Overall Grade: ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Until recently, Rebecca Jenshak’s Valley U world has granted us a ticket to her basketball players, her hockey players, and her golfers. With the first book of her Holiday with the Players duet, she introduces her readers to the world of Valley U football. In the first book, Snowed In with the Player, we meet twins, Holly and Stella, sisters to Felix, the QB of Valley U’s football team. Holly and Teddy, Felix’s friend and fellow teammate, fall in love and find their happy ending. In Jenshak’s second book, Sneaking Around with the Player, Stella meets Beau in an airport and eventually discovers that he is the cornerback for Valley U’s nemesis. This is a problem because Felix holds a grudge against Beau and has for much of their football careers. Unfortunately, Stella and Beau cannot help their feelings for each other, and the book follows their journey.
Sneaking Around with the Player is a sweet story with a spicy side. Stella and Beau come into their own as they text back and forth, given their distance. This reads like a friends-to-lovers romance, even though there is an instant attraction between the two. I appreciated that Jenshak gives them the space to get to know each other through texting and phone conversations, but my criticism of the story is how quickly Stella and Beau sleep together. To be fair to Jenshak, this book is a novella, so I understand the constraint of space, but, when Stella and Beau finally meet face-to-face again, their quick consummation, to me, didn’t match their burgeoning chemistry. I would have liked for Jenshak to light a stronger fire for their chemistry before jumping them into the back of Beau’s truck.
I also appreciate the special nature of Holly and Stella’s relationship. It acts as a balm to the friction between Stella and Felix. One of the upsides to Sneaking Around with the Player is Stella’s backbone in confrontation with her brother. Often, with a forbidden relationship trope wrought by an older brother, little sisters back down, but Stella stands firm in her feelings for Beau. This novella ends well when everyone acts like mature young adults, and Stella and Beau find their happy ending.
I’m not a fan of holiday stories. I’m sure that’s an unpopular opinion. However, Rebecca Jenshak’s Holiday with the Players stories feel like the candy cane in your stocking, sweet and spicy in one little package. I HIGHLY recommend reading Sneaking Around with the Player and its predecessor because it’s a jumping-off point for a future story in Jenshak’s Campus Wallflowers series.
In love and romance,