Score one for the curvy girls.
Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw… When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it’s not for reals, but Dex won’t take no for an answer.
Dexter Blake’s life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It’s just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game.
But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them…sizzles their clothes right off.
Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real…
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
Playing It Cool
A Sydney Smoke Rugby Novel
By Amy Andrews, Liz Pelletier
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2016 Amy Andrews
All rights reserved.
Dexter Blake liked a woman with some junk in her trunk. And the tall, curvy chick on the sidelines was packing a whole lot of booty. She had one of those itty-bitty waists, too. And her cups floweth'd over.
Staring at her chest was practically a religious experience.
Unfortunately, she only had eyes for Chuck Nugent, the pretty boy sports reporter for Channel Five. He was currently doing his sycophantish spiel on the field, a cameraman following him around as he interviewed the players still milling around for their obligatory post-match interviews.
She was impatient for his attention, too, if her pacing was anything to go by.
As far as Dex was concerned, she could keep pacing. Watching everything jiggle was the cherry on the top of his pie tonight. There was nothing better than winning a hard-fought game of rugby union. But watching a fine-looking woman strutting her stuff came a very close second.
"I'd say don't look now, booty at six o'clock, but I can see you're ahead of me."
Dex smiled at Tanner Stone, the captain of the Sydney Smoke and his good mate, as he pulled up beside him then dropped at the waist to stretch out his hamstrings.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Hey, Dex," Bodie Webb said as he pulled up on the other side. "Your kinda ass on the sideline."
A low whistle came from behind them. "I hope you're planning on hitting that, Dex," Lincoln Quinn murmured as he also appeared, casually waving at some teenage girls hollering at him from the dispersing crowd.
Dex chuckled. "Since when did you all turn into pimps?"
Linc clapped him on the back. "Just lending a hand."
"Thanks. I can get my own ass."
And, sadly, as much as sideline-chick ticked every box, her ass was off-limits. One look at her told him she was the kind of girl a guy loved. Got into a relationship with. The kind he married. Made babies with.
She was the commitment type.
Over a decade of avoiding romantic entanglements had alerted Dex to the signs, and this woman had I don't do casual written all over her.
And he didn't do commitment. His career came first. He'd fought hard for his place on the team, and at thirty, he probably only had a few good years left. He couldn't afford to take his eyes off the ball for a second. He knew how easy it was to lose everything. To have it all go to shit when you least expected it.
He was never going back to Perry Hill.
There would be time for commitment later. Rugby was it for now.
"But you don't," Tanner said.
"Just because I don't walk around with a permanent hard-on like Linc —"
Everyone ignored Linc's half-hearted protest. The cocky back rower wore his horniness like a badge of frickin' honour. "— doesn't mean I go without."
And if he did — it was none of their damn business.
Chuck finished his interview with the skipper of the losing team and, spotting Tanner, headed toward them.
"Christ," Dex said. "Dickhead approaching."
Tanner sighed. "Best to just think of our contracts and smile for the camera."
"Ooh, helllllo," Bodie purred. "She's on the move, too."
Dex's gaze flicked to the woman again, tracking her progress as she hurried after Chuck. Her hips swung enticingly and her chest moved interestingly beneath her T-shirt.
Christ, it was a turn-on.
"Chuck," she called, hurrying to catch up with him.
Idiot. Dex would never let a woman trail behind him like that. Not when she could walk in front and he could check out her luscious ass.
"What in hell does she see in that guy?" Bodie asked.
Dex had no idea, but the urge to throttle the smarmy reporter — something that was never far from the surface — spewed like the sudden rush of a geyser in his chest.
"Chuck," she called, louder this time, almost caught up with him.
Dickhead stopped. Turned. Then glared before looking around him as if he was embarrassed. He hissed, "What the fuck, Harper?" He'd kept his voice low, but the edge of fury carried it farther than Dex was sure Chuck would have liked.
"I told you to stay in the stands, not embarrass me by running onto the goddamn field in a pair of jeans you've barely managed to squeeze your lard ass into. I have a certain image to maintain, and it does not involve being followed around by fat chicks."
