Tag Archives: Sports Romance

Review: Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton

Straddling the Line (Play by Play, #8)Straddling the Line by Jaci Burton

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Seductive Musings.

STRADDLING THE LINE is the eighth book in Jaci Burton’s popular Play By Play sports romance series, featuring a hero and heroine who briefly appeared as supporting characters in MELTING THE ICE, the story which takes place immediately before this one. Our hero, Trevor Shay, is a college buddy of other characters in the previous books. His heroine, Haven Briscoe, is the daughter of their beloved mentor who has recently died from liver cancer, leaving family and friends bereft.

When Trevor discovers that Haven is going to abandon her new job as a national sports broadcaster after the death of her father, he vows to do whatever it takes to stop her from making such a huge mistake. Haven is surprised to find herself chosen by Trevor as the first person allowed into his daily life to document how he succeeds at playing both professional baseball and football, not realizing his hidden agenda to keep her from throwing away her career before it’s begun. But when Haven’s college crush on Trevor flares into a shared passion, it’s only a matter of time before she gets too close to what he’s kept from nearly everyone in his life. As much as Trevor may need Haven, he needs to protect his secret more, even if it means pushing her away completely. And now it’s Haven who needs to save Trevor from himself and a future without love.

For me, STRADDLING THE LINE clearly established its own identity in the Play By Play series without straying from its established sports romance formula, We got to see how professional baseball differs from professional football beyond what’s already obvious, and how their competing interests were a constant issue for Trevor, even as he continued to excel in both fields. Keeping both teams happy would be an herculean effort for anyone, yet the added strain of Trevor’s big secret didn’t appear to be as much of a problem as I would have expected under the circumstances. For yes, I did figure out what he was hiding fairly quickly, but that’s only because I’ve read a few other romances recently with the same plot twist, including one featuring another baseball player hero. Once I’d guessed Trevor’s secret, all the signs were there like big red flags, and although I tried not to hold it against the book for making it so obvious by the time of Trevor’s big reveal, I did find it all too convenient that Haven was uniquely qualified to help him not only face his problem but also work to help others in a similar situation. But with such an otherwise appealing hero and heroine, and all the familiar characters from the previous books making an appearance to help this latest couple along toward their own HEA, how could I not enjoy how it turned out in the end? It was also great to meet the new family of sports heroes who will be featured in future Play By Play books. This is a series that continues to prove itself worthy with every new installment, and STRADDLING THE LINE is no exception.


Overall: 4
Sensuality level: 3

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Release Day Blog Tour: Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips


Title: Dare to Desire

Author: Carly Phillips

Release Date: April 10th, 2014



Dare to Desire



Quarterback Alex Dare, had it all — an all-star football career with the Tampa Breakers and his choice of willing women — until a severe injury forces him into early retirement. When he is offered a ground-breaking position with a rival team, he’s intrigued, but there’s a catch. He’ll be working alongside the same woman he hasn’t been able to get out of his head for too long.

Social worker Madison Evans grew up in foster homes and knows first hand what it means to have-not. She isn’t impressed by Alex Dare’s wealth or charm. Not since she fell hard for him once before, only to discover she was just one of his too-easy conquests. This time around Madison refuses to succumb to Alex so easily.

But Alex wants Madison. And if there is one thing Alex does well, it’s to get what he wants. The playboy athlete must prove he’s got game in more places than on the field. He means to prove that he’s a changed man but no sooner does he begin to break through Madison’s defenses when a new opportunity comes knocking and threatens her new-found trust. Can he make Madison take a risk and dare to love?


Without replying, Ian opened the door. They stepped into the room, and Alex laid eyes on the one woman he hadn’t been expecting to see. The same woman who’d haunted his dreams and sidetracked him from many of his nightmares.

Madison faced him head on. Her shoulders drawn back, golden-blonde hair pulled away from her face, she didn’t back down from his stare. She wore a pair of black slacks that hugged her curves and a white silky-looking top that clung to her generous breasts. And those unusually blue eyes frosted over at the sight of him.

“Alex, I believe you know Madison Evans.”

