POV: 3rd Person from both hero & heroine’s perspectives
My Grade: A-
Sarah Mayberry is my favourite Harlequin Blaze author. I’ve read her entire backlist and enjoyed all of them and loved a few. Her Secret Fling is now rivalling my favourite of her books, Anything for You, for first place in my affections.
Poppy Birmingham is a former Olympic swimmer who was forced into early retirement due to an injury. For the past twenty-five years, Poppy has lived for swimming and now needs to find a new outlet to channel her natural drive and ambition. When the sports editor of Australia’s most prestigious newspaper offers her a job as celebrity sports columnist, Poppy jumps at the chance. Although she has no journalistic experience, Poppy sees the opportunity as one which will allow her to carve out a new niche for herself, rather than pursuing the usual post-athletic careers such as TV sports commentator, swimming coach, or product endorser. Poppy is also excited by the prospect of working alongside her idol, Jake Stevens, an award-winning sports journalist and author of one of the most successful Australian novels ever written.
Jake Stevens is deeply resentful of his editor’s decision to hire Poppy Birmingham as the new member of the paper’s sports department. Jake feels that Poppy has no credentials to justify her obtaining such a coveted position over experienced journalists. Jake is also battling his own demons, not least of which is crippling writer’s block which is preventing him from writing the much-anticipated follow-up to his phenomenally successful debut novel.
Poppy is hurt and shocked by Jake’s hostile manner. Determining to keep her distance from him, she concentrates on doing the best job she can, despite her lack of formal training. When Poppy finds herself stranded due to a plane strike, she and Jake end up sharing a car ride home. Confined in such a small space for a significant length of time, they find there’s more to the other than they’d first assumed. They end up having a hot one-night stand, which turns into a passionate affair. But can sexual chemistry develop into love?
Once again, Sarah Mayberry delivers a winnner. Her characters seem so real they all but leap off the page. I loved the way Poppy is the emotionally stronger of the two. She doesn’t let the premature end of her swimming career get her down but instead looks for a new channel for her energies. She might not be as intellectually inclined as her academic family but she’s certainly not lacking in smarts. She takes her new career as a journalist very seriously and is determined to become the best writer that she can be. Her social life has suffered through her years as a professional athlete when she had little to no time to devote to a relationship. Now that she’s no longer committed to the pool, Poppy is ready to find a nice guy and settle down. That the nice guy might turn out to be grumpy Jake Stevens comes as a complete surprise.
Jake is quite dislikeable at the start of the book but he gradually begins to face his demons and work through them. He’s reluctantly impressed by Poppy’s diligence, and while she might not be the best journalist ever, she works hard to improve her style. Jake is overwhelmed by his attraction to Poppy, especially as it goes far beyond the purely physical. Jake is still scarred from a broken marriage and it takes him a while to learn to love again.
Sarah Mayberry’s writing style is witty and engaging. She excels at conveying an authentic sense of place, providing a convincing background against which her story plays out. Her attention to detail seems effortless. She manages to create believable secondary characters in just a couple of descriptive sentences. While grapic, the sex scenes fit the story and the people in it.
If you enjoy sexy contemporary romances featuring interesting characters, I can highly recommend Her Secret Fling.
Other Reviews of Her Secret Fling:
Jane at Dear Author – B-
All About Romance - C+
Book Binge – 4.25 out of 5
Leslie’s Psyche – A
Stacy’s Place on Earth – 4.5 stars out of 5 stars