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Night Games (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #372)

Night Games (Harlequin Kimani Romance Series #372)

3.3 6
by Lisa Marie Perry

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No risk, no reward in the game of love

Training the Las Vegas Slayers by day, sampling Sin City's delights by night, Nate Franco's life is one to envy. But a hot nightclub encounter could change all that. Because Charlotte Blue is more than a beautiful stranger. She's the daughter of his team's new owners—and his rival for the top training job


No risk, no reward in the game of love

Training the Las Vegas Slayers by day, sampling Sin City's delights by night, Nate Franco's life is one to envy. But a hot nightclub encounter could change all that. Because Charlotte Blue is more than a beautiful stranger. She's the daughter of his team's new owners—and his rival for the top training job. To keep his career and his legacy intact, Nate's prepared to play a little dirty.

Charlotte works hard to make her mark in a male-dominated sport. On the field, she and Nate are the picture of professionalism. In the bedroom, she's risking everything for their breathtaking forbidden affair. But is Nate just using her so his family can reclaim the team—or will they be able to look beyond the passionate games to embrace real love?

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The strength, loyalty and fighting spirit in the main characters are inspiring."
-RT Book Reviews on NIGHT GAMES

Product Details

Publication date:
Harlequin Kimani Romance Series , #372
Product dimensions:
4.10(w) x 6.60(h) x 0.70(d)

Read an Excerpt

You look like the devil's sex puppet."

It wasn't the greatest compliment on her appearance. Charlotte Blue thought, but it sure wasn't the worst. "Thank you," she hollered across the curb to Josephine de la Pena-aka Joey-who stood waiting near the Rio's entrance. Only in Sin City-and only coming from her best friend-could "sex puppet" be taken as a favorable comment.

Not giving the chauffeur a chance to circle the vehicle and open her door, Charlotte had stepped out and paused at the BMW sedan's lowered front-passenger window to tip the man, a silent thanks to him for politely ignoring the fact that she was the subject of hot breaking-news debate on every sports radio station he'd attempted to listen to during the drive. Now, as he bid her a good evening with a touch to the visor of his cap, he «o?-so-politely slid his eyes to the golden-brown cleavage displayed by the deep V-neckline of her dress.

She'd almost chosen a more modest outfit, a tamer hairstyle. She'd come this close to ditching tonight's Las Vegas Slayers team party. In the back of her mind she'd been a little fearful that a woman intruding into a boys' club-which the National Football League undoubtedly was-shouldn't waltz into it dressed as sin in stilettos. But the getup was an invitation to a high-stakes dare she'd made with herself: I dare you to take what you want…what you've earned.

There were few things Charlotte enjoyed more than a good dare.

Hurrying to join Joey for preparty drinks at VooDoo, she was glad she'd covered her insecurity with the brand of confidence that only a gauzy scarlet dress and chocolate diamonds could provide. After all, a newly hired NFL assistant athletic trainer shouldn't skip meet-ups.

The reality that she had landed a shot at bringing her sports-medicine experience to a professional arena still hadn't fully registered. Pushing for aggressive reorganization- from administrative cleanup to fresh acquisitions-the new owners had preached to the media about wanting change. But Charlotte, who'd taken her bumps playing high school football and paid her dues training players for two NCAA teams, had still been rejected-twice. Then at the close of the Slayers' minicamp, just when she was ready to give up her pursuit of the job, she was offered a position. No wooing, no frills, just a take-itor-leave-it open door to the gig of her dreams. And she was expected to be better than perfect.

According to the fresh headlines of major sports networks, she had three strikes against her: she was a woman, she was a young woman and the team's new owners were her parents, which screamed nepotism.

Thank the Lord this wasn't baseball, because three strikes didn't count her out.

Joey didn't wait for Charlotte to meet her on the curb before she jabbed her cane on the ground and limped with impressive speed toward the entrance, calling over her shoulder, "Vamanos! Gotta hustle before all the good tables, drinks and men are gone!"

Charlotte laughed, quickening her step and letting the oversize sheer bell sleeves of her dress flutter in the light wind. The red-and-purple glory of the Rio glowed against the dark sky that was illuminated with the lights of the Strip. She enjoyed what this city had to offer, but next week, right at the height of summer, training camp in Mount Charleston would be her home away from home.

Hot on Joey's Christian Louboutin heels, Charlotte said, "Let's divide and then we'll conquer our objectives. You snag a table, I'll order the drinks-rum and Diet Coke's still your drink of the week, right?-and we'll both scope out men."

"Could it be you're on the lookout for fling potential, too?" Though petite with an elfin face, Joey had a huge personality-and never minced words.

