Southern Player is my first foray into a Jessica Peterson novel. I received an email asking if I’d like to read an ARC of this book for an honest review, and I was intrigued with the friends-to-lovers, my brother’s best friend theme. I know it is a fairly common trope, but sometimes, it’s nice to read a story that feels like a nice warm blanket on a cold day. So I put my name into the proverbial ARC hat and was chosen.
And thankfully, I fell in love with this book. Here are some of the reasons why I think you should read Southern Player:
❤︎ This book has a social consciousness about it. Gracie is an intelligent, successful, articulate woman. She has worked hard to establish herself as a successful businesswoman in her community. However, she struggles with finding love and asking for what she needs in and out of the bedroom. This book has frank discussions between various characters about the need for a woman to ask for her needs to be met and to feel no shame about the asking. Gracie talks about body shaming and the media’s construction of beauty. There is a strong awareness in this book of women and power and success, and it’s a great example of using your voice to find your happiness with the person who will give you that happiness, no questions asked. Jessica Peterson also gives us different types of relationships: Luke has two moms, and one of Gracie’s business friends is the more successful one in her marriage and her husband is her biggest champion. There is such equity/equality in this book that you cannot help but love its characters.
❤︎Ummm…Luke. Don’t get me wrong. Gracie is FANTASTIC as a female h. But Luke….ahhh…Luke is the guy you want. For one, he’s secure enough in his own $e%uality to maturely discuss Gracie’s needs in the bedroom. He does this because he knows he will be fulfilled too. He doesn’t shame her or make her feel guilty for her wants. He listens. And he very spectacularly meets her needs. He is kind, aware, and hard working. As a retired pro-baseball player, he could be mourning his career; instead, he finds a new identity in farming and a different level of success. Even more, he is the first male H I have read who makes it known that he wants to date Gracie, and he meets with her brother, his best friend, to make sure he approves. Usually, the H/h secretly engage in a relationship, and the drama is created when they are caught. Not in this book. Gracie and Luke both take responsibility for their actions. It’s a heady sense of maturity.
Now, I will say that I struggled with Luke’s insecurity relating to Gracie in the latter part of the story. I don’t want to reveal anything more, but given the way I’ve characterized him above, I didn’t believe in his insecurity. I know Peterson needed a moment of angst so Gracie and Luke can reconcile, but Luke’s insecurity didn’t really work for me. That being said, the guy is hot, mature, and one of my new fav book boyfriends.
Overall, I really enjoyed my first read of Jessica Peterson. I see her doing something more with this friends-to-lovers tropes through her social awareness, and it works. Gracie and Luke are everything you want in a romantic book relationship. I can’t wait for the third book in this series. Peterson has set it up well in Southern Player.
In love and romance,