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Playing James

Playing James

4.6 23
by Sarah Mason

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Rules? What rules?

Plucky beat reporter Holly Colshannon has a flair for the dramatic, a nose for trouble, and the remarkable ability to smile through any indignity--though her latest assignment is about to test her mettle. Newly "promoted" to crime reporter for the Bristol Gazette, she must shadow the unsmiling (though undeniably delicious) Detective


Rules? What rules?

Plucky beat reporter Holly Colshannon has a flair for the dramatic, a nose for trouble, and the remarkable ability to smile through any indignity--though her latest assignment is about to test her mettle. Newly "promoted" to crime reporter for the Bristol Gazette, she must shadow the unsmiling (though undeniably delicious) Detective James Sabine through his action-packed days, and then capture all the danger and thrills of a cop's life in a daily column for the rag.

Well, on the bright side, she gets her own byline. On the down side, delectable James is hardly overjoyed to have her around. But soon her columns are a hit with readers who can't get enough of her personal adventures riding shotgun with the sexy crime stopper.

Who ever expected law and order to be so romantic? Certainly Holly's rugby-playing boyfriend and James's super-gorgeous fiancee are enough to keep any sparks of electricity in check? In the end, though, love always evens the score. . . .

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Holly Colshannon, the new crime reporter for the Bristol Gazette, has been assigned to shadow Detective James Sabine, who's less than thrilled to have the klutzy journalist tagging along. To make matters worse, Holly's editor has given her a special six-week column, complete with photos, that acts as a diary of her experiences. Now, as James tries to solve a series of burglaries, he has to deal with Holly, who's so accident-prone she's on a first-name basis with everyone in Casualty (the emergency room). He also must contend with a flamboyant photographer and the constant teasing of his colleagues at the station. James is ready to call it quits, but Holly's column about their adventures is growing in popularity. Then there's the little problem that, despite being engaged, James is beginning to like the spunky reporter. Readers who enjoy such hilarious romps as Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, Connie Lane's Guilty Little Secrets, and Harley Jane Kozak's Dating Dead Men will be delighted by the escapades of Holly and James. This book, which won the Parker Romantic Novel of the Year award in England, is a most impressive debut novel. Highly recommended for public library fiction collections of all sizes.-Shelley Mosley, Glendale Community Coll. Lib. Media Ctr., AZ Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Opposites meet and inevitably attract in this amusing first effort. Beautiful Holly Colshannon is an ambitious, accident-prone junior reporter for the Bristol Gazette. Slightly more gorgeous James Sabine is a tough, tart-tongued detective sergeant with a chip on his shoulder. They meet cute in the first of many convenient coincidences, then butt heads again when the determined Holly sees a chance to further her career by tailing James for a six-week stint as a crime columnist that may be her first big break. She's got an insistent boss named Joe who wants to turn their provincial British newspaper around, and the formerly cursed crime beat that Holly's inherited just might boost sales. The main problem is James's absolute disdain for Holly and her mission. Days of ridicule and uncooperative behavior flick by. Joe eventually says the magic words, "Get some sort of repartee going with him!" No problem! James may be grumpy, but Holly's got spunk, and soon their icy glares give way to those glances that last just a little too long. Sound familiar? Thankfully, first-timer Mason offers enough genuinely funny writing to counter the cliches as the ill-matched couple trade verbal jabs while working toward solving a series of burglaries and Holly makes a round of adorable mistakes (hitting herself with her own knees, slipping on some candy, getting her toe stuck in a bottle) that endear her to James-and presumably to us. Between car staekouts and emergency-room visits, we meet James's aesthetically pleasing fiancee and Holly's perfunctory but handsome boyfriend. Meanwhile, stock figures-the loyal best friend, the lovable flamboyant gay man-wander in and out of the plot. Do they catch the burglar intime? Will Holly confess her love for James? Does the column get her what she wants? Stop me if you've heard this one before . . . . Momentum and humor almost win out against the obvious. Agent: Kathleen Anderson/Anderson Grinberg

Product Details

Ulverscroft Large Print Books, Ltd.
Publication date:
Ulverscroft Large Print Ser.
Edition description:
Large Print

Read an Excerpt

Playing James

By Sarah Mason

Random House

Copyright (C) 2004 by Sarah Mason
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0345469550

Chapter One


"Hello, Casualty Department?”

