Goodreads: Perfectly Played
Genre: Romance; Contemporary; Sports; Women’s Fiction; Adult
Publication date: April 30, 2019
Flower shop owner Flora waited years to get married but when it came down to the moment of reckoning, it all felt wrong. No flowers, no patient groom… no perfect love story waiting for her. And so she pulled up her wedding dress and ran out of the chapel—straight into the sweetest, saddest, tallest guy she’d ever seen.
Ex-ball player Dean thought a wedding was expected until an icy cold text to his best man let him know it wasn’t going to happen. Ever. Now there’s nothing to do but spend a few hours commiserating with the cute bride who ran out of her own wedding.
It is Las Vegas, after all.
One perfect night later, with strippers and syrup and drag queens, Flora and Dean go home alone, forgetting about last names and usernames and even old-school addresses. Maybe they can find love again, but not if they can’t find each other.
But love plays its own game, and the best happily ever afters always have a bit of serendipity involved. Will Flora and Dean’s love story be perfectly played?
“Why don’t you meet us after the show is over?” Clay suggests.
My stomach feels like it’d been thrown a life preserver, popping back up to the surface.
“Really?” M.K.’s face lights up.
“Sure. You’ll only be a couple of hours and we can get something to eat in the meantime.” Clay smiles at M.K. “We can meet you at what – eleven?”
Dean looks at me for agreement but I don’t know what to say. “I’m sorry I touched your beard earlier,” I blurt.
“I’m not,” he says.
“Make it midnight,” Ruthie says. “And find another friend for me.”Chapter Three
This was a very cute story. I found myself flying through it and smiling at Flora and Dean’s antics. Sure there was some heavy miscommunication at times, but that’s what makes characters feel real. No love story is perfect from beginning to end, so it’s nice to have a touch of realism from time to time.
Being a Blue Jays girl myself, I adored the moments where baseball and the jays were brought up. It was a cute read and I look forward to reading more about this world.
This romance read is a little softer than what I typically find myself leaning towards, but I enjoyed my time in this world. Heck, I’ve found myself thinking about the secondary relationship between Clay and M.K. enough since I finished this story. Kerr must have done something right to have me wanting more – more of these characters, more of this world, and more of her writing.
Trigger warning: This story contains cases of emotional abuse. If you are not comfortable reading about this topic, this book is not the one for you.
Okay, so I doubt this part counts as a spoiler (it really doesn’t, I already know that), but I’ve got to say that Dean must not hang out with the right women if he doesn’t know any that had a Star Trek phase or know how to play D&D – basically all of my female friends check off one or the other of these points, and a lot of them check off both. There’s nothing wrong with being a geek. In fact, if you’re in my life I’d encourage the geekiness.
That aside, the Blue Jays girl in me absolutely adores the name dropping in this story. Josh Donaldson? Kevin Pillar? Yes. Please. Tell me all about these fantastic boys and how they helped carry the Blue Jays.
To hear that Dean played on the Jays was a cool plot point for me. While I doubt I’ll ever personally meet a Blue Jays player, I’ll always be in awe of their athleticism and skill at the game. Even if the reffing is very American team sided.
Before you question what I mean by that, rest assured that any Blue Jays fan knows that this is true – just look at the way reffing went for the Yankies vs Blue Jays in the playoffs back in 2016. I might still be a little bitter about that “fair ball” and subsequent home run that the refs shouldn’t have counted. I mean, come on! The refs called time. So everyone stopped the play except for that one runner. It’s not the catcher’s fault he didn’t go chasing down the ball when the ref halted the game! Things were paused, the home run shouldn’t have counted. (Yeah I hear it, too. Time to cool things down a little bit…)
Ahem, moving on….
I’ve never played softball like Flora – which is another story I’m incredibly interested in – but I get her fascination with the spots (both baseball and softball). Growing up I wasn’t allowed to play these sports – something about not having enough time with dance, gymnastics, and soccer to balance another extracurricular activity, go figure. That hasn’t stopped me from being enthralled by everyone who’s good at the sports. To be able to see two people connect on this level was a layer of the story I didn’t expect but absolutely adored.
Sure Flora might not play anymore, what with her injury and everything. But she’s got the memories and the almost dreams to look back on fondly. Though I’ve got to admit that the almost dreams really broke my heart. I can’t imagine being so close to achieving your dream only to have it snatched from your fingers. Which is another thing that was able to help Dean and Flora connect to each other.
Looking at the character growth these two went through, it’s clear that both Dean and Flora helped each other. Both as individuals, and by learning what a healthy relationship can look like. Well, when they knew to trust each other, that is.
Thomas might have been the one left at the alter, but that doesn’t mean he was a good man. Not just for Flora, but in general. I don’t abide cheating, and while Flora didn’t know when they were together, she knew. He hid her from the people in his life even though they were engaged. He hid her from his daughter. He was emotionally abusive. He made Flora feel like she wasn’t enough, that her interests weren’t enough.
Hell, he’d gone behind her back to her family to try and take her family business from her. That’s not the kind of person you should ever want to be with. I have some friends that have either found the strength to get out of relationships like this, or are sadly still stuck in them. My heart breaks for anyone who has ever – or will ever – find themselves in situations such as this one.
It’s incredible that Flora was brave enough to get out of her situation and strong enough to stay out of it. I’m glad that Dean was there for her to show her that she is worth love, that she is worth spending time and energy one.
And let’s not forget about Evelyn. People who think only females get abused in relationships need to grow up and realize that it can happen in any relationship in any way.
Males to their partners. Females to their partners. Asexual partners, two spirited partners, cisgender partners, transgender partners, gender fluid partners, intersex partners… the list goes on. Anyone can be abusive, and anyone can be dealing with abuse – no matter how subtle it may seen from the outside.
And poor Dean, thinking he found someone who liked him for him. Little did he know that Evelyn just wanted a project, she wanted to take him when he was at the lowest of his lows and mold him into the person she wanted him to be. Forget his interests, his likes and dislikes. Forget his friends and his dreams. No, she wanted the perfect man for her, a person who would act a certain way, look a certain way, live a certain way. Heck, she didn’t want a boyfriend or a husband – she wanted a puppet.
It’s true that she’s the one that ended the relationship with Dean, but it was Dean that was strong enough to stay away. Well, not stay away stay away – he still went running to her when her marriage with Thomas fell through. But he didn’t want to get back together with her, just make sure that she was okay because he’s that caring of a guy. Baby steps.
Well, either baby steps towards cutting Evelyn out of his life or Dean is a much better person than I am and he can forgive the abuse he went on and continue to genuinely care about a person while forgiving the heinous things they’ve done to him.
All of that being said, Flora and Dean’s relationship is not perfect, even at the end of this story. They might have played the dating game perfectly and ended up finding each other, but they’re still going to have to put a lot of work into their relationship if they want it to work. They’re still learning each other, still learning how to trust each other and get over the horrible relationships they’re leaving behind. But they’re willing to put in the work, and that’s really what matters.