"I'm only looking, not touching. Camp's coming up and I really don't need the trouble."

"Oh, Lottie. If done right, a fling is anything but trouble." Joey led Charlotte to the entrance of VooDoo Lounge. "Where should we stake out? Indoors, outdoors, upstairs, downstairs?"

"Indoors downstairs for starters. I want to relax and savor my beer." Body heat, the mingling of spicy cologne and musky perfume, and the deep pulse of music confronted Charlotte as she followed her friend inside the dimly lit nightclub and began weaving through the crush of people. "By the way, I know what a fling is."

"Then you know it doesn't come with expectations and strings attached and everything else that falls under the trouble category. For a straight shooter who's always been about beating the odds, you sure play it safe when it comes to guys. I blame Wade. All I'm saying is if the same ol', same ol' disappoints over and over again, try something new. Think of the world as a bar. Why commit yourself to plain beer when you can have a shot of something new? Oh, found a table!" Joey took off in a blur of teal-colored chiffon with her cane tap-tap-tapping on the floor, leaving Charlotte no choice but to chase after her.

"Hey, I thought you were getting the drinks," Joey said when Charlotte claimed the chair opposite her and dropped her Fendi handbag onto the table. "Fine, I'll go."

Charlotte swiftly swiped Joey's cane from its perch on the seat of the chair between them. "No, you don't. I'll get the booze, but not until you hear this."

Joey muttered a creative expletive and Charlotte fought a smile. "FYI, I was over Wade the second he forbade- oh, yeah, forbade-me to take the Slayers' offer." Wade Eddington had used her to network in the NFL, promote his luxury-hotel chain and schmooze his suit-and-tie acquaintances with box-seat tickets before the Slayers franchise had even officially changed hands. The moment she'd shared with him the big news that hadn't been leaked to the media until tonight, he'd given her an ultimatum: give up her spot on the training staff or give him up.

That ultimatum had infuriated her, and so did Joey's accusation that Charlotte was incapable of taking a personal risk. She and Joey had been friends for three years, since the day Joey had caused a ruckus at the stadium's Slayers Club Lounge, complaining about her beyond-well-done prime-rib sandwich and saying she deserved to fill her belly with a good meal and see some football to forget how messed up it was that she'd been transferred to federal desk duty in Las Vegas after being pulled from a field job on Capitol Hill.

Charlotte, sick of being stood up, had taken satisfaction in giving away her no-show boyfriend's ticket and preferred bottle of Pinot Noir to a stranger, and she and Joey had been cool ever since. It was time to find out if her bestie could take what she dished out.

Charlotte folded her arms across her chest. "Have you had a fling this summer?"

"Uh, it's a bit more difficult for someone like me. What man wants a romp with a three-legged woman?"

"Don't say that, Joey." Truth be told, Joey was fortunate that the burden of a cane was the only lasting damage from the bullet lodged in her hip, and Charlotte didn't think it healthy for her friend to use her injury as an excuse to miss out on life.

Lightening the mood, and not one to let Joey get down on herself, she quipped, "Bet you a crisp hundred there's a hawt brother out there itching to get a three-legged woman."

Joey laughed, then, sobering, said, "Well, he may be 'out there,' but until he comes into this nightclub, I'm out of luck. Now please move your ass and get those drinks. I'm parched."

"You're horny and frustrated." Charlotte leaped up, grabbed her bag and dashed into the crowd before her friend could whack her with her cane.

At the crowded bar, Charlotte waited for a space to open up. She glanced back to her table and saw a man was already proffering Joey a drink. Clearly there was no shortage of men in Vegas interested in Mexican bombshells.

A woman vacated a barstool and Charlotte slid onto it, only to find no one manning the bar. A couple of young men with bottles of Dos Equis in tow bumped into her as they jostled each other for a spot at her elbow. At her firm headshake they grunted their "It's all goods" and moved on to a pair of women with flatironed hair and heavy eye shadow who appeared to be sopping up male attention like human sponges.

With a sigh, Charlotte inspected the front of her dress for damage. One camera snap of her looking disheveled would no doubt give her TMZ notoriety and the chew-up-spit-out sports media would be hungry for more-as if a beer-stained dress or even imperfect lipstick carried more urgency and importance than the fact that the Slayers had acquired three of last season's first-round draft picks and had snatched up a championship-winning quarterback just one day after his free agency had been announced. Not to mention that the injured safety the league had written off as a fallen star was in better health, in mental control, and come September would be in a silver-and-blood-red Slayers uniform-and Charlotte couldn't wait.

