4 stars for Defensive Mindset: Contemporary Soccer Lesbian Romance

Defensive Mindset by Wendy Temple

Genre: Romantic Suspense, LGBT
Publisher: Ylva Publishing
Publication date: April 19, 2017
Book Description:
Star footballer and successful businesswoman Jessie Grainger has her life set, and doesn’t need anything getting in the way. That includes rebellious rival player Fran Docherty, a burnt-out barmaid with a past as messed up as her attitude. So when the clashing pair find themselves on the same Edinburgh women’s football team, how will they survive each other, let alone play to win?

About the Author:

Wendy Temple’s first love has always been sport. She kicked a football as soon as she could walk. At school, girls weren’t allowed to play football, so she played hockey instead. Hockey became her go-to sport for many years, but she played five a side football as often as she could/was permitted!
Wendy also loves music and from a young age got into punk. She remembers watching the Sex Pistols on the BBC news and her mum and granny being appalled. Wendy was ten and thought they were amazing.
Wendy believes that sport and a good family saved her from a life on the fringes of society. At age fifteen she was experimenting with drugs and skipping school. She failed all her exams apart from English. It was her love of sport that had her returning to school to re-sit exams and try again.
Upon leaving school Wendy studied physical and community education. After college she became a youth worker, running sports clubs, after school clubs and youth clubs. Working for an orthotics company inspired her to go to university to study Occupational Therapy – providing invaluable insight into physical and mental health, including addiction, which is one of the major themes in Defensive Mindset.
Wendy has spent most of her life in Edinburgh bar a couple of months in London. For her, Edinburgh is a city that can feel like a town: “It’s cosmopolitan, quaint and steeped in history, an ideal setting for any story,” says Wendy, which explains why Defensive Mindset is based in Portobello, Edinburgh!


Trigger Warning: Rape, Grief, Addiction


  • Hate to Love trope 
  • “Exoctic” sexy, brown skinned women as background characters
  • The word “lover” is used and I know some people hate the word
  • A+ Punk Rock History & Music. 
  • Yes, Sex Pistols Credit Cards are a real thing. 
  • It starts with a groping on the soccer/football park during a game
  • I seriously love how well the title works on different levels

Yes, I knew from the cover going in it was about soccer/football. Do I know anything about soccer? No. Do I care about soccer? While reading Defensive Mindset I did. It was rocky getting into it given how foreign sports are to me, but I love how it doesn’t try to define the terms and dumb it down. Context clues and paying attention is enough to get it, and once you’ve got it, you’re golden.

The games were exciting, the strategy fascinating, and the pep talks got me pumped.

Jessie is the Good Girl. I understand her inhibitions and always cheer for characters scoping out exits with a social clock ticking down. What I’m about to say next is probably backwards for most people but…She was so frustrating! She’s naive, sheltered and wholesome. I mean, her childhood and her success is what every parent asks for yet I kept thinking how fucking dull and judgemental she is and hating it.

“Seriously, that white shirt of yours saw more action in the thirty minutes Fran wore it than in a lifetime with you.”

The best moment of realization isn’t acknowledged verbally and I hope most people pick up on it. Jessie complained and whined how it wasn’t fair that Fran was treated differently. In the beginning. Once she got over herself, her prejudices, and knew more about Fran, Jessie was defending her. Pointing how hard she had to work just to be functional like most people.

“Life was shocking. The truth was shocking. And Jessie needed to hear it in all its gutter glory.”

Fran’s destructive thoughts and the relief from smoking is so spot on. I know smoking is terrible, I’ve smoked for 8 years and have gone 72 days without a cig. Everyone asked why I smoked but none of them understood when I tried to explain. I have anxiety, depression, and an abusive past to deal with. I’ve been on medication for the past year and couldn’t have even considered quitting smoking without that and the other progress I’ve made.

“The first drag burned the back of her throat before leaving a soothing sensation that radiated from her lungs throughout her body as she exhaled.”

While Jessie is uncomfortable with Fran’s smoking and how she describes her addiction to drugs, everything is truthful and the overall picture is one of caution.

“She fucking left me with a lifetime of chasing shadows and highs.”

I was pleasantly surprised to find there was still a third of the book left at the point most romance novels would’ve wrapped it up.

I find it frustrating when authors build up so much and finish with a shallow hollow ending. If you convince me for SO many pages how they’re relationship will never work, why the hell would I change my mind quickly?

Thankfully, Defensive Mindset portrays Fran as a whole person with real issues that cannot be shaken off with a good fuck. Only gimmicks and games work like that. When faced with the future and commitment and being open, Fran’s reaction is realistic. Making her accept that escalation after the Big Moment between would be fake.

Instead, Fran and Jessie are allowed to maneuver freely and make further progress. At the end, I KNOW how much I love them and can root for them, how assured their relationship is. I can’t describe it better without major spoilers but Wendy Temple has gained a huge fan with this turn of events. 

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know jack about soccer, or that you call it soccer. Want a grown-ass romance between two adult women from different sides of the field and want Hate to Love? Get Defensive Mindset. 

Another win for Ylva Publishing! You can check out more of their books here. I’ve read and loved all the books by Emily O’Beirne, which are YA Contemporary in Australia.

Don’t forget to come back next Tuesday, the 30th for my review of Under Parr by Andrea Bramhall, another W/W romance published by Ylva.


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