Berkley, February 2004
Reviewed by Barbara Fielding
Theresa Falconetti, co-owner of a Manhattan based public relations firm, takes on a new client, Dante's Italian restaurant in Brooklyn. Theresa and her partner, Janna MacNeil-Gallagher, are struggling to make their start-up company succeed. Theresa has been trying to distance herself from her ethnic roots, but when she gets a call from a client in her old Bensonhurst neighborhood, she is in no position to be choosy. The owner, Michael Dante, has made it clear he's interested in more than her professional services, but Theresa is still dealing with some personal issues. Last year she was assaulted and nearly raped while on a date with a professional hockey player. She's still cautious around men who come on too strong, especially professional athletes.
Michael Dante, hockey player for the New York Blades, and co-owner of Dante's family-owned restaurant, needs help revamping the business his late parents built. Facing retirement in the coming years, he wants to turn Dante's into a landmark eatery. His brother and co-owner, Anthony, isn't so sure about all the changes Michael has in mind. But business isn't all Michael is thinking about. He thinks maybe Theresa could be "The One" for him, if he could only get her to see what at nice guy he is. He's known for his bullish determination on the ice, and he hopes that same attitude will help win the heart of the woman he wants.
FAIR PLAY is Deirdre Martin's follow-up to last year's debut novel BODY CHECK, featuring Janna McNeil and Ty Gallagher. BODY CHECK also features the background story of Theresa's assault by Alexei Lubov and her humorous first impression of Michael Dante.
Readers will be cheering for this couple like the hockey fans on the sidelines. Deidre Martin has done an outstanding job of recreating the Brooklyn neighborhood, with its classic Italian family atmosphere. From Michael's brother Anthony to Sunday dinners at Theresa's parents, I fell in love with this eccentric and lovable family. There are plenty of twists and turns in Michael and Theresa's relationship. There were a few times when I wondered if things would ever work out for them, and several emotional moments over the loss of a family member. Readers will likely laugh and cry right along with them. The couple is not always center stage in this romantic drama, but the story line flows beautifully. Deirdre Martin scores another win with FAIR PLAY.
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