Reviewing: Play Your Part
Author: Kathryn Kincaid
Author Contact: @authorkathrynkincaid on Instagram
Length of book: 257 Netgalley pages (on phone)
Genre of book: Contemporary Romance/Romantic Comedy/Sports Romance
Release Date: August 3, 2023
Pre-order link: Play Your Part
Overall impression: ⭐⭐⭐⭐🌟(4.5+ ALMOST a 5)
Good afternoon lovelies! I'm so happy to finally be able to review a book I read first in its infancy (as a beta reader) that is available for pre-order now!!!
Play Your Part will be available wide on August 3rd, and I am incredibly proud to see my friend's baby out there in the world!
Why did I read Kathryn’s book?
As I already said, I read this book as a beta reader/critique partner of Kathryn’s, and in exchange she also read my debut novel that isn't yet released (and it's younger sister-book 2).
I requested to read it on Netgalley as well, because I liked it enough in its beta form to read the (almost) final version again (which if you know anything about me, is saying something).
What is Play Your Part?
(the following is jacket blurb copied from Amazon):
Three months. Two enemies. One goal. Zero time for distractions.
Kennedy Cole’s life stalled one year ago after she tragically lost her mom. She abandoned her plans to finish college and quit working for her family’s professional hockey team, the Palmer City Wolves. She’s finally ready to move forward with Wolves star player Justin Ward at her side, but when he’s traded to another team, he hightails it out of town, leaving Kennedy behind.
Alexei Volkov is known for his hotheaded reputation, on-ice antics, and rivalry with Justin. After being fired by his last team, the Wolves offer Alexei a one-year contract to prove he can stay out of trouble. When a misleading photo of Kennedy and Alexei in a compromising position goes viral, his career is in jeopardy, along with the team’s public image.
Alexei wants nothing to do with the sassy brunette who got him into this mess. Kennedy would rather avoid the arrogant hockey player. But pretending to date each other can fix the negative press. The agreement was simple: three months together, with clearly outlined rules. But the more time Kennedy and Alexei spend together, the harder it becomes to fight the sizzling chemistry between them, making it difficult to know where pretense ends and reality begins.
Fans of Elle Kennedy, Mariana Zapata, and C.W. Farnsworth will enjoy this dual-POV steamy contemporary romance featuring enemies-to-lovers and fake-dating tropes.
More details about why I gave a 4.5+-star review:
⭐️ Main characters you love, relate to, and/or want to root for.
I really love Alexei. He's a sexy, broody, hockey boy and I think a very loveable teddy bear. If I had one complaint it would be that he’s sometimes too hard on people–especially himself. He’s also a little quick to react, but slow to re-think. I think those flaws are a lot of people have, which makes him real and relatable, and gives him room for growth throughout.
Kennedy starts off a little annoying to me (she's suffering from ‘stuck-in-place-by-her-trauma’ syndrome). But I think that's Kathryn’s plan. She starts off low and she grows SO MUCH as the book progresses, so it was a perfect balance, in my opinion. I have to say she started as my least favorite character, but I grew to like her!
You want to root for their love story as it’s clear from minute one that they like each other. Like most “enemies-to-lovers” tropes, it’s obvious to the reader that their ‘hate’ is forced, but their banter is cute, and I appreciate the strength Alexei unwittingly brings out in Kennedy.
I LOVE LOVE LOVED the side characters. Gemma is literally one of my favorite female friend characters ever and if book two isn't about her I'm going to be heartbroken! 🤣 I also really love Alexei’s sidekick Briggsy. He does a great job breaking down Alexei’s walls and giving Kennedy and Alexei a shared project (like taking care of a puppy🤣). I can't wait to see if more books come from these loveable sidekicks, because I am 100% in for it.
🌟Conflict that makes sense and moves the story forward
This enemies-to-lovers/fake-dating trope is well done and not trite.
When I beta read it, the fake-dating didn’t make complete sense to me, and tbh, it still doesn’t feel 100% believable, but she worked out most of the issues I had with it and I would say, if you like fake-dating, only-one-bed, sports romances, Play Your Part is the book for you.