Blindsided — and his half brother knew it — Alex strode up to her. He inhaled her familiar fruity scent, which only served as a reminder of the hot times he’d spent breathing her in as his cock moved inside her body. Her effect on him was potent, and even the most common expressions failed him.

“Alex,” she said, her cool tone bringing his head out of the desire-filled fog he’d found himself in.

“Hey, Angel,” he said, using the endearment he’d started calling her during their brief time together. Another sign he’d had it bad, whether he’d wanted to admit it or not.

Her head whipped up, her eyes narrowing and settling on Ian. “This won’t work.” She turned to go.

Alex still had excellent reflexes, and he grabbed her arm before she could stride past him.

She glared.

He didn’t look away, determined to win this battle of wills. This potential job, which had interested him on an intellectual and emotional level initially, suddenly felt even more important, and she was the reason.

“We need to talk,” he insisted.

“I have nothing to say.”

“Ian’s proposition said otherwise.”

Madison looked over his shoulder in search of Ian and frowned. “Well, the traitor is gone. No big surprise there.”

Smart man, Alex thought. “If I let you go, will you stay long enough to discuss this position Ian and Riley want me to take?”

She let out a frustrated puff of air.

He took that as a yes and released her.

“Us working together is not a good idea, and somewhere in that thick head of yours, you know that.”

“Because we slept together? More than a couple of times?”

She set her jaw. “That was a mistake.”

Ouch. That hurt, he thought, and filed away the why to deal with later. “I want to know more about this training program and what my role in it would be.”

“Why? You can’t possibly be interested.”

“It sounds more like you don’t want me to be interested.”

She rolled her shoulders back even farther, stiffening her posture. “You’re right. I don’t. This is a serious project that could help a lot of people and have far-reaching positive repercussions for years to come. I need a partner willing to go all in. And let’s face it, I’ve seen your staying power. It’s nonexistent.”

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About the Author

Carly Headshot small

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips

N.Y. Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Carly Phillips has written over 40 sexy contemporary romance novels that today’s readers identify with and enjoy. After a successful 15 year career with various New York publishing houses, Carly is making the leap to Indie author, with the goal of giving her readers more books at a faster pace at a better price. Her Serendipity books will still finish up in January/February 2014 via Berkley as planned. Carly lives in Purchase, NY with her family, two nearly adult daughters and two crazy dogs who star on her Facebook Fan Page and website. She’s a writer, a knitter of sorts, a wife, and a mom. In addition, she’s a Twitter and Internet junkie and is always around to interact with her readers. You can find all information about Carly at her website and other social media sites …

Facebook | Goodreads | Carly’s Website | Twitter


Review: Dare To Desire by Carly Phillips

Dare to Desire (Dare to Love, #2)Dare to Desire by Carly Phillips

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

Although I’m familiar enough with Carly Phillips to have several of her earlier books on my To Be Read list, DARE TO DESIRE is the first book I’ve read from her. In this second book of her new self-published Dare To Love series about the children of a man who had a second family while still married to his first wife, the hero is the oldest son of the woman his father took first as mistress, then as wife once their relationship was publicly exposed.

At the beginning of DARE TO DESIRE, Alex Dare is still dealing with the fallout of being one of the previously “secret” Dare siblings while continuing to excel in his successful career as a NFL quarterback. He’s even snagged a lovely lady to share his public and private time, although her friendship with his half siblings could be a liability if he ever tired of her company. Overall, things are going along pretty well for Alex, until that fateful Thanksgiving Day game when he ended up at the bottom of a dogpile on the field. It was bad enough being in the hospital and finding out that his risk of permanent injury would force an early retirement. But then he had to go and kick Madison out of his room and life when all she had done was stop by to see if he was okay. Now it’s six months later and after pushing nearly everyone else out of his life, Alex gets a call from Ian, his oldest half sibling, with an opportunity that could not only get him back in the NFL, but also back in with Madison, the woman he should have never let get away.

