Review + Giveaway: Intercepted by Alexa Martin

This week I'm doing a fun pseudo-tour with some of my friends from our fantasy football group for Alexa Martin's debut romance Intercepted. Because of our great love for football, Berkley sent us copies of the book so we buddy read it! Scroll down to read my review, check out the other ladies' links, and enter to win a copy of Intercepted!

Rating: 3 stars
Release Date: September 11, 2018
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: adult sports romance
Format/Source: paperback, from the publisher
Status: book 1 of the Playbook series

Marlee thought she scored the man of her dreams only to be scorched by a bad breakup. But there's a new player on the horizon, and he's in a league of his own...

Marlee Harper is the perfect girlfriend. She's definitely had enough practice by dating her NFL-star boyfriend for the last ten years. But when she discovers he has been tackling other women on the sly, she vows to never date an athlete again. There's just one problem: Gavin Pope, the new hotshot quarterback and a fling from the past, has Marlee in his sights.

Gavin fights to show Marlee he's nothing like her ex. Unfortunately, not everyone is ready to let her escape her past. The team's wives, who never led the welcome wagon, are not happy with Marlee's return. They have only one thing on their minds: taking her down. But when the gossip makes Marlee public enemy number one, she worries about more than just her reputation.

Between their own fumbles and the wicked wives, it will take a Hail Mary for Marlee and Gavin's relationship to survive the season.

Disclaimer: Disclaimer: I was provided a copy of this book by the publisher. This does not affect the content of my review.

As soon as I heard about Intercepted, I knew I HAD to read it. I'm a sucker for sports romances, especially hockey and football, and I love that the author is the wife of a former NFL player so I knew a lot of her technical details would be accurate. Plus: SECOND CHANCE ROMANCE!!! I am happy to report rookie author Alexa Martin has delivered a sexy and romantic story with a heroine and hero with explosive chemistry and who you can't not root for.

YOU GUYS. Marlee & Gavin are amaaaaaaaaaazing together. I kind of hate that the book started with Marlee together with Chris because it took away from time that could have been better spent with Marlee & Gavin being adorable and sexy together. I ship them so hard! But at the same time, Chris's presence allows Marlee to draw some really awesome boundaries that I don't see a lot. Namely, Marlee constantly lets Gavin know she can fight her own battles. Sure, it's sexy to have a guy go to bat for you, but it does reinforce the ugly sexist stereotype that women need a man to go to bat for them. So I love that even while these two were heating up the (supposedly super comfy) sheets, Marlee was creating those limits in their relationship.

Gavin is a total dreamboat, btw. He does step over the boundaries Marlee draws, which is a no no and she lets him know he did the wrong thing, but he's still a really decent man and a good boyfriend. I know a lot of readers take issue with Gavin becoming unlike himself toward the end, but that wasn't a huge issue for me. There's a point where Gavin does not tell Marlee some really big news, but it's because he was trying to surprise her, not that he was maliciously lying. Also, at one point Marlee tells Gavin of a dream she had for the future, and I knew—I KNEW—it would be the miscommunication that would cause the black moment (which is a term I did not know until I read this book. Thanks,Wendy!). I'm not saying Gavin did the right thing by keeping some REALLY HECKIN BIG NEWS from Marlee, because it was truly life-changing news, but I didn't think Gavin completely became another character entirely. I think he just fucked up, and I can appreciate a seemingly perfect character screwing up ROYALLY. It's good to see those godlike characters exhibit real flaws; otherwise, it doesn't feel realistic.

^DMing the chat trying to prevent the train wreck

Unfortunately, there were a few things about Intercepted that just didn't sit well with me. My friend Andi has a term for books that contain an overabundance of plot points: kitchen sink books. As in they contain everything but. There's just a LOT going on here. Not only does Marlee have to deal with a breakup, moving into a new place, finding a new job, and a new romance, there's also a group of conniving football wives, an assault by a local druggie, an almost assault on a train, a manipulative friend/publicist, your typical romance misunderstanding that leads to a breakup, and much more. Life is messy and always throws more at you than you think you can handle, but in fiction, less is usually more. With this many plot points, the story itself was kind of chaotic, and I felt none of them got as much attention as they deserved. Like the assault. It happened super randomly with no lead up, then the cops show up, the media covers it by the next day, and then the assailant is arrested with little fanfare. Then it's barely mentioned again. No need for Marlee to go ID the man. No mention of going to court. Nothing. Just... done. I feel like Intercepted could have gone through another round or two of edits to focus more closely on few storylines and polish them up.

