Played

Played

by Clare James

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Overview

Played by Clare James

A sexy category romance from Entangled's Brazen imprint...

Play. Or be played.

The music should be enough. End of story. But Aaron Major is finding out it's not, and now his agent has hired a firm of suits to help launch his debut album, turning his life into a goddamn circus. Smile here. Play there. Be nice. Well, screw that. If Aaron wanted to spend his time shaking hands and kissing babies, he would've gone into politics.

Helping launch the career of country singer Aaron Major should be a cakewalk for PR pro Melody Sharp. Aaron is charming, sexy, and oh-so-appealing when he's on stage. Off stage, though, he's her worst nightmare. A stubborn, ornery, reclusive nightmare without a lick of business-or fashion-sense. The only way he's going to make it in music is with a serious makeover-and quite possibly a personality transplant.

Soon, they're engaged in a game of give and take, and though it's Melody calling the shots, it's Aaron who holds all control...

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781682810002
Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication date: 10/18/2015
Pages: 258
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.58(d)

Read an Excerpt

Played

An Elite PR Novel


By Clare James, Vanessa Mitchell

Entangled Publishing, LLC

Copyright © 2015 Clare James
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-63375-451-5


CHAPTER 1

I need to see you.

Melody Sharp read the subject line on the email and shivered in her pale blue Lilly Pulitzer. Her skin turned downright icy — no easy feat in Atlanta in August — so she covered her goose-pimpled arms with the cardigan that draped over her office chair.

How did he find her?

A familiar ache throbbed inside her chest. It'd happened so long ago, but that pain of rejection remained close to the surface. It hit her so hard, she thought she might lose her lunch, and that pissed her right off. It was beyond mortifying that five little words on the computer screen could send her into such a tizzy.

If she were at home, she'd break something. A bunch of somethings. But that was out of the question, as she sat in the fishbowl of a cubical she'd been exiled to after her recent demotion. She knew her boss's spies were watching her as she'd slunk inside the Elite Public Relations office doors well past eight a.m., and she knew they were watching her now. Especially her nemesis, who she had affectionately named The Weasel.

Her lackadaisical attitude was to blame, but she couldn't help it. She just wasn't feeling it anymore. What was once a fun and challenging career had turned into a chore. Ugh, adulting. Even at twenty-five, Mel was far from mastering it. So she'd been avoiding everything, pretending her craphole of a life belonged to someone else. Of course, deep down she knew it was ridiculous to fight the inevitable, and it was so past time to grow up. But why bother when she really had no idea what she wanted to do with her life?

Then the ominous email arrived.

Not the message I was looking for, Universe.

Without a thought to what she was doing, she began ripping her brown paper bag into tiny little pieces, stacking them in neat piles next to her keyboard. Lovely. Like she needed to call any more attention to her current mental state. She quickly brushed the paper aside, grabbed the stress ball off her desk, and squeezed. Typically, she used it to pelt the interns in the head when they annoyed her, so it was kind of nice to actually handle it for its intended purpose for a change.

Mel never really had the need for a stress ball before. Before the demotion, she occupied a spacious office — with real walls — on the east side of the building, which overlooked Peachtree Street downtown. A perfectly acceptable place to have a breakdown. In private. But that was back before she lost her way. Before her best friend moved to North Carolina and left her to contend with her boss, Miranda Wells, aka the Ice Queen, on her own, and before she slid into her quarter-life crisis (yes, it was really a thing!) and began effing up her life royally.

After Mel's third or fourth misstep, Miranda threw down the gauntlet, saying if Mel was going to contribute like an entry-level employee, then she'd be treated as such. And that meant the office space of a peon, with a salary to match.

Mel wasn't quite sure which was worse.

She took a long, fortifying breath to steady her nerves and get her anger in check but instead gagged a little. One of her new cubical mates brought the most putrid smelling dish to his desk — some fish and egg combo that was so offensive the entire staff of interns shifted in their seats.

"Sorry, dudes." The lunch offender responded to the gasps and complaints now roaring behind the maze of partitions. "I'm on a strict protein diet."

