I loved the first few books in the Women of WAR series, about female players of Aussie Rules football, and this is a terrific addition to the series. This is my second Lauren K. McKellar book too, and damn it… she made me ugly cry again!
Zoe is a pediatric nurse at a ‘care home’, which is basically a hospice where ill children coming from remote areas stay when receiving outpatient hospital treatment. A major side character is a young patient with cancer, and, spoiler, this is the part which does not have a happy ending.
Zoe has conflicting ambitions; raised by a mother who dedicated her life to charitable causes and is now encouraging her to work for an overseas medical charity, she’s also a talented athlete who loves blowing off steam in her casual Aussie Rules games with friends.
Sawyer is a professional player at the very top of his game, but his personal life is a train wreck. He broke up with his girlfriend because she was adamantly against having a family, and she moved straight on into his best friend’s bed. Now he’s almost desperate for a date to a major awards night. He offers Zoe a deal; he’ll train her for the tryouts for the WAR competition if she’ll be his date to the dinner.
There are several sub-plots here, but everything ties nicely together in order to help Zoe come to a decision about the direction she wants her life to take. Sawyer’s already firmly on his road with a good understanding of where he wants to end up; Zoe’s just floating by at the beginning of the book, but by the end of it she’s made her decision and is confident it’s the right one. And, of course, because this is a romance, it does lead to a romantic happily ever after. Though not before breaking my heart first.
If you don’t know anything about Aussie Rules, that’s okay. Most of the action in the book is training, which actually shows very well how professional athletes go about their daily activities, rather than the game itself. I was a little disappointed in the way the other WAGs were shown as all being shallow and bitchy, interested in nothing but fashion and makeup; there was a distinct air of ‘not like other girls’ which was only partly mitigated by Zoe’s close friends being supportive, awesome women, and Sawyer’s ex finally stepping up to help Zoe when she needed it.
I’m giving this one four stars; I’m really only knocking one off because I don’t like the ‘ugly ex’ trope much, but if that doesn’t bother you, you’ll thoroughly enjoy this well-written read!
A Whole New Ball Game is available now.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review through NetGalley.