Dex's jaw clamped tight as the hackles rose on the back of his neck. Fat chick? He could see the stain of red creeping up her neck from here, and the spewing geyser in his chest turned viscous, like lava.
"God, he's a fuckwit," Bodie whispered.
"Excuse me," Dex growled.
Lava burning in his chest, he strode purposefully toward Chuck and the woman, who was hissing something back at the reporter Dex couldn't quite hear. He was sweaty and dirty and every damn muscle bitched at him, but Dex paid none of it any heed.
The urge to deck the smarmy front man rode him hard, but by the time he pulled up beside Chuck, Dex had another plan.
A better plan.
One that involved less potential penalty. And more potential booty.
"Hey, Chuck," he said, forcing himself to smile as he clapped the reporter hard on the back. It was satisfying to hear a strained, involuntary cough from the man.
"Oh Dex, hi," Chuck said, sleazy smile in place, turning as if he were trying to block the woman from Dex's view.
No chance with those puny coat hanger shoulders.
"Great game tonight," Chuck enthused. "If you could just give me thirty seconds, I'll be right over."
"Actually, Chuck," Dex glanced at the woman and smiled at her. She was even more magnificent up close, with a whole lot of pissed-off glittering in the depths of her Marsala brown eyes. "I was hoping you might introduce me to the lady."
It was amusing to watch the pretty boy almost choke on his tongue. For a moment, Dex thought he was going to say lady, what lady? But he finally turned to acknowledge the woman behind him. "Of course. This is Harper ... Nugent. My ..."
The woman — Harper — folded her arms across her chest, and all the blood rushed from Dex's big head to his little one. "Come on, Chuck, you can say it," she said, her voice dry with amused sarcasm. "It starts with S. Ssssister."
Something eased in Dex's chest. So she was not getting naked with Pretty Boy. There was a God.
"Step!" Chuck said quickly, his voice sharp.
She rolled her eyes as she smiled at Dex and offered her hand. He absently noted there were streaks of paint on her fingers. "Nice to meet you."
Dex was a tall guy. Big. Not as big as some of the team's front row, but he was still six foot and had trouble buying shirts that weren't tight in the shoulders. This tall — hell, Amazonian — woman could look him straight in the eye. He'd never met a woman who could do that in a pair of flats, and it was a strange kind of turn-on.
"The pleasure's entirely mine," he murmured, returning her firm and sure grip with one of his own.
He liked a woman who could handshake like a boss.
"Yes ... anyway," Chuck said, his expression pained, as Harper's hand fell away. "Harper has to run. A girlfriend crisis or something."
Dex's eyebrow kicked up. A girlfriend crisis? A crushing sense of disappointment slugged him in the chest.
She was a lesbian?
She laughed and shook her head. "Not that kind of girlfriend."
His gaze was drawn to her mouth, a plush, sexy crescent in the midst of her flawless olive complexion. He didn't think she was wearing any makeup, but she was sporting some kind of clear lip gloss that emphasized the luscious curve of her lips.
They glistened, wet and tempting.
Dex laughed, too, as relief flowed like champagne bubbles through his veins. "I am so pleased to hear that."
Chuck cleared his throat. "Yes. Well. I have to interview the team." He looked pointedly at his sister.
"Fine. Just don't forget to pick up Jace and Tabby after you're done. They're fine in the stands with Jenny while you wrap up, but she can't take them home and I've told your mother that you're bringing her kids now instead of me."
"I'm not going to bloody forget them, Harper," Chuck replied testily.
She shot an apologetic smile at Dex then turned to go. He and Chuck watched her. The outline of her sexy, rounded butt in the denim of her jeans actually made Dex a little light-headed. It was a sight to behold.
"God, she has a fat ass," Chuck muttered, disgust colouring his voice.
Dex's hands tightened to fists. What a monumental wanker. He opened his mouth before he engaged his brain. "Harper! Wait up."
She looked over her shoulder, a puzzled expression drawing a crease between her brows. "Dex," Chuck said, putting a hand on Dex's arm as he took a step in Harper's direction.
"Tanner's waiting," Dex said, shaking off the hand before jogging the short distance to where she'd stopped.
