Eleanor is content with her boring life—mostly. She’s even fine being the quirky sister in a bevy of beauties. So imagine her surprise when one of her brother’s Sydney Smoke mates hits on her at an engagement party. Her. The weird sister, who wears vintage dresses and prefers her books to parties.
Bodie is shocked the next morning to find the soft, sexy virgin who seduced him with corsets is his best friend’s little sister. If he could kick his own ass, he would. And two months later, she’s got an even bigger surprise for him. Now he needs to convince the corset-loving wallflower that he loves her uniqueness if they’ve got a chance at forever.
He always did love a challenge…
Each book in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series is STANDALONE:
* Playing By Her Rules
* Playing It Cool
* Playing the Player
* Playing With Forever
* Playing House
* Playing Dirty
About the Author
Amy is an award-winning, USA Today best-selling Aussie author who has written seventy plus contemporary romances in both the traditional and digital markets. Her books bring all the feels from sass, quirk and laughter to emotional grit and panty-melting heat. At sixteen she met a guy she knew she was going to marry and several years later she did. They have two grown kids who have flown the coop for distant shores which enables their travel fetish.
She loves good books and great booze although she'll take mediocre booze if there's nothing else. For many, many years she was a registered nurse which means she knows things. Anatomical things. And she’s not afraid to use them! She's just taken a sea change and gets to create sexy stories whilst overlooking the mighty Pacific Ocean. Life is good.
Read an Excerpt
Eleanor Davis had always felt like some kind of wildebeest in a family of gazelles, but tonight she was a wildebeest in a herd of the bastards. It was party time at the watering hole, and she was surrounded by gorgeous, preening animals.
Everyone sparkled and shone beneath the myriad fairy lights in the beer garden of one of Bungindally's oldest drinking establishments. Most of them had come to the outback town all the way from Sydney — twelve hundred kilometres east — for the annual city country rugby match, which had been played a few hours ago, and stayed on to celebrate her brother, Ryder's, engagement to Juliet.
But despite their city glamour, they seemed right at home in the middle of nowhere. Locals and sporting celebrities rubbed shoulders effortlessly, all laughing and indulging in animated conversations. They looked interesting and interested in each other, chatting away in their lively little groups as she watched from the sidelines next to a potted palm.
Part of Eleanor wanted to be amongst it all, but her heart raced in a bad way at the thought. She was just too socially awkward, and frankly boring, to risk it.
She hadn't realised quite how boring until tonight.
A single, twenty-six-year-old woman still living with her parents on a cattle station in outer woop woop like some Jane Austen heroine. One who grew up with her head stuck in a book and preferred reading about nineteenth-century dating customs than swiping left. Who'd rather wear Victorian undergarments than red lacy thongs. Who spent her evenings moderating an online forum discussing bustles and corsets and etiquette in the court of Queen Victoria instead of hitting the local pub and talking to real people.
Yep. She was that boring. As compared to her sports star brother, who lived in Sydney and was leaving with his fiancée for Italy at the end of the footy season. Or her three gorgeous, social butterfly, married sisters.
Sadly, Eleanor's most intimate relationship was with her Elna. Unfortunately it was a sewing machine and not a Swiss vibrator, despite its multiple speeds and settings.
She'd been born in the wrong time — that was her problem. She was a nineteenth-century wallflower trapped in the age of Tinder.
No wonder she was still a virgin.
She was probably the oldest bloody virgin in Bungindally. Hell, probably the entire country. She was probably going to die the oldest virgin in Australia. Sigh.
Unless she settled. God knew the ratio of single men to women out here definitely ran in her favour. But she'd known all the eligible guys since childhood. Most of them were here tonight, and she called almost all of them her mates.
Her older sister, Lisa, teased Eleanor that she was waiting for Mr Darcy. To which she always replied, better Mr Darcy than Heathcliff. But was it so wrong to want to be swept off her feet by a tall, handsome stranger who'd romance her, court her, ask her father for her hand in marriage?
Eleanor glanced around again. Plenty of tall, handsome strangers around tonight, but none that seemed unattached or interested in a wallflower, for that matter.
She spied her brother, Ryder, standing with their parents and two of her three sisters. They were all remarkably alike — tall and fine boned. Even beneath Ryder's muscles there was a definite leanness to his skeletal makeup. Eleanor sighed, lamenting once again that she'd missed out on the Gallic genes and been burdened instead with the more robust traits from the Hungarian side of the family.
Eleanor's gaze fell on her future sister-in-law, who was standing with a small group of women she knew to be WAGS — wives and girlfriends — of the Sydney Smoke rugby players. More blessed creatures. So tall and thin and graceful.
One of them, Harper, was curvier but had the height to carry it off. Unlike herself, whose size twelve frame was completely disproportional. Wide hips, small waist, and boobs that, while on the big side, were not large enough to balance it all out. And, at five foot, she definitely lacked the height to carry any of it off.
Which was why she was wearing one of her own creations tonight. She'd made the bodice from a pattern based on a popular dress in London in the 1890s. It was low cut, made from a russet-coloured shot silk, the corset beneath emphasising her small waist while pushing up her cleavage.
