I have read many stories about athletes falling in love with fellow athletes. As much as I enjoy those stories, I was happy to see Madison really explore a relationship between an athlete and an official and the problems that can arise with such an intimate relationship between two people who don’t always get along on the court.
Kat Schaefer has a great love for the sport of basketball, and she has become one of the best officials in the WNBA. Her professional life couldn’t be any better, but her personal life has suffered greatly. Ever since her girlfriend dumped her two years prior, Kat isn’t sure she can open herself up to love ever again.
Enter Julie Stevens, the hottest rookie in the WNBA, and she has her eyes set on Kat. Julie does her best to break through Kat’s defenses, but Kat’s wounds run deep, not only from her break-up but also from a rocky childhood that has left her afraid to trust anyone with her heart. Julie is persistent, though, and in her, Kat can see a possible future. But first, Kat must allow herself to do what no one has motivated her to do until now. She must heal her heart.
I love the dynamic between these two characters. They are both different in their personas, but Madison does a good job of having their personalities match their careers. Kat is the referee, and her personality is more clinical and guarded, keeping within the confines of the rules and regulations on and off the court.
Madison shows why Kat is like this by giving the reader an insight into her past. In most stories where I read about a character’s past, I feel the author allows the reader to become too lost in the past. In the case of Kat, however, I felt it gave a good insight into why basketball was so important to her and how it lead to the decisions she made in regard to her career and her life.
Julie is like a lot of athletes that I know. She’s highly energetic, spontaneous, and plays the game with her emotions on high. Most might attribute this to Julie’s young age, but knowing athletes and being one myself, I understand that this is how they are at any age.
Madison does show a great counterbalance between Julie’s personality when she is on the court and when she is off the court. While the emotions are still there, Julie dials down the intensity away from the game, and that makes her approachable and more attractive to people, especially Kat.
It’s not until they get off the court that you really see how these two are as people and how they are with their friends. It gives the reader a better understanding of how they are attracted to each other and ultimately fall for each other.
The Writing Style
Madison likes to write in the present tense, and it’s a little jarring to me because I’m used to reading stories in past tense. However, it doesn’t take away from the story, and seems to work well in certain areas.
I love how Madison describes the basketball games and how she utilizes real life WNBA players within her story. She also does a good job of not making it too sentimental. It’s established early on that Kat has had a hard life at an early age, and is dealing with that and current relationship issues when she meets Julie.
Madison does well in balancing the details of Kat’s issues without making the reader presume that Kat isn’t a strong character. While Kat does need to get over her issues before starting a relationship with Julie, it is obvious through Madison’s writing that she is far from weak.
I’m a huge fan of stories involving women that have some sort of conflict that is visible right from the beginning. With Kat and Julie, it’s effortless because both are in the sport of basketball, yet they’re on opposite sides of the line.
Kat is the referee and Julie is the player. Madison does a great job of showcasing the complications that arise with this kind of relationship, when the job of the official is to be unbiased and call the fouls as they happen on the court and the recipient of said foul is her romantic interest. It’s great to read this conflict to see how the characters are able to handle it and how much it will impact their relationship on a whole.
I’m not the biggest fan of present tense writing style, so that was my only hang up. But I don’t see it as a major obstacle.
This is a great read if you’ve ever wondered what would happen if a sporting official and an athlete ever fell in love and how that would play out. I highly recommend reading this book to see that love is possible no matter which side of the line you’re on.
Excerpt from Personal Foul by Lucy J Madison
Julie stares at Kat for the entire stoppage of play. Kat refuses to look in her direction, but she can feel Julie’s stare boring holes into her.
After several uncharacteristically sloppy possessions by both teams, Clery calls a play for the Liberty for Julie to wrap around two stagger screens set for her in the post as she pops to the top of the key. She receives the ball on cue and uses her left arm to clear out Alana Beard…Julie rises and rises, higher and higher. She nails an unbelievably difficult three-pointer, but the shot is called off. Kat calls Julie Stevens for clearing out with her left arm, putting Washington into the one-and-one. Julie gets right in Kat’s face and whispers, “Is this what you do to every girl you make out with on the dance floor?”
Before Kat can even really absorb the rancor in the comment, she blows her whistle and signals T for a technical foul. She calmly walks to the scorer’s table and says, “Technical foul on number one-five, unsportsmanlike conduct.”
Get This Book On Amazon
(this button works for Amazon US, UK and Canada)
Bits and Bobs
- ISBN number: 9780999879610