Wednesday, January 25, 2017

[ARC Review]: "Playing the Player"

Playing the Player by Amy Andrews
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen (January 30, 2017)
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby, 3
Genre: Contemporary Romance 

After a long history with crappy guys, high school teacher Em Newman is going man-vegan. Four months of revirginization has opened her eyes to her doormat imitation but, baby’s got spine now, and some smooth-talking—even if he is sinfully hot—rugby player, won’t be adding her as a notch anytime soon.

Lincoln Quinn loves rugby, women, and poker. And he likes to win at all three. When his team mates bet him he can’t break through Em’s resolve, he’s more than up for the challenge. But this lady has a shoebox of stipulations before she’ll even go on a date with him, much less use that mouth for kissing instead of giving orders. 

Something’s gotta give but this time Em’s not settling. And Linc’s questioning everything he ever knew about matters of the heart.

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My Review:

Em is a high school teacher and Linc is a rugby star. (The book is set in Australia.) Em and Linc met in a previous book (their friends are a couple). Em has no plans on falling for his playboy charms -- something that is new to Linc, of course. Women throw themselves at him, but here's the one woman that's not interested. Or at least doesn't *want* to be interested in him. Em's only ever had long term relationships and has decided to take some time away from the dating scene to really focus on herself, what she wants, etc. But Linc . . . Oh, he's a temptation that she never saw coming.

While at a poker game with his teammates, a bet is made on how long it'll take for Linc to get Em to fall into his bed. He lets them make the bet, as it's done good-naturedly, but he never plans on pursuing Em because of the bet. In fact, he forgets about it, too focused on figuring out how best to approach Em; his usual M.O. isn't really working, and he finds he loves the challenge.

I liked the poker game scene because it showed the guys' friendships and interactions. It caught my attention enough (combined with later scenes featuring the team) that I want to read their stories, too.

“But…a vibrator can’t hold you in its arms or give you the full-body experience.” 

Em clamped down on the wicked surge of heat between her legs, thinking about a full-body experience with Lincoln Quinn. “It’s not going to make me lie in the wet spot, either.” 

“It can’t snuggle with you after,” he countered with another laugh. Em snorted. “And that’s your specialty, is it? Hanging around for pillow talk?” 

“I’ll have you know I give very good pillow talk.” 

Sure. And Elvis was alive and living at Henley Stadium. “Right,” she muttered. “Of course you do.” 

“I really do.” He nodded. “Most women seem to be more interested in me giving them good head, but hey, I’m a full service kinda guy.”

There were a lot of great scenes, including cute interactions via text; Em doesn't want dick pics, so instead he sends her a picture of his elbow. She returns it with a picture of her knee, and they continue this fun back-and-forth of sending random SFW body pics to each other.

And then we hit the first sex scene, which is actually a masturbation scene. But oh, man, does it bring the heat. Basically, he was at her place to get ready (they were going to an event together) and while in the shower, he starts jerking off. Em forgot that there were no towels and walks in on him. She can't look away and when he stops, she encourages him to continue. Spoiler alert: he does, indeed, continue. 😈

“Fuck yes,” he panted, gripping his cock harder, his hand flying, tugging convulsively now as his balls drew impossibly tight and his orgasm hit warp speed. “You’re making me come.” 

Linc’s heart punched hard against his ribs as he fought to heave air into his chest, fought to keep his head from falling back against the tiles and his eyes from closing as everything coalesced inside him, boiling up, wanting out. 

He wanted to watch her watching him come. 

“Yes.” He gasped as it hit hard, exploding from him like he’d been celibate for a year. 

“Oh God.” Her tawny-gold eyes wide as she watched the hot spurt of his come. 

“Yes.” He groaned, taking in the round O of her mouth, the heat in her gaze, the agitated pull of her breath and the swells of her breasts as he pumped and pumped. “Yes. Yes.”

