Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “I’d much rather have you as a friend than a lover.”
Nathan Riley is ready to follow in the footsteps of his famous football player father. He’s been drafted as quarterback for his dad’s former team, and his future is bright. When his friend Mia Cassidy moves to the same city, their years-long friendship suddenly sparks hot, reminding him of the one night they had together in college that he can never forget.
Like Nathan, Mia is from a sports dynasty family and embarking on an incredible new career—as founder of her own sports management company. Her friendship with Nathan means everything to her, and tossing sex into the mix again could jeopardize it. But the chemistry between them has always sizzled, and it isn’t long before Mia realizes she wants more with Nathan than just late-night talks and pizza.
Passion has a funny way of changing the rules, and soon Nathan and Mia discover that to win it all, they’ll have to make an unexpected play for love.
Best friends to lovers is always a fun trope. Add in some smexy times, a little conflict, and of course, FOOTBALL, and you have a cute and sexy piece of escapism. I was happy to see Nathan Riley get his own story. We first met him as an awkward 15-year-old in book one-The Perfect Play– when his mother and Mick Riley, star quarterback of the Sabers, started dating and eventually married. Ten years later, Mick is retiring and Nathan is taking over as the quarterback for the Sabers. My my how times flies. :) Mia Cassidy is also all grown up and like Nathan, embraces the family dynasty by founding a sports management company. While I always had my suspicions they’d end up together, I was curious to see how Burton would play this one out.
The Final Score is number thirteen in Jaci Burton’s racy sports theme romance Play by Play series and not the final book despite the title. This series has certainly come full circle with the next generation of Rileys’ and Cassidys’ riding at the helm. A familiar storyline opens the door to smooth if not repetitive dialogue and some old and new faces as the protagonists, Nathan and Mia, are forced to face head on their professional and personal challenges. The biggest challenge their growing attraction to one another.
Mia and Nathan are best friends and it shows. Their one night stand in college was brushed aside for their friendship and they never brought it up again. Not until they both move to the same city and reconnect. I enjoyed how easy going their relationship. Strong communication and comfortable interactions only re-enforce how tight their bond is. They are way similar makeup; both are intelligent, loyal, and witty with a refreshing lack of emotional baggage or painful secrets that often sparks the tension and must have misunderstandings in these romances. Extremely hard working and career oriented, it was nice that neither were made dependant on the other for their happiness and they each had friends and interests beyond each other.
Steamy chemistry gives credence to the attraction brewing between them. I liked that Mia chooses to wait and think through all the pros and cons of having a sexual relationship with Nathan before falling into bed with him. It gave strength to her argument that their friendship was the most important aspect of their relationship. Sexually, they meshed well and seemed to have a penchant for possible discovery. *wink* I found it hilarious when Nathan proposes hay loft smexy times, Mia sets him straight about hay lofts (they’re hot and itchy) and the fact that no one wants to have sex right after mowing the lawn in 90 degree heat.
The main conflict wasn’t much of a conflict at all. Mia and Nathan are both starting their careers and set on proving to the world and themselves that they got where they are at because of their talents; not their family names. This causes some mild issues; mostly on Mia’s part. Some choices are made that require some groveling at the end but as always, Burton brings her couple through the fire, ready for their happily ever after.
The Final Score doesn’t offer much in terms of excitement or energy but it does offer a sweet and sexy friends to lovers romance that is perfect for a lazy afternoon of reading.