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I Belong

Review: The Perfect Play by Jaci Burton

The Perfect Play (#1) by Jaci BurtonTitleThe Perfect Play

Author: Jaci Burton

Genre: Erotic Romance

Series: Play by Play (Book 1)

Publication Date: February 1, 2011

Format: Paperback, 324 Pages

ISBN-10: 0425238814 (Penguin/Berkley Heat)

ISBN-13: 978-0425238813 (Penguin/Berkley Heat)

Reviewed by: Sheila


Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game…

For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara’s not interested in getting to know football’s most notorious playboy any better.

As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara’s life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick’s latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn’t intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.

But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind.

Quick & Dirty: Hot and determined quarterback chases reluctant single mother.  This is a love story filled with lots of football references/metaphors and several hot sex scenes.

Opening SentenceSweat dripped down Mick Riley’s face and arms.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The Perfect Play is just your everyday romance story: Boy meets girl.  Boy jumps girl’s bones.  Girl runs from commitment while boy chases.  More bone jumping.   Girl eventually falls in love with boy.  They live happily ever after.  Though the story is typical, Jaci Burton masterfully wealds her tale in such a way that even someone that only likes paranormal romance (*cough* me) can enjoy.

This is the story of two unlikely people falling in lust with one another.  Mick Riley is living the good life being one of NFL’s top quarterbacks.  He has money, fame, and lots and lots of women throwing themselves at his feet.  During one of the many parties hosted for his team, he spots a beautiful woman unlike any he has known before.  He is drawn to her like a moth to a flame, and boy does he want to burn!  Tara Lincoln is a single mother and event planner.  Her life is too busy for romance, but when Mick Riley, superstar, offers her a night of wild passion, she finds that she can’t resist.  That doesn’t mean that she is willing to have it go any further than a one-night-stand, no matter how much Mick would wish it otherwise.

Mick seems to be a man with two faces; one is the image his PR lady pushes and one that he has around his family.  These two different personas are what drive the wedge between him and Tara.  Mick’s character shows depth and relatability.  He is as tenacious on the field as he is off of it.  When he decides that he wants Tara, he lets nothing distract him from his goal; making Tara his.  Even the sexual scenes reflect the inner resolve on Mick’s part.   But Mick has secrets.  Is he willing to let Tara all the way inside his walls or will his past mistakes cost him the most important game of his life?

Tara is a little whiny.  Usually, we see the man playing hard to get in these situations, not the woman.  She constantly looks for excuses to dump Mick even as she thoroughly enjoys his body.  She hides behind her son and uses him as a shield against intimacy, which she gets called on a few times throughout the book.  As much as I hated her excuses, they were all validated by her past experiences and overt assumptions about Mick’s character.  In every relationship, there is going to come a point where you have to trust your partner and take what they tell you as truth, or the relationship is doomed to end.  Throughout the whole book, Tara struggles with trust and commitment while Mick tries everything he can to hold on to what they have together.  Can she reconcile what she believes Mick to be with the man she has come to love?  Can she put on her big girl pants and take the amazing gift she has been offered?

One of the obstacles the couple faces in this book comes in the form of Mick’s PR manager, Elizabeth Darnell.  Liz is in charge of maintaining the playboy persona for Mick no matter what.  She rallies against their relationship and causes strife between Mick and Tara on several occasions.  Mick, for the most part, doesn’t see the growing tension between the two women and allows things to get to a breaking point.  Mick stands at the crossroads, where he must choose a path between his career and his woman.  Will Liz be the catalyst that Tara is looking for to end things with Mick?  Will Mick allow Liz to continue running his life for him or will he take hold and run the play himself?

Yes, this book is full of hot and steamy sex scenes.  Yes, it is also full of football metaphors.  Yet, by combining the two, Ms. Burton creates two wonderful and lovable characters that will make you glad you came along for the ride.  The road to love is filled with potholes and this story is no exception.  This is the beginning of a wonderful new series that helps reiterate that happily-ever-afters are found in the most unlikely of places, on and off the field.

Notable Scene:

“It’s like a sea of white,” Tara said as he put the car in park.  The lights from his car cast out over the fog.

“It’s better in the daytime when the fog first starts rolling in.  But I still like it up here. It’s quiet.  Good place for thinking and for being alone.”

“And for parking?”  She slanted him a quizzical look.

“Well, we are parked, but I didn’t bring you up here for that.”

She unbuckled her seat belt and turned to face him.  “I kind of like the idea.”
“Of what?  Making out in my car?”

“We could start with that, and see where it goes.”

“I think you’re using sex to avoid having an honest conversation.”

She paused.  “Isn’t that a woman’s line?”

They looked at each other, and both of them laughed.  Tara kicked her heels off and crawled over the console.  Mick had to admit he like watching her maneuver in that tight skirt as she straddled him.  He pushed the button and slid the seat back as far as it would go, giving her room. She settled over his lap and laid her hands on his chest.  “So we’re having role reversal.  Does this mean I get to seduce you?”

He’d lost all train of thought since all the blood in his head had rushed to his dick.  “Honey, you’re sitting on my cock.  I’m pretty sure you can do whatever you want with me.”

The Play by Play Series:

1. The Perfect Play

2. Changing the Game

3. Taking a Shot

4. Playing to Win

5. Thrown by a Curve (March 5, 2013)

FTC Advisory: Penguin/Berkley Heat graciously provided me with a copy of The Perfect Play.  No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.  The only payments I receive are hugs and kisses from my little boys.

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