Challenging the Center by Jeanette Murray #Review

Posted October 1, 2016 by Shari in Reviews / 8 Comments

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Challenging the Center by Jeanette Murray #Review
Challenging the Center

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Series: Santa Fe Bobcats #6
Genres: Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance
Published by Indie/Self Published
Released on August 9, 2016
Pages: 255
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
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I stumbled on this book after following the series from the start. It seems the author went Indie. I don’t have any details, but this was self-published vs. through a publisher and I missed it until I saw a promotion for it on FB. I love this series, but lately the books haven’t been up to the power they used to be when it started.

This story is about the center (the guy who hikes the ball to the Quarterback) who is kind of a good guy who mentors the rookie members of the team. When he gets a phone call from his agent asking him to mentor a female tennis player, he gets a bad feeling he is in way over his head. Michael Lambert is going to make the best of it thinking he is  getting a young woman who just needs to be steered in the right direction. Not once does he Google her, so really he doesn’t know what he is getting into.

Katrina Kelly is hitting an all time low when a sex video goes viral and her ex is blaming her for releasing it. So when everyone starts blaming her, she starts to live up to the name. Some of the issues are innocent mistakes and others are downright wrong. Trying to make a come back between injuries, her agent and coach decide she needs a break away to stay out of the limelight. A place away from a coach, endurance coach and anyone she would associate with. And now she is stuck with a football player she tries to ditch and an image she can’t seem to shake.

While I loved the characters, the romance felt off for me. I loved Michael being the mentor to the young guys and not the parent. He really loves helping and getting them on the right track. When he takes on Katrina, she throws him for so many loops. He can’t keep track of her, finds himself attracted to her, but also he makes snap judgements about her. When she gets a job at an extreme bar, he disapproves, but he doesn’t offer up much in a way for her to make a living since tennis hasn’t been very lucrative. So yeah, I kind of at times felt he wasn’t the guy for her.

Then you have Katrina who toed the line, worked hard, had some success, but in the end she will be known for the sex tape. She loses sponsors and really she doesn’t make a lot off tennis so she has to work. What it came down too is she had the wrong agent. She’s the one who does all the work to get her game back on course, finds a coach that figures out her problem and so much more. I liked her even if at times she needed to take a common sense idea that working in a ladies bar may not improve her image. But at times a job is a job.

The romance just felt forced. Michael has a job to mentor her, but he’s doing her. Katrina needs to figure out what she wants and needs, but is falling in love. The two didn’t fell like couple material. The story also ends fast and I felt like I needed more. A lot more.

So while I love this series, I am not sure how I have liked the direction these latest stories have gone. They need something and I can’t really put my finger on what. It’s still a good story, just not hitting all the notes I wished it would.  I will say I loved some of the new secondary characters that ended up in Katrina’s corner. They made me laugh so hard at times. Previous characters from the series also show up and they will continue to be characters I love.

I got a little football, a little tennis, some sexy bar time and a goodie two shoes in Michael. Wondering who will be the next victim to fall in love…guess we have to wait and see.

About Jeanette Murray

Jeanette lives just outside St. Louis with her husband, daughter and their lovable-but-stupid Goldendoodle. When she’s not writing her next romance, she’s found hanging out with the new friends she’s made here, catching up with old friends from past duty stations on Facebook, or surfing Pinterest pretending she can cook. Catch up with her on Facebook or Twitter for contests, sneak peeks of what she’s working on, and updates about her life in general.

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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!

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Lily B
5 years ago

i feel like there is nothing worse than forced romance in a book >.< no romance, ugh

Shari Delighted Read
Shari Delighted Read
5 years ago
Reply to  Lily B

I don’t like when the hero has a idea that the heroine has a bad attitude he has to correct. Just makes me feel like he needs to screw his head on again.

Sophia Rose
5 years ago

Hmm, it does sound like it has promise, but sorry the romance didn’t work. I wonder if he seemed more parent or big brother than lover b/c of the mentoring situation.

Shari Delighted Read
Shari Delighted Read
5 years ago
Reply to  Sophia Rose

He seemed like a parent/big brother with a crush on her. He tried to step aside and he did stand up for her, but the beginning just did me wrong with is idea of who she is before he even meets her.

5 years ago

The characters do sound interesting, but that’s too bad the romance didn’t quite work. It’s always a shame when you feel the couple isn’t quite right for each other. It seems like the stories used to be better, it’s always a bit disappointing when a series seems to get less good and you enjoy later books less than earlier ones. Great review!

Shari Delighted Read
Shari Delighted Read
5 years ago
Reply to  Lola

I loved this series early on, but lately they have just been ok. I really want to love these books again.

Lover Of Romance
5 years ago

oh I do love sport romances but I think I would really struggle with the romance you described here. But this author is on my list. Which of her books would you recommend I pick up first?

Shari Delighted Read
Shari Delighted Read
5 years ago

I loved the first 3-4 books in this series. I also loved her military books and one standalone book. I can’t say I liked her boxing books, but Sophia does.