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BOOK REVIEW: Risky Play (Red Card #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW: Risky Play (Red Card #1) by Rachel Van DykenRisky Play (Red Card #1)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Even one-night stands deserve a second chance in New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken’s novel of sporting desire.

What else can a virgin do when she’s ditched at the altar? Seattle heiress Mackenzie Dupont is treating herself to a single-girl honeymoon in Mexico and a desire to relinquish her innocence to a gorgeous one-night stand. Fake names. True pleasure. But when she wakes up alone, Mackenzie realizes just how much anger is left in her broken heart.

Suffering a tragic personal loss, pro soccer player Slade Rodriguez has his reasons for vanishing without a goodbye. Right or wrong, he’s blaming the beautiful and infuriating stranger he never wants to see again. They’re both in for a shock when Mackenzie shows up as his new personal assistant. And they both have a lot to learn about each other. Because they share more than they could possibly know, including a common enemy who’s playing his own games. And he’s not afraid to get dirty.

Now there’s only one way Mackenzie and Slade can win: to trust in each other and to stop hiding from the lies they’ve told, the secrets they’ve kept, the mistakes they’ve made, and the attraction that still burns between them.

Review:

Risky Play was an emotionally heartfelt story that started out with a bang.  It had everything I’ve come to love in a Rachel Van Dyken book. Characters that felt real, a story-line that pulled at my heart and scorching hot scenes that made me fan my face.  But there was also a strong hate to love vibe that made this story such a winner. If you’re a fan of sports romances, Rachel Van Dyken or hate to love romances then definitely pick this one up!

“More champagne?” He pointed to my hand still clutching the champagne with a vise-like grip.
“Yeah,” I croaked.
“Are you by yourself?” he asked a few seconds later.
“Yes.” Don’t cry. Don’t cry. Don’t cry.
“Do you want to be?” he asked softly.
I shook my head, no…
Just then he hopped over the partition, swept me into his arms, and lowered his head.

Six months after we watched Mackenzie be ditched at the altar, she treated herself to her honeymoon.  Alone. She met a man named Slade on the airplane and I absolutely loved how their time together progressed, eeks!  With fake names, a whirlwind day of fun and a night that was steamy and romantic, it was absolutely addicting watching them be together.  But that next morning, Slade left without a word.  While they never thought they would see each other again, one month later Mackenzie ended up being Slade’s assistant.  And it definitely wasn’t a warm and fuzzy reunion.

He was barely touching me, and my body hummed to life.
I stepped away.
I had to.
I didn’t trust him.
I couldn’t.

While Mackenzie was the heiress to one of the largest wine brands, she was completely down to earth and I easily connected with her.  She was kind, patient and I loved that she took risks and was brave.  But my heart hurt for her.  Mackenzie had been burned by men and never seemed to be enough for them.  So when Slade started using Mackenzie as an emotional punching bag, she held nothing back and stood her ground.  She didn’t understand why she was now hated. But she’d much rather spend her time with Slade, instead of going back to the winery.  Where she would have be around the man who left her at the alter.

“You’re making this harder than it should be.” I crossed my arms.
“And you make me harder than I should be. And yet, here I am.” He crossed his arms.
Don’t look down. Do not. Look. Down.
I gulped.
His smile broke out into a huge grin. “You were saying?”

Oh Slade.  He was such a complex man.  And one that I absolutely loved.  He was the number one soccer player in the world, but his trust was definitely jaded from his past and his fame.  But thankfully we got to see his softer side in the beginning. When he was in Mexico with Mackenzie, Slade was charming, seductive and fun.  But when we saw him a month later, he was cold and callous.  He could be so mean and hurtful to Mackenzie, it hurt to watch.  Since we alternated between Slade and Mackenzie, you’ll find out why he is the way he is.  He was so bad, but I also knew just how amazing he could be.

I had to convince myself that the man in Puerto Vallarta didn’t exist.
Because if he did?
I wouldn’t let him go.

