Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby

Playing House by Amy Andrews

Playing House by Amy AndrewsPlaying House by Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby #5
Published by Entangled: Brazen on February 12th 2018
Pages: 250
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two-stars

Eleanor is content with her boring life—mostly. She’s even fine being the quirky sister in a bevy of beauties. So imagine her surprise when one of her brother’s Sydney Smoke mates hits on her at an engagement party. Her. The weird sister, who wears vintage dresses and prefers her books to parties.

Bodie is shocked the next morning to find the soft, sexy virgin who seduced him with corsets is his best friend’s little sister. If he could kick his own ass, he would. And two months later, she’s got an even bigger surprise for him. Now he needs to convince the corset-loving wallflower that he loves her uniqueness if they’ve got a chance at forever.

He always did love a challenge…

‘Playing House’ did kind of fall flat for me with the stereotypes that Amy Andrews played with here—the virgin and the supposed ‘accidental’ manwhore who used to be a committed boyfriend but was cheated on—but I’m writing this review with the understanding that this imprint is more to do with smexy times than anything else. Much of Bodie/Nell’s interactions were unsurprisingly, sex-based, so their time in between the sheets were prioritised over the harder and difficult issues that crop up in romance.

Andrews’s writing is superlative as always, so if you could adjust your expectations about this imprint, then Andrews definitely delivers, objectively speaking. Nell and Bodie did scorch the sheets via a deception Nell played because she just couldn’t wait any longer to lose her virginity.

Personally, I didn’t exactly buy into this pairing somehow—not when it seemed more about animal attraction and lust that apparently overrode every ounce of common sense and worse yet, when Nell simply delayed telling Bodie about the accidental pregnancy because they frustratingly did everything else and got on with sex except to deal with the actual issue at hand. In fact, I found myself skimming the sex scenes and that was when I knew I’d completely missed the point of the Brazen line.

I’m afraid that this book isn’t for me—too many bodily functions seemed to have gone into feeding frenzy along with a heroine whom I couldn’t sympathise with at all for her dodging and running away—at all, though I probably should have known better going into this particular imprint of Entangled’s.

two-stars

Playing it Cool by Amy Andrews

Playing it Cool by Amy AndrewsPlaying It Cool by Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby, #2
Published by Entangled Publishing on September 12th 2016
Pages: 159
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three-stars

Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw… When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it’s not for reals, but Dex won’t take no for an answer.
Dexter Blake’s life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It’s just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game.
But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them…sizzles their clothes right off.
Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real…

The Smokes return in what appears to be a new series of hot rugby men jostling for their HEA, but not without conflict and well, not without an amount of stupidity involved. Dexter Blake’s and Harper Nugent’s HEA comes in the short and winding road of fake dating and booty calls until someone cracks and decides more is needed than just sex.

Amy Andrews raises several issues in this book – such as body image and women’s self-esteem because of men’s validation of it – and clearly champions the ‘embrace it all’ contemporary notion of what femininity should be. In short, girls who have been all about that bass can and should get their HEA, which I love. Skewed very much towards the female perspective and what women should deserve, Harper unsurprisingly, is sympathetically written to resemble the everyday woman (with body image issues) striving for acceptance in contrast to Dex who almost appears to be an unfeeling cad at times. I did find him unintentionally hilarious though, because of the number of ways he stuck his foot in his mouth especially when he was trying to be sensitive.

‘Playing it Cool’ isn’t an unpredictable read and I did think I could have enjoyed it more had both lead characters not exchanged their measure of intelligence for common sense because of the animalistic lust/attraction that neither can fight (nor want to). What struck me was the typical behaviour of both leads who seemed led around by their hormones and the steamy sex they’ve been having, up until the point where feelings start coming into play. Even if I understood Harper’s want for more, I found her frustrating simply because it seemed like her body had a mind of its own even when it was obvious to herself that her own standards and demands of Dex should have been much higher. Dex on the other hand, seemed to be too reactive than proactive: needing to be led to the conclusion in a series of baby steps that he reciprocates Harper’s love more out of panic, then proposing a few minutes later – felt somewhat too juvenile and unbelievable for me.

But because this imprint of Entangled prioritises a huge amount of sex, liberally sprinkled over a hurried bone-jarring revelation that yes, it is love especially when jealousy strikes hard, I probably shouldn’t complain too much when Andrews delivers that short, smutty read that wraps it up nicely for ordinary women who need this sort of reaffirmation.

three-stars

Playing by Her Rules by Amy Andrews

Playing by Her Rules by Amy AndrewsPlaying By Her Rules by Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby, #1
Published by Entangled: Brazen on July 11th 2016
Pages: 160
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three-stars

When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.

Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!

For such a short read, Amy Andrews has gotten me taking sides here.

It’s what Tanner Stone did with a girl he’d loved – to place himself on a side where she’d hate him – all because he wanted to follow her dreams. Their second chance comes again when Matilda Kent places her career on the line for a 6-part feature on him and it’s exactly what Tanner needs when he decides he wants her again.

I think the bigger issue here which I felt really strongly about, was the idea of choices and whether any individual has a right to take them away from those they care about, as well-meaning (and foolish) as they can be.

Contrary to so many opinions on Tanner’s sweetness, what I found problematic was my inability to get a grasp on who Tanner really was. He simply came across as a flaky guy and I couldn’t help but see his actions simply as calculated moves to get Matilda back and into bed. Only after that first meeting in years did he realise how much he missed her – an explanation I can’t buy into easily, simply because he could have tried a lot harder in the years separating them had he really wanted her. Instead, we’re told that he moved on easily after lying to her for her own good, didn’t really think about the repercussions of his actions, then swanned around with different women as he got famous in his rugby career.

Yet the moment Matilda opened her mouth to bait Tanner, I adored her, her gumption, her own need for self-respect and felt every bit of her hurt when Tanner inadvertently took away her choices years ago without meaning to. As always, there are both sides of the argument given here, but I didn’t quite appreciate Matilda’s grandmother defending Tanner’s thoughtless deed like it was nothing – teenagers after all, do remember the scars and hurts way long after they’ve grown up and putting down the extent of the hurt diminished the impact of teenage decisions and but also felt like an easy cop-out for the story’s quick resolution and HEA.

I did think that the brevity of the story did short-change it a little; a rushed ending and Matilda’s sudden change of heart did seem too easy for me (unless I’ve suddenly become a grudge-holding crone) but because an HEA is always needed, who am I to question it?

three-stars