By Tracy A. Ward
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
Who knew love could bring a playwright so much drama?
Writing three plays for a nationally acclaimed theater in Phair, Texas, was never supposed to put Ashlyn Carter’s inheritance at risk, or make or break her future. And it certainly wasn’t supposed to force her into constant contact with the very guy she’s avoided since her teenage crush-gone-bad days.
Noah Blake. He’s Ashlyn’s enemy, for good reason. As her older brother’s best friend, he seems hell-bent on interfering with nearly every aspect of her life. So how then does he also seem to be her muse?
When Ashlyn reluctantly agrees to act out scenes with Noah from the play she’s writing in order to trigger her creativity, the spark of passion she’d felt for him as a teenager flares up again. But there’s more at stake than just her future as a playwright or the inheritance she never cared about in the first place. Finding out the theater she loves is in danger of closing puts everything she thought she knew and felt about Phair…and Noah…to the test. Will there be a standing ovation for Ashlyn Carter, playwright, or will the curtain drop on her heart and fade to black?
I could feel the chemistry smoldering off the pages between Noah and Ashlyn – and that’s what helped sell the story for me. It was easy to like these two and hope they ended up with their own HEA, especially when it comes out that these two have been pining away for one another for years, even though Noah is Ashlyn’s older brother’s best friend. They’ve kept their friendship platonic and pretended to dislike one another, but deep down Noah had forced himself to put his friendship with Ashlyn’s brother first. The improvisation scenes prompted by Ashlyn’s theater director to encourage creativity lead the two to the truth, but they’re both still too proud to admit their true feelings. Noah and Ashlyn are likeable characters, but each one confronts individual issues in a struggle to find each other. Noah is worried he’ll turn into his late father, and Ashlyn has to fight off her insecurities and fear of failure. They each have to figure out in their own way how to fight for what they want individually and together.
Fair Play is an endearing and romantic read laced with a bit of angst that nearly costs Ashlyn and Noah everything, including the loss of a best friend and the loves of their lives. Through the process, Ashlyn finds her voice to confront the past and Noah gives up control and bares his heart in a show of vulnerability.
“How about we make a deal,” Noah said. “I’ll stop calling you Training Wheels if you run away with me next weekend.”
“And if I do, what will you call me then?”
I grinned, my heart soaring as high as the blue Texas sky. “Well played, Mr. Blake. You’ve got yourself a deal.”
It’s an easy, enjoyable read. And Noah and Ashlyn have fun chemistry. His proposal and their HEA is very romantic.
Originally posted on Amazon and Goodreads on June 8, 2016.