"Hey," she said, tossing the long strands of her rich dark hair behind her shoulder, clearly still puzzled.
He smiled. "I was hoping you might like to go out with me one night."
She blinked, the crease between her eyebrows almost cavernous now. "Oh."
Dex chuckled. It wasn't the standard response he got from women. Normally, they were tripping over themselves to be asked out by him. Hell, most of them didn't wait to be asked. It was well known that he didn't generally date, so they were more than happy to do the asking.
A man with a less healthy ego might have been insulted by Harper's tepid response. But he could sense her reticence was real as she glanced at the guys to her left, all gawking and smirking, clearly talking about them. Her gaze travelled over his shoulder to where Chuck stood — glaring, if the prickle between Dex's shoulder blades was anything to go by.
Her gaze returned to him. "Um ..."
Hmm. Maybe this wasn't going to be as easy as he'd thought. He looked pointedly at the mobile she held. "Give me your phone."
She glanced at it for a moment, frowning some more. "Why?"
Dex gave an exaggerated sigh and plucked it out of her unresisting hand. "It's okay," he assured her as she murmured a protest, and his fingers busily navigating to her address book. "I'm just going to put my number in because obviously I don't have my phone available to put yours into mine."
She crossed her arms as she watched him enter the details, and it took him twice as long.
"There," he said, passing the phone back to her.
She glanced at the entry, and his heart tap-danced in his chest as a smile pulled at the curve of her mouth. She quirked an eyebrow at him. "Dex the Stud?"
He grinned and shrugged. "What can I say?"
"And what do you expect me to do with this?"
"As soon as you're done with your girlfriend thing, give it a ring and we can set up a time and a place for our date."
"Well, that's a step up from the last guy, who put his number into my phone hoping I'd send him nude photos," she said, her tone flippant.
Dex blinked. What the actual fuck? "Absolutely no class."
"Well, to be fair, he did request arty ones."
He laughed. "Hey." He held his hands up in faux surrender. "Never let it be said that I stand in the way of artistic expression, if you feel so inclined with my number. But definitely lose his."
She laughed back, and it grabbed him by the balls. Like everything else about her, it was big and rich and real. But then her gaze flicked over his shoulder again, and her smile slowly slipped from her face.
Dex gave an exaggerated sigh. "You're not going to ring it, are you?"
She shook her head, a glossy smile playing on her glossy mouth. "No chance in hell."
She glanced at her stepbrother again. "Some things just aren't worth the hassle."
Dex couldn't agree more. But he didn't think Harper Nugent was one of them. Undeterred, he grabbed for her phone again, his reflexes lightning fast after a decade of professional rugby. "You leave me no choice," he chided as he quickly rang his own number.
"Hi, Dex the Stud," he said as the ring tone eventually gave way to his message bank. "It's Dex." He waggled his brows at Harper, and she smiled and rolled her eyes. "I'm ringing to remind you to call Harper Nugent on this number and ask her on a date again. Do not take no for an answer. Even" — he grinned at her — "if she offers nude arty photos in lieu."
Dex hit the end button and passed the phone back to her. "There now. You're in my phone. And I will be ringing you."
She glanced at the phone then at him before flicking a look at the guys again. Linc was grinning like a loon as he shot Dex two thumbs-up.
"Sure you will," she said, the tight, polite smile on her face making Dex want to slap Linc upside the head.
She bade him farewell and walked away, and for the first time in his life, Dex looked forward to something other than rugby and inflicting bodily harm on Linc.
* * *
Harper's phone rang three hours later. She was a bottle of wine down with her best friend Em, who was in the middle of a boyfriend-number-sixteen crisis. Em was cute, peppy, and up for anything.
She just had really lousy taste in men.
When Em went into a relationship, she went all in, something which Harper had always admired even if her friend consistently chose the wrong guys to be "in" with. The type who were only out for a good time, not a long time. But she always sprang back, and Harper was in awe of her friend's tenacity and absolute conviction that the right person was out there for everyone.
