Title: The Player Next Door
Author: KA Tucker
Publisher: Self Published
Publication Date: 14 June 2020
Synopsis from Goodreads
Scarlet Reed has returned to Polson Falls, convinced that twelve years away is long enough to shed her humiliating childhood identity as the town harlot’s daughter. With a teaching job secured and an adorable fixer-upper to call home, things in her life are finally looking up.
That is, until she finds out that Shane Beckett lives next door.
Shane Beckett, the handsome and charismatic high school star quarterback who smashed her heart. The lying, cheating player who was supposed to be long gone, living the pro football dream and fooling women into thinking he’s Prince Charming. Shane Beckett, who is as attractive as ever and flashing his dimples at her as if he has done no wrong.
Scarlet makes it abundantly clear that old wounds have not been forgotten. Neighbors they may be, but friends they most certainly are not. She won’t allow herself to fall for the single father and firefighter again, no matter how many apologies he offers, how many times he rushes to her aid, or how hard he makes her heart pound.
But as she spends more time with him, she begins to fear that maybe she’s wrong. Maybe Shane has changed.
And maybe this time she’s the one playing herself—out of a chance at true happiness.
The Player Next Door gives the term ‘It’s complicated’ a whole new meaning, especially as it includes childhood enemies and the heartbreak of first love.
Scarlet never thought she would return to her hometown, especially when the shadow of her mother’s reputation still hangs over her. Yet that is exactly where Scarlet ends up in order to pursue her teaching career, a bonus is her dream house from her earliest memories has become hers. Although it does bring to mind ‘The Money Pit‘ along with it. So Scarlet feels she can cope with the lingering tarnish courtesy of her mother as long as she has the good things to balance it. That is until she realises her next-door neighbour is none other than her first love and first heartbreak, Shane. Compounded by the fact Shane has a son with her mortal enemy.
While the flames of desire are fanned between Shane and Scarlett there is a lot of regret and bitterness to let go of before they reach a state of friendship let alone more. Complicated by the fact Scarlett is now Shane’s son’s teacher. See what I mean by complicated!!!
There is also the undertones of the way in which events in our formative years shape our identity. The unfairness of being tarnished by other people’s actions especially those of our parents. Alongside, learning to let go of bitterness in order to find happiness.
The peripheral characters are especially entertaining and quirky; Justine was my favourite and I hope she gets to have her own happily ever after.