Thursday, May 2, 2013

Release Day Launch: Game.Set.Match. by Jennifer Iacopelli

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Game. Set. Match. (Outer Banks Tennis Academy, #1) 
Title: Game. Set. Match. (Outer Banks Tennis Academy #1)
Author: Jennifer Iacopelli
Release Date: May 1, 2013
Published by: Coliloquy, LLC
Nestled along the coastline of North Carolina, the Outer Banks Tennis Academy is the best elite tennis training facility in the world. Head Coach, Dominic Kingston has assembled some of the finest talent in the sport. From the game's biggest stars to athletes scraping and clawing to achieve their dreams, OBX is full of ego, drama and romance. Only the strong survive in this pressure cooker of competition, on and off the court.

Penny Harrison, the biggest rising star in tennis, is determined to win the French Open and beat her rival, the world’s number one player, Zina Lutrova. There’s just one problem, the only person who’s ever been able to shake her laser-like focus is her new training partner. Alex Russell, tennis’s resident bad boy, is at OBX recovering from a knee injury suffered after he crashed his motorcycle (with an Aussie supermodel on the back). He's hoping to regain his former place at the top of men’s tennis and Penny’s heart, while he’s at it.

Tennis is all Jasmine Randazzo has ever known. Her parents have seven Grand Slam championships between them and she’s desperate to live up to their legacy. Her best friend is Teddy Harrison, Penny’s twin brother, and that’s all they’ve ever been, friends. Then one stupid, alcohol-laced kiss makes everything super awkward just as she as she starts prepping for the biggest junior tournament of the year, the Outer Banks Classic.

The Classic is what draws Indiana Gaffney out of the hole she crawled into after her mom’s death. Even though she’s new to OBX, a win at the Classic is definitely possible. She has a big serve and killer forehand, but the rest of her game isn’t quite up to scratch and it doesn’t help that Jasmine Randazzo and her little minions are stuck-up bitches or that Jack Harrison, Penny’s agent and oldest brother, is too hot for words, not to mention way too old for her.

Who will rise? Who will fall?
THOUGHTS:

As a huge sports fan (and I do mean huge - I follow a LOT of sports), I remember being incredibly delighted when I chanced upon this novel. I've read  heaps of books about both American and European football, swimming, hockey, and figure skating even, but this would be my very first look into the world of professional tennis as told through a Young Adult or a New Adult novel. You should have heard my shriek when I received my ARC, and it took me next to nothing to finish it.  Let me cut to the chase - Iacopelli's debut novel - the first of this series - didn't disappoint. I would even go as far as to say that it blew my socks off (you know, if I were actually wearing any... but you get my drift).

What impressed me the most about Game.Set.Match. is definitely the writing. Though the novel switched between the POVs of the three MCs, I'm happy to note that Iacopelli was able to establish her characters successfully. None of them sounded alike, and they each had their quirks and habits that made them relateable heroines. I had no trouble distinguishing between their voices, thoughts, and characteristics. Moreover, Iacopelli somehow made all three similar (given the fact that they are all serious athletes) yet so individually unique. Usually, having multiple POVs in a single novel is a tough feat for an author to overcome, but Iacopelli had no problems whatsoever. It was so apparent just how attuned she is to her characters - I never felt like I was simply reading through an author's printed words. I honestly felt like I was reading through the throughts of three young women. They almost seemed like my friends, in a way.

It was so obvious to me that Iacopelli is a huge fan of tennis. Not only is this book impeccably researched, I could feel her love for tennis through her characters. I loved reading the different parts in the novels where the different matches take place - Iacopelli struck the perfect balance between keeping things technical but still making sure that she can capture the excitement of her readers (both those who are and who are not fans of the sport). My heart was pounding like crazy during the more intense moments of the matches - Iacopelli had no problem recreating the atmosphere of tennis' most exciting duels.

In recent memory, I have never quite liked a female MC as much as liked Indy, Jasmine, and Penny. (Yes, I actually loved reading about three of them!) I loved how serious they were about their sport, and reading about their lives outside the sport was pretty interesting as well. Sure, there were moments when I rolled my eyes at their antics and their choices, or I just wanted to scream at their hard-headedness, but ultimately, everything the three did contributed to the growth and development of their characters. Nothing felt forced. Nothing felt out of place. I didn't think it was possible but I ended up loving all three characters more at the end of the book.

All in all, Game.Set.Match. is the perfect example of what New Adult should be about. We have strong, relateable main characters, for one. We also have perfectly paced love stories (Ugh I adore Jack!). Moreover, even though it deals with more mature topics, it's still realistic (because plot twists that come out of nowhere simply don't make sense most of the time), yet it also tells of a story we don't see everyday. I can't wait to see where Iacopelli will take her story next!

Rating: 5 Stars


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