‘The Game’ by Vi Keeland: The perfect story to smash a bad case of reader’s block

If you’ve had a rough time getting back into reading, maybe consider checking out this The Game book review. This story, by Vi Keeland, embodies all the best qualities of a good romance.

I’m so glad I picked up The Game by Vi Keeland as my first read of 2023. I mean, it’s really my first new read in, like, two years or so. Thanks to a major case of reader’s block and a TON of re-reads, I haven’t tackled a new book for personal reading in a long time. I hope I can fully express how happy I was to make this The Game book review my first 2023 foray back into leisure reading. I needed my first book back to be sweet, spicy, fun, and flirty, but I also wanted a story that was going to make me desperate to finish it.

The Game nails all of those qualities in spades. The sweetness of this book definitely comes in the earnestness of Christian’s love and affection for Bella. Usually, I would expect sweetness in a book to come from grand gestures or cutesy moments, but, instead, we get to see a genuinely decent guy find someone he wants to invest his time, effort, and love in. Watching him be struck dumb by how strongly he feels for this woman who crash-landed into his life is, in a word, irresistible.

As far as the spicy goes, I’ve always been a fan of how Vi Keeland handles spicy activity in her books. While the romance genre represents a variety of books from closed-door sex to explicit, The Game falls solidly in the truly spicy column for me. For those more interested in closed-door or fade-to-black sex scenes, this book goes far beyond that, but it definitely doesn’t go as far as some truly explicit romances I’ve read. More than anything, the intimate scenes between Bella and Christian are just that—intimate. Bella’s trust issues force her to try and make sex less personal and more about the endorphin rush. Christian knows that she’s going to try and check out, enjoy the experience, but not let him into her heart, so he goes to some lengths to make sure she has no choice but to see him, to be in the moment with him, and to chip away at the forcefield she’s drawn around her heart.

the game vi keeland book review
Let’s hit on the fun now. From the thrills of a romance kept private, to all the jokes and fun had with the side characters, including Jake, Wyatt, Miller, and definitely Coach, this book finds ways to keep things fun, even when more serious themes are still developing underneath the central story. It’s exciting and entertaining to watch as Christian shows up again and again for Wyatt, especially because he does it out of a genuine desire to help. Even though he’s an NFL quarterback, and one of the highest paid players in the league, he still remembers the high he felt when his pee wee coach brought a famous player to his games. He knows that his mere presence is a thrill for the teens, and does his best to be a good example to them.

It’s also insanely fun to see how flustered Bella is at the beginning of the story. Any woman reading this book can understand her hesitations, both personally and professionally, but it’s still fun to see Christian dismantle those roadblocks with a combination of patience and a masterful flirtation game.

This leads us to the flirty part of this book, and one of the reasons why I think this story was such a great way to get myself back into reading for this The Game book review. Christian and Bella’s relationship dynamic is built on a solid foundation of flirtation. Bella hesitates to return Christian’s advances at first, but once she decides to allow him to have a place in her life, she dishes out the flirtation in equal measure. And it’s compellingly delightful.

I love a good sports romance, and this one used that angle to great effect. This story could have been set in a myriad of places, and it would have worked very well, but adding football as a background character in this whole story gives it an air of fun. I also happen to be a football addict, and seeing these characters bounce around a sport I’ve come to love so much made this story that much more appealing to me. I have found many of Vi Keeland’s books absolutely delightful before, including some of the titles she co-wrote with Penelope Ward, and I am glad I could count on this story to launch my reading year off right. Time to get back on track.

Oh, and if you are an audiobook listener (or a hybrid reader/listener, like me), I cannot recommend this story highly enough. With Andi Arndt and Sebastian York as the narrators, and Lyric Audio behind the production, this is one of the highest quality audiobooks out there.

‘The Game’ hit bookstore shelves January 16, 2023.

Buy The Game by Vi Keeland on Bookshop.org, Book Depository, or Amazon. You can also add it to your Goodreads list.

Look for more recommendations on our books page.