Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Book Tour for Inside Game by Collette West (Review & GIVEAWAY)

The New York Kings baseball-themed romance series continues in all its emotional glory with the reforming of uber bad boy Drake Schultz and the gutsy woman who helps him heal from past pains in Inside Game by Collette West.  Keep reading to get a tempting taste of this compelling and sensual read, along with my impressions of it, and then add it to your bookshelf.  In honor of this book make sure to fill out the form below for the chance to win a book series-themed t-shirt and signed print copy of this book for a US winner and a $10 Amazon GC for an international winner too!

Third baseman Drake Schultz is the undisputed bad boy of the New York Kings. So it's no surprise when Major League Baseball suspends him for taking performance-enhancing drugs. Furious with their superstar, the front office issues an ultimatum: either work with their sober companion or kiss the rest of his quarter-billion-dollar contract goodbye. Cocky and arrogant, Drake resists being saddled with a live-in babysitter—even one he's insanely attracted to.
Drake is Eva Sloane's first celebrity client as a substance abuse counselor, and she knows she's in trouble when he starts tempting her at every turn. The way he looks at her is as hot as sin, but she refuses to become his new drug of choice. Slowly, she helps him realize he has to face the demons from his past and heal his tortured spirit before he can even think about satisfying any craving he has for her.


She turns to me, and my breath catches. "Pleased to meet you, Mr. Schultz. My name's Eva Sloane."
Her voice is rich and melodic. And if it were anyone else, I'd shove my hands under my arms and refuse to cooperate, but I can't. Not with the way she's looking at me.
I extend my hand to her, and she gives me a firm handshake, one I can respect. There's nothing light or dainty about it, but I hate the fact that she can feel me trembling.
"Hello, Eva," I mumble, looking away.
Her warm, brown eyes are too compassionate. They're full of understanding, not revulsion or pity. Based on the way she's staring at me, it’s clear she sees right through me. I might be fooling everyone else in the room, but not her.
She's remained quiet, taking it all in, like she's trying not to form any snap judgments about me, even if my hostility isn't making it easy for her. But her reticence only makes me more curious as to what's going on inside that head of hers. Just knowing she's here to witness my downfall is really getting under my skin.
I pound my fist and shove myself away from the table. I'm seething inside, so angry that I could spit. But when I turn my head to gauge Eva's reaction, all she does is look back at me, unflinching under the scrutiny of my gaze.
She's not afraid of me.
But she should be.




Fans of sports-themed romances can count Ms. West's New York Kings series as one of the best and most reliable when it comes to quality and consistency in its blend of romance, intense emotions, and the realities of playing in the big leagues.  Throughout four books she's crafted a compelling villain in Drake Schultz and I knew she'd have her work cut out for her in redeeming such an unlikable character.  I'm happy to report though that Drake's path to HEA is a difficult but richly rewarding one that readers will quickly find themselves caught up in.

Drake is a man trying to hide from his past.  With a family heavily into drugs, and a community mired in drug use, it was inevitable that he too would get caught up in things.  Baseball should've been his ticket out of all that negativity but family loyalty, an intense addiction, and blackmail by a man in power all led to a continuing downward spiral of drugs, guilt, and anger that defined Drake. A chance encounter with a dark-haired angel was his only bright spot as his role in a sport-wide doping scandal led to his lowest and most demoralizing moment that ultimately drags him through the wringer before building him back up. Drake might've been abrasive at the start but it was a facade hiding a lot of pain and a low self-esteem resulting from feeling unloved and valued only for his money and talent.  Being around Eva, the woman sworn to help him get sober, has him seeing himself more positively.  With her support he becomes the kind of man to make her proud, an athlete others can look up to, and a father always there when his girls need him.  His transformation was raw and gritty, showing the painful realities of detoxing and craving, and his surviving it made me admire him all the more.  Seeing him brought so low to build himself back up better than ever is the definition of heroic and he can stand proudly beside the other heroes of previous books in this series.

Eva Sloane was a woman born to a drug addicted mother who was left in the hands of a man who gave her unconditional love and fostered her need to help others and her love of baseball.  It's this that has her determined to help Drake by forcing him to open up about long-held secrets and his own painful childhood.  Though she's still bruised from the loss of a close friend to drugs she vows to keep her heart separate when dealing with Drake.  That's easier said than done as she can't help being drawn to Drake as they form a tenuous bond based on friendship, truths, and a slowly simmering sensuality.  Healing Drake isn't easy and results in a rocky and emotionally draining journey full of danger. Through it all Eva remains strong-willed and supportive.  She remains professional, not giving into temptation until finding her replacement, as his recovery is more important than her happiness.  She too has been through a lot but never let it defeat her and her strength is just what Drake needed to become the hero he was meant to be.

Ms. West put Drake through a lot of emotional and physical pain on his road to recovery which has readers feeling all his highs and lows too.  It all makes for a compelling journey that kept me turning the pages furiously.  Along with two strong and memorable main characters is the inclusion of his teammates who interact with Drake in unexpected, yet heartwarming, ways that aid him in his redemption.  The interactions were intensely emotional and proved how far Drake had come in moving beyond his past and were true to each of the characters.  The only part of the story that felt a bit forced was Drake's Momma and her role in the drug running.  Her characterization was a bit over the top but I was intrigued by how entrenched Terry, former King's GM, was in Drake's downfall and I long to see him get what he deserves.  All in all this was another enjoyable and passionate entry in a series that continues to awe and I look forward to the next installment!

My rating for this is an A-

*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.


Collette West grew up as somewhat of a jock-nerd hybrid. Entering the world three weeks premature, her dad nearly missed her birth because he had seats behind the dugout for a sold-out, highly-anticipated match-up between two of baseball's biggest rivals. Not to be outdone, her book-loving mom taught her how to read by the time she was three. A love of the game coupled with an appreciation for the written word were instilled in Collette's impressionable brain from a young age. No wonder her characters believe in the philosophy: sports + romance = a little slice of heaven.
Splitting her time between the Pocono Mountains and Manhattan, Collette indulges her inner fangirl by going to as many games as she can from hockey to baseball and downloading every sports romance novel in existence onto her iPad. When she's not clicking away on her laptop, she enjoys walking her dog in Central Park, satisfying her caffeine craving at the Starbucks on Broadway and keeping an eye out for Mr. Right. But above all, she loves dishing with her readers. Email her at


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