As Mackenzie invaded Slade’s life, doing her job, I was so proud that she would continually throw Slade’s attitude back in his face.  She never took it lying down.  And probably the most amazing thing about Mackenzie is that she took a bad situation and found a way to be positive about it.  I absolutely loved her! As the story progressed, I loved seeing peeks of the old Slade. The one I fell so hard for. When his charming or seductive side would come out, I couldn’t stop the smiles.  But best of all I loved watching the moments when Slade was fiercely protective of those he cared for. It was crazy hot!

Her hands dug into me, clung to me like I was going to let her go, and it broke my fucking heart that she might actually think I would do that because of our history.
I wasn’t letting this go.
Her go.

While the sexual tension was absolutely delicious, I loved when Rachel Van Dyken took them a step further.  Not only was it seductive, but I loved how she could seamlessly lace humor into those moments. There was a shower scene that had me laughing so hard I was crying.  But outside of Slade and Mackenzie, there was also friendships that I adored reading about. Matt and Jagger were my two favorite side characters, you have to meet them!  Also you have to meet Slade’s dog, Alfie. He was such a cutie! So yes, I definitely recommend this book! Risky Play made me laugh, cry, smile and fall in love.  And it gave me ALL the tears with that ending. It was so perfect!  Now I can’t wait to read the next book, which is about Matt.  That man made me crack up and smile so hard, I can’t wait to hear every single one of his thoughts!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Fraternize (Players Game #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW: Fraternize (Players Game #1) by Rachel Van DykenFraternize (Players Game #1)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

New York Times bestselling author Rachel Van Dyken kicks off a brand-new series in which romance is a game and love is a touchdown.

Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…

No fraternizing with the players.

Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.

Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.

Review:
The man kissed like he played—without apology and without fear.

With hilarious humor, lovable characters and a story line that was to die for, Fraternize became one of my favorites by Rachel Van Dyken.  I easily found myself emotionally invested and I couldn’t stop the gasps, screams, happy tears or ugly crying that happened.  This book was absolutely everything and I’ve come to realize that Rachel Van Dyken is the queen of love triangles.  Every single time she makes me fall for both of the guys and I end up loving the outcome, I don’t know how she does it!  

Things were looking up.
But I had to know the universe wasn’t going to be in my corner for much longer. You can only steal all the luck for so long. – Emerson

You guys, I absolutely loved Emerson!  She was strong, determined, worked her butt off and was such a good person.  I loved that we got to watch her dream come true of being a professional cheerleader.  But with her new job came a slew of rules that ranged from what she was allowed to eat to not fraternizing with the football players.  And while she thought the no fraternizing rule would be easy enough, that quickly changed when two men stepped into her life.

Me: I missed you.
Miller: That’s in the past.
Me: Deal.
Miller: And Em?
Me: Yeah?
Miller: I’m pretty sure, I missed you more . .

One of the guys was Miller Quinton, and from that first chapter we jumped back in time to when him and Emerson were in High School.  Stolen moments from Emerson and Miller’s past crashed into the current and it always stole my breath away.  Their memories were so powerful.  Not only had they been best friends since they were seven, but she even lost her virginity to him when they were teenagers.  We quickly saw that Miller was charming, sexy and he knew how to make Emerson smile.  So of course I jumped right on Team Miller!  With him being transferred to the football team that Emerson cheered for, I couldn’t wait to see them back together.  It didn’t matter that they were no longer friends, feelings like that don’t just go away!