After, they both try to avoid the elephant in the room, but there's no denying their chemistry. Which leads to the sexy shenanigans in the team's locker room. All. Night. (We'll ignore the fact that I'm sure security or a cleaning crew should have been wandering around the place.) Unfortunately they wake up late and some of his teammates walk in. Em's still in the shower, hiding, while Linc walks out to try and distract them. The guys find her clothes and start giving Linc a hard time, not knowing that she's still in the room. And, you guessed it, they bring up the infamous bet, which Em overhears.

Now, normally this would cause a big issue, but it didn't because Em realizes that the bet wasn't Linc's idea. In fact, she notes that if he had wanted to win the bet, he would have made a move on her weeks before they finally got together. I was glad that she reacted this way; the normal drama-route is done too often, so this was a bit refreshing to read.

While she's facing down Linc and his friends in the locker room, she starts listing all these rules she has in order to date a man. Including this gem:

"Because I only consider giving extra time to a guy if he can make me come five times in a night, and you, Wonder Cock, only got to three.”

I mean, I approve of this requirement, Em. 100% approve.

The requirements are meant more for fun than anything else, but Linc does work to hit all of them for her over the course of the book.

Oh! One more sex scene that I can't resist talking about takes place in the car -- and she initiates it. She can't wait and has Linc pull over before climbing on top of him. Like all the other scenes, it was pretty damn hot. But the most notable thing was when she hit a sore spot on him -- he had been tackled in the game earlier, and had some bruised ribs -- and he actually responds to the pain! Seriously, we often joke that in romancelandia the hero can fuck through anything, including serious injury, without wincing. Now, they do finish, but that pause where he has to remind her about the ribs was, again, refreshing to read and added that little something to the scene.

I have to say, I was very disappointed that we didn't get to see Linc achieve the 5 orgasms in one night requirement. I kept waiting for it, but it didn't show up on page. Talk about being a tease! I do wish that scene had been included, it had the potential to not only be really hot but continue the fun of the rules.

Both Em and Linc are around 23, but this did not feel like a NA romance. That's not a good or a bad thing, just an observation. They seemed older and I actually have a hard time reconciling them with those ages because they didn't act it at all. Plus it doesn't quite add up, especially with her working as a teacher so young (though I realize it is possible). Speaking of her job as a teacher, I was disappointed that this was basically just throw away information about her. Her job and responsibilities are not part of the book at all. In fact, other than it being mentioned two or three times in passing, I never would have guessed she worked at all, let alone as a teacher. I'm not saying we needed pages devoted to her teaching or anything, but things like a career or passion should be adequately explored on page to add to the character. And that just didn't happen here.

Otherwise, my only other complaints, also relatively minor, revolve around the pacing and the ending. Throughout the book, but especially towards the end, I felt that the pacing was off; some scenes (like the 5 orgasms mentioned) were cut off and the following scene would be days or even a month later. I know, especially in a category length  book like this, you can't cover every day of the relationship on page, but I felt like too many things were skipped and just mentioned in passing later on. I wanted more scenes shown and the pacing to be more even.

And my problem with the ending was partly tied into the pacing again (it felt rushed -- the book is only 170 pages or so, but still!) and also partly the last minute issue about Linc's hangups with marriage, which causes conflict and some time apart -- and a far-too-quick turn around on Linc's part as he decides that maybe he'd be okay with marriage, because Em. Again, it just comes down to things feeling rushed.


Did I like Playing the Player? Definitely!
Would I recommend it? Yep!
Would I try another from Amy Andrews? Yes, I'll be grabbing the previous 2 in this series, and maybe even look into her other releases.
Quickie Sell: A teacher and a rugby player steam up the Kindle and create some laughs along the way.


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I received an e-ARC of this book from the publisher, via NetGalley.

*Note: The quotes used belong to Amy Andrews; TBQ's Book Palace does not claim them. Any mistakes or typos in the quotes are my own fault.

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You can find more of the quotes I shared on my Twitter feed.


Until Next Time,


  *TBQ's Book Palace is a member of both the Amazon and Barnes and Nobles affiliates program. By using the links provided to buy products from either website, I receive a very small percentage of the order. To read my full disclosure on the matter, please see this post!

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