Play On by Michelle Smith + Giveaway

play on by michelle smith

Play On by Michelle Smith + Giveaway

Play On by Michelle Smith

Book #1, Lewis Creek
Published by Spencer Hill Contemporary on April 21st 2015
Finished copy from Publisher
258 pages
Purchase on AmazonFully Booked


In the small town of Lewis Creek, baseball is everything.

Especially for all-star pitcher Austin Braxton, who has a one-way ticket out of town with his scholarship to a top university. All that stands between him and a new start is one final season. But when Austin starts flunking Chemistry, his picture-perfect future is in jeopardy. A failing grade means zero playing time, and zero playing time means no scholarship.

Enter Marisa Marlowe, the new girl in town who gets a job at his momma’s flower shop. Not only is Marisa some home-schooled super-genius, she’s also a baseball fanatic and more than willing to help Austin study. As the two grow closer, there’s something about Marisa that makes Austin want more than just baseball and out of Lewis Creek—he wants a future with her. But Marisa has a past that still haunts her, one that she ran all the way to South Carolina to escape.

As Austin starts to peel back the layers of Marisa’s pain, it forces him to look beyond the facade of himself and everyone he thought he knew in his town. What he sees instead is that in a small town like Lewis Creek, maybe baseball isn’t everything—maybe it is just the thing that ties them all together.

YA Sports Romances seem to just draw me in, despite not being a sporty person at all in real life, and I guess that’s the main reason I was looking forward to Play On. I can assure you that this book hits the subgenre right in the nail, with a dedicated baseball player hero finding himself absolutely smitten by the new girl in town. However, Play On is so much more than it appears to be.

“It’s a little terrifying how one person can knock you clean off your feet before you even saw her coming.”

Okay, there’s definitely some light-hearted instant attraction that goes on in the story and I have to say this hopeless romantic was quite addicted to it. I do love getting swoony feels and Play On delivered just that what with its incredibly sweet and charming main character, Austin Braxton. I’m just gonna go on wishing that guys like him are out there in the world. A complete gentleman, a mama’s boy, a great friend and a passionate athlete, it was not hard to love Austin, no matter how cheesy he got. His narrative was so refreshing and so perfectly captured a teenager who’s fallen head over heels. His inner monologue was so adorable and realistic and easy to connect to. Smith pretty much rocked the male POV.

“How’d we get lucky enough to find each other?” she asks.
“Because the universe can be a jerk, but I think it knows when people need something amazing.”

The romance with Marisa, the new girl who helps Austin get back on track with Chemistry to be able to maintain his spot on the team as well as his scholarship, was delightful but also heart breaking in some parts. Although she’s a fairly likable character, smart and funny, only when her past and condition was revealed did I truly understand her. Austin broke through Marisa’s walls little by little and in return, he gradually opened up to her about his own demons regarding the suicide of his father. Aside from trusting each other with their secrets, the way the two supported each other was ultimately what made me want them to be together.

“For years, I’ve fought a war in my head… It’s hard to bring people into that war, even if they’re wiling allies who want to help. And when you fight alone, sometimes.. It’s hard to win a battle when you’re fighting alone.”

I loved how Michelle Smith handled depression from the perspective of someone who wasn’t experiencing it first hand but seeing a person he loved go through it instead and trying to grapple with the concept and how it just happens and what’s the best thing you could do for someone depressed. Aside from that, I really liked how Play On also portrayed a gay couple, Austin’s best friend and team mate, Jay and Brett, struggling with coming out.

“I’m trying to remind myself that things have a way of working out the way they’re supposed to. Maybe not the way we plan, but the way they’re meant to be.”

Aside from the fabulous romance, the book’s themes were really heartfelt and well-depicted and that’s why this story is an important one to me. Play On is a noteworthy debut that I cannot recommend enough. I’m looking forward to more from Michelle Smith and am so freaking psyched that there will be a sequel/companion novel. I’m ready for you, Game On!


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29 Responses

  1. My favorite YA Sports/Romance would be The Geek Girl’s Guide to Cheerleading
    by Charity Tahmaseb. I’ve read it years ago already but it’s a really nice book. ❤ Looking forward to read Play On!

