Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Review: Kate Donovan's 'Playing for Keeps'

Playing For Keeps by Kate Donovan
(Play Makers #2)
Publication Date: January 31, 2014
Genre: Adult Contemporary Romance
Reviewed By: Christina Mock
Rating: 5/5 Stars
Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Buy Links for Play By Play: Book #1 (Only $0.99): Barnes & NobleAmazon


When Erica McCall finally gets her big break in advertising, she knows just which spokesperson to pitch: gorgeous football superstar Johnny Spurling. She has followed his career since college and knows he’s perfect for the spot, even though it’s common knowledge his famous family doesn’t do product endorsements, ever. But Erica knows Johnny’s weak spot, and she’s confident she can use it to gain his trust and seal the deal.

Quarterback Johnny Spurling is running out of time. His father’s health is failing, and there’s one last thing he’s asked Johnny to do—settle down and produce a son, before it’s too late. Which means Johnny needs a new kind of girlfriend. No more casual hookups or high-maintenance divas. When his sister-in-law claims to have the perfect candidate, he urges her to set up a postseason blind date.

Then Johnny meets long-haired, long-legged Erica and can’t resist her outrageous proposal—or her. So he decides he’ll do the commercial and have one final, hot-as-hell fling before settling down. They set the ground rules, then proceed to break every one of them as fun turns to the kind of true romance that just doesn’t end with the final touchdown—and with luck, never ends at all.


ARC received in exchange for an honest review

I have been reading a lot of very heavy, emotionally charged books lately and I was looking for something light and fun to read. Instead of going to one of the many hundreds of books already waiting for me on my Kindle, I took to NetGalley to see what might be out there for a quick read. Enter, Playing For Keeps.

I’m not sure if I’m still coming off the Super Bowl victory of my beloved boys in blue (12th man in the house!), or if I’m caught up in the Valentine’s Day revelry, but I just absolutely fell in love with this book. I was looking for fun, sweet, easy and that is exactly what I got in Playing For Keeps. I know we’re not talking classic literature here, but this book is exactly what I was looking for when I most needed it.

Erica is an up and coming career woman trying hard to make it in the male dominated world of advertising. Soon she finds an opportunity to make a pitch that could catapult her to A-group stardom, but she has to watch every step she takes. She wants to make it based on her merits, and not because there happens to be instant molten attraction between her and the star of her commercial, Portland Lancers quarterback Johnny Spurling.

Johnny Spurling is the golden boy of the NFL. He was given the nickname, “the player” for his prowess on the field, but the media, being what it is, has taken the nickname out of context. Johnny is not known for womanizing, despite his “player” status, and at his father’s urging is actually looking to settle down and start a family. Unfortunately, his family has an idea of who he should be doing that with, not allowing him to make those decisions himself.

The Spurling family, two generations of football royalty, don’t do advertising; especially not for beer. So when Erica and her team pitch the idea of a beer commercial, one that capitalizes on the fact that Johnny is known as a gentleman (the tag line of the whole campaign is, “don’t be a douche”), Johnny sees this as a chance to solidify his nice guy status, while giving him an in with Erica. Of course Erica needs to keep any relationship with him on the down low, given their working arrangement. Not to mention, Johnny’s sister-in-law Beth has plans to set him up with a nice teacher friend after the Super Bowl.

I love reading romance novels that involve sports. I am a sports fan, I will admit, not just to see hot guys in tight uniforms, but I actually am interested in the game as well. So it’s really nice to see a strong heroine that can talk shop as well. I also appreciated how driven Erica is in regards to her career. She has her priorities in order and is not willing to sacrifice her goals in order to make others happy. And Johnny…sigh. Johnny does NOT disappoint as a hunky quarterback. I absolutely loved how their relationship evolved and he wasn’t afraid to wear his heart on hissleeve, in spite of being the tough football player. Real life emotions are dealt with in a real life way. Nothing too over the top, as the characters were both likeable and believable.

Playing For Keeps was a five star book for me. I know, I know…it’s syrupy sweet, a little predictable, but it was well written and kept me engrossed from cover to cover. We all have our guilty pleasures and a hot quarterback, a strong, independent heroine, and a cohesive storyline are some of mine. This book had all of the elements for a fun read that kept me warm on a chilly winter’s night, and helped alleviate some of the book hangover from the more serious books I’ve been reading lately. Thanks Ms. Donovan, I’m looking forward to meeting again…how do you feel about baseball players? Pitchers and catchers report soon…

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