“Why?” I had a hard time finding my voice as he slowly moved his head back up. It was impossible not to feel the heat from his body.
He stopped, looking me in the eye. “Because one day, he’s going to regret walking away from you. And I want to be there when it’s too late—when you’re in my arms, my bed instead.” – Emerson and Sanchez

But then Grant Sanchez walked into the story and he stole my breath too.  He made me laugh, smile and I loved his friendly personality.  He slowly started to invade Emerson’s world, since he was a football player on the team Emerson cheered for, and he knew what he wanted.  Emerson.  I loved that he messed with Miller, to help Emerson get back at him.  I loved that Sanchez helped pick her up, when her heart was hurting from Miller.  And I loved that he was not only a ton of fun, but constantly made Emerson laugh.  But there was a hiccup.  Sanchez was the hugest player ever, so could Emerson even trust him?  While watching the story unfold, there was a profound moment that I knew I completely trusted Sanchez.  But then I paused, I was now on Team Miller and Team Sanchez.  What’s a girl to do?

His demeanor changed around her.
And even though she would die before admitting it, hers changed around him.
She was less guarded—and she smiled. She fucking smiled.
I swallowed my hurt.
My pride.
And the breaking in my heart as I nodded toward him and mouthed, “
Friends.” – Miller to Sanchez

The fact that Miller and Sanchez were not only teammates but friends, proved all over again what amazing men they both were.  I wanted Miller and Sanchez to get their HEAs, because they both deserved it.  But the story came to the point, where I knew without a shadow of a doubt who I wanted Emerson to be with.  I felt guilty that I chose one of them, but I kept hoping the other would find true love too.  

What was happening?
What was I doing?
This wasn’t how the story was supposed to go.

So I definitely recommend Fraternize to everyone that adores romance, sports and love triangles done right.  But there’s so much more in this story that I didn’t even touch on.  The games were so much fun to read about!  I loved watching Emerson make friends with Kinsey, whom I adored.  And there was something in Emerson’s life, with her dad, that hit close to home with someone I love.  While her heart broke, mine did too and I ugly cried.  This book constantly made me run the gauntlet of emotions!  Especially with that ending, which was absolutely perfect.  On top of that we were even given an epilogue that has me beyond ecstatic for the next book!  I can’t wait to pick up Infraction, I just know it’s going to be fabulous!

BOOK REVIEW: Dangerous Exes (Liars, Inc. #2) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW: Dangerous Exes (Liars, Inc. #2) by Rachel Van DykenDangerous Exes (Liars Inc. #2)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Isla made one teeny little mistake. Now she and her PI company, Dirty Exes, are being targeted by one seriously angry and furiously sexy ex-quarterback. Jessie freakin’ Beckett. But there’s no way some NFL superhunk is going to take her business away. If only he didn’t make her so hot—and bothered.

Jessie wants payback for a ruined reputation. His plan? Top secret. His hard-to-hide arousal for Isla? Not so much. Especially when they let down their guards and sneak a kiss. Like any juicy scandal, it goes so viral, so fast, that only a good lie can combat the bad press. Mortal enemies in a fling? No way. Um…this is love!

Actually…could it be?

Isla’s not faking it. Jessie can’t. As the game of let’s pretend gets real, Jessie forgets all about revenge. That’s the problem. His plan is already out of his control. Now it could undo everything they’ve been trying to build. Coming clean may be the only thing that can save it.

Review:

Dangerous Exes was a ton of fun, hilariously addicting and oh so sexy!  I have been excited for this book since I finished reading the last page of Dirty Exes!  I’m happy to say that I loved this book just as much as the first! Revenge, lust, friendship and romance filled this story along with my favorite thing of all, enemies to lovers.  So if you’re a fan of romance stories that have love to hate in the pages, then you definitely have to pick this one up.

“You’re a good kisser, Isla.” He tilted my chin toward him. “But it’s not enough— I will shut you down, that I promise.”
He walked off leaving me hot, breathless, and pissed.
I opened my car door and tossed my purse in the opposite seat, then pressed my fingertips against my lips and cursed the universe for doing the impossible. Making me feel alive again— by way of my enemy.