Good Lord, it was college all over again. On a normal day, Mel would join them and set the kid straight. However, this afternoon had been anything but normal, and there were more pressing issues to deal with. She huddled closer to her laptop and checked the email again, just to be sure her eyes weren't playing tricks on her.

I need to see you.

It wasn't so much the subject line that had chilled her blood as it was the name on return email address: Teddy McBride. The dot-de instead of dot-com told her he was contacting her from Germany. The place he'd fled to three years ago.

She could conjure up the memory of that day so easily. Her wound was still tender; it had never healed quite right. Looking back, it reminded her of the ending of Gone with the Wind, when she cried and begged her very own Rhett Butler to stay. Told him she couldn't live without him. But all he could say was, "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn," before he walked off into the sunset. Okay, it was probably more along the lines of, "Sorry, baby," with a peck on the cheek as he left the Sweetwater Country Club, but Mel appreciated theatrics.

She had always wanted to be Scarlett O'Hara, unconventional and brave, a woman who made her own rules. Unfortunately, she ended up coming off more like Celia Foote from The Help — a pretty, ditsy caricature of a woman who was about as smart as tree bark. Which explained why she never saw it coming. Yes, Melody's door to happiness didn't so much close as slam in her face. No warning. No apology. Just one big FU and a kick to her fine china.

Instead of the proposal she was expecting, her boyfriend of six years had informed her that he was going to graduate school in Dusseldorf ... in front of the whole damn town. Or over lunch in the Willow Room, same difference. Anyone who was anyone in Sweetwater had been there that day, and those who weren't heard about it soon enough. It was the small town way.

Teddy said he wasn't ready to settle down. He wanted to meet new people and experience new things. He wanted an adventure. All code for: she was boring and inexperienced ... and not enough for him.

Her entire world came crumbling down with his admission. One minute she was preparing for the wedding of the decade, the next she was skipping town in the middle of the night. That was how she'd arrived in Atlanta. She moved to the city to get away from it all, to save face. But mostly she relocated in a desperate attempt to win back the douchebag. She thought if she left Sweetwater and became some sophisticated city girl, he'd find her so irresistible, he'd beg her to come back to him. Yeah, that never happened.

Now, from a flipping ocean away, Teddy McBride still had an unyielding power over her — even after all this time — and that really dilled her pickle.

I need to see you.

Her fingers hovered over the mouse. Should she open it?

She jumped when her phone buzzed. "Shit."

Miranda.

"Bring in your notes from the Falcons meeting," Miranda barked, snapping her out of her painful reverie.

"Right away, ma'am," she said, biting her lip to hold back all the other responses that threated to escape. Elite — a PR firm of spin doctors and publicists for the rich and famous — was handling the kickoff to the football season. It was one of their biggest events and one Mel should've taken a lead role in. Instead, she was tasked with recording the minutes at all of the status meetings.

She hung up with Miranda and flipped her phone the bird. The intern sitting in the cubical across from her giggled. She was one of the only people Mel could impress these days.

Trudging through Intern's Row, Mel still couldn't believe that she now officed there — amid a mishmash of college kids with tiny headphones in their ears and giant cans of Monster on their desks. She glared at Smelly Lunch Guy, who quickly dropped his head to brace for an ass-whooping. She didn't have the time or energy to give him one.

Her boss played for blood, she'd give her that. The entire situation was beyond humiliating, but Mel wasn't about to let it break her. Not yet. Once she reached the designated Events area, where she'd once belonged, she painted on her game face and charged ahead toward the executive suite. Her colleagues pretended not to see her. Traitorous assholes.

"Here you are." She approached Miranda's desk with the paperwork after the requisite three knocks outside her door. Her boss preferred to have the notes printed out so she could page through them while she ran on her treadmill in the evenings. Yes, Miranda lived to work, and expected everyone else to do the same. The woman was a force of nature, and everything about her was severe, intense, and colder than a polar bear's butt. No one would deny she was gorgeous — with dark, shoulder-length hair, the bluest eyes you'd ever seen, and just as thin as could be. She was also scary as hell.

