Review – Playing to Win by Jaci Burton

Publisher: Berkley
Publish Date:
How I got this book: Review copy from Publisher

Someone’s going to have to let down their guard…

Football star Cole Riley is notorious for doing as he pleases—on the field and off. He parties hard and fights harder, but if he doesn’t clean up his act, his career is over—so Cole reluctantly agrees to work with image makeover consultant Savannah Brooks. He’s not used to being told what to do, especially by some (admittedly hot) Southern belle. As for Savannah, she’s not convinced she can transform this cocky (and aggressively sexy) force of nature. But she’s determined to give it her best shot.

When the sparks start to fly, Savannah lays down the ground rules: no personal complications. If she can turn off the tingle she feels every time Cole gives her a hot stare with his gorgeous baby blues, he can turn off his desire as well. But for two people determined to have it all, a hands-off policy can only last so long before one of them yields.
*Blurb from Goodreads*

Whenever an author combines my love of romance with my dedication to all things sports, it’s a match made in heaven. When Burton does it, I get all warm and tingly on the inside. 🙂

Cole is a wild-child and not known for his teamwork, instead he’s built his career on a reputation that is making him less and less desirable for agents and owners alike. He’s got an attitude problem, a problem with authority, and a general distaste of all things PC. But now that he signed with his agent Liz, he said he would do anything to make sure that he isn’t dropped from another roster. Little did he know he was being signed up to an image makeover from the one woman who seems immune to his charms.

Savannah is nowhere near to being immune to Cole, but her career and reputation are more important than chiseled abs and dreamy eyes. Savannah has a very distinct plan in place to turn around Cole’s image, but he is fighting her at every turn. Ever so slowly, Cole begins doing as she asks and his reputation starts taking a turn. At the same time, Savannah can no longer control the sparks and the two embark on a whirlwind romance.

I love the Play-by-Play series, but I think that this book might actually be one of my favorites. I loved that the book was filled with sexual tension, that Cole and Savannah didn’t jump into bed together right away. I loved that they didn’t have a ton of external drama to deal with in their relationship. Instead, they both had to come to grips with their feelings, realize what was really important in life and make the commitment. Every now and then I need a no angst book, and I felt like Cole and Savannah really delivered on that front.

I’ll admit there were a few moments in the beginning that Cole got on my nerves. He was a big wildcard. He had an ego the size of the world, and enough problems with authority that he came across as a self-absorbed prick. Especially with his first couple interactions with Savannah, it took awhile for me to see beneath the gruff exterior to the guy he really was beneath it all. But once those layers were peeled back, I fell hard for Cole. He was sweet and caring and a little scared at the core of himself, and his actions quickly started speaking louder than words.

While I enjoyed Savannah’s character, she was a lot more subdued than the previous heroines in this series. She reminded me of the southern belle, no drama version of Liz. Her career was her number one priority, and despite the attraction between her and Cole, she was scared to act on it because of the possible conflict of interest to her reputation. She was full of integrity and although she allowed her body to take over a few times, her mind would usually prevail. Burton did a good job at flipping the stereotypical after sex responses with these two. I loved seeing Cole squirm every time Savannah ran. 🙂

We also got introduced to the next heroine, and I have to admit that I am so so so excited to read her book. Cole’s family was one of the best aspects of this book, especially since he is part of the extended Riley clan. But there was something about his relationship with his sister, and her onpage moments that has me super excited for the next in the series. Even the little teaser at the end was a killer, getting teased with the first chapter or so always gets me every time!

All in all I really enjoyed this installment to the series. I loved Cole and Savannah, and although they came across as the most laid-back couple in the series so far, they were also (IMO) the sweetest. I loved their slow build romance and lack of drama journey to ever after. With the introduction of new family members and future heroes and heroines, this series continues to be at the top of my list.
I give Playing to Win a B+

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4 thoughts on “Review – Playing to Win by Jaci Burton”

  1. Sounds good… You had me with “filled with sexual tension”. I think I only read the first one in this series, can I jump to this one or should I read the series in order?
    PS – I LOVE her covers!!!

  2. Great review! I really hate watching sports, but I don’t mind reading about it. But I still have to start reading this series, however tempting the covers are.

  3. @Dani: You can totally jump, they can all be read as stand-alone books, although obviously the others books will have followed secondary characters, but you shouldn’t miss anything important!

    @aurian: These covers are to drool for. Jaci totally lucked out!!!

  4. Pingback: Review: Playing to Win by Jaci Burton | Smexy Books

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