Reviewed by Tori
Trevor Shay seems to have it all. A successful football and baseball career and an enviable lifestyle but when his college mentor’s daughter runs into trouble, Trevor drops everything to help her get her life back on track. He pulls some strings to get her an exclusive interview with him, hoping the interview and change in scenery will pull her out of her downward spiral.
Haven Briscoe has landed her dream job as a sports journalist but the recent death of her father leaves her grief stricken and unable to move forward. When she is approached to do an exclusive expose on dual sports playing star Trevor Shay, Haven feels this could be exactly what she needs to jump start her career and her life.
The chemistry ignites as Haven spends time with Trevor and learns the differences between the boy she knew in college and the man who stands before her today. Haven doesn’t mind a little play time but she knows her career could be ruined if she crossed professional lines. Trevor is willing to let Haven into his life and his bed but a secret he keeps hidden from the world prevents him from letting her into his heart. When Haven accidentally discovers his secret, Trevor is forced to either trust her with everything or let her go forever.
Straddling The Line is number eight in Jaci Burton’s racy sports theme romance series-Play by Play. Originally built around the popular and sports orientated Riley family, the series has spun off the family and is now divulging into relatives of the Riley’s and various friends and teammates. While I enjoy the fact the series is continuing, I feel it has never quite gotten back to the same level it had when it was based solely on the Riley family. Since Playing To Win, I’ve noticed Burton’s books have undergone a transformation. Softer edges and less volatile characters blunt the edge this series used to possess.
I’ve felt the series has become repetitive in its undertaking. We are seeing the same story, right down to almost identical scenes. The only difference seems to be different names and careers. The conflicts are weaker and resolve almost instantaneously. Stilted formal dialogue, formulaic love scenes, and low key emotional reactions from the protagonists had me longing for the earlier books. There is no surprise or anticipation in the last few books I’ve read which was a huge selling point for me in the beginning. We were never 100% sure our couple would make it. Now, there is no doubt they will end up together and the story merely maps out how they get there. Unfortunately, the story isn’t all that interesting.
Trevor and Haven are personable characters whose interaction is comfortable and almost 100% conflict free. They are extremely similar in their character makeup. Intelligent, loyal, and witty with a lack of the usual deep seated emotional baggage that often sparks the tension and must have misunderstandings in these romances. Though hard working, their well balanced personalities and dry humor sparks throughout the story. It was nice that neither were made dependant on the other for their happiness. Both are successful in their own right, Trevor more so, and comfortable with themselves. Even Trevor’s secret didn’t cast a heavy pall over the storyline with him being rude or cutting to Haven in his efforts to hide it.
The chemistry between Trevor and Haven is steamy but rhetorical. We know they are sexually attracted to one another but beyond that I never was convinced they actually fell in love. It felt that they were just going through the motions. The attraction felt convenient to the story, it could have been anyone. They never really argued, fussed, or fought beyond Trevor repeatedly shutting down any talk about his father and childhood. There were no real sparks between them.
Sexual scenes are rote and predictable. A masterbation scene clues us into their attraction to one another. This scene has been used as the sexual opener since book four. In every love scene from then out…Trevor goes down on Haven and then they have sex. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. No change up. The dialogue during the lovemaking was also repetitive. Listening to Haven say, “Make me come. I want to come. Let me come,” became irritating after the 5th time. She never variates.
The main conflict was interesting in that Burton brings forth two issues; grief and embarrassment. Both are steeped in realism. In Trevor’s case, Burton addresses a common problem; touching on the stigma one can face when the issue becomes known. My qualm though was that neither held a strong place in the story. We are told but never really shown the effects on Haven and Trevor beyond cursory glances. They weren’t as big of a problem as we are led to believe. The resolution(s) were quick and painless which negated all the posturing both did during the book because of them.
While Burton’s sexy romances have always offered me a cozy respite from the normal rigors of everyday life, I’m no longer sure if the direction this series is taking is appealing to me anymore.