I liked the added drama of her ex being a rival of the MMC, Alexei, though at times it felt a bit young-adult dramatic. I think given the fact that everyone involved has a reason to be emotionally stunted, it's understandable, but some of the miscommunication (or maybe better to call it assumptions the MCs jumped to) is not my favorite. As a person who reads (and writes) a TON of romance, I ultimately understand why it's used–its a great way to add conflict. But it's just not my go-to and I wish it wasn't used so often. That said, I know that's a me thing, and that a lot of romance readers LIVE for miscommunication/jumping-to-conclusions.
🌟Seggy 🔥🔥 scenes that didn't make me want to 🤮
This is where my half star comes in… And I will preface this by saying, it's probably a me thing. I'm EXTREMELY discerning about sex scenes, and there aren't that many out there that didn't make me pause AT ALL.
The sex scenes in PYP are open door, but not explicit. And while there is sex described on the page it's kinda like how one would describe it to someone they would NEVER have sex with, like a friend, or a second cousin. There were a couple points where Kathryn just skated up to the line of getting explicit, but then she didn't quite put it in the net. (You see what I did there? Hockey analogy 😂)
Again, this is probably totally a me thing, but I prefer my steamy scenes STEAMY. And because this book is SO slow burn, and buildup is so much (they don't have sex until 85% into the book), I felt slightly let down. There were a few missed opportunities for Alexei to be the broody man he’s portrayed as throughout the whole story. And honestly, it went by a little too quickly and there was too much talking for my taste. BUT, I will say, it didn't make me want to 🤮. Alexei and Kennedy were cute, and him ‘letting’ her take charge is probably someone’s cup of tea, it's just not really mine.
⭐️An easy-to-read style that stays consistent
I don’t mean to sound self-important, but I find Kathryn’s voice a lot like mine, so I loved it! Her writing is so conversational like you’re watching a show or hearing your best friend tell you a story. So it's a quick read and super easy to get through in a sitting or two. You never have to wonder what's happening or what the person's saying.
Her voice is funny and relatable and I would 10/10 read future books by this author!
⭐️Writing that is well done and doesn't have me editing in my head along the way
I always give Netgalley/beta books the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn’t mean I’ve never DNF’d (did not finish) an early copy of a book because the editing was SO terrible. But not this one (obviously, since I read it twice).
This one is pretty well done. I did catch some minor proofreading issues, but overall, there aren't any major plot holes, no weird inconsistencies and the writing is enjoyable enough that it lets me look past any minor flaws, and that’s really all you can ask for. As a writer, I understand the impossibility to catch EVERY mistake. It’s not even really expected that editors catch every mistake. I think I read somewhere recently that the industry accepted standard is 90% accuracy, so add the fact that I read an early copy that isn’t one-hundred percent finished and it gets an ‘A’ in my book!
⭐A satisfying ending
As in all self-respecting romances Play Your Part ends in a Happily Ever After, but that’s not all. The ending left me wanting to read more about all the characters which is incredible if you ask me!
The fact that Kennedy got past her own hang-ups to support Alexei was EVERYTHING. And I loved the way their fake relationship evolved. Ultimately, while I still sometimes am cynical and can have trouble really buying into the ‘fake-dating’ thing where people really don’t know about the other person’s feelings, this one had me grinning the entire time while they admitted it! 🥰
Ok, so what does it all boil down to?
I loved Play Your Part like an old best friend. Did it have a couple issues? Sure. But did those issues keep me from wanting to deep dive into it and hear its stories over and over? Nope! I laughed and grinned and rooted for the characters the entire way. I loved them like I knew them, and that’s the kind of cast I can get on board for!
I gave it 4.5+ ⭐️s simply because I can’t really read anything and think it’s PERFECT. That’s more of a reflection of me than the writer (in fact, if I were reviewing my own writing it would probably be WAY lower).
Anyway…If you’re a fan of sports romance, fake dating, enemies to lovers, then this is the book for you! And I cannot wait to see what Kathryn comes up with next!
Congratulations on your upcoming release my friend, and thank you for trusting me with your baby!
So that's all I have! If you’ve read Play Your Part let me know what you thought 👇👇 (comment below).
If you haven't do you think you will?
Thanks for reading! Have a great week my lovelies!
-Rose Rayne Rivers
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