“Hello? Is that Casualty?” Now, please don’t think I’m being stupid, I know the woman said Casualty. But I am double-checking. To be sure. If you were in my predicament then you would check too.

“Yes, this is Casualty, how can I help you?”

“I have a problem.”

“What sort of problem?”

“I have a condom. Stuck.”

“Stuck where?” she asks politely.

I glare at the phone. Now who is being stupid? “In my, er . . . my, er . . .” I frantically search for the appropriate medical term, “. . . whatsit.”

“Vagina?” she asks.

I cringe at the blatant use of the word. “Yup. That.”

“Please hold,” she says briskly.

Please hold? PLEASE HOLD?! That’s the bloody problem, HOLDING. Holding doesn’t seem to be the issue, letting go does.

Actually, maybe I ought to explain something here. I don’t have a condom stuck. Anywhere. Absolutely not. No way. I would know if I had.

So why am I on the phone to Casualty? Well, it is sort of true. It’s just not me. It’s Lizzie, my best friend, who is sitting on the sofa opposite me, crying into my kitchen roll.

“I’m holding!” I say brightly over the top of the mouthpiece. I think about telling her she ought to try and relax a little and the condom might just slip out but wisely decide against it. You would have thought that at the grand old age of twenty-five we’d have grown out of these sort of dramas and moved on to the bridesmaids’-shoes-don’t-match-the-dresses ones instead. Don’t misunderstand me, I don’t mind, I was just expecting something different. At least it’s an excuse to eat Jaffa Cakes at nine in the morning (me) and quaff medicinal brandies (Lizzie).

Lizzie was utterly distraught when she turned up on my doorstep this morning. I thought something absolutely awful had happened, but obviously this isn’t so great and probably won’t be up there on her “Special Days” list. Poor Ben, my boyfriend extraordinaire, was shoved out so quickly he was still carrying the spoon he was trying to eat his cereal with.

I won’t go into gory details because presumably you can guess what’s happened. Lizzie’s boyfriend of six months, Alastair, has in the meantime sodded off to work, pleading an important meeting, leaving little old moi to sort it out. I didn’t have the heart to make her telephone Casualty herself and then I really couldn’t be bothered with the whole “my friend has” stuff when they always presume it’s you with the problem anyway.

Lizzie and I have been best friends since the age of thirteen and grew up together down in Cornwall. Two friends couldn’t come from more contrasting backgrounds. With Lizzie’s family it’s all doilies and the best dinner service. Nothing like my Bohemian family, where not one plate matches the other and all the dogs eat off them anyway. We love each other’s families, probably for the differences. I used to revel in the coziness of her household. She similarly loved the chaos of my home—we would sit on the stairs, eating apples and watching them all (I have three brothers and a sister to boot) charging about in the midst of some drama or other. I would tut and raise my eyes heavenwards, but she would be sitting forward slightly, avidly watching the proceedings, simply soaking up the atmosphere.

It would be much easier if the condom thing really was my problem and not Lizzie’s because I am very comfortable in a crisis situation. I mean, how many families do you know who have the number of the local hospital on the speed-dial of their telephone? It is in there at number six, after Auntie Pegs and before my father’s first wife, Katherine. She and my father are still on speaking terms. Katherine and my mother are downright pally and I send her Christmas cards for goodness’ sake! I have had this pointed out to me as peculiar.

The lady from Casualty comes back on to the phone. I sincerely hope she has been talking to a sage, condom-removing professional and has not instead rushed through to the staffroom shouting, “Come and listen to this! I’ve got a right one here!”

“Hello?” she says.

“Hello!” I answer in a bright, I’ve-got-a-johnny-stuck-and-I’m-OK-with-that kind of way.

“I’ve been to talk to one of the nurses . . .”

“Yeeesss . . . ?” I say encouragingly, unwittingly imitating her rather annoying habit of traversing an octave in one sentence.

“She says you should come straight down to Casualty and they will remove it for you.” “Thank you so much. I’ll do just that.” I hang up gratefully.

At least they weren’t going to talk me through a DIY removal course. I was wondering how Lizzie and I were going to deal with that.

Lizzie stares at me questioningly. “We’ve got to go down there, Liz,” I say in answer.

