"Rushing Amy" by Julie Brannagh; Avon Impulse (2014), 440 pages, $1.99 (e-book)
Julie Brannagh blends romance and football in a way that is fun, funny, sweet and passionate. Read either book in this series and you're totally hooked.
In the first two books, Brannagh focuses on a player and a former player from a somewhat fictitious Seattle pro football team. The heroines are sisters.
In the second book, Amy is a struggling small business owner, who left her secure CPA job to follow her dream of owning a flower shop. Amy's football fanaticism was documented in her sister's story ("Blitzing Emily," see below).
Matt Stephens is a former NFL player-turned-TV-analyst. He was barely mentioned in the first book.
"Rushing Amy" starts off where "Blitzing Emily" ended - in the aftermath of Emily and Brandon's wedding. Amy is surveying the after-reception mess when Matt arrives - quite, and rather unapologetically, late.
They decide to hang out at the bar, where Amy gets really drunk. Matt acts the gentleman and makes sure she gets to her room safely.
Then he starts pursuing her.
Amy tries to resist Matt. She sees heartache happening if she relents and agrees to date him. But Matt is doggedly determined, quite charming and really irresistible. He finally gets his way, and it does lead to (temporary) heartache for Amy. But it's mostly her fault.
Which is where the book's faults surface.
While this is mostly a solid, entertaining and emotionally charged read, it drags somewhat at times and skips over some parts that leave a few questions. Too much time expires while Amy and Matt are estranged - the same problem with the first book of the series.
Romance readers know that there must be estrangement to set up great reconciliation scenes. And "Rushing Amy" does have a great reconciliation scene. But it drags on too long, both in real time and story time.
One of the more interesting parts of this book is that it's the heroine who behaves stupidly and is the reason for the long estrangement. Ditto in the first book. While this isn't something most readers would like to see happen regularly, it is fun to watch the roles reversed a bit here.
HOW IT STACKS UP
Overall rating: 4 of 5 hearts. The story is strong until Amy and Matt split. Then too much time elapses, and it's rather confusing why they actually remain separated for that long. It also leaves too many questions about what they were doing during that time apart. But aside from that, it's a fun read, especially if you're a football fan.
Hunk appeal: 10-plus. Matt is a really good guy, although his reasons for not resolving the estrangement sooner are a little vague. He's a great dad, a great ex-husband and great hero.
Steamy scene grade: XXXX. A great guy.
Happily-Ever-After: Good. When they finally did get back together, it was well done. And an epilogue was well done. Finishing the book leaves you wanting more from Matt and Amy, as well as Brandon and Emily. Whether or not readers will get that in the next book, "Catching Cameron," is unknown. That book is due for release in May.
ALSO THIS WEEK:
"Blitzing Emily," by Julie Brannagh (2014 ebook) 4 of 5 hearts. This book has the same pluses and minuses of "Rushing Amy." A huge plus, though, is that it's currently 99 cents. Emily is a diva - a real diva, as in an opera singer. She meets Brandon, a defensive end for the Seattle pro football team, while delivering an unwanted Valentine's Day present from an ex-girlfriend. A misunderstanding leads to a fake engagement between the two, but quite expectedly, the pretend romance turns into a real one. There are some issues that causes a rift, but a totally unrealistic, but still fantastically romantic, reconciliation occurs.
ABOUT THE WRITER
Lezlie Patterson is a former columnist for The State newspaper in Columbia, S.C. Readers may send her email at email@example.com.