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Review: Playing Hurt

May 11, 2011

Title: Playing Hurt
Author: Holly Schindler
Publisher: Flux
Pub Date: March 8, 2011
Pages: 308
Format: Finished copy provided by author for blog tour

Star basketball player Chelsea “Nitro” Keyes had the promise of a full ride to college-and everyone’s admiration in her hometown. But everything changed senior year, when she took a horrible fall during a game. Now a metal plate holds her together and she feels like a stranger in her own family.
As a graduation present, Chelsea’s dad springs for a three-week summer “boot camp” program at a northern Minnesota lake resort. There, she’s immediately drawn to her trainer, Clint, a nineteen-year-old ex-hockey player who’s haunted by his own traumatic past. As they grow close, Chelsea is torn between her feelings for Clint and her loyalty to her devoted boyfriend back home. Will an unexpected romance just end up causing Chelsea and Clint more pain-or finally heal their heartbreak?–Goodreads
This post will most likely contain minor spoilers. 
This book is not AT ALL what I thought it was going to be. I figured it’d be this sports-centric book about these two people who meet and have something in common and help each other through it and then that’s that. Instead! I ended up with a super, uber-steamy romantic book about having an intense, instant physical and emotional connection with a person, and struggling with the decision of whether or not to cheat on a significant other who doesn’t deserve to be cheated on.
This book is actually pretty heavy, thematically-speaking.
Playing Hurt is told from Clint and Chelsea’s alternating perspectives on their three-weeks spent together. Personally, they’re both recovering from two very different, but equally devastating wounds–one physical, one emotional–and find the answer they have both been searching for in each other.  They need each other’s strength and competitive spirit and faith to move forward with their lives. In that aspect alone, it’s a gorgeous, empowering story.
However. There has to be a wrench thrown in, otherwise it’d be a little too . . . well, Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul-ish. This wrench comes in the form of Chelsea’s adoring boyfriend of two years, Gabe, who has been by her side since her injury, and has been a source of support and comfort for Chelsea. Though Chelsea knows she has something special with Gabe, when she meets Clint, she feels an instant chemistry. Neither of them can deny that they are attracted to each other, despite the fact that they both try pretty hard to ignore it.
Because they have to spend time together at the camp, it becomes harder and harder for Chelsea and Clint to suppress their feelings and desires toward one another, and eventually, they do give in to each other. And whoa baby, does Schindler not back away from the sexy-times. In fact! There were times where I could feel myself blushing while reading some of the steamier passages of this book.  It’s awesome. But despite the fact that this book GOES THERE, it also deals with the extreme guilt and not-guilt and the guilt that accompanies the fact that you don’t feel guilty in a very realistic way. I won’t spoil the way it ends, but it is really close to how this scenario would most likely play out in reality.
Overall, this book is emotional, touching, very mature (I mean it. I was blushing. It is seriously sexual.), and totally worth your time if you like realistic, contemporary fiction.
Thank you SO MUCH to Holly Schindler, for providing the book for the blog tour, and to Tara at Fiction Folio for hosting it! Be sure to check out the other blogs involved in this tour!
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