  2. I don’t find myself reading a lot of YA Sports Romances. Actually, the only one I can come up with off the top of my head that kind of relates to “sports” is The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler, which is this fantastic Little Mermaid retelling featuring boating, patriarchy smashing, and diversity (among romance and mermaids, of course!). It really exceeded my expectations and I would definitely recommend it! Even if I don’t win Play On, I hope I get to read it soon! I think sports-centered relationships or even relationships where both members are huge sports fans are so cute, in real life and in all the fanfiction AUs, hehe.

    1. I didn’t realize The Summer of Chasing Mermaids featured boating but I’m so so excited to read that one! Aside from Play On, I’d also recommend Whatever Life Throws at You (another book with a baseball aspect) and also any Kenneally’s books (lots of sports featured: football, running, horse-racing..) :D

  3. The only YA Sports/Romance I read was Catching Jordan. I don’t know if you could enjoy it but it made me feel kilig naman so yun! Haha! What was the best YA Romance for you now? I’m just finishing the last book from Colleen Hoover which is Ugly Love ♥ I think your review made me want to read Play On na! Haha, if you know what I mean :D More powers dear xoxo

    1. I’m a huge fan of Catching Jordan! Sam Henry is so hilarious and swoony. I haven’t read Ugly Love yet though. So glad my review made you interested in Play On- it really is a fabulous book! :D Thanks so much for your support, Girlie!

  4. I haven’t tried yet reading any sports/romance books huhu suggestions pls? Thanks hazel!!! I would want to win this one <3 If ever, it'll be my first!!! <33 Haha getting my hopes up!! xo

  5. This is so bad… but I don’t think I’ve read a YA book that has sports as one of the main aspects. I’d love to read some though!! I’ve been recommended to read Miranda Kenneally’s books a lot. And Play On sounds wonderful as well!! :)

  6. A lot of people have enjoyed this one, which is why I’ve been keeping an eye out for it in bookstores. I don’t think I’ve read a single negative review yet.

  7. I don’t specifically seek out sports romances but, now that I think about it, a couple YA/NA romances that I’ve really fallen for have centered around football. This one definitely sounds like it’s worth a try. Great review, Hazel! :)

  8. I havent read any sports novel so if the odds will be on my favor, it’ll be my first read! the story seems unique and very interesting!

  9. I am not a sporty person too so I am one of those people too who look forward in reading books which includes spporty characters. I want to read Play On because the quotes from it that you posted is just too enticing. makes me want to read the whole book!

  10. Play On sounds absolutely adorable! I’ve heard plenty of praise for it, but haven’t gotten around to picking it up yet. I love the sound of that romance; I also really like the fact that you feel the perspective it has on depression is interesting. Can’t wait to check it out!

  11. Your blog basically just introduce me to this wonderful book. I am really interested to read this for the reason that you’ve done such a good job in making a review. Upon reading your review, i search a lot more, and i am so glad to announce Play on has plenty of praise so I think it is worth a try.

    ps. I was searching things about MIBF, since i’m attending for the second time, when i saw your List to make Mibf more fun. And I definitely agree to all of that. Will you be attending this year?

  12. There are several sports I love to watch, so I wish I did know of more books that actually involve sports, but I haven’t really read many other than a couple adult romances. This one sounds really good to me, I like the idea that she isn’t just brainy enough to be his tutor, she’s into baseball as well.

  13. I want to read this book because it sounds like a cute story to read! A friend of mine recommended me this book so I was interested in it. Thank you for this amazing chance! :)

  14. I don’t think that I’ve ever read any YA that was based on sports,buut my favorite YA writer is Morgan Matson,and if you haven’t read anything by her yet,you should :)

  15. I don’t have favorite YA Sport Romance Books,I read more Adult Romance Books,but I like to read this book,sounds very interesting :)
    Thanks for the great review :)

  16. Hi Hazel! Play On looks very interesting! I like sports but I don’t think I read a YA Sports related romance for awhile. I think the romance-sports related book that I read recently was a NA written by Mina Esguerra. I love your review! :)

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