I had high hopes when I first started this book, since within just a few pages I’d come to really like a character that I hated in the previous books. That’s a difficult feat, especially in so short a span, so I was surprised when the story quickly started going downhill for me.
Debra was the groupie we all abhorred, always throwing herself at any available (and often unavailable) player on the Lone Stars team. There was nothing at all to like about her, and the way she tried to take credit for Chord’s birthday party in Saving Grace pretty much ruined her in my eyes. But as it turns out, she has a pretty heartbreaking backstory, and her sleeping her way through the team was a misguided attempt at revenge against Warren, the man who broke her heart years ago.
Debra was the rich kid, and Warren was the help, and as in any good fairy tale, they fell in love. But Debra got pregnant, her truly horrible dad found out, and Warren was paid a million dollars to disappear from her life. Some nine months later, Debra was completely on her own when her newborn son died right after birth, and she’s been out to make Warren miserable ever since. I can’t say I blame her.
There’s more to the story, though, and while Warren certainly didn’t make the best decision back then, it wasn’t quite the betrayal that Debra thought it was. And now that Debra’s starting to regain her sense of self and let go of her degrading revenge plan, Warren’s doing his damnedest to win her back. Unfortunately, his plan includes stalking, setting her kitchen on fire, and nearly killing her with a kiss.
For a short while, I could get behind the couple, and while I didn’t necessarily agree with the way Warren was relentlessly following Debra, I could understand his desperation. But where the other books in this series have been mostly lighthearted and funny, The Debra Dilemma was all angst and regret. Warren’s bumbling and disastrous attempts to impress Debra weren’t quite the comedic lift the story needed, and the more I read, the more of a buzzkill it became.
Now I’ll be the first to say that this series doesn’t stay mired in realism, which is often a good thing when it comes to romance. I mean, we want to read a happily ever after story in which everything works out, not a dissertation on dirty laundry, morning breath, and the harsh realities of life. But after ten years of punishing Warren for deserting her, Debra forgives him in roughly 3.7 seconds. Yes, he was sorry, and yes, he didn’t have the full story when he left, but there’s just no way to put all that past behind them so quickly. And just to pile on the unbelievability, every football player on the team drops everything at a moment’s notice, all the girls immediately love Debra, and everyone’s holding hands and singing Kumbaya. Okay, so they weren’t singing, but at least if they had been, I could have chalked it up to a religious awakening.
Where it really went off the tracks, though, was near the end. Once Debra and Warren were on the path to happily ever after, there was simply too much book left unwritten, and so the pages were filled with over-the-top good deeds, demonstrations of Debra’s unrealistic wealth, and so many feel-good moments that I found myself skipping through most of the rest of the story. In the end, The Debra Dilemma is a terrible departure from an otherwise entertaining series, and I have to say that I really wish it had been skipped altogether. I have no idea why I bothered finishing it.