This set of mini series reviews feels extremely self-indulgent because it’s really just me going into a deep dive on Karla Sorensen’s Washington Wolves extended universe because I’ve been devouring them lately. I hope that you get something out of this set of reviews so it isn’t entirely self-indulgent. And if you have any other series that you can think of that give you similar family vibes or that carry on from generation to generation, please let me know!
The story of the Washington Wolves begins with Allie Sutton’s book, The Bombshell Effect, when she inherits a whole football team upon her dad’s sudden and unexpected death. She’s dealing with the fact that they weren’t close and her neighbor is a total jerk… And also the quarterback of the team she just took ownership of. Meanwhile, Luke is, well, honestly, truly a jerk. He’s so used to women throwing themselves at him that he judges Allie immediately for being stunning and is just rude as heck. He’s also a single-father to Faith. Ultimately, the way the series kicks off is a solidly okay to good read. But the universe it sets up? It’s excellent.
Now, I’ll be honest, I DNF’d the second book when I realized I truly did not care about it at all. The Ex Effect follows Ava, the Wolves public relations person, as she deals with a whole lot of hang ups with her family that she really should have been in therapy for and Matthew Hawkins, a new player for the team who also happens to be her sister’s ex-fiancé. Or girlfriend. Honestly, I don’t remember. I was just so aggravated. Ava really needed therapy, not a boyfriend. Just saying.
But for me, the first book I read in the series was also my favorite because it’s what introduced me to Paige and Logan. The Marriage Effect is not a perfect book and I say that for many reasons, not the least of which is that there’s a scene where Paige slaps Logan and it’s just sort of… accepted. But, you know, we don’t do that. However, Paige and Logan, if you can get past that scene, are everything for me? This book is about the two of them getting married because Logan’s brother is making a play for custody of Logan’s four younger sisters who are delightful hellions. I loved them so much. They were definitely one of the best parts of the book. And I really loved the way this book just lets these family relationships shine. And really, Paige and Logan kept becoming favorites in the next series in the Washington Wolves expanded universe, in The Ward Sisters quartet.
Before I dive into that series though, let me give you a quick overall tl;dr here: Honestly, I think this initial series is a bit of a miss overall, so I would recommend going ahead and skipping ahead to The Ward Sisters and then you can always back track if you really want to see how the older generation’s love stories came about.
So, The Marriage Effect actually introduces both love interests in Focused. Molly is the eldest of the sisters under Logan’s care and she may have snuck into her neighbor’s room and he might have been a star football player who was too old for her. Now though, Molly is a public relations star for the Wolves and, oops, Noah has just been traded to the Wolves and Amazon wants him to be the star of some docu-series. But Noah really doesn’t make for good TV because Noah is so focused. He doesn’t allow for any distractions. But he can’t seem to help his draw to Molly. I really, really enjoyed this one. Molly and Noah come together in a way that just really worked for me, even the forbidden nature of it. I will say that I didn’t totally love that Molly just sort of ignored her work contract because it seemed unlike her, but I think that was the point. Their love story caught them both a little off guard.
Faked is probably my second favorite book in the series, maybe first, honestly depends on the day. I had a real good time with this one though. This follows one of the twins, Claire, and Bauer Davis. Claire has been in love with her sister’s best friend for a very long time and when Lia convinces her to trade places with her for the night to go to this charity gala thing as Finn’s fake date, she agrees in the hopes that Finn will finally see her. But it turns out Bauer has to take Finn’s place because he’s very sick. And then there are extremely unexpected sparks between Bauer and Claire and everything about it is really great. I loved Claire’s kind and giving and empathetic nature and Bauer’s rough edges and sort of jaded/cynical nature. The two of them are the kind that you wouldn’t always think would work, but I really loved watching them together.
Floored is the book I thought would absolutely not work for me. I mean, an accidental pregnancy in this political climate? The thought of it makes me want to crawl out of my skin, honestly. And yet. Lia and Jude just… Something about them and the way they were so willing to make their own bubble and so reluctant to pop said bubble spoke to me. And when Lia finally let the bubble be popped so she could actually figure out how things would work? I just really appreciated how this one played out. I felt like I could see the tiniest of Roy Kent inspiration in Jude too, so that wasn’t a negative for me at all.
