All Anna wants for her 40th birthday is a ladies' night out. Her plans are stalled when she ends up stuck in her griffin costume. The mascot for the Alexandria Griffins, Anna never expects to be rescued by the star of her midnight fantasies, quarterback Kyran Black. Called "The Rebel" by the press because of his long hair, tattoos and playboy stats off the field, he's everything Anna should avoid. Kyran is gorgeous and irresistible and he suggests they celebrate her birthday together. Certain she's too old for him, she agrees to one night.
Kyran's charm and dominance in bed blitz Anna's defenses, teaching her things about sex she never thought she'd experience. But when their one-night stand turns into a relationship, his bad-boy past comes back to threaten their future.
There is a reason that the news media hangs around locker rooms and haunts restaurants and other public places looking for a juicy story about professional athletes. In many cases their reputation is well-deserved. (There are just as many cases where the players are regular guys--faithful and loving husbands and fathers or in a committed relationship to which they are absolutely faithful.) No one has to make up some of the stories that appear on TV or in the newspapers or magazines. So it is not out of the ordinary for a fictional author to write a story about a fictional professional football team with a hotshot quarterback that not only wows the fans on the field, but keeps everything redhot off the field as well. Every team has their chick-magnets, and in this well-written novel, Kyran Black was at the top of his game in every respect.
This is really an "older woman/younger man" story, but perhaps the most interesting aspect of Kyran's story is that at this point in his professional career, he was tired of all the glitz and the publicity. He had met Anna during try outs for the Griffins' cheerleading squad at which time the tryouts for mascot were also held. Kyran noticed her then, not being aware that she was already about seven years older than he was, but he was taken with her demeanor, and actually got her to have coffee with him. By then he was hooked. As luck would have it, Anna's cell phone got stolen or lost, and the number he had never got him connected to her after that. Several weeks later he found her in the cheerleading locker room, trying unsuccessfully to get herself out of her mascot uniform--stuck zipper--and their connection was once again on.
Anna was a high school athletic coach and PE teacher, one who needed the extra bucks she made as Griffins' mascot and who was very good at her job. But from nearly day one, her budding relationship with Kyran put her in the media spotlight and unbeknownst to either of them, under the gun to some people who were unhappy with Kyran (the old girfriend) and Anna's "ex" who never really got over her after their break-up.
This is a very erotic love story, but there are themes in this story that involve the unethical use of the media, stalking, vengeful acts, and lost of cross-communication. Anna & Kyran's relationship was surrounded with pressure from the paparazzi as well as some on her school board who had been influenced by the lies of her ex-fiance. I liked this novel a great deal because I come from a football family and found the background story quite interesting. I also was impressed with Kyran--his loyalty to Anna, his awareness that she brought qualities to their relationship for which he had been searching for a long time, and her loyalty to her students and to him. She was a solid citizen--not a groupie--and her life values drew him into a love affair that spoke of permanence, stability, loyalty, and mutual respect. It was also interesting to watch the school officials struggle with their awareness that Anna was a very good coach and teacher, that she had proven her worth to the educational system and to her students, even while they were cringing at the excessive publicity of her affair with Kyran and her right to live her own personal life. Just lots going on in this book.
I have not read any of Frances Stockton's previous work, but was impressed at the cohesive nature of the plot and storyline, the characters that were strong, human, flawed but balanced, and the way they stood up against those characters who were unbalanced by their anger and revenge. I also think there were lots of bits and pieces of this story that could easily be true for real NFL players and the way their lives are often hounded by outside influences.
I recommend this as very good romance reading with a professional football context and lots of sizzle. Happy Super Bowl Week!! I give this novel a rating of 4 out of 5.