The car accident that derailed Kepler's European career also gave him some much-needed perspective. He's ready to give up on fame and focus on the game he loves. The last thing he needs is a headstrong brunette pushing him back into the spotlight, even if butting heads with her is the most fun he's had in ages.
The more time Holly spends with Kepler, the more she sees how different he is from his tabloid persona. But when she's offered her dream job for a price, she finds herself torn between the career she's spent years building and the man she doesn't want to give up.
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Holly's lip twitched in amusement as the tall blond dropped onto the bench beside her with a dazzling smile.
"Nice weather we're having," he offered, the words crisp and clipped in his South African accent.
Kepler de Klerk, once the brightest star in the world of international soccer, now a late-season signing to Charlotte's bottom-of-the-league Championship Soccer team, Discovery, was flirting with her.
And he had no idea who she was.
His name, photo and biographical information filled the three-ring binder on her lap, along with her carefully devised PR strategy to revamp his image and boost the team's finances. In fact, she'd only sat down in the park to review the file one last time before heading into the hotel across the street for their first meeting.
Holly snorted. "Almost as nice as that line."
The hem of his running shorts slid a little higher as he stretched out his long, tanned legs. She swallowed hard. He was even better looking in person. No wonder he'd managed to rack up just as many inches in the British gossip columns as in the sports pages.
Kepler grinned, revealing a set of perfect white teeth. He extended his hand. "Chris de Klerk. I've just moved to Charlotte."
Chris? Holly fought to keep her expression neutral as Kepler's bitter-chocolate-colored eyes regarded her intently. Was he waiting to see whether she recognized him? Although even the most famous players in the European soccer leagues could normally expect near anonymity in North Carolina, there had been a lot of local press coverage leading up to Kepler's arrivaland she'd engineered most of it.
Charlotte Discovery was her biggest client since leaving her PR agency a year earlier and going solo. They'd hired her specifically to launch their new star, having decided that their own internal press team didn't have the celebrity expertise. In Kepler's case, however, it wasn't just a question of placing a fluffy promotional spot in the six o'clock news. His career with London-based Archway FC, one of the best soccer teams in the world, had come to a tragic end eighteen months earlier when a car accident severely injured his teammate and left Kepler in traction. He'd gone back to South Africa to recover, but the British press had launched a vicious finger-pointing campaign in his absence, and when it was time to renew his contract Archway had no choice but to sell the disgraced striker to Discovery for a bargain-basement price.
Her job was not only to build interest in Kepler as a player, but to make sure his past didn't catch up with him.
She decided to play along. She shook his hand, and the firm press of his palm against hers sent an unexpected yet delicious shiver of desire dancing up her arm.
She yanked her hand away as if she'd touched a flame. What on earth was that about? Okay, he was a good-looking guyand a legendary playboy. Surely she hadn't fallen for his well-practiced charm in less than a minute?
This man could be the biggest break in your career. This was a chance to learn something useful, not gawk at him like a dreamy schoolgirl.
"I'm Holly Taylor. What do you do for a living, Chris?"
He hesitated. His gaze flicked sideways, and then his face relaxed into an easy smile. "I'm a cab driver."
Holly stole a glance over his shoulder, spotted the taxi rank outside the hotel and smothered a smirk. Very creative.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Rating: 4.5 Stars The Striker's Chance by Rebecca Crowley: Public Relations guru Holly Taylor can't believe her luck. Discovery, North Carolina's professional soccer team has just hired her to revamp their almost non-existent image, and if she is successful, she will be promoted to her dream job in the big city. Her first order of business is to relaunch the career of former international superstar Kepler "Killer" de Klerk. Kepler used to be one of the best soccer players in the Europe, until he was in a car accident that almost took his and his soccer buddy's life. Because he was the driver, the press went crazy and placed the blame for the accident on him, instead of the poor road conditions. More than a year later, the negative publicity surrounding the accident ceases to dissipate, even though his former colleague is completely healed and back in the league playing hard. Although Kepler was cleared of any wrongdoing, his European team did not renew his contract. Discovery got him at a bargain rate and because Kepler loves to play ball, he relocated to Charlotte. Before the accident, Kepler played hard and partied hard. His new goal is to focus on being the best once again, without any outside influences. Because Discovery is an unseasoned team, Kepler is basically carrying each game alone and his thirty year old body is taking a beating. Luckily his teammates are learning from him and they are improving with each day. Naturally, working so closely together causes Holly and Kepler to develop feelings for each other. Their chemistry is off the charts and after a few shared kisses, they cannot stop thinking about one another. Their night together is hot and steamy. Holly's PR strategies are working and Kepler is becoming a hero to the people of Charlotte, which is selling lots of tickets and bringing people into the stadium. Kepler has evolved into a wanted man, by some of the best soccer teams in the world and Holly. However, because Holly knows about Discovery's plans for Kepler, she does not let herself become any more involved with him. Wow, what an impressive debut novel by Rebecca Crowley. I have always enjoyed sports inspired romances and this one is well worth the read. The characters are well-developed and extremely likeable. Kepler is a sensitive alpha male and his realism is swoon-worthy. I connected instantly with the couple and there was never a moment that I did not want them to be together. Ms. Crowley's writing style is effortless and the book flows fluidly from beginning to end. If you are looking for a fun, yet emotional sports romance, give this book a chance.
Never read about soccer players. I'd never thought about the international players of the game, especially those who come to America, but this was a great book and I liked the main characters. Book provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
New author Rebecca Crowley starts off with a winner in this story of a soccer star and his PR manager. Kepler “Killer” de Klerk is a famous soccer player who go a bad reputation after an accident with a teammate that left them both injured. Unfortunately Kepler’s past reputation as a partier worked against him and he ended up playing for a low ranked American team in North Carolina. The owners of the team have hired Holly Taylor to rehab Kepler’s reputation with the promise of a bigger job opportunity if she is successful. Unfortunately, her first meeting with him does nothing to revise her low opinion of Kepler and she treats him like a recalcitrant child. Kepler is a good looking guy who has had some hard life lessons handed to him both physically and emotionally. He is attracted to Holly and she returns the feeling but won’t act on it. When she finally gives, the secrets she has about his future with the team make it hard for her to fully get involved in the relationship. I love sports based romances and this is one of the first soccer ones I have read. The premise is fairly similar as in most of the books with an alpha male who may or may not be a basically nice guy. The great thing is when a reader finds an author who takes the premise and makes it her own and gives us a book we can really enjoy. I liked the insights into the game of soccer and a little hint of how the professional game machine works. Both characters are good people with a facet to their professional personality that isn’t so nice. The storyline does a great job of working through the bad stuff to get to a really nice and fairly spicy romance. After reading this book, I look forward to reading future books by Ms. Crowley.