Then, we finally have Isabel’s book, Forbidden, and let me tell you. I love Isabel. She’s got a very tough shell and it’s hard for outsiders to really break through all of her barriers but she’s also got so much love to give. And the way that she adores her nephew/brother Emmett is fantastic. And the way that Aiden Hennessy turns her into a babbling messy mess? I sort of loved it. Aiden, for his part, is still grieving the loss of his wife and adjusting to being back in Washington with his daughter, Anya, and taking over the ownership of the gym Isabel manages. There’s a lot of built in angst here and it just really worked for me.
So the tl;dr for this series is essentially, this series is fantastic and you could pick up these books and find something compulsively readable that I think really delivers on the romance front too. I’d say they are all mid-level angst, maybe tilting slightly into the upper end, but that would also depend on your scale.
The Wolves: A Football Dynasty
So I can’t find a series page on Goodreads for these final three books, The Lie, The Plan, and The Crush, but on Amazon, they’ve at least got the first two connected in this way. So I’m just going to include all three here.
The Lie follows Faith, Luke’s daughter from The Bombshell Effect, and she is now the director of The Sutton Foundation, which Dominic thinks she earned because of nepotism. Admittedly, Dominic has a huge chip on his shoulder. He’s the new transfer from Las Vegas and the man is salty. He’s grieving his little sister who died years ago, but he’s never dealt with it. At all. (She died of cancer, I believe.) Dominic gets into some trouble on his first day with the team and Allie tells him that he’s got to put in some hours with Faith doing charity work. But it turns out that the two of them have actually had an ongoing relationship on social media for years and don’t know who the other is IRL. This is one of my favorite plot devices and I really enjoyed how it was used here.
Then we follow Faith’s younger sister in The Plan, where Lydia is told she’s getting a bodyguard because her Influencer life has attracted some danger into her life. Ultimately, this is just a contemporary romance, with none of the romantic suspense elements you might expect in a bodyguard romance. I really enjoyed this one as well, which is probably not a surprise given that there’s a fake dating element as well. It was a good time. Lydia’s going through a lot. I wish we’d gotten to see just a little more of her really coming into her own in truth because she felt a little young in some ways, but I had a good time.
And finally, in The Crush, we follow Emmett, Paige and Logan’s son. Emmett is playing for Ft. Lauderdale and somehow missed how Paige and Logan’s love for one another made the Ward family what it was so when he had a chance at that love with Adaline, he turned it down in favor of focusing on football. He reminded me a lot of Noah, although we meet Emmett right when he’s reconciling who he’s been in his all football all the time life and the fact that as a professional athlete, he’s always going to be subject to experiencing a career ending injury. So he decides to make a big gesture for Adaline who he hasn’t seen in years. And… I really did enjoy this book. But I think what I enjoyed the most is that I couldn’t put it down. Overall, I’m not sure I would say that the romance totally worked for me because it really felt like a lot of the connection happened on the past and we didn’t see it. But, I really enjoyed spending time with the Wards again. They’ll always be my favorites, I think.
So my tl;dr for this trilogy is basically, I think they’re worth it if you want something to pick up that is compulsively readable and relatively fun even though the angst is certainly present in each of these books. I don’t think it overall rates more highly for me than the Ward Sisters though.
Sorensen’s next series is apparently going to be following the siblings of Erik and Adaline (who are siblings, btw) and I’m looking forward to continuing my journey with Sorensen, but I’m also hoping that this next series will be just as wonderful as The Ward Sisters.
Have you read any of Sorensen’s works? Let me know your thoughts! Also, Leigh Kramer has read many of these books and if you haven’t read her reviews before, they’re amazing. If you have, then you already know they’re amazing and I would highly encourage you to check them out on the Goodreads pages for these books because her content notes are impeccable and she is so incredibly thorough and just brilliant in helping you decide if a book might be for you.