cover image FAIR PLAY


Deirdre Martin, . . Berkley, $5.99 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-425-19457-7

Martin's second playful romance set in the world of professional hockey (following Body Check ) scores again. After nearly being raped by a sports star, Theresa Falconetti doesn't date athletes—or, in truth, anyone at all. So when two suitors begin courting her, she's flummoxed rather than flattered. Smooth, sexually undemanding Reese Banister seems like a dream come true even though he's the nephew of the man determined to take over her financially shaky PR firm. In contrast, new client Michael Dante, whose family owns a popular Brooklyn restaurant, is her worst nightmare. He's a professional hockey player, he comes from the same Bensonhurst neighborhood as her lovable but irritating Italian family and he's always in her face. As Theresa tries to upgrade the image of Michael's restaurant, decide whether or not to sell out, deal with her father's cancer and cope with the lingering scars of sexual trauma, she must assess the men's true worth. The takeover plot line is sketchy, and Reese's courtship is so transparently shady no reader will be fooled. However, Martin depicts the worlds of both professional hockey and ethnic Brooklyn with deftness and smart detail. She has an unerring eye for humorous family dynamics, and her treatment of Theresa's psychological trauma, while accurate, never overwhelms the story's sweet buoyancy. (Feb.)