"Next time" — she flipped through the notes without giving Mel even a single icy glance — "let's be proactive, so I don't have to hound you for such simple material."

"Mmm-hmm." Mel said, afraid to open her mouth any further. She was already rattled and raw, and so close to telling the Ice Queen where she could shove that simple material.

"And don't forget the seminar on Wednesday," Miranda added, turning her back in dismissal. "Frankie Fink has words to live by."

As if she could forget. The Women in Business seminars were another requirement of Mel's probation. But hey, at least she'd get away from the interns for the day. She had to stay positive, and just hang on until Labor Day — four weeks away. That's when she'd be forced to go back to Sweetwater for the town's Last Hurrah of Summer celebration. She made it back every year — her mama and daddy would be devastated if she didn't. Mostly though, her attendance was all part of her own personal PR campaign and reputation management. She had to show the good people of Sweetwater just how fabulous her life was ... without Teddy. So returning home sans her fancy job wasn't an option, especially after hearing from the town's golden boy. That only made her want to prove herself more.

But she had nothing to prove to him. So no, she would not open his email. As far as she was concerned, it never happened. Dang, she was good at denial. At least that was something.

Back in her cube, Mel finished compiling the Falcons' media kit and social media pages for the event — things she hadn't done since her first year under Miranda's thumb. She shut down her email window so she wouldn't be tempted by Teddy's note. Though it didn't stop her finger from itchin'.

What would he possibly have to say to her after all this time?

She waited until all her work was done for the day before she pulled up her email again, unable to stop herself from scrolling back to Teddy McBride and his stupid dot-de address.

I need to see you.

The words had played on a loop in her head the entire day and she couldn't take it another second. So she placed a finger to her mouse. And then opened it.

I am not a slut. I am not a slut. I am not a slut.

Twelve hours later, Mel beat herself up as she made the last leg of her literal walk of shame back to her apartment. The normally lively street in her trendy neighborhood was finally asleep, though the remnants of its wild nightlife remained scattered all over the pavement — cigarette butts here, beer bottles there, condom wrappers along the curbside, alleyways full of trash.

This party hotspot had been rode hard and put away wet.

Much like she felt.

Of course, Mel was a modern woman and so not into slut shaming. Still ... she was walking the streets at five a.m. With her panties in her purse!

Hey, at least she got her undies back. Because Lord knows what some creepers would do with them. She'd just read an article about girls selling their unmentionables to make a few bucks — used panties were apparently in high demand, now worth more money online than breast milk. And if Mel didn't get her shit together soon, she'd have to sell both just to make rent.

So things weren't exactly going as planned lately ... but nobody could call her boring anymore. It may have taken her three years to do something wild and crazy, but she finally did it. Who cares if she knew the guy? Or that he was her friend? The point was, boring and inexperienced women didn't hook up on a weekday night.

Boom! Take that, Teddy.

Ow. She couldn't go there right now. Not with her gray matter throbbing in her head, or the acid rolling in her stomach. No, she refused to acknowledge that maybe, just maybe, that one pesky email from Teddy proclaiming that he had to "see her" may have been the bee sting to her ass that prompted her very first one-night stand. Not like Mel was celibate or anything, she just preferred to be dating for a few weeks before she became on a first name basis with a penis. But the little blast from the past shot that standard to hell.

I need to see you.

She must've read that line a hundred times before opening it. It wasn't all it said.

Dear Mel,

I'm coming home. I'll be back the day before the Last Hurrah.

Meet me at our spot before the parade? It's important.

T.M

Well, what could she say? After reading the cryptic email from her ex, she panicked ... and had a few too many tequila shots to take the edge off. Next thing she knew, she was tangled under the sheets with her friend.

Kevin Wallis worked in her building downtown and lived only a few blocks away. Lucky for her. By day, he was an investment banker. By night, he ran a crazy successful blog about the nightlife in Atlanta. She met him her first week in the city, during lunch, and they hit it off right away. He was smart, hot, and totally connected — the perfect person to give her a taste of what she came to Atlanta for. Though she had never really taken him up on it. Until last night. And now, he had truly given her everything.

