Overall Grade: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Stacey Lynn’s Playing to Win is a story of second chances. It’s an admonishment to seek after love even when it’s scary and fraught with change. In a world when love seems lost at times, Stacey Lynn’s story hits the beats of our hearts that want and need love.
The story follows Jude and Katie. Jude is a professional NHL player who has become injured to the point of possible devastation to his career. In an effort to reset Jude’s mind, his manager sends him home to heal. Katie is a physical therapist who seeks after a life of stability due to a childhood of instability. As Jude begins his therapy post-surgery, he finds Katie, the girl who got away in college. Jude pursued Katie in college until one night she finally relented and they spent a night in bed. The next day, Jude was drafted into the NHL, and Katie ended any contact with him as it meant a possible life of uncertainty. Seeing Katie again sets a fire in Jude to pursue her and win her over again. His goal becomes building a life with her, even though he lives in another state. Will Katie accept Jude’s pursuit, or are these two doomed to living life separately?
There is quite a bit I liked about Lynn’s story: a hero who clearly adores the heroine and does everything to win her heart, a story that reminds us that second chances make some of the best romances, and a heroine who struggles in the beginning but quickly relents. These parts all conspire to create a story that is more about the falling into love and less about the separation of it. Quite honestly, the tension of Stacey Lynn’s story is easy. If you’re looking for a romance that will give you a little bit of strife, but mostly the sweet and steamy of it, then you should read Playing to Win.
Now, I struggled a bit with Playing to Win. There were times when I felt disconnected from its drama. As I stated above, this is a fairly easy story to read. You can get invested emotionally in it, but it tends to be a bit one-note. It never fully achieves the height of emotion that I tend to like in romance. This could come from Lynn’s crafting of Jude, her hero. He struggles with a possible end of his career (or at least, a change in it), but this resolves easily, which makes his emotional upheaval seem superfluous to the story. Instead, he should have undergone greater emotional turmoil. He acted more like a spoiled child than a hero with a major life challenge. Additionally, our heroine’s challenges with instability in life are resolved easily. This might please some readers, but it frustrated me because I wanted her to struggle a bit more over the possibility of Jude leaving. Instead, she accepts change more easily than someone who has fought for stability in her adulthood. Lastly, there are some places in the storytelling that lost its continuity. It made for moments of confusion.
However, all of that said, there is a stability to this romance that couldn’t exist if the hero, Jude, wasn’t a stalwart, caring, compassionate man. It’s his strength of character that guides the story, allowing the heroine, Katie, to fall in love with him. This is the strength of Lynn’s Playing to Win. Jude is definitely swoon-worthy and the best part of this book.
If you love a professional hockey player who is devastatingly in love with his heroine, then you’ll definitely love Stacey Lynn’s Playing to Win.
In love and romance,