She buries her face in her hands and breaks out in a fresh bout of weeping. I pat her back rather ineffectually for a while, then say, “Lizzie, are you all right? Don’t you want to go?”

OK, OK, stupid question to ask, but we have to start somewhere and we don’t look like we’re moving toward Casualty.

“I . . . I . . . I might meet someone.” Her shoulders heave with the effort of getting the words out.

“At-ta girl, Liz! That’s the attitude! There’s nothing like a new boyfriend to get you over the last!” I leap up and grab my bag; Lizzie stops crying and starts glaring at me. I sit back down.

“Oh, as in someone you know. Sorry.” I bite the inside of my cheek to stifle a giggle and try to study my shoes.

“If my mother finds out, she will never forgive me.”

I look back up. “How would she find out? She lives in Cornwall, for heaven’s sake!”

“What if someone sees or overhears us, and it gets back to her?”

“Like who?”

Lizzie just gives me a long, hard look. I sigh. “Oh.” We went to school in Cornwall with a girl called Teresa, who now also lives here in Bristol and unfortunately makes a great show of doing volunteer work down at the hospital. She pretends to be terribly Christian and has an awful lot of those little fish symbols everywhere, but in actual fact she is one of the most horrible people I have ever met. When Lizzie and I were at school, Teresa’s sole aim in life was to land us in as much hot water as possible, an ambition which used to be regularly met. If anyone could take this particular little incident back to Lizzie’s mother it would be Teresa the Holy Cow, and my how she would feast on it.

“I’ll register for you in my name. My parents probably wouldn’t get to hear about it.” Not that they’d care if they did. My mother would doubtless mishear anyway and think it quite an achievement to have London stuck up me, and if my siblings found out they would wink and say “Nice one” as they passed me in the hallway. My father? My father wouldn’t look up from the newspaper.

“Will Alastair tell your work that you’ve had to go to the hospital if you don’t turn up?”

Lizzie works with Alastair. In fact, he’s sort of her boss. She nods miserably.

“Do you mind if we pop into the paper en route? It is on the way and I ought to tell them where I am. We could be hours in Casualty.”

“You won’t tell them why, will you?”

“Lizzie, I may work as a reporter but discretion is my middle name.”

I escort Lizzie out of my flat, carefully holding her elbow. She is walking gingerly and looking a little bow-legged. She couldn’t catch a pig in a corridor, as they say. We stop suddenly.

“Off. We. Go!” I cry, urging her in the general direction of the hospital just in case she has got cold feet again. I look across to find her glaring at me.

“What?” I ask.

“I am not ill, an OAP or pregnant! Please let go of my arm!” Narky or what? I drop her arm and we start off once more on our snail’s journey toward the car. Now and again we both look over our shoulders in the vain hope that the condom may have dislodged itself and is lying on the pavement. No such luck. Never mind! I quite enjoy trips down to Casualty. It’s the drama queen in me.

Lizzie has a tricky time getting into my car, but then everyone does because it is quite tricky to get into. There are only two ways to get in and out of an MG Midget sports car—the elegant way or my way. The elegant way is how you see the film stars do it on TV when they arrive at the Oscars. To get in, put your bum inside first and then swivel legs round. Similarly, to exit, swivel legs out, bum last. My way is to get everything but bum in first, leave bum out in the cold for a bit while struggling with other appendages, and then bum can come in. To get out, I simply fall onto the pavement.

I call my car Tristan. I know it’s unbelievably naff to give inanimate objects names and I don’t normally, but he has so much character and such delicate sensibilities that I feel depersonalizing him might be an additional hex on his already rather volatile nature.

I try praying to Allah this time that Tristan won’t let me down (God wasn’t feeling terribly benevolent on the last occasion). I hold my breath as the starter motor chugs over and exhale as he suddenly growls into life. Relaxing completely is out of the question however, because Tristan can stop at any point for absolutely no reason. I have spent many a happy evening on the hard shoulder of the motorway en route to Cornwall, waiting for the RAC to turn up. Because I am a lone female, I am a priority call for the police to sit with. I know all the boys on that particular beat quite well now and they all cheat appallingly at gin rummy. I think I would be quite sorry not to see them if (a) Tristan ever starts to behave or (b) I replace him with a reliable Volvo called Brian.