Madison Evans knew all too well that most people couldn’t be trusted to stick around, especially the people who claimed to love you. As a social worker, she’s made it her life’s work to help kids with the same problems she’d had in her own childhood, and won’t have her head turned by money or influence. Yet she couldn’t resist when Alex turns on his considerable charm, and had only herself to blame when it was all suddenly over after his career-ending injury. Now that the husband of her good friend Riley has offered her the chance to set up a new mandatory post-career education program for his NFL team, Madison is excited about being able to change lives outside the narrow confines of social work. But when her new boss Ian Dare sets her up to work with Alex, Madison has to decide if she can handle working directly with the man who broke her heart, and if he’s really changed enough to earn her trust a second time.

One of the things I especially enjoyed about DARE TO DESIRE was how I was able to work my way through all the intricate relationships between the two Dare families and their associated friends, even though this was the second book and my first read in the series. The fact that Alex was childhood friends with Riley, Ian’s wife, has helped smooth the way between the two men somewhat, but it will still take time for them to get past all the hard feelings stirred up when their father divorced Ian’s mother to marry Alex’s mother.

As a new reader to the series, I hadn’t seen Alex in action as his earlier self-centered manwhore self, other than in the brief prologue when he dumped Madison while still in his hospital bed. But it was apparent from her memories that at least from her perspective, he’d only been a nominally good boyfriend before their breakup. Sure, the sex had been frequent and amazing, but he hadn’t been particularly considerate whenever he was approached by strange women any time he and Madison had been out in public together. So just because the two of them still find each other irresistible shouldn’t and doesn’t mean all is forgiven on her part.

In DARE TO DESIRE, Alex is fortunate to have multiple chances to show Madison he’s changed by how he treats her while working on their new shared project and how he helps her out with the court case being brought against her by her foster brother. And as Madison slowly warms to the idea of reuniting the man she still loves back in her life for good, the ties between Alex and his family of half siblings are also strengthened, extending the joy of the story’s happy ending beyond Madison and Alex to their shared loved ones as well. The richness of its family background is what elevated DARE TO DESIRE beyond a basic romance for me and it’s why I’ll be reading the first book and all the other ones to come.

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Review: Perfect Catch by Sierra Dean

Perfect Catch (Boys of Summer, #2)Perfect Catch by Sierra Dean
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the author for an honest review at The Romance Evangelist.

Sometimes you read a sports romance where the romance is great but the sport isn’t represented accurately. Sometimes you read one where the sport is spot-on but the romance is lacking. And then sometimes, if you’re very, very lucky, you read a sports romance where everything is done perfectly. It can’t be a coincidence that during this first week of the new baseball season, I got lucky with PERFECT CATCH, the second book in Sierra Dean’s Boys of Summer series. (I also enjoyed the first book, PITCH PERFECT, but you don’t have to read that book for this one to make sense.)

PERFECT CATCH is the story of a woman who’s had to be everyone else’s rock and how she finally finds the one guy who will be that person for her in return. Alice Darling may have made a huge mistake years before in trusting a professional ballplayer with her heart and her body, but her beloved daughter Liv is worth every sacrifice, even if it means working two jobs and swearing off all baseball players for good. And as a part-time umpire for spring training and minor league games, the last thing Alice needs is to be accused of using her feminine wiles on the players to get ahead. What she never planned on was the likes of Alex Ross crossing her path. It’s easy for Alice to ignore all the guys when she’s hiding behind her umpire’s mask and gear. But it’s harder to pass up a good-looking guy in a broken-down Porsche, especially when you’re the only one who can help him change a flat tire.

Alex Ross thought this would be just another pre-season, just the usual six weeks in Florida needed to make sure his game was up to snuff before Opening Day. When his rental car got a flat, he didn’t expect a beautiful woman with dangerous curves to be his rescuer. But Alex knows he’d like to get to know her better, whatever it might take. Despite how close they quickly become, Alice is sure Alex will be out of her life for good when spring training ends. But he can’t get her out of his head or heart, and when that distraction leads him back to the minors to get back his pre-season form, nothing and nobody will be able to keep Alex from being the guy Alice really needs.

