A star hockey player finds his years-long connection to his best friend’s younger sister becoming too powerful to ignore in this hockey-fueled romance of friends to lovers. Keep reading to get a tempting taste of Playing For Keeps by Kendall Ryan, along with my impressions of this contemporary romance, then add this first installment in the Hot Jocks series to your bookshelf!
I've never been so stupid in my entire life.
Elise Parrish, my teammate's incredibly sweet and gorgeous younger sister, should have been off-limits, but my hockey stick didn't get the memo.
After our team won the championship, our flirting turned physical, and I took her to bed. Then shame sent her running the next morning from our catastrophic mistake.
She thinks I don't remember that night - but every detail is burned into my brain so deeply, I'll never forget. The feel of her in my arms, the soft whimpers of pleasure I coaxed from her perfect lips...
And now I've spent three months trying to get her out of my head, but I'm starting to understand she's the only girl I'll ever want!
I have one shot to show her I can be exactly what she needs, but Elise won't be easily convinced.
That's okay, because I'm good under pressure, and this time, I'm playing for keeps.
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MY IMPRESSIONS OF THIS BOOK:
The theme of friends to lovers is a familiar one in this romance of a hockey player and his best friend’s younger sister whose years-long connection combusts in an unforgettable one night-stand that changes both of their lives irrevocably. Though there’s much that’s familiar here Ms Ryan has crafted a story with good flow, witty banter, and lots of sizzle. On a whole this tale gives readers a likable main couple with a colorful cast of secondary characters that make this an entertaining series starter.
Justin Brady always knew he was going to be a pro hockey player, and with his parent’s bitter divorce in his childhood, hockey was one of the few bright spots as he grew up. Hockey also introduced him to his best friend Owen and his younger sister Elise who have always been supportive of him and grounded him throughout the years. Throughout this book Justin’s an appealing hero, clearly flawed due to his parent’s divorce, and it’s affected his relationships every step of the way. His interludes with women have been merely physical until now as he keeps his heart far away from the time he spends with the “puck bunnies”. There’s one woman who’s captured his heart though...Elise. He’s always found himself drawn to her, enjoyed their talks where she valued him for himself instead of his fame. He doesn’t think he’s worthy of her though, doesn’t want to pull her into his messy life, and it leads to a slow burn romance that pulled at my heartstrings. Justin can only fight his feelings for so long though and the one night-stand he has with her ultimately pushes him into action and changes their future forever.
Elise Parrish fell in love with Justin the moment her brother introduced them and he’s owned her heart ever since. She’s fought her feelings through the years but one drunken night has her giving him everything in a morning after that goes awry and sets them on a rocky road to HEA full of frustrations, hurt feelings, and fear over how Owen will feel about her attraction to Justin. Elise is a likable heroine, young and inexperienced, but with a heart of gold. She’s not naive though when it comes to the antics of Justin, her brother, and the other hockey players and her insights into their time off the ice pulled no punches. As the story progressed, and as she boldly stated what she wanted from Justin, Elise became empowered and it made for an even more sizzling connection. What I liked best about Elise is her believable and heartwarming connection to Owen. Their sibling byplay was both sweet and sassy and I can understand her not wanting to jeopardize their closeness. Her interactions with her girlfriends were another highlight and I enjoyed the support and guidance they gave to one another in scenes that I felt a part of too. With each turn of the page her relationship to Justin continued on a natural progression that I was fully on board for as they were very close-knit friends as young people before their scenes became full of sexual tension that kept me glued to the pages. Theirs was a romance that I was rooting for every step of the way.
This was a sizzling romance from the start and a solid beginning to what looks to be even more scorching reads to come. Enjoyable banter and sexy scenes from the main couple were nicely balanced with quiet and heartfelt talks that were just what Justin needed after a lifetime of meaningless interactions. Along with Elise and Justin there was a large and colorful cast of secondary characters whose stories I look forward to reading. Owen and the other hockey players, all of whom are very self-assured (a bit arrogant at times), were entertaining nonetheless and I’m greatly looking forward to them being tamed by a strong-willed woman. Elise’s friends also left their marks and I can easily see each of them paired off with any of these “players”. Readers looking for a fast-paced read with fun and flirty banter, as well as a bit of heart and soul, will get just that with this familiar yet well-crafted romance.
My rating for this is a B+
*I got this book from the author for review in exchange for my honest opinion.
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than three dozen titles, Kendall Ryan has sold over 2.5 million books and her books have been translated into several languages in countries around the world.
Her books have also appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than 70 times. Ryan has been featured in such publications as USA Today, Newsweek, and InTouch Magazine.
She lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.
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