I've read a few other of the author's "football" stories and generally liked them, so I picked this one up. And then had serious doubts. But it recovered nicely.
The plot: Bobby Tom Denton (really, the name tells you all you need to know) is a recently-forcibly-retired football player who's looking for something else to do in life. He's agreed to film a movie as long as they did it in his economically-depressed tiny Texas hometown (though he apparently didn't bother to like, read the script!?), but the hometown's all hyped to have a "Heavenfest" and turn him into a tourist attraction. Bobby Tom isn't so thrilled about this, but he feels like the town "owns" him and he needs to suck it up.
This does not, however, get him at all motivated to get his ass down in time for filming. Which means that newbie production assistant Gracie Snow is sent up to Chicago to drag his ass down. Despite her best efforts, and they are a bit extreme at times, she can't drag Bobby Tom down any faster than he wants to go (which is to say, he drives down there and takes the looooong detour route). Naturally, Gracie gets fired for this, and a guilty Bobby Tom hires her as his assistant, but doesn't mention to Gracie that he's the one paying her bills.
Bobby Tom is your fairly stereotypical football player dude, likes the blonde bimbos, and forces all the various bimbos wanting to marry him to take a "football test." Gracie Snow, on the other hand...is a 30-year-old nerdy virgin who's spent her entire life until now working in the Shady Acres nursing home in New Grundy, Ohio. Naturally ,she and Bobby Tom meet when he "thinks" she's a stripper. I was all, "Please tell me you are KIDDING ME with this setup? Please? Especially the 30-year-old nerdy virgin stuff?" Not to mention the "oh, I luuuuv him" pages and pages around the middle beginning when Gracie's barely met the dude AND he lost her his job. And the "uh, do I buy this?" moments of Bobby Tom saying that gee, he just didn't feel like getting it up for the bimbos any more, but this barely A cup chick following him around was kinda getting him horny. Oh, and a fake engagement gets thrown in. I was mostly just going, "Ugh, this SUCKS, MAKE THE BAD CLICHES STOP" for the first third of the book and debating whether or not to throw in the towel.
But occasionally there'd be some kind of awesome line that showed up, such as, "He's been telling that hooker story again, hasn't he?" and "That is for making me buy condoms in front of your mother!" And eventually Gracie comes into her own. Sure, she gets a requisite makeover, but it just allows the wild child in her that always wanted to bust out to get to do so. And she still stays true to herself in her own way, and earns the loyalty of the townsfolk. And god help me, but the author managed to make a love story between these two actually believable. It gets a little borderline rocky during the heavy conflict part near the end (I was getting nervous as to how this part was going down and was afraid it was going to have It Had To Be You's level of squick on that subject), but in the end, it works.
There's also an odd secondary romance between Bobby Tom's mom Suzy (who for some reason reminded me of April from Natural Born Charmer so much that my brain kept wanting to call her April), a widow who's still quite sad over her husband's death, and Wayland, the town rich guy who used to be the local "bad seed." Now Way's got millions, he's moved back to town and bought up the lone job-producing business in town, and he's threatening to get rid of said business in order to screw the town over for how they treated him and his mother back in high school. Suzy was always scared of Way in high school, but he had a crush on her. And when she comes to see him to appeal to his better nature about not moving the business out of town...well, he takes advantage of the situation to ah, kinda blackmail her into dating him. You'd think a guy who had issues about his mom being the town hooker wouldn't treat a girl like this, but...yeah. It's just rather weird. I kinda buy them having a relationship even though Way is the opposite of what Suzy went for before, but the "blackmail" and general situation is fairly weird. Again, I bought into the relationship by the end, but there was some original squick going on.
So, three and a half stars. Stick with it, it gets better.