Not that anyone would know what she'd been up to. She looked perfectly composed in her sundress and sandals. Her makeup was flawless. That was no accident — she'd stopped in Kevin's bathroom and freshened up before she left. Just because she was acting like a harlot, didn't mean she had to look like one. She was a Southern lady, after all. Well, mostly ...

Shit, her feet ached. She stopped to release the buckle on the damn sandals, desperately wishing she'd worn her sneakers. She tried for the next best thing and let the straps flop around her ankles as she walked the last block home. Just a few more measly yards and she could get a couple of hours of sleep before she had to leave for work.

Mel dodged what might have been a puddle of pee on the side of the road, making a little jump over the curb. She'd gone looking for an adventure last night. This wasn't what she had in mind, but at least she was out there experiencing new things.

Had he done the same?

She wasn't so naive as to think that, after three years abroad, Teddy hadn't sampled the local cuisine. Really, she didn't care if he had. Even though hearing from him out of the blue struck a nerve, she'd been over him for a long time now. Of course, those first few months had been excruciating. She had cried herself to sleep every night, called home every day, and checked her phone incessantly, praying he'd call. It went on that way for so long it'd become normal, until Miranda hired her. Once she joined the Elite team, there wasn't time for any sort of wallowing.

Really, with the exception of her lack of judgment last night, she had made a good life for herself alone in the city. Mel hadn't known a single soul in Atlanta when she'd moved that summer after college graduation. Her apartment in Little Five Points — a bohemian area of the city that was about as far from her hometown of Sweetwater as you could get — had been her humble abode for three years now. True, she stuck out like a sore thumb with her preppy clothes and bright colors amidst the dark hipster-wear of the area, but she loved it here.

It was a place known for its restaurants, bars, and shops, but at the ass crack of dawn, you'd never know it. Except for the stench. The pungent stink of stale beer and quite possibly vomit made her own stomach turn. She needed to move fast or she'd find herself hurling on the side of the road like a freshman during rush week.

Finally, she rounded the corner to her place — an older home that'd been converted into three apartments. A place she might not have for much longer unless she seriously turned things around. The pale yellow house stood proud on the corner with its wrap-around porch. It was that porch, with its colorful Adirondack chairs, that had captivated Mel initially. She envisioned hanging out there after work and having cocktails with friends, kicking back on those chairs on a hot evening while reading a book, even serving sweet tea to her parents when they came up to visit.

Two out of three wasn't so bad.

She couldn't blame her parents; they had the business to take care of. Not to mention her sisters (and their families) were all in Sweetwater, so there wasn't much need to leave. Strange how things turned out. Who would've ever thought that Mel would be the one to move to the city and land the big job? Or be the last to get a ring on her finger?