Although not tonight. While Harper was drinking wine, Em's breakup booze of choice was butterscotch schnapps, and tonight it was leading her to seriously consider becoming a nun. To prove her seriousness, she was currently Googling how to re-virginise.
So, Harper was both tipsy and completely distracted when she answered the phone.
"Hi," she said as Em made gagging noises at pictures on a website she was skimming.
The hairs on the back of her neck stood up in instant awareness as they had earlier tonight when Dexter Blake had singled her out for a bit of attention.
Her mind went blank for a beat or two. He rang?
Of course he had. She had clearly been some kind of bet or dare or something with his team buddies. At twenty-three, it wouldn't be the first time she'd been the butt of some douche's idea of a good time. I dare you to ask the fat chick out. Snigger, snort, backslap.
Some men were such assholes.
But it had been so good, even momentarily, to put her sanctimonious step-brother in his place.
"Harper? It's Dex the Stud. Remember me?"
His voice was warm and rich with amusement, and Harper shut her eyes. Remember him? She'd relived him asking her out about a dozen times, no matter how much she'd told herself it had all been some sick joke. It had been the first thing she'd told Em after her friend had stopped crying and asked for something happy to cheer her up.
Then they'd Googled him.
His voice was sharper this time and Harper pulled herself together, sitting straighter in the chair. "Yes. Of course ... Hi."
"You sound kinda ... outta it."
Harper eyed the empty wine bottle and the full one she'd just cracked open. "Well ... I'm kinda drunk, so that's probably why."
His low chuckle slid seductive fingers down her neck. "The girlfriend emergency?"
Em looked over her shoulder. "Who is it?"
Her eyebrows practically hit her hairline. "The rugby dude?"
"Is that the girlfriend?" Dex asked in her ear.
"Yup," she said to them both.
"Ask him if he knows how to re-virginise."
Harper shook her head. "I'm not asking him that."
"Asking me what?" His voice sounded delicious when it was amused. Thick and gooey, oozing all over her body. Like chocolate topping.
God, she loved chocolate topping.
"You should totally ask me whatever it is."
"Trust me, you don't want to know."
"Are you kidding?" Em interrupted. "He's a professional rugby star. Everyone knows they get laid all the time. What he doesn't know about a woman's anatomy probably isn't worth knowing. He'll know about revirginising."
Harper thought it more likely he'd know about de-virginising.
"Did she just say re-virginising?"
Excerpted from Playing It Cool by Amy Andrews, Liz Pelletier. Copyright © 2016 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Playing it Cool by Amy Andrews Sydney Smoke #2 Dexter Blake has a plan that does not include a significant other...well...not for at least five more years. When he hears someone putting down a woman he considers beautiful his hackles rise, he steps in and ends up asking Harper Nugent for a date. What starts out as a “good time” to put her verbally abusive stepbrother and stepmother in their place ends up being a whole lot more. Dexter has a great deal of trouble realizing that Harper is “more” when his long term goals have been fixed so rigidly in his mind. This was a fun easy-to-read sport romance with two people that were meant for one another. I would like to thank NetGalley and Entangled-Brazen for the ARC – This is my honest review. 4 Stars
A hot sports love story between rugby player Dex and curvy Harper. Dex has just one thing on his mind and that is rugby but it all changes when he meets Harper. And although he doesn't have time for relationship bit by bit Harper becomes an important part of his daily routine. But unknown feelings and fear ruin everything. The story is funny and with a lot of hot sexy time. Harper and Dex are both great persons with not so fun, happy past. The story is great trough the whole book just the speech at the end is a little a bit of predictable. I volunteered to review an ARC of this book for Netgelly
Wait a sec Davo while I grab my Akuba and we can get around to watch footie. Oh Amy has me crazy with this series. And THIS one... I came close to almost throwing my kindle a couple times aiming right for Dex's head. But let's move on. Dex spots the lovely and curvy Harper at the end of a game. Her step brother is a skeevy reporter that no one likes and he publicly embarrasses Harper because of her curvy backside. He embarrasses her period. He's cruel and nasty and the guys on the team don't like him. Dex is immediately drawn to Harper and her lovely backside and tries to ask her out, she blows him off thinking that he's just another guy who's made a bet to date the "fat" girl. Harper is beautiful, bright, funny and all the things Dex has ever wanted all wrapped up in a package he can't resist. Harper is an artist, her latest task is painting murals of the walls of the childrens ward at the local