Review of J. R. Ward's The PlayerPublished: May 29,2012
Publisher: HQN Books
Ruthless might as well be Gray Bennett's middle name. When the renowned Washington, D.C., insider talks, powerful people listen. But Gray hasn't come home to Saranac Lake to play politics. Or play at all. A tragedy has shaken the unshakable Gray Bennett to his hardened core.
And so has the most unlikely of women.
The mousy redhead who used to run around the Moorehouse B and B—the one he never noticed—is now all fiery hair and lush curves. But sweet Joy Moorehouse is too innocent for a cynic like him. So Gray won't let himself lay a hand on her…until the night he can no longer resist the woman she has become. That's when he discovers a secret that leaves him gasping for breath—and wanting more.
Right out of the starting gate, I liked these characters. Each one has that strong, unique voice I have come to expect in Ward's characters. Gray was powerful, fierce, and commanding, and yet he had that soft under layer that lets you know that he isn't a bad person, but maybe just following down the wrong path. Joy is the type of woman who is caring and thoughtful and gives a lot of herself, probably too much, even at the expense of her own happiness. She has been in love with Gray for years but doesn't really consider herself in his league, not to mention that everyone and their mother seems to be warning her to stay away for her own good.
The story itself was well-written. It had tragedy and sorrow and enough misunderstandings to try a saint's patience. As much as I liked the overall storyline, I was annoyed with Joy and her absolute need to respond to Gray when it seemed to me that, although he had his redeeming qualities, she didn't know that and should have dropped him on his ass, hard...several times. I think what really bothered me about the story, however, isn't all the wishy washy stuff, but the ending.
I have grown somewhat accustomed to the type of endings Ward gives in her BDB and Fallen Angels series that leave me wanting so much more and ready to throw myself over a cliff to get it, that this one left me saying "Huh? Really?" Originality clearly wasn't the name of the game here. Instead, the ending was completely cliched. I can't count how many times this scenario has played out in movies and TV shows where...
...the hero defies death, leaping onto the back of a fast moving train to get to his lady love and plead for her forgiveness, followed up by the spilling of his guts then the down on one knee proposal of which, if she doesn't accept, the lady behind her happily will.
Needless to say, this one fell flat for me. Instead of finishing strong, it took the easy way out. I still love Ward, but I don't know if I will venture into her traditional romance novels again.
Oh, who am I kidding, of course I will! It's J.R. Ward for crying out loud!