Book Review #240, Part 2

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Paperback, 320 pages
Published July 1st 2014 by Berkley
Original Title: Straddling the Line
ISBN: 0425262995 (ISBN13: 9780425262993)
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #8
Characters: Trevor Shay, Haven Briscoe

Trevor Shay seems to have it all. A successful football and baseball career and an enviable lifestyle but when his college mentor’s daughter runs into trouble, Trevor drops everything to help her get her life back on track. He pulls some strings to get her an exclusive interview with him, hoping the interview and change in scenery will pull her out of her downward spiral.

Haven Briscoe has landed her dream job as a sports journalist but the recent death of her father leaves her grief stricken and unable to move forward. When she is approached to do an exclusive expose on dual sports playing star Trevor Shay, Haven feels this could be exactly what she needs to jump start her career and her life.

The chemistry ignites as Haven spends time with Trevor and learns the differences between the boy she knew in college and the man who stands before her today. Haven doesn’t mind a little play time but she knows her career could be ruined if she crossed professional lines. Trevor is willing to let Haven into his life and his bed but a secret he keeps hidden from the world prevents him from letting her into his heart. When Haven accidentally discovers his secret, Trevor is forced to either trust her with everything or let her go forever.

Straddling The Line is number eight in Jaci Burton’s racy sports theme romance series-Play by Play. Originally built around the popular and sports orientated Riley family, the series has spun off the family and is now divulging into relatives of the Riley’s and various friends and teammates. While I enjoy the fact the series is continuing, I feel it has never quite gotten back to the same level it had when it was based solely on the Riley family. Since Playing To Win, I’ve noticed Burton’s books have undergone a transformation. Softer edges and less volatile characters blunt the edge this series used to possess.

I’ve felt the series has become repetitive in its undertaking. We are seeing the same story, right down to almost identical scenes. The only difference seems to be different names and careers. The conflicts are weaker and resolve almost instantaneously. Stilted formal dialogue, formulaic love scenes, and low key emotional reactions from the protagonists had me longing for the earlier books. There is no surprise or anticipation in the last few books I’ve read which was a huge selling point for me in the beginning. We were never 100% sure our couple would make it. Now, there is no doubt they will end up together and the story merely maps out how they get there. Unfortunately, the story isn’t all that interesting.

Trevor and Haven are personable characters whose interaction is comfortable and almost 100% conflict free. They are extremely similar in their character makeup. Intelligent, loyal, and witty with a lack of the usual deep seated emotional baggage that often sparks the tension and must have misunderstandings in these romances. Though hard working, their well balanced personalities and dry humor sparks throughout the story. It was nice that neither were made dependent on the other for their happiness. Both are successful in their own right, Trevor more so, and comfortable with themselves. Even Trevor’s secret didn’t cast a heavy pall over the storyline with him being rude or cutting to Haven in his efforts to hide it.

The chemistry between Trevor and Haven is steamy but rhetorical. We know they are sexually attracted to one another but beyond that I never was convinced they actually fell in love. It felt that they were just going through the motions. The attraction felt convenient to the story, it could have been anyone. They never really argued, fussed, or fought beyond Trevor repeatedly shutting down any talk about his father and childhood. There were no real sparks between them.

Sexual scenes are rote and predictable. A masturbation scene clues us into their attraction to one another. This scene has been used as the sexual opener since book four. In every love scene from then out…Trevor goes down on Haven and then they have sex. EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. No change up. The dialogue during the lovemaking was also repetitive. Listening to Haven say, “Make me come. I want to come. Let me come,” became irritating after the 5th time. She never variates.

The main conflict was interesting in that Burton brings forth two issues; grief and embarrassment. Both are steeped in realism. In Trevor’s case, Burton addresses a common problem; touching on the stigma one can face when the issue becomes known. My qualm though was that neither held a strong place in the story. We are told but never really shown the effects on Haven and Trevor beyond cursory glances. They weren’t as big of a problem as we are led to believe. The resolution(s) were quick and painless which negated all the posturing both did during the book because of them.

