Painting the Lines Featured
2021 Vivian Award Finalist, Book Review, Comedy, Enemies to Lovers, Opposites Attract, Romance, Series, Sports, Tennis

Painting the Lines (Ace of Hearts #1) by Ashley R. King


Amalie Warner wants another shot to prove that she can be a successful writer. After hitting the bestseller’s list nine years ago, she’s lost her spark. Feeling pressure from her father to leave her writing behind and to work for her family’s lucrative hotel business, she’s desperate to find inspiration for her next big idea, something that challenges and excites her, something real.

Enter Julian Smoke, a washed up tennis player making a dream run for the US Open. After a chance meeting at a bar, Amalie hates him instantly. He’s cocky and arrogant, but Amalie knows his story could be her big break. Could he be more?

Everyone knows that in tennis, love means nothing, but these two are about to change that.

Think The Hating Game meets Wimbledon.


What a delightful rom-com filled with my favorite tropes of enemies-to-lovers and opposites attract. Two people couldn’t be more incompatible or more sexually hot for each other than Amalie and Julian. One is a poor little rich girl who wants to be a writer in her own right and not the daughter of a hotel mogul. And the other is a washed-up, arrogant former tennis player who dreams of winning the U.S. Open. Fundamentally, everyone loves the underdog and the comeback story and this book has both in spades.

Julian Smoke is an egotistical, moody, and unpredictable former young tennis star who was bilked out of his money by his manager and dumped by his fiance at the height of his career.  Now, at 30 years old he sells pharmaceuticals for a living. He never expected to meet a hot little red-headed rich girl who takes his drunken ass to her home and gives him an offer he can’t refuse. No, not that kind of offer. It’s a chance for him to make a run for the U.S. Open funded by her father while she researches her next sports romance basing her main character on him. Of course, he’s going to take the deal as long as he can push her buttons and see that sexy fiery look in her eye.

Amalie Warner had a bestselling novel at the age of nineteen. Nine long years ago. She wants to prove to her controlling jerk of a father, mega-billionaire, Andrew Warner, that she can make a name for herself as a writer. As the forgotten daughter, she has never been supported by him for anything she does. All he does is belittle her about her one-hit-wonder bestselling novel. Her sister Simone is the shining example of what he wants in a daughter as she follows in her father’s footsteps. So when Amalie gets stood up by her best friend at a bar, she discovers the mouthy drunk next to her would be a perfect character for a new novel. So she takes the drunk home, delivers her pitch, and ends up wanting to either break his neck or grab his sexy butt. 

The verbal foreplay between Julian and Amalie is superb. I laughed out loud at the zingers these two threw at each other. Starting out as two people with preconceived notions, they eventually find cracks in the armor and become champions for each other’s success. What I love is the super-hot tension going on between them. It’s the relief they cannot act upon until after Julian is done training and playing the circuit. So, let’s just say the room mixup at the hotel where Amalie is sharing a bed with Julian before his match, is a hot steamy close call. Of course, there are some setbacks and misunderstandings due to their trust issues which result in some necessary groveling and FINALLY great makeup sex. Yummy!

I love Paul, Julian’s loveable JuicyFruit chewing coach who came through as a smart mentor, cockblocker, and a great support system for both Julian and Amalie. I am also a fan of Amalie’s she-has-her-back bff, Romina, who also happens to be poor Julian’s trainer. As for Amalie’s dad, he’s a real dick to her and should have grovelled much more than he did.

Though I am not a tennis fan, I thought the author did a great job detailing the matches in such a way that it had me glued to the pages as I cheered for Julian.  Well done!

I highly recommend this fun and heartwarming sports rom-com with bright and complex characters and a unique plot between a writer and a tennis player.


Painting the Lines

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Ashley R. King is a middle school English teacher whose love of the written word began when her mom took her to the public library, letting her check out stacks of books taller than she was. She’s the least athletic person you’ll ever meet, but that doesn’t decrease her love for her favorite sport, tennis.

She loves swoony romances and is addicted to sweet tea. When she’s not teaching or writing happily ever afters, she can be found snuggled up with a book, traveling, or quoting obscure lines from her favorite movies and tv shows. She lives in a small town in Georgia with her favorite person in the world—her husband, and their sweet and chatty spoiled cat, Cleo.

Follow Ashley on her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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