* * * 1/2
Rock star drummer Bishop Riley doesn't have a drug problem. Celebrities—especially ones suffering from anxiety—just need a little help taking the edge off sometimes. After downing a few too many pills, Bishop wakes up in the hospital facing an intervention. If he wants to stay in the band, he’ll have to detox while under house arrest in Seldon, Alaska.
Hockey player Penny Jones can't imagine a life outside of Seldon. Though she has tons of scholarship offers to all the best schools, the last thing she wants is to leave. Who'll take care of her absentminded gramps? Not her mother, who can’t even be bothered to come home from work, let alone deal with their new tenants next door.
Penny’s not interested in dealing with Bishop’s crappy attitude, and Bishop’s too busy sneaking pills to care. Until he starts hanging out with Gramps and begins to see what he’s been missing. If Bishop wants a chance with the fiery girl next door, he’ll have to admit he has a problem and kick it. Too bad addiction is hard to kick…and Bishop’s about to run out of time.
The story starts out with a very anxious Bishop Riley (think Adam Wilde from Where She Went – that kind of extreme anxiousness) returning home after a concert only to be met by an on again/off again girlfriend and a party that he never planned. He bypasses the party and heads for his bedroom where the lovely girlfriend hands him some booze and a bottle of pills. Bishop loses all sense of reality and proceeds to down the bottle of pills like candy. Next thing he knows, he is in the hospital and his band manager is making plans for him to detox in Alaska.
Penny is am accomplished hockey player with college offers pouring in from all over the country. The problem is that she doesn’t want to leave home. She wants to go to school in Alaska where she can keep an eye on her mentally ailing grandfather and where she can play hockey on the men’s team.
It is not instant chemistry when Bishop and Penny meet. Sure, they are attracted to one another but Bishop acts like a bit of a jerk and Penny isn’t one to put up with his crap. Through alternating views we see first hand Bishop’s struggle to realize he truly does have a problem while also witnessing Penny’s attempt to juggle her grandfather’s deteriorating health, training for state championships and a transfer of affections that she never anticipated.
We always learn things about ourselves when we read books. While reading Out of Play, I learned that I have a real aversion to stories about addiction. Too much of that has touched people that are close to me so reading about it makes me a little nauseous. But nausea or not I can’t deny that that this was a very good story. Bishop’s actions as an addict were spot on. I particularly appreciated how we are shown his continuous denials that he has a problem and how after admitting he has a problem it isn’t all puppies and rainbows. It was very realistic in that aspect. I also loved Penny’s character. She’s tough. Emotionally and physically. Not to say she can’t be hurt. She can and she does. But she shoulders a lot of crap in this story and continues to be the spunky “Lucky Penny” that her family and friends love so much.
When Bishop and Penny do finally come together it is both sexy and bittersweet. Sexy because – well – come one!?! Hot drummer and gorgeous hockey player? What isn’t sexy about that? But it’s bittersweet because even as these two are admitting their feelings for each other, Bishop is still keeping his secrets about who he is and why he is in Alaska. What happens when the s*#$ hits the fan? Well I can’t tell you that because I want you to go out and grab this book and find out for yourself. Even though I had some personal issues with the subject matter, I still enjoyed it immensely and believe you will too.