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Played by Clare James, Vanessa Mitchell. Copyright © 2015 Clare James. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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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Played 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 19 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
## Boring. That's how I'd sum up this book. I couldn't even finish this. Way too much backstory. I realize you have to set up the story, but it took way too long to get to the interaction between hero and heroine. And even after that, there was too much time spent on business and not enough on their relationship. Very boring. Finally, after 120 pages, I simply gave up.
ReesesSH More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of Played by Clare James. Melody feels like she’s floating since her best friend left to move in with her racecar-driving boyfriend. Now Melody is dropping the ball at work and with her apartment. After meeting with her very hot cowboy neighbor and being kicked out of her apartment and moves in with her hunky country-singing neighbor. Aaron Major has been in the limelight before and after realizing there are more important things to do than drugs and women he leaves fame and fortune to find himself. His plan was to stay away from women and stay focused on getting his career back the safe way. That is until Melody is kicked out and he offers her a place to stay. Aaron has lived a hard life and all he wants to do is take care of his brother and play music again. With help from Melody with her work as a PR he works on his image to be the cowboy everyone wants and the guy he was always meant to be. Aaron Major was a great character. He’s very genuine and sweet and caring. While he’s not into the whole PR thing he liked Melody enough to try. Aaron is a sexy cowboy with a lovely voice and sleeps naked which is a hilarious scene. I enjoy how much he bends to Melody and how much he cares about her. Melody is unsure about her life when she runs into Aaron and to get back into her bosses good graces she takes Aaron on as a job. Melody has some major character growth in this story and comes from running away from her past to facing it. I have to say while I really enjoyed this story I didn’t like that Aaron and Melody’s relationship moved so quickly. It happens at the end, I just wish it hadn’t ended that way. Played is a fantastic story with great writing, characters, and romance.
beckymmoe More than 1 year ago
Yay--Mel's story! Her best friend's left town (Viv from Caught), work is no longer inspiring her--in fact, she's been demoted in a big way--and now she's getting emails from her ex. She's behind on all her bills and it's almost time for the biggest party of the year back home, which she has to attend and her ex will be at this year as well, so...yeah. Things have been better. And then Aaron Majors moves into her building... Aaron had a pretty miserable second half of a childhood and a really disastrous first chance at fame, but now he's determined to make it back to be a better provider for his little brother, who'll be starting college soon. Everything in his background tells him that the music industry and relationships don't work. But his new roomie/PR person has something about her that's hard to resist... Fortunately for us :) I loved Aaron and Mel together--they're an adorable couple, not to mention they definitely know how to bring the steam, though somehow this book managed to come out on the sweet side overall. Their relationship black moment ending up being a fairly small blip on the radar and was fixed rather easily, so that might be part of it, though honestly I didn't really want to see them stuck in a big, angsty scene. The ending comes fairly quickly--Aaron goes pretty fast from "no relationships" to "I love you" (and a little bit more) but since I really wanted them to get together anyway, it's hard to find fault with that. :) This one would work just fine as a standalone--Viv's mentioned a few times, along with the reason why she's moved away--but there's nothing that happened in book one that you'll need to have read to start Played. Rating: 4 stars / B+ I received a complimentary copy in exchange for an honest review.
onlyminordetails More than 1 year ago
My Thoughts: I had a super fun time reading the first book in the Elite PR series, Caught, that I was anxiously awaiting book number two by Clare James. The first book had a race car driver, and this one had a country singer. Melody is put in charge of Aaron to get his career on track. The two of them have trouble getting along in the beginning, but after some unfortunate setbacks, they find themselves understanding each other better... and then crossing the line into some quite steamy moments. Once Melody is finished with her assignment, will she and Aaron continue their relationship? Played is a lovely book, full of romance and heat. Melody and Aaron may have had a lot to learn, but they were great together. One of my favorite aspects to the book was the relationship Aaron had with his brother, Graham. It was beyond the sweetest thing ever, and made me fall more in love with Aaron. Cannot wait for the next book! My Rating: Very Good
TheSassyBookster More than 1 year ago
