Cleat Cute is the latest release from Romance author, Meryl Wilsner. I have read all three of Wilsner’s releases thus far and this one falls direct middle of the road for me.
In this story, we follow professional female soccer players, Phoebe Matthews and Grace Henderson. Grace is a veteran player, having played professionally since she was just a teen. While Phoebe is the hot new girl in the league, recently being called up after her stellar college career.
As a younger player, Phoebe grew up idolizing Grace Henderson, even hanging a poster of her over her bed. Now she is getting the chance to play with her; in her league. Phoebe can hardly believe this is her life.
Moving from Idaho to New Orleans will be a big change for Phoebe, but she knows she can make it work.
Phoebe throws herself into her new life with her signature gregarious style. Grace, of a much more subdued nature, is a bit taken aback by the new girl. The more time she spends with Phoebe though, the more drawn to her she becomes.
Over a series of increasingly personal encounters, the two women end up becoming friends. More specifically, friends with very incredibly hot benefits.
You then follow along with these women as they navigate their complicated friendship, as well as their equally complicated careers.
Cleat Cute features a well-developed romance, with plenty of miscommunication causing tension and growth, however, for me, my reaction to it throughout was mixed.
There were moments I was completely invested and enjoying the topics that Wilsner was examining. Then something would happen that would turn me off completely. It always took a while after the turn off to become invested again.
Phoebe’s character generally drove me a bit batty, but initially I felt like Grace was someone I could really get behind. Then there would be moments, where in order to provide a conflict, or miscommunication, it seemed like Grace’s personality would completely change in order to make that feasible.
I just didn’t like that aspect. I may be completely off base with this too, but to me it seemed like Grace was experienced and confident and then she would have these interactions with Phoebe that felt like she had never talked to another human before.
It was strange. It was like the conflict needed to be there and we were going to make it happen no matter how out of place it seemed.
It was those types of situations that made it feel slightly inconsistent to me. By the end though, the characters had won me over and I was fully behind their new-found open communication and expression of tenderness.
There were also some discussions, particularly with Grace, who was grappling with a hip flexor injury, about where she wanted to go with her career. She was benched for a while during recovery and she had to decide if she wanted to step back into a lesser role when she returned.
As a sports person, I enjoyed that, getting the chance to delve more into detail on Grace’s thoughts and emotions regarding her career and responsibility to her team.
I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys a steamy sapphic romance; extra points if you enjoy a sports romance. The audiobook was well narrated, so definitely recommend that as a format for as well.
Thank you to the publisher, Griffin and Macmillan Audio, for providing me with copies to read and review. I will continue to pick up Wilsner’s new releases.