If you haven’t read Dirty Exes yet, I highly recommend you do (here’s my review).  Everything started in that book and it continued to play out in this one.  So going into this story, I already liked Isla Turner and Jessie Beckett.  Towards the end of Dirty Exes they were slowly becoming friends and there was even chemistry between them, but that all changed.  Jessie’s life went up in smoke and he set his sights to destroy Isla’s PI business. Just like she destroyed his life.

I hated his smirk more than I hated his body.
Because it made me react.
Hell, everything he did made me react and want to seek vengeance with a fiery purpose on his damned soul.

I couldn’t help but laugh when Jessie showed up wherever Isla was.  He infiltrated her life and it started to drive her crazy. But when a kiss happened between them and it became public, because of Jessie’s high profile life, things shifted.  Jessie was still trying to accomplish his goal, Isla was fighting back, yet now there were kisses and touches between them.  I loved how they toyed with each.  I loved the games they played. But I loved the passion between them the most.  It was crazy addicting and created so many explosive scenes bursting with sexual tension.  

She grinned excitedly, then took a deep sip and moaned as she closed her eyes. “You know me well.”
I’m sure she didn’t mean to say it.
Just like my heart didn’t mean to react to the words.
My body felt warm all over as her eyes met mine.
I cleared my throat and looked away while she returned her attention to the game.

No matter how hard Jessie wanted to hate Isla, he couldn’t ignore what was between them.  And Isla couldn’t deny that she was attracted to Jessie and that he made her feel things. Oh I loved the both of them so much!  Jessie was seductive and controlling, yet he showed us more  sides of him. We learned his deepest, darkest secrets and it made me fall for him that much harder.  Isla was also controlling but she had this energy to her that was addictive. She probably got it from her great aunt, Goo-Pah.  That woman was hilarious and she made me laugh so hard I cried.

Maybe my view of perfection was wrong— had been wrong all along.
It wasn’t the perfect house.
The perfect wife.
It wasn’t the perfect life or career.
It was moments like this, with a woman I would never understand or deserve, lying on my lap asleep, and me wishing I could hold on to the seconds a little bit longer.

Desire and lust swirled between Jessie and Isla anytime they were near each other.  With emotions and feelings mixing into the moments too, I was obsessed. And you couldn’t tear me away from this book!  If it’s not completely obvious, I absolutely loved this book and that ending! I’ve realized that every single time I pick up a book by Rachel Van Dyken my spirits are always lifted.  Her stories are feel good, heartfelt and continually make me smile and laugh. So I can’t wait to read whatever Rachel Van Dyken publishes next!

*I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book, provided by the publisher, Skyscape. All thoughts and opinions are my own.*

BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Exes (Liars, Inc. #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW: Dirty Exes (Liars, Inc. #1) by Rachel Van DykenDirty Exes (Liars Inc. #1)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: Amazon
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

Blaire has never quite gotten over Jessie Beckett, the ex–NFL star whose kisses were hot enough to ignite the entire Eastern Seaboard. When he chose work over her, Blaire was left brokenhearted. Why else would she have married a skeezy two-timer, just to divorce him less than a year later?

Now Blaire is getting even by becoming one half of Dirty Exes, a PI firm fully committed to humiliating cheating jerks. If only the new jerk she’s been hired to uncover wasn’t Jessie Beckett himself.

Exposing Jessie isn’t going to be easy, especially when she still daydreams about his sexy smile. Further complicating matters is Colin, Jessie’s best friend. He’s gorgeous, a little bit cunning, and willing to help Blaire get the inside scoop on Jessie—for a price.

Now caught between two men—one totally right and the other totally wrong—Blaire will need to decide just how much she’s willing to risk…and whom she’s willing to risk it for.

Review:

Dirty Exes caught my attention from the first page and from there I was a goner.  This book was so much fun, laugh out loud funny and had my emotions in a huge, disastrous mess.  I loved every minute of it and highly recommended Dirty Exes to all of those out there that love romance!

