the roller derby aspect of the story, and on them not being able to admit to being a couple. I didn’t get why that was happening, the reason we are given never made sense to me. It felt like a contrived road block thrown in provide some drama. I really liked Tina at her strong moments. She’s a personal trainer, and the scenes with her training a young man were especially well done. I liked the connection she established with him. Same with her roller derby team mates, at times her inner trainer comes out, she takes charge, talks someone up and shows how strong she is. Actually I liked her vulnerable moments as well, now that I think about it. Not necessarily in relation to Joe, but the moments she’s concerned about being alone, the times she feels badly about her marriage, and herself. Tina worked very well for me.
I guess it was Joe, I don’t feel like I really got to know her. She was just there. I liked her as part of the roller derby team, I liked her as a dating partner for Tina, but once they got farther in, I felt the connection less between them. The physical chemistry was there, but the emotional side of it was lacking somehow. I think maybe if I had seen her past, her issues with her ex-girlfriend from her perspective, gotten in her head and understood what her issue was, I would have gotten in to her more.
I struggled with the rating on this one, I really liked parts of this book, but the relationship was hard for me to get, and that is what it all comes down to for me in a romance. All the rest of it adds to the story, but I have to feel the emotional connection between them building throughout the story, and that is what was missing.
I loved Tina, I liked Joe, I liked the roller derby parts, I loved Elvis the dog, I liked the glimpses of the boys from the first two books, I liked the sex scenes between Tina and Joe, it was strictly the emotional connection that let me down a bit… I liked the writing, especially the details. Although I’m not any more interested in roller derby than I was in wakeboarding, I appreciate them both as sports, and I appreciate the research Vanessa North put in to bringing those sports in to these books. I have no idea if these are sports she is familiar with, or if she’s just a great researcher, but I certainly got the passion these characters have for their respective sports!
Overall it was a good story, but not great. If you have read the previous two books you should read this one too, it does fit nicely in with the series. If you haven’t read them, this one could be read on its own. The other characters come and go but don’t play THAT big of a part. But I’d go read the first two, they are very enjoyable.