Reviewed by Tori
Favorite Quote: “He took her breath away.”
Talented wide receiver Cole Riley should have the world at his feet, but his antics on and off the field have made him a liability. His agent tells him to shape up or else he’s done. Image consultant Savannah Brooks has agreed to help Cole clean up his image but isn’t sure she can take the bad out of this aggressively sexy man. When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down a few rules; hands off. But even Savannah can’t help but respond to the sexual appeal Cole has, especially when he turns that gorgeous gaze on her. When Cole decides that he wants Sam in his life and bed, can she resist or will she play to win?
First off, once again, let us discuss Jaci Burton’s cover models. ZOMG! I know I’m not the only one who is staring at the strings on those pants, hoping they will magically start to unravel. Le sigh.
Playing To Win was, to me, a deviation from her last four books. The harder edges are distinctly softer, the romantic “conflict” more emotionally based, and there is none of the heavy external conflicts that came in to play with the previous installments, making it a little less enjoyable for me. Of course, we still have Burton’s requisite smoking hot male lead, sassy intelligent female, a solid plot, and some heavy, heavy smexying everywhere in between. I enjoyed the way this story reveals itself to you. It starts out with a VERY sexy masturbation scene and just goes uphill from there.
Burton does a nice job of developing Savannah and Cole’s relationship while revealing them to us as individuals. Starting out as a business relationship, even with the intense sexual chemistry, Burton keeps a healthy balance between the romance and the main plot. Savannah draws out Cole’s personality; letting us and herself get to know the real Cole. She soon realizes that he is much more complicated than she gave him credit for and not at all as the media portrays him. Cole likes to keep his personal and business life separate but his aggressive personality works against him.
Even though this is told from Savannah’s point of view, I almost felt as though I got to know Cole’s character much better than Savannah’s. Savannah is a gorgeous, intelligent woman. She is also very private and that privacy is felt in the book. She, like Cole, likes to keep her personal and business life separate and I found it very interesting how she pushed Cole to reveal all his personal life to her yet struggled to do the same. She says and does all the right things but you notice right away that she is hiding something.
The sexual heat and playfulness in this book made it a fun, abet, HOT read. Ms. Burton has a way of writing intense scenes that are both sensual and raw and neither of her characters are shy about what they want. Thanks goodness.
When he slid his hand from her breast to her rib cage to her belly, she wasn’t out to object. In fact, she rolled onto her back and spread her legs, hoping he’d get the message.
He lifted his lips and gazed down at her. “Something you want?”
“Yes. Well, I have a list, actually.”
His lips lifted in a devastatingly wicked half smile that made her clit quiver. “care to share that list with me?”
“Your hand on my pussy would be a great start.”
He glided his hand down, cupping her sex, using his fingers to rub over her sensitive flesh. she arched against him, reaching for his wrist to hold him where she needed him most.
“Feel good?” he asked.
She turned to look at him as he brought her right to the edge. “Yes.”
I love seeing old Riley’s and meeting new Riley’s. Their boisterous, nosy nature is offset by the love they feel for one another, though Liz continues to annoy me on a small level and I’m not sure why. They have no boundaries and will be up in your business in a heartbeat; offering advice, encouragement, and the proverbial slap upside the head when needed. Savannah LOVES the Riley’s and you sense that this family is what she wants and needs in her life.
As their relationship progresses, Savannah begins to fall for Cole and finds herself at odds with the feelings he invokes in her. She tries hard to keep their relationship strictly business but Cole pushes all her buttons and she finds herself wanting more but unable to admit that to herself. Here is where Savannah’s issues begin to surface. It’s all very low key though. Not her issues, but the reveal and resolution. As I stated earlier, this book is somewhat softer and more focused on the emotional issues of our hero and heroine. Savannah and Cole’s relationship has it’s ups and downs but Burton’s normally delicious tension wasn’t strong in here. I missed that. The main conflict and subplots are resolved easily and without much fanfare, and I felt like that was a weak point of the book.
I look forward to the fifth in the series, Thrown By A Curve, which revolves around Alicia Riley (Cole’s sister) and very HAWT, very bad tempered star pitcher-Garrett Scott.. Thrown By A Curve is set to release in March 5, 2013.
Overall Rating: C+