I have been anticipating Mel's story since I finished reading the first book in the series and I enjoyed it. It was light, entertaining and steamy. From the very first page, the heat between Mel and Aaron had me primed for fireworks between them. Why did I enjoy this so much? Because a successful comeback makes for such an appealing story. Aaron Major has a well-earned reputation as country music's outlaw due to his wild lifestyle, a lifestyle that cost him everything. Seven years later, he's trying to stage a comeback and he's determined to avoid the things that cost him his career last time. But his one weakness is his inability to say no to any one in need, which leads to him offering his neighbor his spare bedroom for a couple of days when she finds herself unexpectedly evicted. Melanie Sharp is a Southern belle through and through, modeled on Scarlett O'Hara but when her boyfriend dumped her and headed off to better things, she decided to head to the big city and achieve her own success. Lately, though, she hasn't been feeling upbeat about her job especially because of her demotion due to a few missteps which has affected everything. Being evicted is the final straw but her new neighbor is a godsend and in a fortuitous twist he is in need of a PR manager to help with his comeback and Mel is quick to scoop him up with the hope that she can revive her dying career. Aaron is a whiz with his fingers in every way possible and between his songwriting and her PR campaign, they sure are making music of a different kind and as you would expect, their chemistry is crazy hot. What I enjoyed most about PLAYED apart from both Mel and Aaron's comeback stories, is the ease of their relationship. They respected each other's careers and never lost focus of their dreams. I also love how different this is from the first book. Mel is a mix of sweetness and fire but not overly ambitious and driven, maybe because of the low expectations from her family. Aaron is also laid-back and easygoing, which works for both of them. My only complaint is how abruptly the book ended and some unresolved pieces, especially about Aaron's manager. PLAYED was a fun read overall and if you are looking to be entertained, PLAYED is definitely one way to do so. Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
aprilrenee1976 More than 1 year ago
Plays alittle too pitchy of a tune... This is book 2 in the Elite PR series and the MC are Aaron Major and Melody Sharp. Aaron is a country singer who is just wanting to be a singer but realizing there is more to being “IN” country singing than just a singer, there is a whole persona –the look, the perception to making him Famous and for that, they have to create the image to get him there. So his team calls him PR guru Melody Sharp to make him that IT guy in country music. When Melody meets Aaron –he comes across as a jerk- on stage he is electric and nice but off stage, he is not very friendly and he is a nightmare client-one she could do without. Aaron wants control of his life and Melody wants to control his image and it is a give and take for who will win power struggle. There is chemistry between the couple –at times it is hot and I liked that Melody can hold her own with Aaron’s smart mouth comments . I get it, he felt out of control in an element that he should feel like he knew more about. Overall, this was a good read , though at times it was slow. Slow in the beginning to get started yet when it did, wow, the story took off and it was good to see where the story went. The storyline has great potential and the ending was great. Seeing how far the MC came from the beginning is why I didn’t give the story a lower rating –There were several things that made me not push the score higher. The hero did have a bit of an attitude and took it out on the heroine and the flow was very slow but the ending made up for it so that is why I did give this the score I did. I also would recommend the story and I would read another story by this author. My Rating: 3.5 stars *** ***A gifted copy was provided by the publisher for my honest review****
KYBookmama More than 1 year ago
Aaron Major is a sexy country singer who wants another chance at fame. Due to partying too hard, he lost his way but he's back and needs the money to take care of his younger brother. He moves into an apartment and meets his neighbor, Melody, a hot blond with a mouth. Due to a reprimand at Elite PR, she is making less money and gets kicked out of her place. Aaron offers her his second bedroom and when she realizes what his job is, she becomes his PR to help his career take off. His manager, Rita, isn't happy about another woman working with him and gives Melody a hard time. RIta's "revenge" was a let down and not near as drastic as was the expectation. *I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
MJHughes12 More than 1 year ago
3.5 Stars - This was a quick, fun read that had some sweet, a bit of heat, and some fun characters that kept me turning the pages to see what would happen next. I really like the setting of this series - the Elite PR firm is filled with some great characters that all seem to have an interesting story to tell. After being introduced to Melody in the first book (Caught), and then being hooked in by a small teaser about Melody at the end of that book, I was looking forward to finding out more and seeing how her happy ever after would play out. I really enjoyed Melody and Aaron. Both have experienced some pretty tough times and are trying to turn things around. Aaron is trying to clean up his act and find his way back to the top of the country music charts. Melody has to find a way to salvage her PR career that she has single-handedly derailed and decide what’s next for her in her life – stay in Atlanta and continue trying to make a go of things, or head back home and admit defeat. When fate brings these two together the timing couldn’t