Monday, April 9, 2012

Rules of the Game by Sandy James

Kathryn West has it all – she’s a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn’t actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer’s pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who’s up to Kathryn’s standards.

She finds Mr. Perfect shooting pool in a biker bar. He’s a blue-collar hunk who just happens to look great in leather. But the mysterious Scott Brady has some rules of his own: he won’t agree to her deal unless she poses as his girlfriend in front of his family and friends first.

As the reunion nears, Maddie tries to maintain her carefree façade, knowing she’ll soon face some old ghosts. She’s torn between her growing attraction to Scott and the nagging feeling that he’s hiding something important. Will she still want him when she finds out his secret? What about when he discovers hers?

While this book started out with a decent run towards a fun contemporary romance, ultimately I can't say I was all that happy at the end. Maddie's looking for a date to really wow at her high school reunion - thank goodness she not only finds one at a local bar but tells the truth about why she needs him. For me that was a winner, no lame hidden agenda, instead it was a straight up 'cash for service' arrangement. I wish this story wasn't just told from Maddie's point of view though, as reading what Scott felt when she came up to him or when he introduced her to his family would have been great. Really all the stuff that happened before the couple went to Indiana was not bad, honest conversations between two people working on turning a simple arrangement into something more.

Sadly once it hit Pottsville things go downhill pretty quickly. Annoyingly intrusive family members that I wanted to hit sometimes for a stubborn insistence that somehow they were wronged by Maddie's choices. A preachy attitude from everyone towards Maddie as she works to overcome her 'shame' and 'poor choices' - in general the preachy attitude is what got to me. Maddie made the best choices she could, or at least choices that I understood, with the information she had during various important moments in her life. Rather than ragging on her I would have liked to see a friend that not only challenged her assumptions but supported her as she grew as a person. 

I'd say this book had a lot of potential but the final product wasn't my cup of tea. I took a quick glance at some of the other reviews available for Rules of the Game and it sounds like my opinions could just be me. I have no problem saying that just because a book didn't work for me doesn't mean that it won't work for anyone, but I think this story could have been better.

Overall Feeling - C-

Series - None

**Title requested from NetGalley**