3 Stars / Contemporary / Review / Romantic Comedy

Audiobook Review: The Game by Sylvie Stewart 🎧

They say opposites attract. Someone needs to tell that to Emerson Scott.

All I ever wanted was to play ball. When an act of sheer stupidity took that dream away, I thought I’d never bounce back. But now I have the opportunity to coach an up-and-coming phenom, and I’m giving it all I’ve got. The fact that I’ve been lusting after his smoking-hot sister only sweetens the deal. Emerson may be buttoned up like a school librarian, but I play my best when I’m under pressure … and I always bring the heat.

Never lose focus. Never lose control. Those are the first two rules in my carefully calculated plan for success. Finding myself thrown into the role of guardian for my little brother was not part of that plan. But I can adjust for Jay’s sake; I’m not about to let one change make me lose sight of my goals. Too bad Jay’s hot young baseball coach doesn’t seem to give a fig about my plans. He has one of his own—and it includes me. Gavin Monroe may play like a pro, but that boy will never win this game.

Title:The Game
Author:Sylvie Stewart
Narrator(s):Kelsey Navarro
Series:Carolina Connections (Book 4)
Pages / Length: 358 / 9 hrs 14 mins
Category / Genre(s):Contemporary
Romantic Comedy
Trope(s):Older Woman / Younger Man
Point of View:First Person, Past Tense, Dual Viewpoint (H & h)
Narration Type:Dual – voiced by a single, female narrator
Location:Carolina, USA
Release Date:20th November, 2019
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Not my trope but still enjoyable

3 stars

Older woman / younger man is not a trope I’m particularly fond of so I was already going into this story with some trepidation. But I’ve been reading/listening through this great series (California Connections) about a group of interrelated family and friends, so I had to read Gavin’s story. With that said, this book stands completely alone so if you haven’t read any of the previous stories in the series, you will still understand this one – and it comes complete with its own HEA.

I normally get over my dislike of a trope once I’m into the story – but the main conflict in this story was the difference in the ages of Emerson and Gavin, so there was no way I could forget about it as it was brought up relentlessly! While the age gap isn’t huge – Emerson is 29 and Gavin is 24 – at that age, it’s a bit more evident. And I did feel that Gavin came across as more juvenile on occasion.

Emerson is a lawyer who has just taken over custody of her teenage brother – not for any bad reasons, in case you’re worried! She comes across as stable, responsible and I liked her a lot. Her worries over starting something with Gavin mirrored my own thoughts so I felt an immediate kinship with her (which also didn’t help my feelings towards the trope!)

Gavin was a bit of an enigma in the earlier books – as something of the errant, annoying younger brother character. He was still treated as that by his friends which, you guessed it, didn’t help with my feelings of dislike towards the trope, either. But he was a nice enough guy. Determined, a bit cocky and sweet. He clearly liked Emerson but often acted before he thought things through which got him into bother.

“The trope wasn’t my favourite (did I mention that already?)…”

Gavin and Emerson were a sweet couple and I did feel a connection between them. Due to Emerson’s reluctance to make something more of their relationship, it’s something of a slow burn – but it works for them and for the story. It still sizzles, more towards the end.

As I’ve come to expect from Ms Stewart, there are plenty of laughs throughout the book. I hooted at the names Emerson assigned Gavin on her phone which made the text exchanges truly chuckle worthy. Fiona and Mark (from The Spark) also appear in the book and Fiona always steals every scene she’s in and makes me laugh every time.

I listened to this book in audio and it was performed in its entirety by Kelsey Navarro. It’s written in dual viewpoint so the narrator reads from both Emerson and Gavin’s points of view. It works just fine, and I never found myself confused, but I do tend to prefer two different performers for the main couple. Kelsey Navarro has a nice voice that’s easy to listen to and she told the story well.

This book was always going to struggle with me due to the trope and my ultimate dislike of it. With that said, once our pair got into a relationship and the focus was on something other than the age gap between them and whether Emerson could get over it, the book really picked up for me. To such an extent that I was really torn between 3 and 4 stars when I finished it. I went with 3 stars in the end but I ultimately enjoyed my time spent with this story. The trope wasn’t my favourite (did I mention that already?) but if it doesn’t bother you, give this book a go, especially if you’re reading through the excellent California Connections series.

3 stars

USA Today bestselling author Sylvie Stewart is addicted to Romantic Comedy and Contemporary Romance, and she’s not looking for a cure. She hails from the great state of North Carolina, so it’s no surprise that most of her books are set in the Tar Heel state. She’s a wife to a hilarious dude and mommy to ten-year-old twin boys who tend to take after their father in every way. Sylvie often wonders if they’re actually hers, but then she remembers being a human incubator for a gazillion months. Ah, good times.

Sylvie began publishing when her kids started elementary school, and she loves sharing her stories with readers and hopefully making them laugh and swoon a bit along the way. If she’s not in her comfy green writing chair, she’s probably camping or kayaking with her family or having a glass of wine while binge-watching Hulu. Or she’s been kidnapped—so what are you doing just sitting there?!!

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