What. If.
Two very dangerous words.
Two horrible words.
Words that should never be put together in any way, shape, or form. – Blaire

Blaire had been screwed over in her past.  She was ditched by a boyfriend who was drafted into the NFL and then years down the road she caught her husband cheating on her.  While she was jaded, she ended up making a new best friend, Isla. And they opened up a business together where they were hired to catch high profile partners cheating.  But Blaire’s latest target made her pause.  It was her NFL ex.

He put a hand on my shoulder then faced Colin, his body completely blocking mine as his fingers slid down my shoulder, hooked in the strap of my bra, and gave a little snap before caressing my skin with his knuckles the way he used to.
I jerked in response.
My body heated.
Bastard.
I closed my eyes.
Hate him, hate him, hate him.
I just needed to chant it about a dozen more times.

From the moment Blaire ran into her ex, Jessie Beckett, there was no denying that something was still there.  There was chemistry, attraction and a whole lot of what ifs running around. Their first time meeting up had me smiling while also fanning my face!  As if I wasn’t intrigued enough, we got some chapters from Jessie’s pov. As we learned about his life, my heart broke for him and he pulled me in even further.  Then we met Colin, Jessie’s best friend, and I was completely confused over what was going to happen next.

And there I was, on my birthday, in a shitty bar, with a girl who stole sideways looks at my best friend, while all I wanted was for her eyes to be on me. – Colin

The way Colin and Blaire met was hilarious.  And while she tried her hardest to think of Colin in not the best of lights, it was impossible.  He was also hot, sexy and had a past that broke my heart. Just like Jessie, she had chemistry with him too.  To complicate matters, if Jessie and Blaire were around each other, Colin always seemed to be there. I was strongly on the Jessie team, but then we got chapters in Colin’s pov.  And from here began the moments where my heart was pulled every which way.  I fell for them both.  This has NEVER happened to me before.  I have always had no problem just picking one boy.  But here?!  I had NO clue who I wanted Blaire to be with.  To say I was an emotional wreck is a huge understatement lol.  

“Damn, this is some messed-up shit,” Isla said under her breath. “I’m witnessing a sordid love triangle, like an HBO drama I can’t get out of.”

As the story progressed, I eventually found myself rooting and cheering for only one of them.  And I hoped, prayed and wished with all of my heart and soul that Blaire and I were on the same page.  It was so hard to tell how it was going to pan out. Just so you know, I’m usually not the hugest fan of love triangles.  But this one was done absolutely perfect.  If all love triangles were written like this, I could handle them all.

Suddenly he was there. His scent wrapped around me, his fingers gripped mine, and I felt at home. Safe.
I felt everything in his touch.
His promises, his kisses.
Him.

Dirty Exes was so much fun and I found myself laughing so hard that I was shaking and had tears in my eyes.  If you haven’t read one of Rachel Van Dyken’s books before, you have to know that her characters are always unique, stand out and are so easy to connect with.  Also, her stories play out like I’m watching a movie.  I highly recommend Dirty Exes to everyone who adores romance, friendship and who can handle some love triangle vibes.  The next book is about Blaire’s best friend, Isla, and I can’t wait to read her story next!

BOOK REVIEW – The Bet (The Bet #1) by Rachel Van Dyken

BOOK REVIEW – The Bet (The Bet #1) by Rachel Van DykenThe Bet (The Bet #1)
by Rachel Van Dyken
Purchase on: AmazoniBooks
Book Depository
Add to: Goodreads

Synopsis:

"I have a proposition for you." Kacey should have run the minute those words left Seattle millionaire Jake Titus's mouth. It's been years since Kacey's seen her childhood friend Jake, but the minute Jake mentions his ill grandmother, Kacey is ready to do anything for the sweet old woman. And if that means pretending they're engaged for her sake-so be it.

But Kacey wasn't counting on Jake's older brother Travis still being there. She calls him "Satan" for a reason: she's never forgotten the way he teased and taunted her. Yet when they meet again, Travis's gorgeous smile is a direct hit to her heart . . . and Kacey's more confused than ever. As the days pass, only one thing starts to become alarmingly clear-she never should have accepted Jake's deal . . .

