Playing to Win
Publisher: Penguin Group
Release Date: Sept 4, 2012
Retail Price: 15.00
Heat Level: Scorching
Someone’s going to have to let down their guard…
Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn’t clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He’s not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) Southern belle. As for Savannah, she’s not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she’s determined to give it her best shot.
When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields.
Series: A Play-by-Play Novel (Book 4)
Savannah Brooks has got a job to do… get Cole Riley to change his bad boy image or else.
The downside is he’s not like any of the reports she’s received—devastatingly handsome, and liable to make her clothes disappear with a smile. The image suggestions she’s throwing out aren’t readily accepted, and if something doesn’t change she’ll do the one thing she swore against—sleep with her client.
Cole Riley plays the game, on the field and off. His goal is to win and when he meets Savannah the only way he’s giving up is by getting access to her end zone. Not believing his image needs a bit of a makeover, Cole decides to at least play along until the desire he sees in Savannah’s eyes snaps. Along the way the game changes and pretty soon it’s not about the winning play but winning the game.
Burton latest Play-By-Play novel is definitely hot. Just look at the cover and tell me you’re not drooling; I was. This was my first time reading one of Burton’s books and I found the writing style sang to me. The story locked me in quickly and wasn’t a challenge to read or follow. Burton is also good at making you forget about the sports and focuses more on the holding penalties behind the scenes.
I liked the characters; there was a lot of emotional depth and drive between the both of them. Savannah’s like a one-woman army and Cole is determined to be a success. Cole’s biggest problem is that he’s not a team player. Savannah’s biggest issue is relying on others. In a way both problems intertwine and I was anxious to see how things played out.
Would Cole’s bad boy image prove to be too much of an issue? It certainly seemed like it since he didn’t feel the need to change. Though he does embrace Savannah’s suggestions and surprisingly seems to unconsciously do it to please her. His main focus through the entire story is getting down Savannah’s pants, and afterwards staying in them. This was a bit bothersome to me, and I couldn’t take Cole seriously for a better portion of this book. Savannah seems to have the same level of attraction as well and is doing her best to fight the urge to jump Cole’s bones. I admired her for the fight, and could see why she gives in, but after she does the main conflict disappears.
The conflict is where the book fell flat. There was so much potential for craziness and all hell to break loose, but surprisingly the book is super calm. Besides the internal emotional problems stemming from past experiences, Cole and Savannah don’t suffer an hindrance to being together. You would think the reality is that a ‘bad boy’ football player like Cole would get paparazzi peeking into his garden late night or following him across town. But nothing… Burton plays it safe in this one. So Cole and Savannah don’t have much stopping them from an HEA.
Overall, a decent story with good characters, who I felt were capable of so much more in the conflict department. I liked the setting, and I’m usually not a fan of romance books involving sports as part of the story. If you’re looking for a romance that’s easy to get involved in, but may not stir up those deep emotions then Playing to Win is worth reading. I would be willing to pick up a Jaci Burton novel in the future.Reviewed by Landra
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