It’s like Jilly Cooper, but with football

Over the last couple of days I’ve been reading this book:

strStriker – by Michelle Betham. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a bonkbuster but it’s not a genre I’m necessarily averse to; 50 Shades of Grey did put me off for a couple of years though. I saw this advertised on Amazon and, since I do like my football, I thought I’d give it a go.

Sex. There’s a lot of it. Pretty much on every other page. I kid you not, these characters are ripping each others’ clothes off like there’s no tomorrow; and whilst that may seem pretty hot, it actually gets fairly tiresome about halfway into the book.

Summary first: Amber is a sports reporter for News North East and is sent to interview notorious playboy and Newcastle Red Star (snigger) striker Ryan. A little aside: I actively cheer against Newcastle United so, in my head, this story took place in a neutral location. I haven’t decided where yet, maybe Gloucester – that sounds nice.

So, Amber is the driven thirty something ‘ice queen’ who inevitably falls into bed with the twenty something footballer; but wait! There’s more! Newcastle Gloucester Red Star have a new manager, Jim Allen, with whom Amber had a sordid affair when he was 27 and she had just turned 16 (erm, yuck.) What follows is over 500 pages of Amber vacillating between Ryan, Jim and her ex-footballer best friend Ronnie (who I was certain was going to be gay) with alarming regularity for someone supposedly so intelligent. I love Ryan! I love Jim! I’ve just shagged Ronnie, but I don’t love him. I’m engaged to Ryan! I’m engaged to Jim! Man, she’s prolific.

I have nothing against this book, it doesn’t pretend to be great literature and it delivers what I expected: A tangled up and steamy love affair, lots of sex and some frankly ridiculous made-up football teams’ names. It was a bit over-long I felt and, just when you thought that was it, something would come along to prolong the story a bit more.

The one thing which did jar for me was the author’s constant use of characters ‘throwing their heads back.’ They seemed to do this with alarming regularity, to the point where I began to worry for their health. In frustration, in passion, in anger, those heads were being thrown back with abandon. Similarly hands were often ‘thrust into pockets,’ which made me want to bust out my teacherly persona: “Hands out of pockets! Stand up straight! And for Heaven’s sake stop throwing your head back, you’ll end up with whiplash!”

Whilst this did irritate me, it hasn’t put me off reading the second in the trilogy: Extra Time. However, I am reading it with a pad of paper and a pen, making notes of the head throwing and pocket thrusting. So far I’ve read 76 pages and six sets of hands have been thrust into pockets versus ten heads thrown back. Now I’ve started to notice how often hands are pushed back through hair too. Eeeep!

Seriously though, if you’re looking for a little fluffy diversion then you could do worse than give this a go.

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