Review:

The Bet was hilariously addicting!  I loved that the characters charmed their way into my heart, that the pages were filled with tons of fun drama and that the ending left me excited to read the next book in this series.  This was my first book by Rachel Van Dyken and I’m definitely kicking myself that I didn’t pick up one of her books sooner!

Jake’s thumb rubbed across her fingers delicately.
Another involuntary shiver ran down her spine.  
It’s not real, Kacey.  Just remember it’s not real.  He doesn’t really like you in that way.  Do it for Grandma!

Jake Titus propositioned Kacey to pretend to be his fiance.  They were childhood friends, but after a falling out they hadn’t spoken in a few years.  Jake was feeling pressure from his family’s company to change his playboy persona and his Grandma, who loved Kacey and had been sick, wanted to see her.  So by bringing Kacey back home, he’d be back in his family and company’s good graces and he would help Kacey out with her college expenses in return. It sounded like the perfect win win situation.  Yet nothing could prepare Kacey for being back in the Titus’ house, especially with Travis there.  He was Jake’s older brother who was horrific to Kacey as a child.

He’d be a fool to let her go.
Again . – Jake

I was definitely confused at first.  Was I supposed to love Kacey with Jake or Travis?  But over time we got to see who deserved Kacey’s heart.  In the beginning, Kacey and Jake’s interactions were adorable.  They had a friendship that was definitely complicated and filled with some hurt.  But it also felt strong and true, or at least it use to be that way. You see, we got to hear lots of stories referencing Kacey and Jake’s past and I laughed so hard I cried.  Their past was hysterical!  But the more I saw who Jake was, I wasn’t the biggest fan of him.  He would come across as a self centered asshole. He could make the worst choices and it all seemed to center on instant gratification.  And he never thought about how the ramifications would affect others. But Jake seemed like the type where if he really wanted something, he’d find a way to make it happen.

Travis held up his wine.  “To conquering old fears?”
Something shifted between them.  His eyes, though it was dark, seemed to he hiding something, as if he were talking about more than her stupid phobia.  She leaned in, now completely relaxed from drowning half of her wine already, and whispered, “To conquering old fears.”

Now Travis and Kacey?  They made me laugh so hard too, but each moment had something else coursing through it.  There was a tension between them that was always crackling and it left me with the hugest grin on my face.  Travis and Kacey’s moments together were so hot.  Even when they were throwing jabs at each other.  They could also be ridiculously immature and it was so much fun.  I loved their teasing and their weird obsession with food fights. It made my heart smile and I couldn’t stop laughing!

He wondered if she could hear his heart hammering in his chest.  “Because of you, Kace. Everything I do, everything I’ve done in my life it’s all because of you.” – Travis

Travis was definitely book boyfriend material!  He looked out for Kacey and he thought about her happiness first.  Yeah he would screw up from time to time, but ultimately he was her biggest protector and champion.  So I kept my fingers crossed that that was who Kacey would end up with, because sometimes it didn’t feel as though it’d pan out in that direction.  So be careful with your hearts! Speaking of my heart…. ohhhhh I have to say I think everyone will love Grandma!! She was funny, smart, devious and I’m looking forward to seeing what she’s up to in the next book!

Both brothers.
One a friend, the other something so much more.

So I definitely recommend The Bet!  It’s for everyone who adores NA stories that have tension running through them.  And if you love drama that’s fun, with sillier moments laced through it, then this is definitely your book!  The next book is about the brother who wasn’t meant for Kacey and I’m so excited to see what happens to him!

PS So here’s a weird confession.  Usually I don’t read books with the name Travis.  It’s my brothers name and yeah it just feels weird.  But I call my brother Trav and I heard that wasn’t used in this book, thank goodness!!

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