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Playing For Her Heart (The Ashforth Series Book 1) by Melissa Tereze



Dominique (Dom) Simmons works in a coffee house and plays football. At one of her practise sessions, the team notices a tall, beautiful, posh lady hanging around. Unwittingly Dom bumps into the posh lady’s expensive car and is at the receiving end of some (deserved) attitude. The lady, Blair Harrington, gives Dom her number with the expectation that Dom will speak to her insurance company and get back to her. Dom drags her feet on this till Blair reappears.

Dom begins to know Blair more and discovers that under the posh, put together exterior is an intense lived life and a woman struggling with her own complexes.

Big trigger warning: domestic violence plays an important part in the book and is a big part of both the characters’ backgrounds, albeit in different forms.

Right in the beginning it is established that Dom is a hook-up specialist and has a long-term friends-with-benefits thing going on with her roommate Charley. But at the same time, she is described as honest (particularly about her disinterest in relationships), considerate and kind.  

Blair is much more complex. She’s recently divorced from a verbally, emotionally and physically abusive man after twenty years of being married to him. She’s had therapy to deal with many, many things in her life. She obviously has a lot of self-worth and self-esteem issues. She has a son in university who is gay. All these things make Blair a real person with depth and dimensions.

The writing is good, yet we struggled through half the book because Dom was just so meh (despite all the virtues attributed to her). She was seemingly all sweet and considerate but in her actions, she kept rejecting Blair in many ways, practically ghosting her and constantly giving Blair the message that she was unimportant. And then, with her words, Dom said otherwise to Blair. Despite all good intentions, we didn’t find her behaviour with Blair okay.

Then there was Charley. Another person who was always there for Dom, was obviously interested and whom Dom kept rejecting. Again attributed to Dom’s cluelessness rather than uncaringness.

We confess that at the point where Dom is completely breaking Charley’s hear we had to abandon this book. We have a huge thing about love being returned. About love being treasured. About love being treated with gentleness. We think it takes immense self-absorption and absence of niceness or caringness for a person to be so clueless and callously break hearts (Charley’s) and confidence (Blair’s). It takes a huge amount of being emotionally absent with everyone to not see them at all.

We found Dom totally not nice. However, we’d like to be fair – the book is doubtlessly well written and draws you in. You actually feel Blair and feel for her every step of the way. While we have certain idealistic expectations, admittedly, Dom will not be a write-off for others. Even up to the part we read (which may be a little over 50%) there are certain sweet scenes.

However, this one wasn’t for us. At. All.


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