Knowing the Score by Kat Latham

Knowing the ScoreWhy I read it:  I bought this one after multiple recommendations from trusted bloggers. When it came up in conversation again because of a special price, I dug it out of Mt. TBR.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Rugby player Spencer Bailey is determined to win a spot on England’s World Cup team. But with a month break before the selectors start watching him, he’s eager to have fun with a woman who knows the score: the relationship will end when rugby season begins. The lovely American Caitlyn Sweeney seems perfect for the role of temporary lover, since her visa will run out soon anyway.

Caitlyn works for an international disaster relief organization and can handle the world’s worst crises, but she flinches from her own. Her past has left her with a fear of intimacy so deep that she has trouble getting close to anyone—until she meets sexy Spencer. His hot body and easygoing nature are too much for even her to resist.

Neither Caitlyn nor Spencer expects to fall hard for each other. But with their relationship deadline approaching, the old rules of the game seem less important than before…until past secrets surface, challenging everything they thought they knew about each other.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I’m pretty happy with myself at the moment because I’ve just found a new author and she has a BACKLIST!  Squeeeee!  I really liked this book.  The style worked for me as well so I know I will enjoy other books by this author.  This is the first book in her London Legends series and there are two other full length books and one novella available with the next book in the series out in May (and I have bought them all mwhahahahaha).

Back in Play by Lynda Aicher

Back in PlayWhy I read it:  I received a review copy from the publisher via NetGalley. The blurb just hooked me – a bit unusual and very intriguing; it lived up to its promise.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  For Minnesota Glaciers captain Scott Walters, skating on a bum knee—and self-medicating to keep skating on it—is all part of the game. That the painkillers he’s eating prevent him from having meaningful relationships is just one more sacrifice in a lifetime of them. He’s worked too hard to let his image be ruined by injury or dependency, so he hides the pain and fakes the rest—a girlfriend would only complicate matters.

High school teacher Rachel Fielding never needed a man in her life, but she also never intended to grow old alone. When she meets Scott while visiting her brother, she’s intrigued to find herself wanting him in her bed. For hours at a time, as often as possible. Scott is a giver, and just the memory of his attentions is enough to drive her crazy. Anything long-term is out of the question, though—the pills she finds in Scott’s house indicate he’s struggling with a lot more than growing older in a young man’s game.

When what starts out as a what-the-hell weeklong fling turns into Scott and Rachel exploring each other outside the bedroom, Rachel hesitates. But Scott asks for her support to break his addiction, and hearing him admit his secrets has her ignoring her own rules—until he breaks her heart. With the Glaciers refusing to renew his contract and his future with Rachel uncertain, Scott has some big decisions to make and a lot to prove—especially to himself.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I haven’t read the first book in the series (yet) but I think this one works well as a stand-alone. The story begins at the wedding of what I assume to be book one’s hero and heroine.  Scott Walker, the Glaciers captain is in attendance. He was the best man.  His knee is very sore and he’s popping pain pills but is being careful not to mix them with alcohol.  He’s been hiding or downplaying the pain in his knee for so long and he’s desperately tired.  He’s also desperate to keep playing.  It’s the end of the season and the Glaciers have just missed out on winning the cup. He wants one more shot at it before he retires.  His contract is up and the Glaciers have been coy about renewal.  He’s 34 and he knows he’s nearing the end of his career. Is he already past his use-by date?

At the reception there is a very attractive woman Scott hasn’t seen before.  This is our heroine, Rachel Fielding, the sister of a friend of the groom.  She is in town visiting her brother Rock (short for Rockford) and his partner Carter, for the summer.  Scott and Rachel are beyond attracted to one another but Rachel is going home in a week.  It seems any potential relationship is doomed.

Taken by Charlotte Stein

TakenWhy I read it:  I enjoy this author’s books so I bought it on release day.   Charlotte Stein and I follow each other on Twitter and chat occasionally. I think she’s lovely.  If I didn’t think I could be objective about her books, I wouldn’t review them.  But readers may wish to take the foregoing into account.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  It was just a prank I didn’t want to be a part of. I never meant to hurt anyone, least of all Johann Weir. You wouldn’t know that he sells literature for a living. He has these wild eyes—eyes that light something up in me—and he must be twice as big as I am, with strong, warm hands. Hands I try not to imagine everywhere.

