All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

The Reluctant Wag – Mary Costello

on April 22, 2013

Reluctant WagThe Reluctant Wag
Mary Costello
Destiny Romance
2013, eBook
Copy courtesy of the publisher via NetGalley

Merise Merrick is a journalism student living in Melbourne, struggling to make enough money to pay the bills and rent on her micro flat. She’s working part time as a waitress when a customer asks her if she’s ever thought about doing any modelling. Although Merise has been asked this before, she’s always resisted – her goal is to be a serious journalist writing about the arts. 

But the money on offer is hard to resist and when her rent gets a hike, Merise makes the phone call to express her interest in maybe doing some modelling just to earn some money to make her life a bit easier. They already have a job that they think she’ll be perfect for – the “face” of an AFL football club that are really aiming to make it their year by winning the premiership. The club want to use Merise as a fan, film her supporting the club, interacting with the players and use her image to promote the club and build its fan base. Merise knows absolutely nothing about AFL and some of the assumptions she makes right off the bat put her at odds with Cal McCoy, the captain of the club and its superstar. 

Cal is focused. He’s the son of a premiership winning captain but it’s been a long time between drinks for his team and he’s determined that this year will be their year. They’ve steadily been improving each year, finishing higher and higher and now they won’t be satisfied by anything other than a top two finish, preferably on top. Cal doesn’t like the media stuff that goes with playing footy but he’s passionate about playing and he tolerates the extras that come with it in order to do what he wants to do. He is skeptical about the media promotion but he cannot help but be mesmerised by the beautiful Merise. 

But theirs is not an easy relationship. Judgements and sharp words mean that each time they make some small headway into getting to know each other, they take two steps back. Despite the attraction that simmers between them, Cal has September to think about. That’s his priority and he can’t let anything shake that. And Merise, well she’s not sure she wants to be a WAG. She’s made enough money to go back to her university life….but can she really leave Cal and his club behind?

AFL is something I’ve only embraced in the last 6 or so years, since I came to Victoria to live. Where I grew up it lagged far behind rugby league as a pastime and something to get passionate about. However the Sydney Swans (my team!) have won the premiership twice in recent times (2005 and then last year in 2012) so it’s a sport that’s carefully cultivating its interstate fans. In Victoria at least, it is religion. However its players do have a tendency to occasionally stir up some bad publicity generally being immature and overpaid so it’s no real surprise that stranger to the game Merise can really only drum up negative information in the beginning.

Merise isn’t a supporter at all, she sees the job with the football club as a way to earn much needed money but her lack of interest slowly begins to change after she meets Cal and has several conversations with him. She at first assumes Cal will be some sort of tattooed bogan with a shaved head who will walk into a lucrative media career, taking the place of someone actually qualified. Merise has to learn to get over her prejudice (and it does help that Cal is gorgeous with hair but minus tattoos) but the two of them do struggle to find themselves on even ground, despite the obvious attraction that comes out of playing up to the cameras. Merise is filmed watching a game, cheering when Cal scores, reaching over the fence to touch him after a match, attending a red carpet event with him. Slowly, because of Cal and the passion for the game she can see in him and the interest she begins taking in him, Merise becomes a real fan. She watches the games even when she’s not required to be there for the campaign, cheering their wins and cringing their losses.

This is a very gentle and slow building romance, definitely sweet really rather than overtly sexy. Merise and Cal do spend a lot of time getting into arguments, which can be a great catalyst for sexual tension but the reader rarely gets that payoff in this novel. Merise is quite judgmental  even after getting to know Cal a bit and she believes whatever is printed in the newspaper despite experiencing that what gets printed is often not really the case. I do think that Cal and Merise share some nice moments (the scenes in which they have dinner together at a quiet restaurant for example) but these moments are fewer than I’d like. They don’t seem to spend enough time together to warrant the depth of feeling that comes along to Merise quite early on in the book. And Cal’s determination to put any feelings for Merise on ice until after September backfires badly as well as serving to further delay anything possibly happening between them that hasn’t been orchestrated by a media team.

I think that it’s best if you’re an AFL fan to read this book, the game does take up a decent part of the book and there’s plenty of footy talk. However the teams are all fictional which can be a bit jarring – it’s somehow a bit harder to take the Point Cook Pirates seriously! I’d have like the physical chemistry to be further developed between Cal and Merise, but if you’re a footy lover who prefers perhaps a more chaste romance then this could be the book for you.


Book #98 of 2013

The Reluctant Wag is the 43rd novel read and reviewed for AWW2013.

Destiny Romance recently caught up with Mary Costella to talk to her about The Reluctant Wag, you can check that out here:




One response to “The Reluctant Wag – Mary Costello

  1. Marg says:

    Carn the Pirates? Hmm. not sure.

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