REVIEW: The Lie (Washington Wolves: Next Gen) by Karla Sorensen

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Rule number 1 for the team owner’s daughter? Don’t date the players.

Especially not hotheaded tight ends with tattoos and impulse control problems.

That’s why Dominic Walker is completely off my radar. Sort of.

Babysitting the team troublemaker when he’s forced to volunteer for the foundation where I work means I can’t exactly avoid him.

I wish I had though. Because once I get to know Dominic, it’s almost impossible to ignore the feelings he brings out in me.

Pretty soon, I’m breaking all my rules. I just have to hope he doesn’t break my heart in the process.

CW – The sister of the hero died young from cancer

Dear Ms. Sorensen,

It’s thanks to Rose and DiscoDollyDeb (#shoutout) that I decided to read one of your Washington Wolves books. After checking out blurbs, I picked the first book in the Next Gen trio despite the fact that I’m not usually a grumpy/sunshine trope woman. Having finished it, I can say I’m hooked on this series and have already gotten my hands on the next book.

Dominic Walker’s whole personality can be summed up as “Grumpy Bad Boy.” He’s had a chip on his shoulder for much of his life for a number of reasons. He was not given a college scholarship nor was he drafted into the NFL. No, Walker has had to work hard and earn his way onto teams and into starting positions. Coming from a team whose coach did not practice good management techniques and whose style brought out the worst in Dominic, Walker knows he’s got to earn the respect of his new team. His first day … does not go well. But bless him, he does have a good reason. Thankfully the owner of the team doesn’t bust his nuts. Instead Allie turns Dominic over to her daughter (well, really step-daughter but the love between them is of a mother and daughter).

Faith has grown up around the Washington Wolves. Her dad was their starting quarterback and her (step) mom owns the team. Faith is stepping into her new role running the family charitable foundation which raises money to give younger kids a chance and the building blocks of experience to help keep them in school and is not going to back down in the face of this growling man who obviously has no respect for someone he sees as a 1%er who was given this job by her rich parents. Faith is going to set him straight about this attitude and his misconceptions of her. Having him wash dogs alongside other top athletes shows her a man who can, wow, actually smile. But it’s the second time they’re together at a local sports center for underprivileged young and middle school children that Faith gets a true look at Dominic who works well with children including a girl who has a killer throwing arm.

This is when the gimme that each book gets comes into play. Faith and Dominic have had an online friend with whom they’ve texted for years. They go by (obvious to everyone) fake names and hooked up over a donation “NicktheBrickLayer” made to the Seattle Zoo in memory of his younger sister, Ivy. “TurboGirl” and “Nick” have been there for each other but never reached out to set up any meeting IRL. Something that happens at the sports center tips Dominic off and after confirming his suspicions, he decides not to spill the beans to Faith but see if he can win her respect as himself. Yeah, it’s silly but he has his understandable reasons. Will his decision come back to bite him in the ass? Of course.

I like the way that Dominic and Faith are built as characters. Dominic is the product of having to fight to prove his worth as a player and also a man who loved and lost his sister to a shitty disease. That loss is something that has settled into his family in various toxic ways and hasn’t helped Dominic’s anger management issues as he tries to block things to keep them from hurting him. He’s grumpy for good reasons though his mom showed him how to fold a fitted sheet so he wouldn’t “end up as one of those asshole husbands who thinks his wife is gonna do that stuff for him.” But as he interacts with his new team, some things start to become clear to him and, again bless him, Dominic thinks about these and then begins to work on them. He also begins to fall hard for Faith.

I caught the edge of a smile on her pretty face.

Again, the sight of that smile did insane things to me. It was the kind of rush I only usually got playing football. Making a great catch. Scoring a touchdown. And now, I could add “making Faith Pierson smile” to the list.

Her face scrunched up in an adorable grimace, and holy fuck, I was thinking words like “adorable grimace.”

How quickly the tides had turned.

Faith has had much handed to her on a silver platter though she did lose her mother when she was a young child. Faith and her younger (half) sister Lydia are aware of their privilege and have been raised by their parents to give back. Faith is now thriving and gaining confidence in her management role (and has some creative swearing because she’s around young and impressionable children) but she’s also hands-on and loves to interact with people. She’s literally wearing a yellow t-shirt when she meets her grump but that is also who she is – Little Miss Sunshine.

Younger sister Lydia takes a hand in getting her beloved sister on a date with the first man who has interested Faith since an asshat broke her heart. Lydia could teach a masterclass in male manipulation. But it’s Faith’s roommate who picks Faith’s outfit and Tori is devious and merciless. Dominic might be a tough, tattooed bad boy but Faith’s got the secret weapon. Faith has “The Cardigan.”

Tori laughed. Then she held up a finger and started rooting around in the bag of goodies she’d brought with her. When she straightened, she held out a small black ball of material that had me raising my eyebrows.

“This is the key,” she said, with a serious voice and serious eyes.

I pointed at the wad in her hands. “That right there?”

“Yes.” As she extended it toward me, she took a deep, dramatic breath. “You must wield it carefully.”

She set her hands on my shoulders. “May it treat you well tonight, my child.”

Not that Dominic isn’t packing some heat of his own.

This man would cause every overprotective dad in America to lock their doors and double-check the windows in their daughter’s rooms because he looked like sex. He looked like something sinful and decadent.

The romance is quick and both fall hard. Ah, but remember that secret lurking. I knew it was coming out of the woodwork but wow, color me surprised at how things unfolded and then (yowza) how Faith handled things from there. I was expecting one thing but got something totally different and (Dayumn) adult and grown up instead. Shit, this is how people ought to react and what they should tell people who have hurt them. The people in her life might be hoping for a romantic gesture to bring them back together but I was impressed by how the situation was worked out.

Okay so there were a few things that bugged me. Faith tucking or having her hair tucked behind her ear could turn into a drinking game. Despite everyone being in the same city, Dominic’s parents are rarely seen. I initially wasn’t thrilled about the Thing that actually brought Faith and Dominic back together though yes by then they were ready. But I see how this Thing is going to play into setting up the next book so I will grudgingly accept it. Dominic’s decision about how to honor this sister? That’s boss. Oh and readers who don’t know/like NFL football need not worry. There isn’t actually that much of the game in the book as it’s more about the people. B+

~Jayne

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Jayne

Another long time reader who read romance novels in her teens, then took a long break before started back again about 25 years ago. She enjoys historical romance/fiction best, likes contemporaries, action- adventure and mysteries, will read suspense if there’s no TSTL characters and is currently reading more fantasy and SciFi.

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