Thursday, January 10, 2019

Review: Playing For Keeps by Jill Shalvis

Title: Playing For Keeps
Series: Heartbreaker Bay
Author: Jill Shalvis
Release date: January 22, 2019 
Cliffhanger: No
Rating: 5 stars


If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.

you’d better be sure…

Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.

… someone is there to catch you.

Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.

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New York Times bestselling author Jill Shalvis lives in a small town in the Sierras with her family and far too many assorted quirky characters. Any resemblance to the quirky characters in her books is, um, mostly coincidental.

Look for Jill's latest, LOST AND FOUND SISTERS on shelves and e-readers now, and get all her bestselling, award-winning books wherever romances are sold.

Visit Jill's website for a complete book list and daily blog detailing her city-girl-living-in-the-mountains adventures.



Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay, #7)Playing for Keeps by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Release date: January 22, 2019
Cliffhanger: no
Genre: contemporary romance

Accidentally on Purpose was my first read in this series, and Elle and Archer have remained my favorite couple since then. I officially have a new leading couple because Caleb and Sadie unexpectedly swept me off my feet. I adore Jill Shalvis' humor in her books. You can always depend on her to deliver belly laughs and chuckles galore. Playing for Keeps didn't skimp on the humor, but there was an added depth of emotion in this book because of Sadie's history. I know some readers said that it took them some time to warm up to her because of her standoffish attitude, but that wasn't the case for me. Even though it took some time to soften her sharp edges, I could always identify with where she was coming from and feel for her.

After the previous book, I was really looking forward to seeing these two characters who've been in the background trading snark finally connect. On the surface they seem to be the epitome of two opposites attracting, but as we got to know them better we discover their similarities as well. Sadie is a tattoo/permanent makeup artist with two jobs, struggling hard to make ends meet. She's tattooed, has brightly dyed hair, and doesn't let very many people get close to her. She has trust issues a mile wide, especially when it comes to men.

    Yes, he was fun, flirty, and charming, but she was highly suspicious of all those things. Her idea of fun, flirty, and charming meant being as sarcastic as possible. It’d done the trick too, scaring men off for years.

Sarcasm is her weapon of choice in deterring any unwanted attention. A previous boyfriend caused her to slip into old unhealthy habits, and that experience scared her away from romantic relationships. But when she faces off against Caleb, he gives back every bit as good as he gets. In fact, not only was he charming, but he seemed to be charmed by her attempts to scare him off. It wasn't until a three legged dog named Lollipop came into the equation that they actually began getting to know one another better. Jill Shalvis is an animal lover, and it really comes through in her writing. She often includes pets in her stories, but this dog was almost like another main character. When Caleb rescues Lollipop off the street, they decide to share "joint custody" so to speak and become doggy parents together. As much as she tried to keep her distance, she was upfront and bluntly honest with him from the very beginning. Which is one of her personality quirks that probably drew him in even more because he has some trust issues of his own.

    “I’m sorry. For hanging up on you.” “But not for the judging?” Dammit. “Maybe a little for the judging. But I’m not going to lie,” she said. “I’m probably not done judging you. I mean I’ll try to work on it, but it’ll be a process.” His mouth quirked. “Fair enough.”

Sadie has always been the black sheep of the family, out of place and misunderstood by everyone. Because of their huge difference in personalities, her mother failed to understand her, and was completely insensitive to her needs. She didn't listen, she nagged her to find a man, and made her feel as if she was never good enough. I couldn't stand how she treated her from the very beginning. Caleb had his own family issues with his extremely overprotective sisters. While their hearts were in the right place, and their actions came from a place of love, they often crossed boundaries they shouldn't have. This causes some friction between the couple at one point, but Caleb doesn't hesitate to set his family straight and make amends.

I absolutely loved this hero and his sensitivity in giving Sadie time to open up to him. He was wonderfully patient and you could tell that he accepted every part of her, even her broken pieces. She's a complicated woman who doesn't easily let people past her barriers, but somehow they were able to find more common ground than either could have anticipated. Maybe because no one cared to take the time to unravel Sadie and really listen to her before. And when he needed someone to carry his burdens, she stepped right up. Their differences and similarities complimented each other beautifully.

His one flaw was probably being too pushy in trying to help her and not understanding her need to take care of herself. At the same time, when you care about someone, it's understandable that you don't want them to have to struggle when there's something you can do about it. With open communication and honesty between them, any issues they had were resolved pretty quickly.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had everything I look for in a romance novel in one witty, romantic, feel-good package. It's one of those stories that leaves you with a warm glow of happiness after turning the last page. I highly recommend this one to everyone, even new readers to the series. It's a must read!

    “I knew the day I met you,” he said. “Which was just under a year ago now.” “Knew what?” she whispered. “That I was going to fall for you and never recover.”



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