Review: Playing Hurt
Chelsea was a star player on her high school basketball team until overuse and a bad fall destroyed her hip. Clint’s hockey playing made him a hometown hero until his girlfriend died in a car accident on the way to one of his games. Physical and emotional trauma keep Chelsea and Clint out of the game, and both are left wondering what to do with themselves now that the lives they’ve imagined are no longer the ones they’ll be leading.
After Chelsea’s high school graduation, her family goes on vacation to a Minnesota resort where Clint is leading an outdoor boot camp. Chelsea and Clint are paired up for one-on-one training. The two injured former athletes are forced to spend lots of time together, struggling to keep things strictly professional. Chelsea has a loyal boyfriend waiting for her at home; Clint knows it would not look good for him to hook up with a client, nor does he feel ready to move on after the loss of his last girlfriend. Can Clint and Chelsea ignore their chemistry, or will a few more people have to get hurt in order for them to finally heal?
Holly Schindler’s Playing Hurt is her second novel, following the debut of A Blue So Dark. With its Dirty Dancing vibe, this book is fun and sexy, even when the characters know better. Playing Hurt is a perfect summer read packed with all the joys of family vacation, outdoor activities, and illicit romance. Holly Schindler knows how to turn up the heat. There are perhaps a few too many comparisons between people and food (peaches, truffles, and pastry, in particular), which got me questioning whether the characters wanted to date each other or eat each other. Realizing just how dirty that sounds, I decided that the food analogies were just right given the height of sexual tension going on in this steamy novel.
Though this is a book sure to get your heart racing and palms sweating, it has a little more to it than that. Above all, this is a book about the power to get yourself back in the game after an injury because, in the game of life, most of the time you’re going to have to go into the next round playing hurt.