She took a moment to retrieve her compact and check her makeup. Beyond her own reflection in the small circle mirror was a pair of intense eyes…watching her. Snapping the compact shut, she whirled on her stool and silently confronted the man who lingered at the edge of the bar like a tall bronze-toned sculpture of muscle and lust and instant temptation.

At his quick wink all of her body heat redirected to pool deep in her belly. An unsteady breath escaped her lips before she could manage to string together a coherent sentence. "Need a mirror?" she uttered lamely, holding up the compact.

For the love of touchdowns, whatever you do, don't smile at me.

The corner of his perfectly kissable mouth tipped up in the suggestion of a smirk that sent the ball of lava-hot intensity inside Charlotte to dip even lower. Confounded at such an involuntary reaction to a stranger, she fell into an old nervous habit, wiggling her right foot back and forth.

"No, thanks," he said, moving behind the bar.

Of course he would be the bartender. Olive-brown skin, a burr haircut and what looked like a few days' growth of stubble-he probably made an incredible income on what he took home in tips every night from women who weren't immune to his in-your-face appeal.

The things this man was doing to her rationality were downright dangerous. And for once she didn't even think about whether or not he would be welcomed into her family circle. The only men her parents had approved of were the ones they'd set her up with. A long line of plain, generic-labeled beer bottles. Already this guy, a shot of something dark and exotic, was something refreshingly different.

Maybe Joey was onto something. Still, Charlotte wasn't a girl for snap decisions and wasn't about to take on the first all-right-looking…okay, lip-bitingly hot…man who tossed her a crumb of attention. Everything-including flirting with a guy who had trouble written on every sexy square inch of him-required precision. She'd had her fill of heartache. Control mattered above anything else. "So. How well do you know your way around a cocktail?"

Intrigue and appreciation danced in dark eyes that reminded her of espresso and dark chocolate and everything that was forbidden but too delicious to resist. "I do all right."

Was that a hint of arrogance she detected in his tone? Or was he laying down a challenge? The natural-born competitor in her took the bait. "Got skills, then?"

"Mad skills." His tone was colored with a touch of humor. One point in his favor. He strode toward her, the sleek bar between them. "What's your pleasure?" His rich, deep voice traveled over her like a flutter on her skin.

"Beer, actually. It may be basic but I like it." It was the truth. She appreciated anything from dry martinis to whiskey sours to brandy cocktails, but she knew what to expect from no-frills beer.

"No matter what, you go for what you want."

Charlotte tipped her head and felt her dark brown tendrils tumble heavily over one shoulder, exposing the side of her neck to the room's heat. "Is that what beer says about the person drinking it?"

"It's what I say about you."

To hell with beer. She took pride in being tough to predict and define-something that people like Wade and her own family weren't comfortable with. "I want some-thing…new."

"When did you decide that?"

"Just now."

Charlotte's eyes played over the broad span of his shoulders straining against his pristine white button-down shirt as he reached for a glass. For one dangerously weak moment she considered leaning across the bar to run her hands over his head and feel the spiky ends of his aggressively cut hair against her fingers.

Before she could do more than ogle him, he handed her a martini glass. That almost-smirk remained in place. "Maybe this will satisfy your need to be out of the ordinary."

Charlotte lifted the glass to her lips but didn't drink.

"What is this?"

"A Sexy Devil martini. If you like cranberry, you'll love this. If not…try it anyway."

She sampled the strawberry garnish before sipping the drink. The flavor of cranberry vodka with an undertone of tart lemon tingled her taste buds. "Hmm. I like it." She flicked her tongue over her bottom lip to catch a droplet of the liquid, and his mouth turned serious in response.

Suddenly her thoughts were at war. Order Joey's rum and Coke already. Give him your phone number. Concentrate on tonight's team party. Go book a room-you're at the Rio for heaven's sake!

A text message from Joey was the nudge she needed.

I send you off for drinks and you find Adonis himself. That's talent, woman.

Charlotte glanced back at the table, caught her friend's sly shooing gesture before Joey leaned flirtatiously toward the man now sitting with her. Charlotte's voice was huskier than she'd ever heard it as she slipped her phone into her bag, dropped a twenty on the counter and said to the bartender, "Thanks for my Sexy Devil martini." She hopped off the stool, and someone immediately took it. "Free to take a break?"

The grin he'd been wrestling with finally broke, lighting up a face that she had mistakenly doubted could get any more attractive. He leisurely made his way to her, then pointed at a man behind the bar in a dark shirt and slacks who was prepping to wow a group of women with a round of VooDoo's famous Witch Doctors. "I'm not a bartender. My friend Clay is. And as you can see, he's got talent, but I prefer mixing my own drinks."

