Stars: 4.5 / 5
August 29th marked the start of US Open Tennis Tournament. It happens in Flushing, NY which is very close to where I live and yet hadn't had an opportunity to go. This year I was looking forward to go, but with all the top-seeded players in both Male and Female categories being knocked out sooner, demotivated me to go. Perhaps next year then.
To commemorate this day I am picking this romantic novel by Nora Roberts that mixes business with pleasure. Opposites Attract was first published in November of 1984 as part of the Silhouette Special Edition Series (#199). The plot revolves around two Tennis Superstars - Asher Wolfe and Ty Starbuck - involving romance, determination, misunderstandings, reconciliation, forgiveness and ultimate winners at both love and game.
After a three year sabbatical Asher Wolfe is back in the circuit of the U. S. Indoor Tennis Championship. She had steadily avoided following anything about Tennis and specially about Ty Starbuck. But now she is again back on the circuit back at the same place giving her undivided admiration watching him play - something that she had towards him for more than ten years. Ty had the strength, agility and form when on court making him still the leading player in the sport. And what Asher noticed that nothing has changed the way Ty played the game, but there was something that still changed in him that she couldn't put a finger on it, and then she saw it - his control, his reigning in on his temper - which surprised her. Although Asher had wanted to have their meeting in a planned and professional way, Ty smashed it all with one look across the court, challenging her, making her know that the game is still on and that he always won.
Now that she is back on circuit will she pick up her racket as well as Ty as everyone are speculating? Asher had been Lady Wickerton for past three years and now she is back as Ms. Wolfe with her divorce from Lord Eric Wickerton finalized completely. Will her being available change anything for Ty? But Ty had want to know why she had left and married Wickerton after being with him for that entire year. Why did Asher take that step? Rome was were everything started for Asher , her love for Tennis when she was seven years old and had watched her father Jim Wolfe win the tournament and fourteen years later her love for Ty when he won the cup that year. Now she is back in Rome. Will there be new beginnings for her? Mending old things with Ty? Winning the Italian Tournament had only fed her determination to move forward.
As the plot proceeds we get to see how Ty and Asher come up to be superstars at Tennis. Both from totally different backgrounds, but both ending on the same court with the same drive and determination to win. However there are still unresolved issues, unanswered questions for Ty and the feeling of sin and guilt that Asher carried. Will they walk to the net and resolve or smash each other in the court of love, neither winning nor losing? What sin had Asher committed that she felt that she needed to punish herself? Will Ty forgive her once he knows what she had done? As these questions are being pondered by both Ty and Asher, Jess - Ty's sister - knows of Asher's come back. She has reasons to be concerned of her comeback, of feeling guilty too. What history does Asher and Jess hold? How will Ty react when he comes to know?
Conquering Paris French Open, her next step was London, Wimbledon. But she was lady Wickerton here. How will she face the three years here? Will Eric cause her more pain? Will Ty be there her side now? Will Ty understand what she did? Will they finally get their closure here? Trust is foremost that these two have to build before they can get answers for these questions. How does it all go on, is something one have to read through to learn.
Other characters that sweep us through in the story and keep it tied well - Chuck Price (another professional tennis star and Ty's closest friend), Madge Haverbeck (former doubles partner and now coach to Asher and also a tennis pro) and her husband "The Dean", Michael (Australian tennis pro), Ada Starbuck (Ty's mother), Jessica Starbuck (Ty's Sister), Martin Derick (Ty's patron) and Mackenzie "Mac" Derick (Jess's husband).
The plot in the beginning concentrates solely on Asher Wolfe making the reader think it's about her. But in the sneaky way that Nora brings the other lead character up, she brought Ty Starbuck into focus as the plot proceeds. Before the reader realizes, she spins a web for you including both Asher and Ty. A master spinner as she was and is, this is the kind of web I miss from Nora's latest books.
The role of Jess Starbuck bothered me the first time around when I read it and even now, the second time I read for the sake of posting this review. Even if someone who loves you has made a decision for you taking the situation in a wrong sense but that decision caused harm to you will you forgive that person? If it was me in place of Ty or Asher, I would have never forgiven Jess in my life and in fact, knowing my nature, I would keep them at as far a distance I can. But again with life being so short, in the end if I get what I want in however twisted way the fate might have done and the decision the loved one had taken caused the twisted way of fate, perhaps I should forgive. But it was hard for me to digest that part in the plot.
I watch Tennis with intense concentration and love the energy of the game a lot. Nora Roberts captured that intensity, emotions and the motions that go through the individual on the court. She also added the personal emotions and tensions into the mix making it more intense. Her writing in this plot not only drew me to Tennis but also to the characters making me want to be there on the court and experience all of it. Powerful weaving.
A turbulent romance mixed with the intensity of tennis that Nora put to a perfect spin and thoroughly enjoyable while reading and left me breathless at the end.
1) Following Tennis for so long, there are some championships that I haven't heard of before: