Posted in: Michelle Reviews, reviews
Tags:black romance, Farrah Rochon, football, multicultural romance, multicultural romance reviews, sports romance
Heat Level: Steamy
African American female; African American male
Like pretty much everyone in the known universe I read and enjoyed Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s Chicago Stars series. However, as a lifelong fan of the game of American football I was all too conscious that her football team looked nothing like any football team in existence since the 1970s. The lack of diversity was glaring, and the scenes where she did include minorities were so painfully self-conscious, I always skipped them. However, I dearly love football, and when this book came across my desk, I jumped on it.
Note, this is the second book in what is a four-book series. I started with this one because I found the title of the first one, Huddle With Me Tonight, just unbearable. I don’t think I missed anything by starting the way I did, this book can definitely stand alone.
The book starts with the heroine, Payton (named for the legendary Chicago Bears running back Walter “Sweetness” Payton), essentially stalking Cedric, a “bad boy” professional football player. Cedric has had a run of bad luck. His behavior off the field has resulted in his agent dropping him and no other agent will touch him. He also fears that his team won’t sign him to a new contract. He is particularly concerned about changing teams as he doesn’t want to leave New York. This is a weak area of the book. I’ve followed football forever, and the so-called bad behavior mentioned wouldn’t even get a rise out of the most stringent agent. Certainly it wouldn’t result in a franchise dropping a running back with the kind of stats this guy has. That failing aside, I found the rest of the football-related aspects of this story to be believable and in line with what I know of the game and its players.
Payton is a major football fan and more than anything she wants to be a sports agent. To that end she has quit her job at a law firm in Texas and relocated to New York City in an effort to fulfill her dream. Unfortunately, none of the players are willing to take a risk with an unknown quantity, especially a female one. So she has gone all out in an effort to get Cedric as a client. Given her dogged determination and the fact that he literally has no one else, he decides to take her on.
Payton quickly shows that she has what it takes and negotiates endorsement deals for him while also working to clean up his image. Their professional relationship sets up the central conflict of the story; Payton doesn’t want to give in to the strong physical attraction between them because she fears the damage it could do to her reputation as a sports agent. This conflict read as very realistic to me and I enjoyed watching these two characters navigate the treacherous waters of professional sports.
Another strong area of the book is the relationship between Cedric and his friends, who are his fellow teammates. They are, of course, the heroes of books of their own but their presence in this book isn’t overpowering.
I really like Rochon’s narrative style and occasional touches of humor. The character development was stellar and I loved the way she delved into the source of Payton’s passion for football. I found it very relatable because my own love of the game comes from very similar origins. It would’ve been very easy make these people into caricatures, but she takes us past that. We see that Payton really is starting out in a business in the way you would expect. One of her meetings with Cedric occurs in a laundromat, and yes, she’s folding clothes. Lacking an office of her own, she also meets clients in a coffee shop. Payton is really a great heroine. I love her grit and determination and Cedric was a great match for her. This was a solid four-star read and I intend to go back and read …ugh…Huddle With Me Tonight.
I’ll Catch You can be purchased here.