FIRST & GOAL, by Laura Chapman {review and excerpt “Book Blitz”}

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Today I bring to you the latest book by Laura Chapman as part of CLP Blog Tour’s Book Blitz for First & Goal.

First & Goal features Harper Duquaine, a responsible employee in a Nebraska car dealership who decides to loosen up and join her colleagues in a fantasy football league. With only a smattering of football knowledge, Harper joins the guys in an attempt to show them she’s not just the no-nonsense worker who’s only about her job.

Right away, I thought the premise of this novel was pretty inventive. It automatically sets up our protagonist to hang with the guys, and our hopes are lifted even more when she shares a closeness with Brook, one of the leagues players. And if that’s not enough, the delightful cover will draw you in even further.

A major bonus in reading this book is that I learned about fantasy football through a another woman. I had no idea how it was played, but heard about these fantasy leagues for various sports. I know they’re taken seriously and it’s anyone’s game.
Take it from me, as I live in Canada, football just isn’t much of a “thing” here as it is in the States. It’s really a foreign subject to my ears, but I listened when it was written into this charming chick lit novel. To further my education, the author includes recaps throughout the novel for “Team Harper” from a fellow league player. That was added entertainment to the novel!
It was realistic that Harper threw herself into learning about fantasy football, watching the games, getting tips from her brothers and so on. She wanted to succeed with it as she does in the workplace.
I really liked Harper’s tenacity for winning! Automatically, she knows she’s the outsider in this league, just by virtue of being a woman.
It was also fun joining her in a new relationship with a “good” guy and navigating the waters of how to present that to her friends and co-workers.

FIRST & GOAL is an entertaining novel by Laura Chapman, with breezy writing and likable characters. Of course, it’s also more exciting that this is book #1 and sneak peek for the second book is included in the novel. I’m curious to see how this theme will be carried throughout the rest of the novels and what it means for Harper and friends.

first and goal

Excerpt of FIRST & GOAL:

While I dig through piles of green and yellow shirts, I call my younger brother, Christopher. I need advice before the draft. I may not be in this for the glory of victory or the money, but I don’t want to embarrass myself by coming off as an idiot.
His sleepy voice answers a second before it goes to voicemail. “What’s going on?”
Not wasting any time, I explain the situation. After giving him a minute to get the laughter out of his system, I tell him what I need from him. “I need a crash course in drafting a team.”
“Why do you care if it isn’t about winning?”
He snorts. “Fair enough. Do you have a pen and paper?”
My hands freeze on a long-sleeved green and yellow rugby style shirt. “Not on me. Should I grab some?”
He busts out laughing again. This time I struggle to stay patient while he pulls himself together. “Can we get through this?” I ask. “Today if possible?”
“Calm down, BK.”
I glare at the pile of shirts. “I told you not to call me . . . that.”
“Technically, you told me not to call you—”
“Don’t even say it. And don’t pretend saying BK is any different.” I walk over to a rack of jerseys. “Tell me your ‘rules.’”
Christopher clears his throat and begins. “Rule number one: Don’t draft a kicker or defense until the last few rounds.”
“Why not?”
“It doesn’t matter if they show up as the highest-rated available player or if someone else makes a grab for kickers and defenses early. It’s a wasted pick. The guys in your league will make fun of you for the rest of the season if you do something so amateurish.”
Noted. Saving myself humiliation is the primary objective.
“Number two,” Christopher continues. “Don’t try to draft every player from your favorite team.”
“Why not? The Packers are good.”
“Yeah, but what happens if they have a bad week?”
I feign mock outrage. “Are you actually suggesting our beloved Packers would have anything less than a perfect season? What would Dad say?”
“Trust me on this one, Harper. Your Sunday . . . or Thursday or Monday will be a million times worse if you’re dealing with a Packers and fantasy loss.”
“Okay, avoid drafting the entire Packers starting lineup. Got it.” I’m going to have to do some fast research to find out who else I might want on my team. Basically, all the players I know are in Green Bay. “What’s next?”
“Have you found out what pick you have?”
My eyebrows furrow in confusion. “Pick?”
“Where are you in the draft order?”
Oh. “Fourth.”
“The first three people have selected the top three running backs in my mock drafts.” I want to ask what he means by ‘mock draft,’ but there’s no time. “You can have a little fun with being fourth, but I say you should take the Pope. You’ll impress the guys in your league.”
“Who’s ‘the Pope?’”
“John-Paul Massa. An underrated but totally badass running back.”
“Massa it is.” I stare at the Chad Baker jersey in front of me. “When can I draft Baker?”
“No sooner than the second round, but try to hold off until the third. You want to make sure you get a solid wide receiver, and they tend to go fast after the top six running backs are off of the board.”
“But I want Baker.”
“He’ll be around,” Christopher assures me. “And if things get hairy during your draft, you can always text me.”
“Is there a fourth rule?”
“Yes.” He clears his throat again and hesitates. Content with my clothing selections, I walk toward the checkout line. “My fast and final rule: Don’t let the guys seduce you into giving them the best players.”
My gasp of outrage draws attention from the person standing in front of me. I dart an apologetic grin, before hissing at my brother. “Why would you even go there?”
“Harper, you’re smart and driven.”
“But . . .”
“You’re an idiot when it comes to men.” He releases a heavy sigh. “Maybe it’s because deep down you’re a sweet person or maybe you’re too trusting, but you have a talent for giving it up to douchebags.”
I want to argue back on principle. I am a strong, independent woman, who doesn’t need a man to succeed. But, a glance back at my dating track record gives Christopher’s commandment some weight. Maybe I should tell him I’m a new woman after what happened with the last guy. Instead, I thank him for his advice and pay for the new football gear.

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Laura Chapman portraitAbout the Author
Laura Chapman is the author of First & Goal, The Marrying Type, and Hard Hats and Doormats. Her work also appears in Merry & Bright, A Kind of Mad Courage, and All I Want For Christmas. A native Nebraskan, she loves Huskers and Packers football, Netflix marathons, and her cats, Jane and Bingley. Laura is currently in pursuit of a fantasy football championship while penning her next novel.

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Disclaimer: I received a complimentary ecopy of FIRST & GOAL from CLP Blog Tours. The book review and all other opinions are my own.


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