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Out of Play - Nyrae Dawn, Jolene Perry Bishop Riley does not have a problem. Yes, he likes to take a few pills sometimes to take the edge off, but an addict wouldn’t be able to manage it, right? Even after he wakes up in a hospital, having nearly ODed on pills, he still does not see a problem, but everyone around him does and that is how he ends up in the middle of Alaska with nothing to do but think on how he has fucked up. Penny Jones loves nothing more than Hockey and she plays like hell on the men’s team for her high school, but with an aging Gramps with mild dementia and a mother who is never home, she has a lot on her plate. So when the new renters show up, the last thing she wants to do is add “babysitter” to her to-do list. But there is something about the surly tenant that catches her attention and the more time she spends with him the more she realizes that maybe there is more than meets the eyes.

Initially, I did not like either of the main two. Bishop was obviously a pill-head who did not want to admit it and Penny seemed like one of those girls that can get any guy to do whatever she wants by simply batting her eyelashes and asking nicely. I abhor those types of girls and was instantly hateful towards her because within the first half of the book she has the entire hockey team drooling over her; Bishop showing mild interest; a pizza guy drive 5 miles out of his way to deliver her a pizza; a McDonalds employee giving her free food; and a music shop owner staying open late just for her. It was infuriating. The further you go with the story, though, the more you realize they are all fawning over her because she is genuinely nice to all of them and does not lead them on in any possible way. She is strong and stubborn and goes after what she wants regardless of if it is what anyone else tells her she should want. The more I read the more I thought that maybe she was exactly the kind of character we should be seeing more of. She is smart and caring and works her butt off for what she has, but at the same time, she isn’t perfect. She has a temper from hell and is just a little self-conscious.

Bishop also grew on me quite a bit, similar to the way a fungus grows on you. I found him highly annoying because I have little tolerance or patience for drug addicts. They all think they do not have a problem when they do and then they refuse to try to fix it. I realize that addiction is a difficult thing to cope with but I have problems, some things in my past are incredibly difficult to think about and you definitely do not see me guzzling alcohol or popping pills to cope. If I can do it, I feel like so can the rest of the world. So the excuses you give don’t necessarily fall on unsympathetic ears, but rather on the ears of someone who will tell you to grow the fuck up and deal with is like a big boy. I finally started to like him when he became more honest with himself about the fact that it really was a problem and had the desire to make it better. Once he realizes that he is not good enough for Penny and that he needs to get things in order if he really wants her that is when I started to like him.

Penny and Bishop together make quite an amazing match. He pushes her to do what she really wants, not what others want for her, and she pushes him to do better and be better. It was interesting to watch and learn more about each of them. The writing and plot were interesting, and though there was one too many deaths for my liking, I think the ending manages to be both happy and realistic, which is the best kind for NA. Bishop doesn’t magically get better, cured by Penny’s love and Penny’s issues with her mom don’t just vanish, but somehow they manage to make it work and what more can you ask for?

I can honestly say that I have never read either author’s work before this but will definitely be adding some of their titles to be to-be-read pile. This book was exactly what I was looking for. If you want a NA more about what’s happening now then the fucked things that happened in the past and that doesn’t read like erotica, then this is the right one for you.

****Thank you to Entangled Publishing for providing me with an eARC via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review****