The cap sleeves sat wide on her shoulders, clinging precariously to the notch of her collar bones. It was too sophisticated and classy for beer wench but walked that line with the expanse of décolletage on display.
She glanced down at her plumped-up cleavage. She so would have rocked the nineteenth century. If only she didn't like things such as personal hygiene and voting rights so damn much.
The rest of the dress was more modern, the skirt falling in a modest Aline to her knees — camouflaging her hips rather than emphasizing. She had contemplated going all the way and making the full outfit complete with bustle and floor-length skirt decorated with handmade satin roses and tiered frills, but people in town already thought she was kooky enough — no need to let the city folk in on it, too.
Not that Ryder or the rest of her family would have cared. They were well used to Eleanor and her fixation with everything nineteenth-century England. She could have worn a replica of Queen Victoria's wedding gown and none of them would have batted an eyelid, and she loved them for it.
They put up with her eccentricities because they were family and they were proud of how she'd turned her obsession into an online business. Making one-off, historically accurate gowns for people had started out as a hobby but had morphed into a profitable part-time job.
Unfortunately, not many people found it as endlessly fascinating as she did. In fact, most people's eyes tended to glaze over when she got started on her favourite topic.
Which was why she loved the online forum so much. People there understood her. They didn't find her boring or the subject dull. In fact, they could go back and forth about it on the screen all night. As long as the dodgy outback internet was playing nice.
But online people weren't real, as her middle sister, Jenny, kept telling her. They couldn't bow low over your hand, they couldn't ask you to dance the Cotillion, or hand you up into a carriage.
And they couldn't pop your cherry, either.
She had no idea why she was so damn fixated on her virginity tonight. Maybe it was the thick fugue of testosterone in the air.
Deep down she'd always considered her virginity — her maidenhead — a gift. Something to give to the one. Old-fashioned? Yes. But a steady diet of Georgette Heyer and Jane Austen had filled her head with romantic notions, and she'd been utterly swept away by the idea of saving herself.
She cringed at how unfeminist it was. But it wasn't like she thought all women should do the same. She couldn't care less how many men other women slept with, she wanted to wait. The problem was, there'd been no sign of the one in nearly a decade and her virginity was starting to feel more like a disease than a gift.
Technically, she doubted she actually still was a virgin. As far as presence of hymen went. She'd been riding horses since she was three, been using tampons since she was fifteen, and Carol, her third sister, had bought her a lipstick-sized vibrator for her eighteenth birthday which she'd run the batteries down on in a few days.
She was pretty sure that sucker had been worn away a long time ago.
But in all other ways, she was a virgin. With a capital V.
Fabulous. She was going to die a boring, spinster virgin. Probably at her sewing machine.
Peachy. Just peachy.
* * *
It'd been a long time since Bodie Webb — Spidey to his teammates — had fallen so completely and utterly in lust with a woman at first sight. And he met a lot of women. Hot women by anyone's standards. But being dumped by his long-term girlfriend over a year ago had left him cynical and jaded.
At the grand age of twenty-six.
The woman standing by herself near the far wall, trying to look invisible, had dragged him right out of his funk. Made him forget all about the slight groin strain he'd sustained during the game as well.
She was different. Not like the others. Not like his ex. She was hot all right but ... softer, with hips and a waist Bodie could probably span with both his hands. And there was an air of uncertainty about her, like she'd rather be anywhere but here.
He, for one, was glad she wasn't.
And look at that, she didn't have a drink.
Bodie glanced around, trying to locate Ryder for an introduction because she sure as hell wasn't one of the Sydney entourage. But his best mate was laughing with his family and Bodie was more than capable of handling it himself.
He took a moment to straighten his tie before grabbing a glass of champagne and a schooner of beer off the tray of a passing waiter and heading in her direction. He didn't take his eyes off her as he made his way through the crowd, smiling politely as people greeted him but not stopping to chat. The closer he drew, the more he liked what he saw.
God, she was gorgeous. Soft and lush. And not just her boobs, although God almighty she had a cleavage he wanted to dive into. He'd been with busty women, but none of them had been soft and pillowy. They'd been high and firm, the sort that didn't move much of their own accord.
He'd bet his last cent he could bury his head in the cleavage he didn't seem to be able to take his eyes off and suffocate in all the plumpness. The same went for her mouth, all soft and full too. The closer he got, the more it seemed to scream kiss me.
He could get totally lost in that mouth.
It formed into a little O as he stepped out of the people milling in the middle of the beer garden and smiled at her. She'd obviously not been tracking his approach and her eyes, the colour of whiskey, widened in surprise. He swore he heard her quick intake of breath despite the loud murmur of conversation around them.
She blinked, clearly taken aback, sable lashes casting shadows on her cheekbones. A quick glance over her shoulder, as if to check it was her he was talking to, caused a funny little twist inside Bodie's chest.
What was wrong with the men around here?
Flyaway strands of her mahogany hair had escaped some kind of up-do to brush her practically bare shoulders, but he forced his gaze north because he didn't want to be some asshole who fixated on her chest. Her mouth was shiny with gloss the exact shade of her dress.
