The Game Plan, by Kristen Callihan – A Review

The Game Plan

 

Title: The Game Plan

Author: Kristen Callihan

Series: Game On, #3

Genre:  Contemporary Adult Romance   

Release Date: November 1, 2015

Links:

Amazon US – Kindle | Amazon – Paperback

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Synopsis

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.

Game On.

 

My Review

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!

Excerpt

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

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.

Visit Kristen’s Amazon Page | Like Kristen on Facebook | Follow Kristen on Twitter | Visit Kristen’s Website

Housing Elephants, by Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Housing Elephants

 

 

Book: Housing Elephants

Author: Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Genre: New Adult

Release Date:  20th November


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Synopsis:

“… And the greatest of these is love.”

Love is patient and kind… Its strength can build bridges and knock down walls. It can give people hope – a purpose. But there is a side to love that is unforgiving and cruel – a side to love that breaks hearts.

Love can suffocate, and love can turn to hate.

Billy Taylor meandered through life, only ever giving half. Ruled by his father’s grief, he gave up on his own dreams in a bid to keep life ticking along, desperately craving the unconditional love of his parents. It wasn’t until Eve Swallow fell into his life again, rousing his empty heart, that he dared to hope for a chance to live life on his terms.

Never quite good enough in the eyes of her overpowering mother, Eve kept herself locked away inside her own head, immersing herself in her passion for art and music, and doing anything in her power to avoid getting close to anyone. When she connected with Billy’s eyes, that still haunted her dreams after so long, fear kicked in, and all she could do was the one thing she was sure would protect her…

Run.

If two lost souls collided and a love so deep was born, it would surely take a herd of elephants to tear them apart…

 

Meet the Author

Raised in a little village in North Wales, a fierce love of books and reading was instilled in Eleanor by her parents from a very early age, and she has vivid memories of reading secretly under the blankets with a torch for hours after lights out, often getting caught! She was blown away by The Borribles Trilogy – Michael De Larrabeiti at nine years old, and it was then that she fell head over heels with idea of imaginary worlds.

A persistent and professional daydreamer, something she still prides herself on being, she spent most of her early childhood inside her own head making up stories or scenarios, climbing trees, building dens or doing anything arts and crafty. Music also played a huge part of her young life. Growing up on The Beatles, U2 and Status Quo, her obsession with Top of the Pops and vinyl twelve inches grew into a love affair with music that has only grown and expanded over time: there is rarely a moment where music is not playing in her life, and in turn, rarely a time when she is not singing, even if it is in her head!

She had always thought she would write a book some day – it has been an ambition for as long as she can remember – and has always been told that she ‘has a way with words’. Over the years, she’s dabbled in the odd piece of prose, helped friends to write letters and résumés and prides herself on her hilarious lyrical genius when composing poems for friends birthdays! Life, however, got in the way and her dream was stored on the back burner as she put herself through university and started a family. It was only when she was nearing the ‘forty’ milestone that she decided it was time she got some of the ramblings and chatterings in her head down on paper. 

A creative, guitar-playing mum of one boisterous, but pretty damn cool boy, she classes herself as a Yorkshire gal now after moving to Leeds when she was eleven. Eleanor works full time as a teacher, but grabs every spare minute she can to write; be it on the train, lunchtimes at school or foregoing sleep for an extra hour or two in the evenings. Her hope for the future is for people to fall in love with her characters as much as she does. Not a big ask really!
 Social Links:   Facebook | Blog  |Twitter (@elenorlloydj)
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