hospital and she teaches art to kids as well. Dex stayed away from relationships because his one and only focus is on football. His career comes first. He's come from the worst part of town and never wants to go back. So Harper takes his dare, and they go out together. Start spending more time together, always at her place; they share common interests and really and truly enjoy each other and holy hotness do they burn up the sheets. Miss Amy writes can write some incendiary stories and this is right on the burner. They sail along happily, hit a couple little bumps now and then. I have to tell you I didn't like her friend Em and it would serve her right if she gets stuck in a book with Linc. Just sayin'.... When they hit a big bump and Harper is blindsided by Dex running off at the mouth (kindle thrower), he leaves and stews in his own mess. He deserved it. Of course he can't play ball worth a hoot and his life stinks and refuses to admit to himself that he misses Harper and he goes to apologize, another flame throwing scene and when Harper suggests they attend a function they will both be going to that is about her-not him. He fusses about and then says no. Kindle throw number two. Only affirming to Harper that she's not worth being scene in public with. Pfft... Dex is an idiot. Harper attends and so does Dex and every man within a 10 mile radius is aware of Harpers presence. She's gorgeous and this gala is for the hospital and introduces her murals and the stories behind them. She's a class act and I loved her. Dex needed a kick from Tanner when the ugly jealousy demons reared their little heads, and it takes Dex a guided chat with Tanner to finally get it through his thick skull what his problem is. So can he make Harper see how he really feels or is it too late? Great story and great characters in Dex and Harper. This is another must read in the series and I promise you'll love it. Even when you want to play footie with Dex's head! advanced reader copy from Net Galley and Entangled for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
This is a smokingly hot romance with a rugby focussed hero, determined not to be sidetracked from his sporting career goals by anything or anyone . . . until he hears a journalist making obnoxious, derogative comments to the curvy woman he’d been ogling earlier. It turns out that the woman is Harper Nugent and the journalist is her stepbrother, Chuck. Dex doesn’t like what he hears and makes a point of asking Harper out in front of Chuck. Harper has a poor self image because of the bullying and frequent belittling she’s been the target for from both her step mother and brother and doesn’t believe a hunk like Dex really wants to go out with her - but she’ll agree, just to show her step-family! However, one date leads to another and the attraction between the two is sizzling hot. However, with his focus on rugby and her negative attitude to her own body image, will their attraction have any chance to develop further? Amy Andrews has a brilliant way of bringing her characters to life in the pages of her novels, making them real in the imagination of her readers. In this story she explores the difficult issues of body image and valuing your own achievements and talents. Harper may well not have a stick-like figure but Dex helps her realise he really is attracted to her, seeing her as a curvy, sexy and clever beautiful young lady. He helps her realise she is attractive whilst she helps him realise there’s more to life than your career! It lives up to its Brazen publishing and is smoking hot at times. It is a highly emotive, thoroughly enjoyable read that I have no hesitation in highly recommending. I was gifted a copy of this book by the author and publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 stars Playing it Cool was such a good read. Loved both Dex and Harper, they were perfect for each other. I enjoyed the relationship unfolding throughout the book, it was a fun and entertaining read. The chemistry between the characters was smoking and totally believable. Yeah these two were HOT together!! I'm loving the Sydney Smoke Rugby series, great writing, charismatic & entertaining characters that keep you turning the pages. Playing It Cool is a great addition to the Sydney Smoke Rugby series and while it can be read as a standalone I highly recommend you also read Playing by Her Rules, trust me you will love these books ;)
Such a sweet and great spicy story. I loved the connection Harper and Dex formed. Harper was so sincere, so giving and such a delightful character. I loved that she was a normal, everyday kinda girl. And I loved Dex for how he made her feel, how he placed importance on her and her feelings. Then the angst part came in the story and I felt so much for Harper. I loved how she handled it and then the wake up call. That part was so beautifully written. I hope there is more to this series because Dex's teammates are hilarious and Linc definitely needs his hard fall into love.
