Break Point

Break Point - Yolanda Wallace Sports-themed lesfic is not my usual reading choice, mainly because I've always felt that sports action is much better watched than read. But this is book is set in pre-WWII Nazi Germany, a turbulent historical period that always lends itself to good storytelling.

Helen (American) and Meike (German) are amateur tennis players who meet regularly on and off court, in major tournaments around the world, and in bed. Meike's desire to concentrate on her singles career makes her dump Helen as both a doubles partner (for strategic reasons since Helen is a major rival) and lover. Meanwhile, Hitler wants to use Meike, who is physically a perfect model of the German aristocrat, for propaganda in furtherance of his dream of Aryan supremacy. Helen, on the other hand, sees herself being forcibly recruited by the US government to spy on Meike.

The main characters, Helen and Meike are inspired by a couple of real tennis greats of that era, and the 'greatest tennis game ever' played. The author's attempt to fictionalize the characters and the events that transpired are moderately successful, though sometimes believability was stretched too thin for comfort. Those times, it felt like the author was trying to place the characters in certain situations in order to fit the narrative, but the set-ups were not always believable or logical. E.g. Helen's cross-dressing, her spy training, her shoulder injury, her very careless reporting, in fact the whole forcing-Helen-to-spy-on-Meike situation, which just seemed like a totally pointless affair because why exactly should the US government care if Meike is a Nazi or not? Especially since the government's own spooks are so much better at sussing out the truth than Helen. Also, at one point, Meike worries about millions of her compatriots being killed or sent to concentration camps. That fact wouldn't have been common knowledge in 1938. Also, if I remember my history, the millions are Jews from other countries, not Germans. Oh and the ending is a complete fairytale, though that's par for the course for lesfic romances :) I also found it strange that Helen has an agent representing her but no coach. As for the romantic aspect, I can't really say that there was much development, as the main characters seemed to just love each other from the start, and only their careers got in the way of their relationship.

I was almost ready to write this off by the 60% mark but what totally saved it for me is the final third act, which saw some furious action and lots of drama on and off court. And of course, the greatest game ever played. In summary, totally get this if you're a lesfic fan who likes some intrigue, some danger, some loving, and some awesome tennis!

4 stars

P.S. YA fans might also like the book. For some reason, probably because of the way they're written, both of the leads appeared to me as YA rather than the twenty-somethings they're supposed to be.

ARC Received from Netgalley