You know it's going to be good when the heroine starts out the book by bringing her poodle and her "Hungarian lover" (i.e. gay best friend) to her father's funeral.
Phoebe's father always hated her guts, and the final blow came when Phoebe got raped at 18 and her father was a perfect ass about it. She took off for Paris, where she eventually became the muse/beard for a famous painter, became friends with many gay men, and got into working at art galleries. She also has a reputation for being a sexpot galore...which is pretty much fake. Phoebe may have a body that looks like sin, but really, she just keeps up the reputation as a way to handle straight men... and blow them off because "they're not good enough for me." Aww. I like her.
Phoebe already knew she was going to get disinherited by her dad (except for getting custody of her younger sister Molly), but what she doesn't expect is to temporarily inherit her dad's football team, the Chicago Stars. Seems that somehow the favored nephew and heir Reed (who also hates Phoebe) pissed off daddy-o, and he's left Phoebe the team until January, at which point it reverts to Reed. UNLESS the team wins the AFC championships...and they're kind of a long shot for that even before Phoebe, a football hater, ends up in charge.
When Phoebe finally decides to face up to the responsibility, she makes friends immediately with the new general manager, Ron. Nobody on the team/staff likes Ron, as he comes off as a big ol' wimp to them, and they demand that he be fired. But Phoebe's better on people than football, and when she talks to Ron, she finds out that he and the previous GM had an arrangement where Ron did the planning work and the GM did the bossing around of others. Phoebe volunteers to take over that job...and the manipulation is brilliant.
The most enjoyable part of the book for me is Phoebe and the team. She makes friends with the guys and figures her way out. The best part is her first game, when she finds out that she's required to participate in various good luck rituals...no matter how weird or Very Personal they are. Hilarious.
What's weaker for me are the handling of the non-gay, non-Ron guys in the book.
I'm not a big big fan of Dan Calebow, Stars head coach. He's okay as a personality, but when he's paired with a chick who is decidedly Sensitive About Sexual Issues and could use some tenderness...well, I don't think he's the best match. He's not totally insensitive, but here's the thing: prior to Phoebe, Dan is having a fuckbuddy relationship with his Congresswoman ex-wife Valerie. Dan isn't terribly into it, but he makes it clear he's doing it because he feels sorry that a female Congress member can't boink around like a man. Unfortunately, they're getting into uncomfortably D/S territory in Valerie's fantasies, which involve her pretending to be a 16-year-old and well, getting raped. And Phoebe ends up walking into the latter scenario and being mistaken for Valerie...
I really don't want to feel THAT uncomfortable and creeped out in a romance novel. I really wish the author hadn't insisted on going there. This was not cool. It improves from there, but still...yikes and ugh.
I also don't like, at all, the use of Ray Hardesty Sr. Ray's druggie son got cut from the team and later died, and Dan has been pouting about losing attention as being the son of a star football player ever since. He blames Dan for the whole thing and wants to bring him down. This character is used so infrequently you forget about him when he's not onscreen, and it's so obvious what he's there for and how he's going to be used at the last minute. Ugh. And I don't think this is even necessary, because there's already a villain of the piece (Reed) who is 100% motivated to pull the same stunt, in the right place to do it, and would be an even creepier person to do it. Sure, you could guess he might, but the way Ray is used, it's not like there's even any suspense as to who will try to be a foiler.
So, good points: Phoebe and the team. Bad points: squicky sexual situation and villain misuse.
Overall: three and a half stars.