be more perfect – not only can they help each other find redemption in their respective careers, but they also manage to find their way into each other’s heart. There was definitely tension between Melody and Aaron, and you just knew that keeping things professional was going to be virtually impossible for these two. For me, this story was a bit on the tamer side of a Brazen book, especially since it always seemed that there was something keeping these two apart – be it an interruption or their own doing by agreeing to keep things professional. And even once they agreed to cross that line it seemed they just couldn’t get their timing right. There were a few steamy scenes, but there was more sweet than heat, which for me worked just fine. I really enjoyed the backdrop of the PR side of the music scene and watching Melody pull off the launch party. The secondary characters added nicely to the story, be it Aaron’s manager who was out to sabotage Aaron & Mel’s relationship, or Aaron’s brother who let us see a real caring side of Aaron that otherwise wouldn’t have come out. And of course a trip to Elite PR wouldn’t be complete with at least a mention of the Weasel and Miranda, and I loved meeting Genn – she had me laughing with her dressing for success, or rather dressing to keep the bosses hands off of her! Overall this was fun read that had a lot packed in between the pages. I would definitely recommend this one anyone looking for a quick read with some sweet, some heat and a nice happy ever after! I received a copy of the book from the publisher via NetGalley for an honest review.
Linda_RochesterNY More than 1 year ago
*I received an ARC from the Entangled Publishing in exchange for an honest review* Aaron is a former country music star who, now older and wiser, is trying to revive his career. One look at his gorgeous neighbor, Melody is all it takes for him to know that he wants her, but romance is not part of his plan. Many things have gone wrong in Melody's life, beginning with losing the man she thought she was going to marry. Her best friend moved away, and somehow she lost her focus at work and was demoted as a result. When she gets evicted from her apartment, her sexy neighbor takes pity on her and lets her stay with him. When she learns about his comeback plans, she finds a new spark in her career as well, as his PR person, but it turns out to be impossible to keep their relationship strictly professional. I loved sweet, down to earth Aaron, who is trying so hard to be good, and while initially I wasn't a Melody fan, once she took charge of Aaron's career relaunch, she became more confident and assertive and I liked her much better. This is a really sweet and sexy romance and I really enjoyed it.
LightningCityBookReview More than 1 year ago
This book picked me up and grabbed me and didn't let me put it down until the last page. And that last page is soooo worth it! "Played" is the second installment of Clare James' Elite PR series and is an attraction at first sight novel. Not the certainty of heart pitter-patting, the feeling is friendship with a pitter-patting further South. The attraction to Love trope is more fun than the Love at first sight and much less angsty and frustrating - whew. The main characters are really likeable and sympathetic. Secondary characters are dreadful when they are supposed to be rat fink and fabulous when they are supposed to be awesome! The character and relationship growth is great. "Played" is definitely a light and quick read that is sure to please. I really enjoyed the irritation, to friendship, to lust, to caring trajectory of the story. Aaron and Melody are both at low points in their respective careers and personally - with bouts of some self loathing. But together they lift each other up - with encouragement and support. It's great. Clare James gives us well rounded characters who develop throughout the story is lovely. There are surprising secondary characters, and a character that I think will be the next heroine - but I've been known to be wrong. All of the ends are tied up nicely. "Played" was a super read. To read the entire review please visit: http://bit.ly/1jBDHiL This novel was provided by the Publisher for a honest review.
gromine49 More than 1 year ago
I really loved this story. Melody is a twenty-something who is done on her luck-she has been demoted at work and she just doesn't care. Aaron is a musician that is trying to get his career going again and has moved across the hall from her. You get pulled into the story right from the beginning. Awesome story.
gypsyarj More than 1 year ago
Melody Sharp is a PR pro the has been having some bad luck when she meets Aaron Major. Aaron Major is a musician trying to re-launch his career. Who is better to help him than Melody. When they first meet Melody has been locked out of her apartment due to being late with her rent. Aaron offers her a place to crash for the night never expecting that she would be the one thing to fix all his problems. Needing to prove she can do her job Melody takes Aaron on as a client and things quickly heat up between them as she helps him make the transformation back into the musician he wants to be. I loved this story I couldn't put it down once I started reading it. It has great storyline, strong characters that have amazing chemistry together. I would recommend this to anyone that loves a great love story.
mrsdiddy More than 1 year ago
