Friday, September 15, 2017

[Jen's Review]: "Playing with Forever"

Playing with Forever by Amy Andrews 
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen (September 25, 2017)
Series: Sydney Smoke  Rugby, 4
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Country boy, Ryder Davis has the world at his feet. A stellar rugby career, a winning way with women and a beach view that keeps him in blue sky and bikini babes. He’s living the dream.  The last thing he needs is a Great Dane called Tiny destroying his feng shui.

Dog whisperer, Juliet Morgan is about to start living her dream and she’s counting down the days. In two months she’ll finally be moving to Italy and no man’s going to stop her this time. Not even a rugby superstar with a badly behaved pooch.

But when Ryder skids into the animal shelter looking for help Juliet agrees to assist him with his canine issues.  Pretty soon they’re assisting each other out of their clothes and tumbling headlong into a sex thing with an expiry date.

Neither of them expected it to become more. But when for now starts to feel like forever Juliet hits the panic button. Ryder knows he has to play the long game and let her walk away. After all it’s not over until the final hooter sounds and all’s fair in love and rugby.

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Other Andrews Reviews:

Playing the Player

Jen's Review:

Playing with Forever is the fourth book in the Sydney Smoke series by Amy Andrews. All of the books feature strong, likable heroines, hot professional athletes, and lots of sex-positive messaging. I’m a fan of this series, and it’s entirely possible to start with this book and work your way backwards if you think this book is for you.

The hero of Playing With Forever is rugby player Ryder Davis. Yes, he’s a handsome and rich professional athlete; but more importantly, he’s a genuinely likable good guy. His friend Valerie appears at the beginning of the book, begging for help with caring for a huge Great Dane named Tiny. Ryder is a country boy who grew up on a farm, so, idk, I guess having a dog is not a big deal. Turns out Tiny is poorly behaved and Ryder decides to try some obedience lessons. Sparks fly when he meets the trainer, Juliet Morgan. The wrench in the works is that Juliet is moving to Italy in 8 weeks. She was dumped by her boyfriend of four years, and that guy kept her from this lifelong goal of living in Italy. She is determined not to let a man get in the way of her dream again.

There’s so much I liked about this book. It’s funny and there’s great rapport between Juliet and Ryder, between the teammates on the rugby team, and between Tiny and just about everyone. Any romance that makes me laugh out loud several times is a winner in my book. Juliet and Ryder are both strong characters, and the chemistry if off the charts. Juliet is determined not to fall in love and insists their relationship should only be physical. Ryder’s never had a long term relationship, so he doesn’t think it will be a problem to keep their relationship light.

My favorite thing about this book was that it was absolutely sex-positive. Here’s a key exchange from early in their affair. Juliet confides in Ryder about her bad breakup. She tells him afterwards she

“slept with a lot of guys in some kind of sick form of revenge. It didn’t really make his betrayal better, but it did expand my sexual experience exponentially.” 

First of all, I was thrilled that she has such a matter of fact attitude about her past. She’s not overwhelmed with guilt or shame: she knows what she was trying to do, understands it didn’t quite work, but has figured out the bright side. If she was a real person instead of a fictional character, I would have given her a fist bump and a shot of tequila. But I was expecting Ryder to be disapproving or disappointed--it’s pretty common in romance for men to get a pass for their sexual exploits, but for women to be shamed for them. Instead

“Ryder couldn’t help but wonder how magnificent she must have been back then, angry fucking every guy who crossed her path.” 

All he cares about is making sure she’s moved on, because he can already tell he wants to be more than another notch in her bedpost. There was not a single moment where either one judges the other for their sexual needs, whether they be past or present. Ryder and Juliet have tons of sex in this book, even sometimes when they are angry at each other. But all of it is just part of the evolution of their intimate relationship.

As great as that all was, if I had one wish for this book, it would be more scenes of them hanging out and getting to know each other. They really only go out on one “date” in the book, and they have a huge fight. In order to really believe two characters are in love, I usually need a little more about what they have in common.  Yes, their chemistry is off the charts, and I’m all for sex positive characters, but intimacy is built in lots of ways other than sex  and I wanted to see more of that. Either way, it’s obvious how much they respect each other. Juliet worries her plans to move to Italy will hurt Ryder; Ryder wants her to have her dream, but also to choose him. This is a satisfying romance with a believable conflict about two people who each want to fulfill their dreams and find a way to be together.


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

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Thanks for the review, Jen! I'm 100% here for sex positive romances. (And also, I can't believe I have to SAY that explicitly; romances *should* be sex positive, period, but I'm well aware that's not the case universally *sigh*). I'm going to read this one soon and I can't wait. I enjoyed book 3 and still have 2 on my Kindle. Andrews definitely does the fun and sexy well!

Have you read Amy Andrews?


Until Next Time,

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