Her heartbeat kicked up at the realization. The unspoken challenge egged her on, urged her to do what everyone, it seemed, thought she couldn't. Ultimately, though, she was in control and wasn't about to do anything she didn't want to.

"Good." With a crook of her finger she beckoned him to follow her.

She wouldn't be long. Joey'd be fine. She had company.

Meet the Author

Lisa Marie Perry writes sizzling, deep fiction featuring sexy guy-next-door heroes and larger-than-life alphas who are brought to their knees by the love of complicated women. She's received high praise from USA Today and has been nominated for an RT Book Reviews literary award. She lives in America's heartland, drives a truck, enjoys indie rock, collects Medieval literature, watches too many comedies, has a not-so-secret love for lace and adores rugged men with a little bit of nerd.

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Night Games 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
romancenovelsincolor1 More than 1 year ago
A fairly good background story Night Games, by Lisa Marie Perry, is the first in the Blue Dynasty Series. Blue is the last name of the main family in the series and the family is comprised of a cold, domineering mother (Temperance), a former body builder father (Marshall) and three daughters (Charlotte, Danica and Martha). Night Games is the story of Charlotte, the oldest daughter and her journey of rediscovery of her own inner strength and love. Charlotte was the daughter that insisted on forging her own path. While her mother constantly attempted to mold her into her image, Charlotte enjoyed playing football, being active and went into a male dominated sport. Charlotte is an athletic trainer, but she works as the only female trainer in the NFL. The plot of this story is that Charlotte’s parents purchased the football team, the Las Vegas Slayers, from Nate Franco’s father. Nate and his brother believe the team, and their inheritance, was “stolen” from them by coercion. While how this unfolds is the main plot of the story, the subplot is more important. As a female in a male dominated sport and as the daughter of the current team’s owner, all Lottie does is under a microscope. Accidentally becoming involved with Nate, while he is trying to reclaim the team for his family, and then continuing the relationship was a sure recipe for disaster. Throw in a gold digging fiancée, Bindi, and you know secrets will be revealed and lives may be ruined. Once it was revealed that Nate’s godfather owned a high end casino, discovering why the father sold the team was easy to figure out. The one piece that did shock me was what else the father did that pertained to his family. Ms. Perry has set up fairly good background information on Danica and Martha to capture the reader’s attention to pick up any sequel to this book. While I will probably read the sequels, this book did not capture my attention like I expected it to. -Reviewed by Selina
ReadYourWrites More than 1 year ago
Reviewed for Read Your Writes Book Reviews by Gemini Night Games is the first book in the Blue Dynasty Series. It centers around Charlotte Blue and Nate Franco. Charlotte Blue is the new trainer on her parents’ newly acquired football team, The Las Vegas Slayers. Nate Franco is also a trainer on the team. He also happens to be the disgruntled son of the former owner of the Slayers. A chance meeting between the two of them prior to them knowing each other sets off a chain of events that ends in deception, heartache, and disappointment. This was a good book. I actually read the second book in the series first so I was prepared for a lot of what happened. The one thing I wasn’t prepared for was my growing dislike of Charlotte’s parents, Marshall and Temperance Blue. Although their three daughters are grown, they constantly treated them like children. It was so annoying. More importantly, I just couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that the daughters, especially Charlotte who is the oldest, continued to allow it. If I had parents like them, I would have moved to the opposite side of the world. The mother was so much of a mommy dearest that it was sickening. She only cared about keeping up appearances and had no regard for her children’s happiness. In addition, Nate and his brother Santiago have their own issues with their father. He robbed them of their legacy and they are devastated. They want revenge and have no idea where their quest will lead them. It could be said that this book was about mothers & daughters, and fathers & sons. All of the usual stereotypes are addressed. In the end, everyone ends up needing a good dose of therapy. I neglected to mention that there is also an intense romance brewing between Charlotte and Nate. It seemed to play second fiddle to everything else that went on but I did appreciate their situation. No good can possibly come from them being together, but they just can’t stay away from each other. They are just meant to be. I can’t say that everything that transpires is realistic to me but I would still recommend reading the book. Source: Publisher via NetGalley Rating: 3.5
OOSABookClub More than 1 year ago
Who Wants to Play? With the weight of their careers on their minds, an instant attraction between two strangers in a crowded room leads to a scorching sexual encounter…that almost happened. Once the smoke clears and this couple goes their separate ways, they meet at a crossroad called the Las Vegas Slayer’s football team. Charlotte Blue is a female trainer in a male dominated sport and she tries so hard to make her parents proud. Team politics have come into play and Charlotte feels that she’s in an even more complicated position as her family takes the reins of the Las Vegas Slayer’s football team. Nate Franco’s family built their legacy with the Las Vegas Slayers and all of that is gone. His position on the team is now in jeopardy. “Night Games” presentation was like glistening water but proved to be a mirage. I found myself muddling through the pages seeking the ending. This was just a basic read with basic characters and a basic storyline. No spine tingling scenes, no gasping for breath interactions, no memorable chemistry with any of the characters. I found myself more curious with the secondary characters…what happened to Joey…and who was sexing Lottie’s sister? “Night Games” was a bust for me. Reviewed by: Tazzye