While Burton’s sexy romances have always offered me a cozy respite from the normal rigors of everyday life, I’m no longer sure if the direction this series is taking is appealing to me anymore.

Rating: D+

 

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Kindle Edition, 142 pages
Published November 18th 2014 by InterMix
ASIN: B00ISEOKLA
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #8.5
Characters: Patrick “Trick” Niemeyer, Stella Slovinski
This is a total Christmas romance win! Sweet Mary. It’s steamy, sweet and completely sigh worthy. Jaci Burton does know how to do it right. Total *girly Christmas-infused sigh*. Holiday on Ice was the perfect readery treat to get me in the holiday spirit and a super sexy-sweet romance as Trick and Stella amp up their previously casual fling and find something to truly celebrate for Christmas.

It was a quickie read but oh it was lovely. Romance. Passion. Some hockey thrown into the mix. A little history to work through. Lots of laughs and some serious fan yourself moments. Whew boy!

Alright so these two–Patrick and Stella–used to hook up but demanding jobs–she’s a dancer, he’s a hockey player–had them falling out of touch for a while until a chance encounter at a bar one night sparks all those long ago flames and, well, keeping their hands off each other…not an option. Thank. Goodness. lol

These two were great. They’re both very dedicated to their jobs and just good people. Trick was sexy as hell and his moves off the ice totally rivaled his moves on the ice. *whews* He’s sweet, romantic and just a fun laid back guy that so had me panting. I was loving him something fierce. And Stella…well…chickie is scared as all get out of commitment after a bad break up years earlier so she’s a little quick to panic but she as a lovely one as well. She works her butt off and would be a good friend I think.

Their chemistry was freaking scorching–there’s a lot of lovin’ packed in this little read– but they’re also really great together outside of the bedroom. You can tell they just have a good time together whether it’s hanging out with friends, having dinner, playing in the park. They just fit. And it was a blast watching their once casual hook up turn into so much more before they even realized it. And even though they fell fast…it so worked for me since they’d known each other for a while now and already had that connection. I love when authors do that kinda thing.

Burton really delivered a fabulous holiday romance with Holiday on Ice. It was the perfect combo of fun and sexy, romance and real life–you get to see a good bit of them both on the job–and just heartwarming holiday spirit that gave me the warm fuzzies and left me smiling. A total Christmasy romance delight!  

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Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 3rd 2015 by Berkley Trade
Original Title: Quarterback Draw
ISBN: 0425263002 (ISBN13: 9780425263006)
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #9
Characters: Grant Cassidy, Katrina Koslova
Quarterback Draw is a standalone in the Play by Play series. This is my second book I’ve read from this series and I’m slapping myself because I don’t know why it took me so long to read them.

Quarterback Draw is a cute, make-me-happy kind of read that is PERFECT to read in between those serious books.

Grant is a football player, quarterback to be exact. He’s doing a promotional shoot in Barbados and he’s paired with a model. The model is beautiful Katrina.

I know what you are thinking. Model? Seriously? What average book-reader like myself would like reading a model as the Heroine? Well, me. I really like Katrina. She’s down-to-earth, sweet, pretty and the best part, she’s a single mom! (I’ve said it before, I love reading single moms). Her mom died and she has to take care of her two teenage siblings.

I really liked the storyline because Katrina isn’t your typical model. She’s really strong and independent and I loved that her siblings aren’t brats. The kids are completely adorable and really kept my interest in the book.

Grant is fantastic. Who doesn’t like a sexy muscular sports player? He isn’t looking for a relationship, but when he sees Katrina and starts to get to know her, he can’t help but want to be with her all the time. Even though they don’t live in the same state.

Katrina is all about responsibility and setting a good example for her siblings. She doesn’t have time for Grant, but she’s been single for so long, he’s bringing something out of her. Something that she hasn’t felt in a long time. Lust!

