Review: Risky Play (Red Card #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

Print Length: 288 pages
Publisher: Skyscape (March 19, 2019)

From What else can a virgin do when she’s ditched at the altar? Seattle heiress Mackenzie Dupont is treating herself to a single-girl honeymoon in Mexico and a desire to relinquish her innocence to a gorgeous one-night stand. Fake names. True pleasure. But when she wakes up alone, Mackenzie realizes just how much anger is left in her broken heart.

Suffering a tragic personal loss, pro soccer player Slade Rodriguez has his reasons for vanishing without a goodbye. Right or wrong, he’s blaming the beautiful and infuriating stranger he never wants to see again. They’re both in for a shock when Mackenzie shows up as his new personal assistant. And they both have a lot to learn about each other. Because they share more than they could possibly know, including a common enemy who’s playing his own games. And he’s not afraid to get dirty.

Now there’s only one way Mackenzie and Slade can win: to trust in each other and to stop hiding from the lies they’ve told, the secrets they’ve kept, the mistakes they’ve made, and the attraction that still burns between them.

My Rating: 3 stars out of 5

I didn't love this book, and I didn't hate this book. I did enjoy this book however. There were quite a few laugh out loud moments, a lot of witty banter between characters, and a definite attraction between more than one of the leads. It was also one of those quick reads that is perfect for a rainy (or in my case snowy) day. 

I'm a little confused about how two people who are supposedly so "well known" that they are featured on the cover of magazines were unable to recognize each other. I guess its more understandable that Slade didn't recognize Mackenzie as she seems to be more or less a "local socialite celebrity", but if he was truly the best in the world, his coming to the states would have been a huge deal, and I find it next to impossible (considering he was going to living/playing in the same area as she lived) that she had no idea who he was. There certainly would have been news coverage. But anyway. Maybe she didn't recognize him. For the sake of the story we will go with that.

I can even understand why he took off immediately after learning the news of his loss. And support to an extent why he blamed her. Grief is a heck of a thing. 

What I cannot support is the way he spoke to her and treated her when they were reunited. Some of the things that he said were downright crude and uncalled for. In fact, had I been in her shoes instead of trying to help him, I would have slapped him soundly across the face from the first minute, then told the hiring company I would not work for someone who spoke to me in such a degrading manner. But... she's got some feelings still for the jerk, so she stays. Although, it could be that she's just used to jerks as her ex-fiance speaks to her in much the same way. Honestly, he did her a huge favor when he left her at the altar. Also its worth pointing out that her own father is more prone to taking "the exes sides" over his own daughter.

Then again Mackenzie freaks out a little too hard when the guy whose house she is at calls the guy texting her a "cockblocker". Maybe I'm just jaded myself, but if a guy is offering friendship, but wants you to come to his house at night? Its not exactly friendship he has on his mind.

I feel like there is a bit too much of the "alpha male gone wrong" with this story, at least where Mackenzie is involved. She deserved better. She had the potential after Mexico to be this new version of herself, but I feel like she was so used to taking the crap, that she kept right on taking it. 

When it's just the Slade and Jagger or Slade and Matt or even the three of them? The conversations are literally laugh-out-loud. Even Mackenzie manages to earn a few laughs when she's with them. The easy banter between the characters is what makes this book. Now, I understand the point the author was trying to make when it comes to grief (and even lust and jealousy) making people act irrationally, but it felt like sometimes this was taken too far. Kudos to the boys for finally standing up for the girl though. 

As is typical with the first book in a new series by this author, while I didn't enjoy this one as much as I thought I would, I have a feeling the next will be better. There will be more focus on the next pairing and not so much of this back and forth third wheel kind of stuff. 

Overall, this story I think may still appeal to those who enjoy contemporary romances. What stood out to me may in fact be a product of the way my own cynical mind works. I already know this author will do well no matter what they write - it is a talent of theirs. I would read more from this author. 

DISCLAIMERI received a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review. This has not affected my review in any way. All thoughts and opinions expressed in this review are 100% my own.


                                  Risky Play is available from

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