Overall Grade: 3.5 ⭐️
Slow burn. Friends to lovers. Forced Proximity. All of these describe Sara Ney’s newest romance, The Player Hater. The first book of her Accidentally in Love series, this newest book tells the story of Juliet and Davis. These two meet when their best friends who happen to be dating each other invite them on a weekend away, hoping to build relationships within the group. Juliet is already suspicious of her friend, Mia’s boyfriend, Thad. A professional football player with a social media filled with pictures of him with models, Juliet is concerned about their relationship, so she agrees to go. Thinking they will be staying in a tropical destination, she is ill-prepared for a weekend of camping. When Thad’s best friend, Davis, shows up (he’s a former football player turned finance guy), she realizes quickly that they are slated to stay together in a small trailer. Just as she judges Thad, she begins her time with Davis judging him for his good looks and past occupation. As their weekend progresses, however, she realizes quickly that Davis, while incredibly handsome, is a bit of a beta-man. Davis wants to find a woman to marry and have children. He works hard, cares for his sister and niece, and he wants a life filled with family. He is also incredibly frightened by bears, and one night, he asks to sleep with Juliet to feel safe from some noises outside of their trailer. This leads to a make-out and heavy petting session. The next day, however, Davis is gone, and Juliet thinks she won’t see him again, even though she hopes for it. She realizes that Thad and Davis are nothing compared to her first impression.
This is the lesson of The Player Hater: that you cannot judge someone by their outer beauty and their accomplishments. Sara Ney makes her message clear from the start, weaving it throughout her story. Unfortunately, that is the best of this newest book. If you’re used to Sara Ney’s jocks and douchebags and their “alpha-ness,” her Davis is not that. For me, both Juliet and Davis are one-note in their characterization. In fact, the entire chronology of the story feels this way. When you finish this book, I challenge you to say you were satiated by their story because I didn’t feel as though the story was complete for them. Ney takes her time in developing their chemistry, and there is a moment midway through when you doubt they will ever be more than acquaintances. A well-placed make-out session and you begin to see them as a couple. What happens after does nothing to build that chemistry, though. In fact, Ney quickens the pace of their coupling, and it seems confusing.
Here’s the thing: I want to like everything that Sara Ney writes. Her Douchebag series as well as her jocks have been some of my favorite rom-coms, but The Player Hater simply didn’t hit for me. I will read The Mrs. Degree, the second book of the series, to see if there is more to the story, but overall, I was wildly disappointed in her newest book.
In love and romance,