The relationship between Katrina and Grant is cute. I love reading Grant trying to pursue Katrina and I love Katrina getting flustered. Don’t even get me started with the steam! It didn’t disappoint.

If you haven’t read any of the book in this series, then I suggest you start with this one. It did not disappoint.

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Paperback, 318 pages
Published August 4th 2015 by Berkley
ISBN: 0425276805 (ISBN13: 9780425276808)
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #10
For someone who sometimes reads my reviews knows that I have a weakness it sports romance. I also have a huge sentiment for the Play by Play series. I am delighted that it continues. We again have a  wonderful athletes family, Cassidys! And great and warm relationships.

“This is where I belong, Aubry,” he said as he moved within her. “This is where you belong.”

***Quick Review:***

Series: This is the tenth book in the Play by Play series. But books related to Cassidys family starting at the ninth part – Quarterback Draw. You can start from there. Although each books have small allusions to some of the characters from the previous parts, the book can be read as a standalone.
Grade: Erotic and Sports Romance
Main characters: Tucker Cassidy, baseball player, pitcher in the Rivers. Aubry Ross, begins career as a doctor, the daughter of the owner of the St. Louis Rivers.
Secondary characters: As I said, wonderful new Cassidys family. You can count on a great relationship between siblings and a lot of fun!
Steamy: Yeah. A lot hot scenes.
Sensitive topic: No.
Love triangle:  No.
Cheating:  No.
Cliffhanger:  No.
HEA: Yes.

For who I would recommend? For someone who like sports romance with lots of sex scenes.

***

About the plot: Tucker and Aubry meet in very unusual circumstances. He is, in a not so subtle way, treated with knee by his – at this point – ex-girlfriend at a party owner of the baseball team. With the help of the aching testicles, arrives beautiful doctor Aubry Ross. They have along some sudden interaction at the party, which end an unsuccessful attempt to call for a date. Destiny however, has a different opinion to this topic. A short time later, Tucker again and again hits into the hands of doctor Aubry.

“So on the ‘occasion’ that we both have, I’d like to take you out. At least to thank you for being so concerned about the well-being of my testicles.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever been asked out quite that way before.”

“I’m nothing if not unique, Doc. So is that a yes?”

“I have a terrible feeling if I say no that you’re going to end up in my ER again.”

When he finally manages to invite her on a date. In a perfect healthy, by the way. They start seeing each other. There is a lot of second thoughts. Romantic dates. Hot nights. There also will be held with small problems. In fact, a normal relationship.

Final thoughts: That is exactly what this book is, normal relationship. A really great start. I was laughing so much! Poor Tucker had a few times to hit the ER to convince beautiful lady to date. And it was great dating. Romantic beautiful and fun moments. We have here a lot of hot sex scenes. They played a great time in bed and beyond. In the middle of the book, unfortunately, it was a bit boring. I waited for something to happen. Luckily at the end we have some action! And I would forget, I miss the epilogue!

I very liked the characters. The relationship between the siblings gave us a lot of fun. I love those moments when they give each other hard times.

“Yeah. She’s a hell of a lot smarter than I am.”
“Yeah, well, who isn’t?”

It is a fun, simple and hot. Fans of the series should be “oh so satisfied”, I am!

Next in the series? Yes, of course. Tucker twin brother, Barrett Cassidy!

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Kindle Edition, 139 pages
                                               Published October 20th 2015 by InterMix

Original Title: Hot Holiday Nights
ASIN: B013D6629A
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #10.5
Sports agent, Victoria Baldwin, is vacationing in Hawaii for Christmas when she hooks up with Alex, a pro-surfer. The relationship is very hot and heated right from the start. They seem to have a quick and easy connection.

When Alex’s agent, Ben Reynolds joins Alex during the a Christmas ran tournament there is definite chemistry that ignites between Ben and Victoria. Although there is an attraction, they seem to build more of a friendship until one night when Alex and Ben agree to offer Victoria a threesome.

