Monday, March 28, 2016

Review: "Fair Play" by Tracy A. Ward (Contemporary Romance, New Adult)

Fair Play
by Tracy A. Ward

Publisher: Barclay Publicity
Genre: Contemporary Romance, New Adult
Publication Date: March 28, 2016

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Description from Publisher: Who knew love could bring a playwright so much drama?

Writing three plays for a nationally acclaimed theater in Phair, Texas, was never supposed to put Ashlyn Carter’s inheritance at risk or make or break her future. And it certainly wasn’t supposed to force her into constant contact with the very guy she’s avoided since her teenage crush-gone-bad days.

Noah Blake. He's Ashlyn’s enemy, for good reason. As her older brother's best friend, he seems hell-bent on interfering with nearly every aspect of her life. So how then does he also seem to be her muse?

When Ashlyn reluctantly agrees to act out scenes with Noah from the play she’s writing in order to trigger her creativity, the spark of passion she’d felt for him as a teenager flares up again. But there's more at stake than just her future as a playwright or the inheritance she never cared about in the first place. Finding out the theater she loves is in danger of closing puts everything she thought she knew and felt about Phair…and the test. Will there be a standing ovation for Ashlyn Carter, playwright, or will the curtain drop and fade to black? Only by facing their biggest fears together will Ashlyn and Noah learn to trust in themselves and each other.

My Rating:
Sexiness Rating:
I received a digital ARC from the publisher through for an honest, unbiased review. My opinion is my own.

Characters, writing style, and plot would be a solid 3 to 3.5, but overall I have to go with 2.5.

The tone for this felt very "film noir" throughout, which I enjoyed. It's very different than many of the romance novels I've read in that way and I loved the overlap between Ashlynn and Noah's story and "Caroline and Andy's" story. There were good splashes of humor, at times in the banter and at others Noah's reactions to the "improv" scenes.

I've since been advised by Tracy Ward that this continuity issue is being corrected.
This book left me feeling a bit confused though. I suppose it's because it's an ARC, but there were some glaring continuity issues that pulled me out of the story, which makes me feel the need to address them in my review (generally, I overlook editing issues in ARCs). Ashlynn met Noah when he was a freshman at Columbia for his undergraduate degree, and she is 24, almost 25. Both of these things are mentioned multiple times in the beginning. However, halfway through both of them start talking about how they have known one another "most of their lives" or "half of their lives" and there even being "sixteen years of friendship" between Ashlynn's brother, Quinn, and Noah. If Ashlynn was 17 while Noah was in college, there would be a maximum of 5 years between them, making present-day Noah 29 or 30. But for "sixteen years" to be accurate, Noah would need to be in his mid 30s, which would have made him a "late bloomer" college-wise.

Aside from that, this was a very quick read and the pacing was a bit slow at first, but ramped up as it went. To the extent that it did feel a bit quick the last chapter or two. I was surprised at 94% that things didn't seem to be that close to being resolved, in fact.

For about 45% of this, I was still unsure as to whether or not Ashlynn actually liked Noah. Sexual tension was there, but I wasn't really feeling a basis of friendship that could turn into romance. By the end, I did get more of a sense of an emotional connection between the two, but it took awhile to actually build.

I liked Ashlynn and Noah and the side characters seemed to work well. I was curious to figure out exactly what had happened to Ashlynn years prior, so that kept my interest for awhile. The weaving in of her playwriting was well-done, though I was also a bit in disbelief that she not only hadn't noticed the parallels between her own life and her play, but insisted there weren't any for awhile. The character of Kyle felt like it fit the "film noir" feel, but he was a bit too sleazy and one-dimensional for my taste.

Writing this review, I still feel a bit unsettled. I enjoyed this and see a lot of potential in it, but it felt disjointed and the first half and second half didn't necessarily line up. I will be keeping my eye on Tracy Ward as I liked most of what I read.

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