In the interest of full disclosure, you should know that Sierra Dean and I follow each other on Twitter. She’s a diehard Detroit Tigers fan and I’m a lifelong Kansas City Royals fan, but we would never hold that against each other. Thanks to her tweets, I know she would no more confuse the infield fly rule for a ground rule double than she’d assume that any reader new to baseball would be expected to know either one. And that’s what has made me a confident reader for her baseball-themed romance novels. Whether or not the romance ends up working for me, I’m always assured that every moment spent in or around the ballpark will ring true, without the added distraction of easily avoidable errors.

But make no mistake, the romance is just as spot on here as every little baseball-related detail. Alice has been let down by every person in her life except her young daughter: the brother who treats his depression with pills and booze, the mother who only sees someone who refused to diet down to nothing and trusted the wrong men, and that particular wrong man who left them behind on his way to the major leagues. Why shouldn’t Alex be the same? And yet, Alex is as different to the rest as day is to night. He refuses to let Alice paint him with the same brush as everyone else, but he also realizes that he has to go slowly if she’s going to be able to trust in him. Of course, they both make mistakes, but none are too terrible or insurmountable between two adults who love and want to be loved in return. And when Alex and Alice finally find their happy ending together with Liv, everything that happened before just makes it all the more satisfying. Not a moment is wasted in PERFECT CATCH; every scene is essential. And all through the story, Alex and Alice’s shared love of the game adds that special flavor that you can only get with a well-written sports romance. I can’t wait to read the next one in this series.

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Review: Game For Trouble by Karen Erickson

Game for Trouble (Game for It, #2)Game for Trouble by Karen Erickson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A copy of this book was provided by the publisher for an honest review at Romancing Rakes For The Love Of Romance.

Game For Trouble is the second book in Karen Erickson’s great new sports romance series about the attractive single men on the San Jose Hawks professional football team and the women with whom they fall in love. The first book – Game For Marriage – featured Jared, the team quarterback and Sheridan, a local artist who was corralled with him into a sham marriage for the sake of repairing his playboy reputation. In this second book, Jared and Sheridan are safely settled and deliriously happy together, and their obvious bliss starts to grate on Nick Hamilton, the Hawks’ usually happy-go-lucky tight end and best friend to Jared. When Nick sees what his friend has, he wants it for himself, and the only woman who can give him what he wants is Willow Cavanaugh. Unfortunately for Nick, she also happens to be the one woman who has vowed never to give him a chance to break her heart again. Willow doesn’t know that Nick dumped her years ago because her high-powered lawyer father had threatened his budding football career. But now that she’s trying to start a new business away from her father’s influence and money, it’s Nick who has the building she wants to lease, and he’s going to use every bit of leverage to convince her that this time he’s not going anywhere without her.

The romance trope where the hero blackmails the heroine into spending time with him against her better judgment can be tricky if it’s not handled well. In Game For Trouble, Karen Erickson’s sure hand keeps everything balanced perfectly so that we see Nick’s feelings for Willow are more than met on her end, even if she’s afraid to express them directly at first. Jared and Sheridan work well in this story as secondary characters, and any necessary details about their own relationship that a new reader would need to follow along are provided without resorting to massive and annoying data dumps.

The heart of Game For Trouble is the second chance at love for both Nick and Willow, and how their mutual and individual pasts must be learned from, instead of just gotten past or forgotten, for them to be able to love each other freely and completely at last. There are more than a few misunderstandings along the way, but there are also delicious scenes of groveling and makeup sex afterward. The love Nick and Willow have for each other is genuine, and their final reconciliation is a satisfying coda to the story. I adored Game For Trouble and I’m looking forward to reading Karen Erickson’s next entry in the Game For It series.

Favorite Quote:
Watching Sheridan smother Jared with kisses made him realize that what he really wanted was his woman back in his life. For good. He was tired of the fight. Tired of letting her go without protest. Sick and damn tired of giving up too damn easy. For once, he was gonna fight for what he wanted. Who he wanted.
And he wanted Willow.
He’d always wanted Willow.

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