The story runs at a fast pace, especially with its novella length. It is more of an insta-love situation, with very hot and heavy at every turn. If you’re looking for a flaming hot read to warm those cold winter nights, Hot Holiday Nights is the book for you.

I received this ARC copy of Hot Holiday Nights From PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW in exchange for a honest review. This book is set for publication October 20, 2015.

My Rating: 4 Stars

Written by: Jaci Burton
Print Length: 139 pages
Publisher: InterMix
Publication Date: October 20, 2015
Sold by: Penguin Group (USA) LLC
Genre: Contemporary Sports Romance

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Paperback, 330 pages
Published February 16th 2016 by Berkley
ISBN:0425276813 (ISBN13: 9780425276815)
Edition Language: English
Series: Play-by-Play #11

Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***

In the new Play-By-Play novel by the New York Times bestselling author of All Wound Up, a football hot shot and his best friend’s sister are breaking all the rules.

All the Right Moves

For Barrett Cassidy, playing defense for the Tampa Hawks is a dream come true. And now he may have discovered his dream woman. Harmony Evans, once the sweet, gawky teenage sister of his best friend and teammate has grown into a smart, gorgeous woman with moves he finds hard to resist. But he knows he can’t get involved with his best friend’s sister—it’s guy code.

Harmony has always gone after what she wants with single-minded determination, from her independence to her education to her career in social work. She never expected her youthful crush on Barrett to develop into something deeper. And she’s not about to let some ridiculous man rules or her brother stand in her way.

When the chemistry is this combustible, lines tend to get crossed. And when Barrett and Harmony’s secret gets out, it just might be game over…

What I Liked:

I think this book just wasn’t necessarily for me. I love Berkley’s books (did you catch my review of Dare To Run by Jen McLaughlin?), and I thought I would enjoy this one. Sports romances are totally my thing! And I love football. And the fall-in-love-with-the-best-friend’s-little-sister romance trope. But this book fell a little flat for me.

Harmony has always had a bit of a crush on her older brother’s best friend, Barrett. Barrett and Drake are not only best friends, but also defensive linemen on the Tampa Hawks, a professional football team. Barrett knows the bro code better than anyone – do not go near your friend’s sister. Even if the attraction and interest is mutual. But Barrett and Harmony can’t seem to stay away from each other, bro code or not. If Drake finds out about his sister and his teammate, it might all be over.

At first I was going along with this book, kind of just reading and seeing what would happen next. I wasn’t disinterested, but I wasn’t necessarily hooked. Still, I was never in danger of not finishing this book, which is always a plus.

I liked the diverse nature of this book! You don’t often see interracial couples in romance novels (though it’s becoming more prevalent these days than in the past).

Hmmm, I can say that I liked that there was a happy ending? You can’t *always* expect that in romance novels, but this one had a happy ending, if not a little cookie-cutter perfect (see below). But a good ending is still a good ending! I’m glad Harmony and Barrett got a HEA. Moving on!

What I Did Not Like:

I don’t think I liked Harmony at any point in this book. She doesn’t stand up for herself at all! If I had an older brother that literally WENT AFTER my exes, or a man that touched me even slightly inappropriately, I would have already punched my brother in the face. There is no need to act like it’s the fourteenth century or something. Harmony “gets mad” at Drake, but she never really makes it clear how much she hates how apes**t crazy he gets.

Which, by the way, was a total turn-off. Drake is the CRAZIEST care of overprotective older brother I have ever encountered. The man is absolutely bats**t crazy. Who goes after his little sister’s ex-boyfriend, when the breakup was mutual? Let her fight her battles! You’re only babying her further, directly and indirectly!

I didn’t necessarily dislike Barrett, but he felt one-dimensional to me. I never loved him or swooned over him or anything. He was a caricature, a mold of your typical sexy male hero in a romance novel. There wasn’t anything that made me fall for HIM.

I dislike how hypocritical Harmony is. She doesn’t want Drake to know about her attraction to Barrett, but she constantly gets mad at Barrett for him not talking to Drake. Hypocrite much? Also why can’t you go talk to him yourself, if it’s bothering you so much?

