Pia Sabel always plays to win. That is how she became a professional soccer player and that is how she intends to run her father's private security company but there is a difference between playing on the soccer field and "playing" in the real world but Pia is more than determined to prove herself. From her very first meeting with a prospective client, Pia shows that she has learned some skills throughout her life both on and off the soccer field that will assist her in running her company. However, even Pia has not learned enough to dodge bullets all the time and she has become the target of some assassins. Pia now enlists the help of other agents not only to help teach her the ropes and keep her alive but to also hunt down who tried to kill her and who killed her prospective client. The first thing that her agents try to teach Pia needs to learn, that things are not always what they seem and by learning that simple rule she may just survive.
This book was able to capture my attention right away with the opening scene and I was hopeful the James would be able to keep the action and suspense going and for the most part he succeeded. I found that the actions scenes were well thought out and entertaining and I was happy that James was okay with letting characters get hurt or die, except for Pia but i think that James will hopefully change that in the next books. However, there were a few flaws in the over all execution of them. The first one is sleeper darts vs. bullets. I personally know which side I would want to be on. Then if you add in the facts that the sleeper dart guns are not accurate from a distance so you can only really use them up close and personal where depending on the type of gun you can have something at any range this did not make sense to me when dealing with professional assassins. This to me adds more danger to both Pia and her agents, as you now need to be a lot closer to the person that is shooting you to be affective against them. This seems to be counter to what Pia is attempting to achieve with the darts, less injury and death.
The second part that I did not enjoy for James' action scenes was the use of Pia's soccer skills and abilities to take down the perpetrator. This is most seen in the very first action scene where Pia attempts to stop an assassin by slide tackling him as he is running away; never mind the fact that she is wearing a dress and that she is slide tackling on payment and yet she gets up without sustaining any sign of road rash. This is completely impossible and I do not think a slide tackle is the best way to attempt to apprehend a person. While there are other times where Pia talks or uses her soccer reference in action scenes, this was the one that bothered me the most. I think that the juxtaposition of soccer and security life is an interesting idea, I just did not think that Pia had enough experience to be making those comparison till she got her feet wet.
To begin with I did not like Pia's character, she really is the spoiled brat and while I believed in her dedication to soccer, her constant comparisons between soccer and the real world, were at times valid at other times, but it felt like she had never lived in the real world. I think that Joelle, one of Pia's bodyguards, hit the nail right on the head with Pia's character to begin with calling her a spoiled rich brat even though Pia will deny it. However, then Pia would do exactly what Joelle would accuse her of, use money to get her way. I was not the biggest fan of Pia at the beginning of the book, I liked Joelle better and then Tania as well when we are introduced to her and I would have gladly read a story based around either of those two women as they both were more mature and experienced in combat. However, I did enjoy that James allowed Pia to grow as a character become more mature and it felt like she was to somewhat leave the soccer world behind her and I think as she gains more skill the reader will see less soccer and more competent agent. Pia’s back story was also interesting and I am looking forward to see the direction that James takes with this information and how Pia will handle her role and if she will use her resources wisely to discover the information she seeks about her past (I don’t want to give “it” away).
I do not think that there is any doubt that James can write, nevertheless, this book was just okay for me. I liked that James allowed Pia to develop as a character and in the end I was able to like her and over all I found the book entertaining and able to hold my attention, however, what I found James' novel lacked was an aspect of realism in the bullets vs darts idea as well as the likelihood of some of the decision and actions that Pia took, that put a negative spin on the book for me. Nevertheless, due to the fact that Pia became a character I liked and I think with additional actual training and less soccer this could be a really good series, therefore, I would read the next book in this series.