She didn't say anything, just continued to stare and seem as if she was trying to become the potted palm she'd taken a step toward.
He thrust the glass of fizzy liquid in her direction. "Champagne?"
He was usually smoother than this with women. But then, he hadn't ever really needed to do the talking. Women were good at that shit, plus he'd been in a committed relationship for a lot of years.
But damned if he didn't want to talk with this woman. This real woman. He hadn't realized until he'd seen her how many women he'd dated that had been all points and angles. Rail-like cheekbones, prominent ribs, coat hanger shoulders, stick-out hip bones, hard lacquered nails, bony spines.
All sharp angles, no curves. No softness.
She was regarding the glass of champagne like it might be laced with Rohypnol and him like he'd mistaken her for someone else. It was a refreshing change from women who eyed him hungrily like he was a hunk of meat. A life support system for a cock. A notch on a bedpost. Women who only wanted him for his rugby celebrity.
Or his trust fund.
He smiled again and waggled the champagne flute at her. "I could see you didn't have one, and being the only sober person at a party really sucks."
Bodie forced himself to keep his gaze trained on hers and not the ripe offering of her breasts being presented to his peripheral vision as if on a platter.
He was not some caveman who couldn't keep it in his pants.
She took the champagne, her fingernails — not short but not long, painted a soft pink — were pretty against the frosty glass. She opened her mouth to say something but stalled, instead raising the glass to her lips and gulping the champagne down in one hit.
Bodie smiled as she stared at the empty glass, obviously surprised at how quickly it had gone down. "Let me get you another."
"Oh no." She took a step closer and put her hand on his forearm.
For a brief moment, the aroma of orange blossoms enveloped him, then her hand slid from his as her cheeks went a very cute shade of pink. "I'll lose my inhibitions."
Bodie had always been with women who were bold and direct. Proudly uninhibited. Who knew shy and retiring was such a fucking turn on?
"In that case." He shot her a slow, easy smile, his gaze taking in her entire neckline before returning to her eyes. "I think we should definitely get you another."
A kind of strangled half breath escaped her lips, and he felt a similar hitch in his own breathing before his attention was snagged by a passing waiter. He swiped another champagne glass off the tray and passed it to her. "I'm Bodie. Bodie Webb. The guys call me Spidey."
* * *
Eleanor knew who he was. Her brother talked about Bodie a lot. They were practically best friends. It wasn't how she'd pictured him, though. Not that she'd really ever pictured anyone on her brother's team.
She was proud of Ryder and his stellar career, but, living all the way out here, she hadn't really followed it closely and frankly, rugby just wasn't her thing. She'd even taken a book to the game today.
Perhaps if she hadn't, she might have noticed Bodie sooner, even if the preppy guy in front of her didn't fit her preconceived ideas of a pro rugby player. Sure, he was tall, but then everyone seemed tall when you were five foot. And he was built. Eleanor could see the definition of his muscles beneath his snowy-white shirt and the fabric of his trousers.
But there was a clean cut appeal to him. Very white collar with his dirty blond hair trendily short at the back and sides, the longer bit on top artfully jushed. Not to mention his designer three-day growth manicured to within an inch of its dirty blond life.
He was more poster boy for Abercrombie and Fitch than the Sydney Smoke. Sure, the width of his shoulders told her he could play tough and dirty on the field, but give the man a pair of buckskin breeches and hello, Mr Darcy.
Was twenty-six too young to have a hot flush?
He was watching her, expectantly waiting for a reply, but Eleanor had completely forgotten what he'd said. Her body was in the middle of some kind of weird meltdown. Because a hot, tall, sexy rugby player was talking to her.
Flirting with her, if she wasn't very much mistaken.
She didn't know why he'd chosen her or why her heart was beating so rapidly or why her lungs felt like they weren't getting enough air. If this was the vapours, then it was no wonder smelling salts had been so damn vital in the nineteenth century.
Not that smelling salts would do much for the seditious whispers coming from her vagina.
Him. He's the one. Pick him!
God. Since when had her vagina started talking to her? Twenty-six years of silence and it chose tonight to go rogue? In front of this wickedly beautiful man?
What the hell was in that champagne?
"And you are?" he prompted.
There was a smile in his voice. Clearly, her inability to open her mouth and make words come out was amusing. She bet he had that affect on a lot of women. She took another sip of her champagne to find her voice.
And drown out the one between her legs still chanting him, him, him.
If she told him she was Nell, the name by which she was known, he'd probably know she was Ryder's sister. And then he might stop flirting with her. Hell, he might stop talking to her altogether what with all that bro code rubbish.
Unless she was some kind of bet.
Now that made sense. Why else would this outrageously sexy guy be flirting with her? Ryder had told her about Linc's bet over Em, so it sounded feasible. But surely Ryder wouldn't let the guys make a bet over his sister?
Unless he didn't know?
Whatever was going on here, bet or no bet, she wanted it to go on for longer. A twenty-six-year-old isolated-spinster-virgin had to take her opportunities where she got them.
Excerpted from "Playing House"
Copyright © 2018 Amy Andrews.
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.
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