Title: Winner Takes All
Author: Erin Kern
My Rating: B+
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: Champion Valley #1
Main Characters: Blake and Annabelle
Release Date: August 2016
Links to Purchase:
Sexual Intensity: mild
Money. Fame. Endorsements. Blake Carpenter had it all—before his professional football career spiraled out of control. Determined to rebuild his life, he takes on coaching the high school team in his Colorado hometown. Despite a few fumbles, Blake knows he can lead these boys to victory. As long as he can keep his eyes on the prize and off the team's distractingly gorgeous physical therapist.
Annabelle Turner knows all about the scandal that cost Blake his NFL career, and she'll be damned if she's going to let hismistakes hurt her team. What she doesn't count on is the intense attraction that turns every heated run-in they have into a wildly erotic competition. Point by point, play by play, kiss by kiss, they try to keep things professional for the good of the team. But when the score is this close—and the passion this fierce—it's anybody's game...
This was the first Erin Kern book I've ever read and I think I've found a new author to buy from. I liked it...a lot.
Blake is an ex-NFL quarterback who just lost his career. While he doesn't need the money, he doesn't want to quit football completely so he accepts a job coaching his high school football team. Back in the days when he played for the team, they were the champions of the state...every year. That is not the team he inherits. In fact they haven't had a winning record since he graduated. They expect him to turn the team around. In fact his job depends on it. He has one season. If he can't manage to make them win, then his football days will truly be completely over.
He isn't entirely to blame for the disgrace that ended his football career, so now Blake has issues trusting others with his team...namely Annabelle. She's a physical therapist who works with the kids when they get a bit beat up. But Blake doesn't want her there. First of all because he doesn't know or trust her, but also because she's a HUGE distraction for him and he doesn't need anything else jeopardizing his new career. They clash from the very beginning. But Annabelle "sees" Blake for who he really is. She sees his weaknesses and past the scandal that brought down his career, but she also sees the really good man that he is.
I liked the two of them together. There were some great fireworks. And it was all set with high school football in the background. That did all kinds of good things for this West Texas girl's heart. There's nothing like the sights and sounds of Friday Night High School Football and I loved the book because of that.
My one issue I had with this book was Blake's lingering issue he has from his NFL days. I won't detail what exactly it is because I don't want to post any spoilers, but I don't think it was given the page time it deserved for the seriousness of the underlying issues. It's something that is touched on and I realize that this is a "lighter" book, but I think there would have been more of a real issue there...both for Blake and trying to overcome that and for Annabelle having to watch that struggle. That aspect of the story line just needed a bit "more" for me as the reader.
But other than that, I thought this was a great book. I love sports themed books and I personally liked Blake's story because it's not the typical hero story line. I liked that twist and that he truly screwed up and accepted that. I'm really looking forward to more from the series.
I received a complimentary copy of this book in return for an honest review.