I was gifted with an ARC of Kandi Steiner’s book, The Wrong Game. I had been reading synopses of it on her Facebook page and Instagram account, and I knew I wanted to read it. Every tidbit she posted, I gobbled. When given the opportunity to sign up for it, I jumped at the chance to add my name to the list. Thankfully, I opened my email yesterday to find that I had the ARC in my Kindle Library. No sooner did I finish reading the email, then I was in my library, pulling up the book. I began it yesterday evening and finished it the today. Needless to say, it was an addictive page-turner.
As I was reading this book, I began thinking about my reasons for liking a particular romance book. I won’t leave that here in this review. Instead, I will post another blog post with my observations after this one because I think it’s important to think about why we like particular romance novels or authors, for that matter. I can tell you easily my reasons for loving Ms. Steiner’s The Wrong Game, so here goes.
A five heart rating is my highest. And Steiner’s characters in this book do not disappoint. I like characters who are multi-dimensional. If they aren’t, then they better serve some purpose to the story. In The Wrong Game, Gemma and Zach are the main characters. From the outset, we recognize Gemma’s strength. She endures tragedy two-fold, and she shows her resilience even through her struggles. To me, this is key to any book heroine. It’s what I value in a strong woman, not that they be strong through every moment, but that they survive it with grace. Now, Zach. Zach is the epitome of the book boyfriend. He is everything you like: handsome with an incredible body and a solid “man-tool” (so gross, I know), kind, compassionate, a smart-ass, alpha between the sheets, and…a romantic. This last part is key to Zach’s character. He self-identifies as a “feminist” based on the way his parents raised him. He is every woman’s dream. Together, they bring out the best in each other, and they have a personal chemistry that pulls you into their relationship. You root for them to succeed from the outset.
Now, the supporting cast of this book is the EVERYTHING, beginning with Gemma’s bestie, Belle. Belle is Steiner’s voice of reason with a lot of funny. She is the one who pulls Gemma up when she struggles. She makes her see her interest in Zach, and she is Gemma’s shoulder to cry on during her struggles. I found myself laughing out loud at her one-liners and her plan to get Zach and Gemma together. I would LOVE to have a best friend like Belle. And I’m hoping Steiner has a book with her name on it (hopefully, with Dr. Jordan). Along with Belle, there is Zach’s family (that includes Doc too). Like Belle, they ground Zach and help him stay true to himself when he faces challenges with Gemma. Even more, what’s not to love about parents who have raised their son to hold true to his feelings and to share those feelings without stuffing them deep. They are THE wisdom of parenting in this book. While reading this book, you wish that you could have these characters in your life.
From the “Prologue,” I was hooked. I messaged out to Steiner that she was already crushing me from the outset, and I worried that I wouldn’t make it out unscathed. Thankfully, “Chapter 1” provided a comedic reprieve courtesy of Belle, so I could quiet the pain in my stomach. However, there is still plenty of angst in this book. Steiner always promises that. However, she does it folded in with humor and a chemistry between the main characters that allows you to believe they will make it to the end. I don’t want to give much away in the story other than it’s a second chance at love story. Gemma’s ex-husband has hurt her deeply, and Zach must choose to fight for them or let her go. That’s all I’ll say, but the story grabs you and keeps you pinned until the end.
Sexiness Quotient: 💙💙💙💙
Now, I read all kinds of romance from clean to dark erotica. On this scale, The Wrong Game sits to the right of the middle. Yes, it has some steamy sex scenes, and Gemma and Zach have quite the sexual chemistry. However, the sex isn’t crazy. It’s the sex of a rom-com with a little bit of a$$-licking (courtesy of Zach). It really doesn’t seem to go much further than that. But the sex is passionate and fire, and it will raise your blood pressure just a little, enough to make you wish you were Gemma.
As I mentioned in my introduction, after reading Steiner’s book, I started to articulate in my mind what I deem as great style. Oftentimes, it’s the way words are put together to create poetic images. But I also value the way the written word flows through my mind as I read. It is important for me to hear the characters. I don’t want to hear my voice reading the words. Instead, I want to hear Gemma’s and Zach’s and Belle’s and Doc’s voices too. This is what Steiner does well. It is what stood out to me as I was reading her book. I could hear them, and the conversations between the characters were so compelling that I would find myself skipping past narrative descriptions to get to the dialogue of the characters. This is Steiner’s brilliance as a romance writer. She uses words to build relationships that are meaningful and real. Through her words, I was able to recognize what I value with an author’s writing style.
I wanted an ARC of The Wrong Game based on a few snippets I read on social media, and Steiner’s book definitely did not disappoint. The characters are real people living in the “realness” of relationships, fighting for love in the “game” of life. While her title is The Wrong Game, it is definitely the right read at the right time. And this professor HIGHLY recommends it.
In love and romance,