sweet ruby read book 2 This is book 2 in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series. Harper Nugent & rugby star Dexter Blake are the main characters in this book. I Adored Harper –reason is she is a voluptuous woman. She was made fun of how she looked by her older step- brother and it was hard being her, especially with her step brother harassing her , using her as his whipping post. Yet she never gave in or gave up. When her step brother started in on her in front of Dexter Blake. Dexter didn’t let her step brother get his fun in, he stood up for Harper and he asked her out. I was so totally into that. I fell for Dexter in that moment. Dexter is all about the sport rugby and he didn’t want anything. Harper never had anyone stand up for her and when Dex asked her out, I don’t think she truly believed in HEA… This story had many layers – Dex needed rugby so bad and he couldn’t afford to lose his lifelife yet he couldn’t stand to see a beautiful woman mistreated. So what does he do? Oh the plot thickens and spins. Dex and Harper come together to put a spoke in her stepbrother and step mother’s wheels. But what happens when true love forms? Do you chose true love over love of job? Can one satisfy you more than the other? Is there ever such a thing as compromise? In order to understand, you need to read this book. I would have liked a more wrapped up ending and I think Dex was alittle more selfish than he needed to be but overall, this was a good romantic read. My rating: 4.2 stars **** **I was given an ARC by the publisher in exchange for an honest review***
I really enjoyed this story. Actually I'm surprised a little at how much I enjoyed it :) I liked the idea of a normal sized heroine, which was why this story ended up in my TBR pile, but the interactions between Dex and Harper kept me glued to the pages. They are just so darned cute together and I was hooked on how well they fit together as friends and lovers. Harper does have a little bit of a hangup when it comes to her size, but it doesn't take long for Dex's obvious attraction to her to get her over that. And it really isn't a huge part of the conflict in the story. It does come back up at a critical moment, as you'd expect, but it isn't over used in the story. Instead she's a funny, caring, a little geeky and a lot of fun. She thinks she's going into her relationship with Dex with her eyes open and her heart closed, but you can guess how well that goes. They have a lot in common and they quickly form a friendship that just works for both of them - it's hard to stay detached when they click so well. Plus, Dex is awfully hard to resist. He's sexy, strong, fun and good for her ego. He's not shy about how attractive he finds her. Not just her body but her mind and spirit as well and you love him just for how much he likes her. But of course he's got a few troubles of his own. He grew up in the poorest part of town and has pretty much dedicated all his energy in never going back there again. For him, rugby is the answer. I'm not sure why he thinks that he's not successful enough already to never go back or that he's got nothing going for him after his career is over. But those scars from his childhood are pretty deep and cause him a few moments of trouble with Harper. You can see from a mile away that Dex's single mindedness when it comes to his sport is going to cause him some trouble. Luckily, though, it isn't over-played and thanks to some help from his friends he quickly figures things out. He's adorable in his cluelessness and his eventual aha moment ... and, just like with the rest of his life, once he's on a course of action he goes full tilt. Nothing is stopping him from winning his woman back and is fantastic to see. (I didn't read the first book in this series, but it didn't really seem to matter much. I might have gone into it with a better feel for the guys. Meeting them new here worked though and I had no problem keeping up. But I'm going to definitely keep my eye out to see what comes next because I have a feeling a certain bad boy may have just met his match with Harper's friend and his downfall could be quite entertaining.) Complimentary copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Playing it Cool is the second story in Amy Andrew’s sexy sports romance series, Sydney Smoke Rugby which features some of the players on the team. This time it’s Dexter Blake’s turn, a laid back charmer who prefers to stay out of the spotlight if he can. Sure, there are lots of pictures out there with him squiring beautiful models to events but those are all photo op setups for the team, not women he’d really go out with in real life. In fact, his type is the exact opposite of the one’s he’s pictured with. He likes his women on the curvy side, with real assets, not the stick thin model type. When he meets Harper Nugent, stepsister to a rather rude sports reporter, he comes to her defense , her stepbrother’s insults spurring him to make a deal with her - date him for show and they’ll be able to stick it to her step-brother and step-mother who are constantly on her case