We never really get to see how the attraction plays out initially, before they start hooking up. WHY do they like each other, or are attracted to each other? It’s kind of just a once-upon-a-time-wham-bam-two-people-are-attracted kind of thing. Like, the foreplay isn’t there. Hopefully I’m explaining myself clearly!

Speaking of foreplay – the steamy scenes were pretty repetitive, sadly. The first time, it was pretty steamy, but then it seemed like the same scene was stuck on repeat. Mix it up, please! Make some of Barrett’s fantasies (or Harmony’s fantasies) happen!

I just wasn’t interested in the story beyond what I was waiting for in terms of Harmony and Barrett’s relationship. Like a layer was missing – there was definitely something missing. Maybe there needed to be more football in the book, or something. Family is a huge part of this book, but I found myself not caring about the family aspect. It felt like there were way too many characters and not enough personalization (that’s not a word?!) of each character.

The ending was SO overly perfect. It was cookie-cutter perfect in a cheesy, every-hold-hands-and-sing kind of way. I love a good HEA but it felt like there was no work involved, in this HEA! It felt like this book wasn’t building up to anything.

I’ll stop there! I think this book just wasn’t for me.

Would I Recommend It:

I personally can’t recommend this book, but maybe fans of the Play-by-Play series will still enjoy this book. I’ve not read any of Burton’s novels before (this is my first), so I can’t say if this one was better or worse than hers usually are. I didn’t enjoy the book but my issues could be very exclusive to me! I read this book after reading a YA novel, so I don’t think it’s because I’ve been reading too much romance novels. I think it was the book, it just wasn’t my thing!

3.5- Rating: stars -> rounded up to 4 stars. I’m sad to see this rating make an appearance, but 3 stars seemed too generous and not at all representative of my dissatisfaction upon finishing this book. I may trying another Burton book in the future, but it’s not likely to be one of this series. Again, it could very well just be me and my tastes!

 

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eBook, 347 pages
Published December 6th 2016 by Berkley
ISBN
0698175271 (ISBN13: 9780698175273)
Edition Language
English
Series
Play-by-Play #12

FINALLY, Flynn Cassidy has his day! First you start with a great looking cover. Knowing it’s a Jaci Burton story, you are pretty much guaranteed that there will be a lot of sex and very, very HOT. Add a sexy, handsome athlete looking for love and a woman recently burned from her divorce, and you have the latest in the Play by Play series. Rules of Contact is one great story. Add romance, a strong family connection, and a good story line and you have it all in one.

The eldest of the Cassidy brothers is Flynn and he can’t seem to find the right woman to share his life with. He wants someone who wants him for him and not his fame. Amelia Lawrence has seen it happen time and time again. She’s the head chef at Flynn’s restaurant and feels an attraction for Flynn but isn’t going to go there and risk having her heart broken again. Flynn feels it as well and pursues Amelia with a slow seduction. It may have started slow but the passion ignites and the sex is off the chart. I love that about her stories is that she makes each scene steamy and you can feel the heat between the two lovers. Add in his family for some fun holiday time, and the story keeps getting better when you see them tease one another and enjoy each other’s company.

Trust is the key issue in this story and it’s important for both characters to get it from their partner and have it respected. Flynn and Amelia forge a relationship that wasn’t easy in the beginning because she didn’t want to get hurt but when Flynn makes it too irresistible for her; she couldn’t help but fall for him. When he jumps to the wrong conclusion and breaks her heart, Flynn learns a valuable lesson. Thankfully it works out for them and they both get their happy ending. I just love this series and the recent addition of the Cassidy family has reignited my love for her stories. This is a wonderful family to get to know and fall in love with. The characters feel genuine and the issues they face are real. Rules of Contact is a wonderful story from Jaci Burton.

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Author: mccullum001

I'm a 27 year old, who really doesn't know what I want to do...I have the education, but nothing to show for it...Stay Tuned!!!

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