A story of a down-on-his-luck Country music bad-boy that is in desperate need of an image makeover as his comeback nears and a down-on-her-luck publicist who desperately needs to prove herself to her boss. They find each other by chance, but they are just who the other needs…even if they don’t know it, at first. When they are both close to losing hope, they find what they need in each other. A hot, romantic story of second chances, trust and love. This second novel in the Elite PR series will leave you singing a happy love song I received this copy from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
EWright16 More than 1 year ago
Played is a great story about redemption and going for what you want. Melody has lost her way after best friend Viv moves away and her life is falling apart. Aaron is a country music artist who crashed and burned the first time around and wants to get it right this time. Melody is such a great character. She's lost just about everything but instead of letting it get her down, she pulls herself up by the boot straps and gets everything back on course. Aaron was a great mix of vulnerability and Alpha yumminess. I was rooting for them the whole time. The romance was so great and the heat was off the charts. Just an all around fabulous read.
DeleneY More than 1 year ago
A good read filled with angst, humor and chemistry. Melody has been downgraded in her job at a PR firm, can't pay her rent. Aaron is a Country Singer, needs some great promotion to save his career. You'll read on just so you can cheer these two on! They both deserve that HEA! I received a ARC from the publisher and NetGalley for an honest review
MELHUTCHINSON More than 1 year ago
This is a great story by Clare James that just flows so well. There were just the right amount of everything that blended together to make this a pleasurable read. Aaron is a young guy that got a big break as a singer early on in his life and quiet possible too early. Aaron has a hard time with all the political aspects of being famous and wants to take a step back and regroup with his career. Aaron has no fashion or business sense at all, but in comes Melody. Melody is a young lady that has just been demoted at her PR job and is having a rough time in life right now. She has been locked out of her apartment because she has not paid her rent for several months and that is when she meets Aaron. He is nice enough to offer her a place to stay until she can get things figured out. What Melody and Aaron both have no clue about is that Melody is just what Aaron needs. Melody is a PR pro and after getting to know Aaron a little thinks that she can help him out, but knows that she is going to have her work cut out for her. Aaron and Melody are able to work together as well as keep their own personal goals in mind and work towards achieving them as well. There is a strong physical attraction to each other for these two and doesn't take long for there to also be an emotional connection that grows stronger through their time of working together. So, how do things end for Aaron and Melody? Is Melody able to help Aaron and get him back into the right place with his stardom? You have to read this story to find out. Very well written and keeps your attention through the whole story. I am a fan of Clare James now for sure and long for more of Aaron and Melody!
Honolulubelle More than 1 year ago
4.5 Steamy Stars Favorite Quotes: “She had always wanted to be Scarlett O’Hara, unconventional and brave, a woman who made her own rules. Unfortunately, she ended up coming off more like Celia Foote from The Help – a pretty, ditsy caricature of a woman who was about as smart as tree bark.” My Review: Clare James was a rather recent discovery for me and I am now a big fan and plan on working my way through her body of work. She has mad skills and her books generally contain all my favorite elements - romance, smart characters, clever dialog, witty banter, and deliciously steamy sensuality. Played is an entertaining story about a young woman who needed to find her footing, and she found it only after losing nearly everything else. Despite the heavy premise, the story was actually a light and quick read that was well written, entertaining, and enjoyable from beginning to end.
Bette313 More than 1 year ago
An excellent read! Melody Sharp is definitely having a rough time. She's taken a demotion at PR firm she works for which of course cut her salary and now she's been locked out of her apartment since she hasn't been able to pay her rent. Even though she and her very hot neighbor got off to a bad start, he's kind enough to offer her a place to stay temporarily. Aaron Major is a country singer who hit it big a bit too young and couldn't handle the spotlight. Now though, he's ready to make a comeback and who better to get his image out there than his unexpected roommate?? This was really a fun read! I am so glad to have discovered Clare James. I truly enjoy her writing style and will be going through her back list. I think everyone would enjoy this book and I definitely recommend it.
Lashea677 More than 1 year ago
Requested a copy of Played because in the past I had the chance to read Caught, another Elite PR novel and enjoyed it so much. Played fell short for me. I liked the characters separate but as a couple did not feel any chemistry. The concept of the story was clever, it could have been a really sexy read. The struggle for power between two people who love being in control. However, the story got off to a slow start for me and by the time it found it's legs again the story was almost at the end. Played has potential. Any female who can hold her own when dealing with a stubborn male is a plus in my book. I received Played in exchange for an honest review. My rating would be three stars.