about her weight. In reality Dex just wants the opportunity to show Harper that there are men who appreciate her body type, and he’d definitely not be averse to making their ‘for appearances only’ relationship a real friends with benefits one. But Dexter also has his focus on rugby and doesn’t believe he has the time for a serious relationship. Will he win at rugby but lose out on love? What a fun and sexy story! Dex comes across as a real sweetheart (though, like any male, he still manages to screw things up a bit to give a little conflict to the story later on). He defends Harper and makes it clear that she is very appealing to him in a physical sense. He’s a friendly, nice guy but his focus is on rugby and only that. He’s finally poised to take some big steps in his career and he can’t afford to lose his head over a woman, even one as enticing as Harper. He’s clear with her that their friendship and soon dating relationship is one that can’t become anything serious. Only as they grow closer, his focus on rugby gets all tangled up with his emotions for Harper and he soon learns that it might not be so simple to choose one over the other. I really felt for Harper and her self esteem issues rising from the often insulting comments from her stepbrother and stepmother. For the most part she’s become comfortable with how she looks, and if it weren’t for having two younger step-siblings she’d have just cut the harmful members of her family off completely. But she’s loyal to the kids and they love her unconditionally (as it should be with family) and she’s not going to abandon them. Having Dex in her life makes things a bit more complicated. She wants to believe that she can trust in his desire for her ( and he certainly makes her feel wanted) but she’s been burned before. I loved her job as a mural painter, and her obvious artistic talent. Dex respects that too (something else sorely lacking in her life) and it’s no wonder that she falls for him pretty quickly. They share some very steamy scenes as their relationship progresses. Harper’s got a best friend who has her back and Dex and his teammates have the usual bromance kind of banter that I enjoy in these kind of stories, making for a well rounded tale. This is an enjoyable and entertaining story, with a good mix of locker room and rugby pitch scenes to go with the romance. I'm looking forward to more in this series!
Harper Nugent might have a little extra junk in her trunk, but her stepbrother calling her out on it is the last straw… When rugby hottie, Dexter Blake, witnesses the insult, he surprises Harper by asking her out. In front of her dumbass brother. Score! Of course, she knows it’s not for reals, but Dex won’t take no for an answer. Dexter Blake’s life revolves around rugby with one hard and fast rule: no women. Sure, his left hand is getting a workout, but he's focused on his career for now. Then he overhears an asshat reporter belittle the curvy chick he'd been secretly ogling. What's a guy to do but ask her out? It’s just a little revenge against a poser, and then he'll get his head back in the game. But the date is better than either expected. So is the next one. And the next. And the heat between them…sizzles their clothes right off. Suddenly, this fake relationship is feeling all too real… Review: This was a fun and engaging story that I read through very quickly. Harper and Dex were great characters, they are both driven, smart and they burn up the sheets together. This is not a new-t0-me Author and so I knew what to expect when I picked this for review. She writes characters that you can relate to and root for, the sexy scenes are well done and smoking hot and fun and witty dialog. Loved the story and will continue to seek out this Author's books. 3.5Stars *I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.*
I am not usually one to pick up sports related books so I have to say I hesitated before reading this one. I'm so glad that I did because I would've missed a really great read. This book is definitely full of action and I'm not talking about rugby. With an agreement to hook up, things quickly turn and start heating up. I love the character development in Dex and Harper is a great balance for him. And the ending is a wonderful surprise. The author gave us plenty of heat along with some emotional play too. I love the protectiveness and sweetness of Dex. He was a gentleman and delightfully naughty too. This book was not overly long, over developed, but a quick read that it was just long enough to enjoy and create a great memory. I look forward to the other books in the series because they all sound like fun bunch of guys to be around. Not to mention smokin hot! * copy received for review purposes
