Title: The Game Plan
Author: Kristen Callihan
Series: Game On, #3
Genre: Contemporary Adult Romance
Release Date: November 1, 2015
A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.
NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friends. That ends now.
Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed.
Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away; they live vastly different lives in separate cities. And Dex is looking for a forever girl. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he’s her forever man.
I love everything about football…sexy book boyfriends…and romance. A book that combines all of the above, by a favorite author? Pure, unadulterated reading bliss. As she did in The Hook Up and The Friend Zone, Kristen Callihan works sports-romance magic again with The Game Plan. Game on!
Ethan Dexter, aka “Dex,” is about as sexy, charming, tender and protective a BBF as you’ll ever find in a sports-themed romance, but he also has a rather unique and not-so-well-hidden secret: at 24, he’s powerful and successful on and off the field … but he’s still a virgin. This dilemma sets up some of the funniest, sexiest, sweetest, and saddest moments in the story. Dex has all the external trappings of success – he’s stunningly attractive, smart, and funny, with a pro football contract, a nice condo in a beautiful city, a legion of fans, and an entourage of paparazzi and willing women waiting for him at every turn. He’s surrounded by teammates and friends who care about him and respect him. But there is one thing missing that he wants more than anything else. Beneath his strong, sexy, über-masculine exterior lies a deep and vulnerable soul. He has yet to experience the kind of love, or to connect on an intimate level, with someone worthy of everything he has to offer – someone who isn’t attracted solely by his celebrity, his income, or his rugged good looks. Someone who will peel away his layers and protect the heart he’s carefully guarded for so long.
The ‘someone’ he wants is also a woman who shuns all things football and celebrity — Fiona, the younger sister of his best friend. She’s never noticed him as anything more than another of her brother’s football pals – and she definitely doesn’t want a relationship with someone who’s always on the road, playing a sport she only tolerates because it’s “all in the family.” She wants her freedom and her fun without the limitations of commitment. Fiona has her own issues, including a job she loves with people she hates; a family who thinks she’s the ‘flighty’ one that doesn’t stick with anything – or anyone – for very long; and deep insecurities as a result. She’s not looking for a relationship – she’s still looking for herself – and she doesn’t want to let anyone get too close while she sorts it all out.
When Dex finally has an opportunity to get Fiona’s attention, he takes a risk and goes for broke. What begins with a dare about his beard leads to an all-out attempt to win Fiona’s trust as well as her heart. Initially reluctant, then wary, and ever doubtful, Fiona soon realizes that there is much more to Ethan Dexter than she – or anyone else – knows. And she wants more. This is where the conflict plays out. For the most part, it plays out beautifully – there are no extremes, just two people struggling to find themselves and each other, to weather a long-distance relationship that is fraught with the usual problems. The crises come when they fail to communicate outside of their hilarious texts and sexy bedroom banter. It seems that when everything is on the line, the last thing they do is talk to each other — they react, with near-disastrous consequences on more than one occasion.
How can two people find their way together when the most important thing they need – trust – is derailed by misguided attempts to protect each other from the realities that life throws their way? You’ll have to read this wonderful story to find out for yourself. You will feel intensely frustrated with both of them at times – but somehow you know they will find their HEA – and when they do, they will not only find each other, they will find who and what they are meant to be.
The Game Plan is seriously sexy, sometimes hilarious, and altogether heartwarming. You can’t ask for more than that. Well done, Kristen – please give us more!
We stare at each other, nearly nose to nose now. And it feels…comfortable, tentative, new, strange. “I don’t know what to make of this,” I whisper. “I didn’t expect you, Ethan.”
His eyes search my face. “I’ve been waiting two years for you to see me.”
He says the words clearly, without hesitation, and still I can’t believe them.
A lump rises in my throat. “We’ve only interacted twice before in all that time.”
“Four times, not counting the wedding. You were there when Gray and I graduated. And at Draft Day.”
“You went high in the first round,” I say, remembering now. “That’s rare for a center.”
“You wore a white sundress with cherries on it for graduation, and a gray knit dress with black knee-high boots for Draft Day.”
My chest feels too tight, and I have to clear my throat to speak. “Why didn’t I notice you before?” Because he was right in front of me the whole time. This big, beautiful man who doesn’t shy away from honesty.
With a caress of his thumb, he eases a lock of hair behind my ear. “I didn’t exactly make myself known.”
“Why not? And why now?”
He frowns, watching his thumb glide over the edge of my jaw toward my lips. “Couldn’t stay away from you this time.”
Before I can ask what he means, Dex slides his large hand to my nape and hauls me close. His mouth claims mine–needy, demanding, a complete counterpoint to the careful way he holds me. Hot mouth, gentle hands.
About Kristen Callihan
Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather be. She is a three-time RITA nominee and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.