Lizzie reads the rabid gleam in my eye correctly and straps herself in. She plants a foot firmly on either side of the passenger well and hangs on. I rise gleefully to the challenge of an “emergency” situation and at last have the excuse to stretch my wings and drive in a manner akin to The Dukes of Hazzard. We bounce over speed bumps, go the wrong way around roundabouts and have a distinct tendency to maneuver, signal, mirror.

Ten minutes and several road-rage incidents later, I pull up at the paper’s offices with a screech and, saying to Lizzie that I won’t be a sec, skip through the front doors of the Bristol Gazette. I fight my way through the jungle of trifid-like plants to the lifts and give a cheery wave to one of the security guards (who I think are also there for aesthetic purposes only as I have never seen them do anything of a security-minded nature).

Excerpted from Playing James by Sarah Mason Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Playing James 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this more than I expected to. I actually enjoyed "Society Girls" by the same author more. I recommend this one first as it introduces the family in both stories. They both stand alone as fun, easy reads. There are 3 people in my family reading Sarah Mason right now and we all agree that the books are good romantic comedies. We also recommend "Party Girl."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love this book.
Aramen More than 1 year ago
Two pages into this book and I knew....just knew it would end up in my favourites... And it just did... :) Can't believe I didn't read it before...really... LOVED the book....just simply loved it... It was so ridiculous that it was downright funny...really.. The narration was just superb...seriously couldn't have been better.. I loved Holly and her way of seeing things...I loved her family and friends... Most of all..I loved her voice.. I liked James as well... Though for the love declaration...I think the author ended things a bit too soon... She should have given the protagonists some more time before ending the book...that's my one and only complaint... This book reminded me so much of Sophie Kinsella's I've Got Your Number... So well,yeah...great work,Sarah... People..please give it a try... Find out what's it like to be a crime reporter with total uncoordinated limbs...packed with some sweet, old-school romance...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved it! Funny, made a sick day feel better with laughter. Perfect ending!
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Amie Johnston More than 1 year ago
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book! It was my first chick-lit read and I could not put it down. I highly recommend this fun and amusing book to anyone!
Guest More than 1 year ago
i loved this book. i read her sequel 'society girls' and it doesnt hold a candle to playing james. i hope they do make this a movie.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the funniest, yet sweetest, books I've read in years! Great plot, fabulous characters, romantic but not sappy. Holly (protagonist) gets herself into some wacky situations, and her analysis of those situations and the people involved are hysterical. I couldn't put it down!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is one of the best Brit Chick Lit books I've ever read. Holly and James are loveable characters. Especially James! You'll be in love with him by the end. Excellent writing...plently of laugh out loud moments. The one should definetly become a movie!
Guest More than 1 year ago
As an avid reader of 'chick lit' I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. Very funny and upbeat yet thick with plot and character.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed Playing James very much. I found myself laughing at loud through the entire book. It was a great story and I can't wait for Susan Mason's next book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think playing james was most enjoyable. very cute with twists and turns at every corner you never kno what to expect. i found myself laughing out loud serveral times, and feeling some of the same emotions as the leading female. an overall great read. very different from the normal romance stories. i highly recommend it without any hesitation.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was so funny, I found myself not only laughing out loud, but tears were creeping out the corners of my eyes as I read. It was somewhat predictable in major plot-points, but when it comes to twists and turns, Mason surprises her readers. A very fun read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I laughed out loud throughout this book. Characters are unique and likeable. Highly recommended for any fan of chick lit or those who don't know they are fans yet. If you want a good laugh, read this book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I really loved this book. There were laugh out loud moments, especially the many visits to the hospital by the accident prone Holly. It was refreshing to read about a heroine that isn't wallowing in self pity or doubt and is instead an all around well adjusted and confident person. I would've liked to have had a little more insight into James, but alas that's the drawback of first person narrative. Overall, I highly recommend this to anyone looking for a light fast read.
AJAZ More than 1 year ago
Not one of the best I've ever read. The main character was self absorbed and rather 2 dementional. It was something I would have loved 10 years ago... now it left me flat. I couldn't really get into it. The scenes were uninspired and over done with over-done mini-dramas that are meant to make the book more interesting but really take away from the real plot. Point: I should have borrowed, not bought.