PLAYING TO WIN – Jaci Burton
A Play-By-Play Novel
Berkley Heat
ISBN: 978-0-425-24783-9
September 2012
Erotic Contemporary Romance

St. Louis, Missouri – Present Day

After bouncing from one pro football team to another, star wide receiver Cole Riley has landed in his hometown of St. Louis. Unfortunately, his bad reputation with the media has followed him, so the team has hired an image consultant to work with him. Cole doesn't think he needs any help, but one look at the consultant, Savannah Brooks, has him changing his mind…even if his motive is to get her between the sheets. But Savannah proves to be one tough (and prickly) lady who believes that business and pleasure shouldn't mix.

Cole‘s hair-trigger temper has gotten him into hot water with his prior teams as the media likes to bait him. Savannah intends to change that, along with a new image for him. Cole is resistant to her suggestions, so she's going to have to work hard. They have confrontations, but at the same time the sexual chemistry between them sizzles hotter than a volcano. Despite their mutual attraction, Savannah has no plans to get romantically involved with Cole, though it doesn't take long before Savannah throws her business shouldn't mix with pleasure mantra out the window. But can there be anything more than a fling between bachelor hot-throb Cole and by-the-books Savannah?

Jaci Burton tackles pro football again in the sizzling hot PLAYING TO WIN. Cole is the cousin of the Riley siblings featured in the previous books in the series: THE PERFECT PLAY, CHANGING THE GAME, and TAKING A SHOT. Cole feels more comfortable hanging out in a noisy nightclub with women all over him than being around his own teammates. Savannah intends to change that as she encourages him—no, she demands —that he interact with his new teammates. Even as she pushes him to get involved, she's keeping a part of herself tucked away from Cole and anyone she comes into contact with. It takes a while in PLAYING TO WIN before readers learn the reason for her aversion to relationships, but it is the emotional connection she has with Cole that finally breaks down the barriers.

Cole's life is football, and he prefers to keep his personal life out of the picture. Nothing really profound, just the fear of rejection (again) similar to what happened with his prior teams has him not wanting to get attached to the new team. Slowly and surely Savannah gets him involved—from hosting a party to working on charity projects. The Cole at the beginning of PLAYING TO WIN is nothing like the man at the end. Where before he didn't want to commit himself to anything except playing football, now he's a well-rounded man with friends and thinking about his future after football. Savannah is definitely good at her job.

Both Cole and Savannah initially resist getting involved, especially her, but soon there is no denying the sexual desire they feel for each other. The sex scenes are scorchers, yet they fit in smoothly and nicely with the tone of PLAYING TO WIN.  Just when Cole has broken down Savannah's icy barriers, he puts his foot in his mouth, but love prevails. It's a sensual, emotional tale I highly recommend as Cole and Savannah go nose to nose and mouth to mouth in a fun, playful way. Grab this one before it flies off the shelves.

Holly Tibbs