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well, first, just let me say that I LOVED this book! It pulled me in pretty quickly and I loved the entire thing. I loved the fact that this was a different type of romance and I also really loved the fact that this was a book about a woman trying to make it in a man's sport and even though the odds were against her in so many ways she wasn't going to give up because that was her dream and she was determined to follow it! I always loved to play sports when I was younger and usually had my brother and his friends looking down on my skills because I was a girl, and so I can relate to the determination that is required to ignore the sneers etc and keep going because it's what you love to do. I also really enjoyed the fact that despite what either of the two main characters were taught to believe and the struggles they had to deal with, with their families included, they were able to over come it with each other and with their lives. I love that it's a story about things that really do happen in real life and struggles that alot of people do in fact have to deal with. It shows that even though life can be good, it is also a struggle and if you work hard, you can over come the tough obstacles. I will definitely be reading more of Lisa Marie Perry's books. And I will definitely be recommending her to all my friends who read! :)
jeanniezelos More than 1 year ago
Night Games Lisa Marie Perry Review from Jeannie Zelos Book reviews. I was hoping for some excitement here, having enjoyed a couple of sports related romances recently. I didn't really get that though. I found it quite confusing working how who was who, and how they were related. Initially there were lots of abbreviations for characters roles too that I had to keep working out what they meant. I've recently read and loved the fabulous Shredded -Tracy Wolff and though that was full of unfamiliar snowboarding terms it didn't leave me confused as this did. I felt for Charlotte under her parents thumb at home and at work, but they – especially her mum – were cold, not the loving sort but focussed on career, keeping up reputation and money. Happiness seemed to come last on their charts. Yet she was incredibly loyal, and still whenever something when wrong they were harsh, not at all supportive. I'd have said “get lost” or words to that effect long since :) she's not a teenager, but an adult with solid qualifications, yet all the while striving for parental approval and its clear that she's not going to get it. Its a male dominated world she's entering, and that part and how she handled events worked well, its always interesting to see a female trying to overcome stereotypes and prejudice. Nate, great guy but his family – well, much like Charlotte’s they were not good. His dad in particular was a user of people, but his sons just couldn't see it. All that you'd think would provide a host of interesting scenes and some spicy romance, but somehow for me it didn't work. I wanted more of the day to day stuff, like Charlotte's interaction with the young player with bad rep, who she was trying to steer away from his past with steroids etc. but there was little of that. Instead there seemed to be lots of interactions that seemed to lead nowhere, and when the big reveal came over the Slayers it just fell flat. I was hoping for more drama and action, some heartbreak between Nate and Charlotte, but their romance seemed to be off more than it was on and I just didn't get the emotion I needed. Still – I’m one person etc etc and others will no doubt love this book. I'm always thankful we do have such a wide range of choices, that way there's always something for everyone. Stars: Three, an OK romance just not really one to remember and make your heart beat quickly.
arlenadean More than 1 year ago
Title: Night Games Author: Lisa Marie Perry Publisher: Harlequin Kimani Reviewed By: Arlena Dean Rating: 4 Review: "Night Games" by Lisa Marie Perry was a good contemporary romance read that was a enjoyable read that did have some steamy hot sex. If you are a football lover that would love a interesting romance conflict interwoven into a twist of a plot then this read is for you. Be ready for a novel that will present conflict between two families and some characters that you will find believable as well as real and oh so well portrayed. Also you may even find some of the secondary characters even colorful giving this read a well rounded and written read. I did enjoy how the author was able to bring out to the reader about the football management element especially 'realistic dialogue and the issues that were about the loyalty and taking chances and the gender stereotypes that are so often found in footfall.' I thought this was a very interesting read about family, NFL football and romance. It was so captivating to see how this author was able to bring these two characters.... Charlotte and Nate together with all the conflict and give the reader such a sweet ending. Also it is good to know that this author will have another novel for us about two of the secondary characters...Now, who will that be? By the end of the end you will be given something to really think about...and with being said I would definitely recommend this read for you.