Secondly, I am POSITIVE Alexa herself had to deal with bitchy football WAGs. When you're that close to fame and money, it's a guarantee. However, there's also an entire paragraph of the acknowledgement dedicated to the WAGs who took her in. I would have liked to have seen more than just one woman in the Lady Mustangs be a decent fucking human being to Marlee. With the sole exception of Naomi, every woman even tangentially tied to Mustangs players is a complete "see you next Tuesday", and I cannot describe how over this demonizing of women in romance and YA I am. Awful women are everywhere, yes, but I don't need to see them when I read. If I want to see a horrible human being, I can go find one IRL or in the news. What I want to see in books are women like Naomi and Brynn who are supportive and friendly. I want to see ride-or-die friendships. I have those people in my life, largely part to the book community and the fantasy football league I'm in. It makes me immeasurably sad that fictional characters don't even get that courtesy. 

Finally, I am firmly #TeamNoHashtagsInBooks. I started the book after everyone else in the group, and I was warned they would drive me crazy. Spoiler alert: they did. Marlee hashtags a lot of random things (#HeDidn'tPutARingOnIt is the first, and there's also such winners as #HotMessExpress, #NotAnEnglishMajor, and #IMeantThatIMeantThatIDidn'tMeanIt). They pop up a couple times each chapter, usually right before a break or the end of a chapter, and it's distracting AF. They should have been edited out immediately because if you're not actually talking about a topic trending on Twitter or Instagram, hashtags have no place in prose. Just about the only hashtag in this entire book that might be appropriate was #IceSkateGate because of a situation at an ice skating rink.

There's a lot to enjoy about Intercepted: steamy romance, an amazing female-led business, a biracial mc and therefore interracial couple, A+ humor, and SPORTS! But it's also flush with the drama so if you're looking for low angst, Intercepted is not that book. But I'm still super hyped for book 2!

Purchase Links:

Review Links:

Playbook book 2: Fumbled

Release Date: April 23, 2019
Publisher: Berkley
Genre: adult sports romance
Status: book 2 of the Playbook series

Summary: A second chance doesn't guarantee a touchdown in this new contemporary romance from the author of Intercepted.

Single-mother Poppy Patterson moved across the country when she was sixteen and pregnant to find a new normal. After years of hard work, she's built a life she loves. It may include a job at a nightclub, weekend soccer games, and more stretch marks than she anticipated, but it's all hers, and nobody can take that away. Well, except for one person.

TK Moore, the starting wide receiver for the Denver Mustangs, dreamt his entire life about being in the NFL. His world is football, parties, and women. Maybe at one point he thought his future would play out with his high school sweetheart by his side, but Poppy is long gone and he's moved on.

When Poppy and TK cross paths in the most unlikely of places, emotions they've suppressed for years come rushing back. But with all the secrets they never told each other lying between them, they'll need more than a dating playbook to help them navigate their relationship.

Preorder Links:

About the Author:
Alexa Martin is a writer and stay at home mom. She lives in Colorado with her husband, a former NFL player who now coaches at the high school where they met, their four children, and a German Shepherd. When she's not telling her kids to put their shoes on...again, you can find her catching up with her latest book boyfriend or on Pinterest pinning meals she'll probably never make. Her first book, Intercepted, was inspired by the eight years she spent as an NFL wife.

Author Links:

5 winners will receive a finished paperback of Intercepted. Open to US. Entrants must be 18+. Giveaway is open until 12 AM CDT October 8. Please enter via Rafflecopter below; winner will be chosen at random, and odds are determined by number of entries. I reserve the right to disqualify any entries that are not in accordance with my giveaway policies as stated in the Review & Site Policies tab at the top of the page.Good luck!

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  1. I "know" Andi and she's fun and got me to read Anna and the French Kiss (which I LOVED). I mention this because I like the "kitchen sink" reference/comparison. I have found books like that and they don't end up being my favorites as they become predictable and I love to be surprised. But I also want to read this book if the characters have awesome chemistry and are so good together.

    1. Ha! Andi will be thrilled she inspired another person to read Anna. It's her life mission to make the world fall in love with Anna, St. Clair, and Stephanie Perkins. :D I absolutely love her kitchen sink term, and I've found it immensely helpful to describe books.

  2. The cover is gorgeous. If this is a kitchen sink book, it does make me wonder whether it might offer some frothy entertainment!

    1. I love that illustrated covers have been making a comeback the past year or so.

  3. I actually really liked #hotmessexpress LOL

  4. Thank you for your thoughtful review.