He scares me. And thrills me.

But now the deed is done, and I have to face the consequences. He says he just wants to hold me here until the police come, but it’s been hours and I’m still here.

Chained to a pipe in his back room like a prisoner.

The only person I have to talk to is Johann, and I tell him dark, shameful secrets—secrets that involve the metal around my wrist and him standing over me. But I can’t stop. I need him to know everything. I need him.

Johann has his own secrets—ones he wants to tell me too. And more than anything, I want to listen. And maybe, before he sends me away, he’ll punish me.

Just a little.

Just enough.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  As is most often the case with auto-buy authors, I didn’t bother reading the blurb.  When I saw someone excitedly tweeting about it, I took a skim and saw “chained to a pipe like a prisoner” and thought – oh, this must be some sort of sexy game.  Um, not so much.   The book begins in a dark place. It doesn’t stay there long and Han’s actions after his initial blunder (blunder is not the right word – what he did was way worse than a blunder), are honourable.  It is also true to say that all of the sexual contact in this book is entirely consensual.  In fact, Rosie is the aggressor in the sense that she has to actively persuade Han to do anything at all.   Once the doing gets going, the tables turn, but Han does not make a sexual move without Rosie’s enthusiastic consent.   Which is all to the good because his first actions did not make me warm to him.  Picking up a woman and chaining her in your basement is not cool. It is so far beyond not cool, I can’t fully describe it. Yes, he initially isn’t thinking clearly and yes, his plan (such as it was) was merely to “restrain” her until the police arrived (her friend was about to set fire to precious first editions in his antiquarian bookshop and Rosie was ‘helping’ her by not actively stopping her) but, let me make this clear: it is not cool to pick up a woman and chain her in your basement*.

Anticipation by Sarah Mayberry

AnticipationWhy I read it:  I was provided with a review copy via the author.  Disclosure: The author and I are friendly on Twitter and bonded once over a Ted Baker dress.  We’ve met in person too.

What it’s about: (from Goodreads)  Blue Sullivan knows a player when she sees one. And Eddie Oliveira—charm and sex personified—was born to play. She never wanted him to say goodbye, so for the last ten years she’s ignored the sizzling attraction between them and focused on being the best sidekick a guy could have. Smart girl, right?

Then Blue has a serious accident, and overnight Eddie changes. Suddenly he’s more intense and singularly devoted…to her. With all this sexy attention, it’s hard to stay within the boundaries she’s scrupulously drawn. The temptation, the anticipation builds and, finally, she has to have what he’s offering. Of course Eddie proves to be brilliant. Now, she worries he’s ruined her forever…and she might regret leaping from friends to lovers.

What worked for me (and what didn’t):  I always enjoy Sarah Mayberry books. It’s just a matter of degree.  I liked Satisfaction last year and like many other fans, I too clamoured for Blue’s and Eddie’s story.  They were so close and anyone with eyes could see they were perfect for one another.  When I received the book, I didn’t even bother reading the blurb.  Who needs a blurb when you know you’re going to like the book anyway right?

I think Anticipation is a stronger book than Satisfaction.  It felt more cohesive to me.  I gave Satisfaction a B/B+ so it’s not like I hated it or anything, it’s just that it was a book of two distinct halves.  Anticipation has a smoother feel to the transitions.  Eddie is also slightly less perfect than Rafel and this appealed to me more as well.  Eddie is impulsive and hot-tempered, although he’s rarely a jerk.

When Eddie first me Blue some 10 years before the book begins he hits on her (because of course) and she turns him down flat.  Eddie is something of a player.  That’s not something that offends me about him because he’s honest about it. He has hookups or relationships (one at a time) but they are mostly short-lived.  He hasn’t dated the woman he wants to settle down with yet.  I always thought Blue was a little unfair to Eddie in that way.  When you think about it, every relationship you have fails until one doesn’t (thank you Dan Savage) so if Eddie’s had a lot of girlfriends, what of it?  Sure, things usually end when the girl wants to take the relationship to the next level and Eddie wants to keep things casual.  But that doesn’t seem to indicate a problem with Eddie’s constitution – or that’s not what I default to. It just means he hasn’t dated the right woman for him yet.   As becomes clear through the course of the book, there are in fact reasons for this.

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