Serious heat+serious laughs+seriously great characters=5 serious stars and a highly recommend Dexter Blake is determined to keep his focus on rugby and off women, no matter how tempting he finds that curvy brunette on the sidelines, but attraction and anger combine to overwhelm his common sense when a reporter he loathes insults the woman. Harper Nugent is sure that when Dex asks her out, it's on some kind of dare from his teammates, but what starts out as a way to get back at her douch of a step-brother turns into something more when she can't deny the chemistry she has with Dex. Eventually I might learn not to start a new book shortly before bedtime; this was not that book and by the time I finished reading it straight through, my face hurt from laughing so hard and grinning for so long. And yes, I was literally crying at one point because I was laughing so hard. Even the definitions for common rugby terms and Aussie slang the author thoughtfully included at the back for semi-ignorant types like yours truly were lol funny ("It's like rugby ballet. Minus the tutus. And usually with more blood.") There was some VERY serious heat between Dex and Harper to go along with the humor; I know that I'll never look at coveralls in quite the same way again! Dex is in serious running to become my new favorite bbf and Harper is sassy, funny, talented and caring and I loved the depth these characters had and the way their relationship developed over the course of the book. There's a great cast of supporting characters as well; this is the second book in the series and there are characters carrying over from the first book, but as this is my first book by this author I can verify that it works very well as a standalone. Of course there were a few bumps in the road; pacing was great and while the plot was relatively straightforward, I didn't find it overly predictable. Serious heat plus serious laughs plus seriously great characters equals 5 serious stars and a highly recommend from me, and I'm off to 1- click more books from this author. B2B Kelly
Harper Nugent had always hoped that she and her stepbrother Chuck would be the best of friends. But when said stepbrother is a narcissistic, self-serving jerk, buddyhood is out of the question. When Chuck insults Harper within hearing of rugby god Dexter Blake, himself a fan of girls with plenty of bass to go with their treble, Dex comes riding to the rescue with a plan to show all the haters just where they can go. PLAYING IT COOL by author Amy Andrews is just the sort of book that I love, full of charm, fun, and yep, plenty of sexy time. I mean, hello, Australian rugby player? Yes, please! And I absolutely adore Harper, she of the bootylicious backside. She is a poster child for a positive self-image, blessed as she is with a figure that, while not necessarily beautiful by society's standards, is more than perfect for the hot sports star. "In front of the four hundred people here tonight...and the hundreds and thousands of people who will see this on their television and the millions more who will see it the second someone here uploads the video they're taking right now to Facebook...I want you to know how sexy you are." There is plenty of the usual back and forth, the 'does he really like me, can I take him seriously, what will our friends say' from Harper, and the 'how does she not know how hot she is, her brother is a jerk, let's give them something to talk about' from Dex, but it all comes together beautifully to bring these two exactly where they're supposed to be, which is living life on their terms, and to heck with anyone else. The best friend, the teammates, the horrid stepfamily, all work together to make PLAYING IT COOL one of the most enjoyable romantic comedies I've had the pleasure of reading lately. If you're looking for a book guaranteed to make you smile, all while keeping you fanning yourself, I highly recommend this read, and happily give it 4.5 'big girls and their hot hunky men are awesome' stars. I will definitely be reading more by this author, and look forward to the next book in this series.
One of my favorite tropes is fake relationships. So I was excited to read this one. But this one was just a little off for a fake anything. There was instant attraction between these two and Dex does ask Harper out to annoy her step brother. But they never really pretend anything. Their relationship develops because they say they are pretending and so keep seeing each other. Behind closes doors, it's no holding back. They are all over each other. In front of other people, there is no holding back. The only fake is that Harper is convinced it's not genuine and Dex is in denial. But the things I love about fake relationships aren't there. There's no resisting, or the shock of contact in front of others. It's just the normal development of a relationship where the barrier to them trying is removing because of a fake label. That made me sad and left me disappointed. Mostly, I enjoyed their story. I struggled with some of the Austie words; thankfully there is a glossary in the back. I liked that Harper wasn't a typical skinny thing. I enjoyed when Dex found her sexy because of her tall curvy frame. I liked the sports aspect of it, though rugby is pretty much an unknown to this football lover. The athlete piece was still effective. And these two are definitely hot together. A couple things bugged me. The lack of the fake relationship mojo really put me off, but I was disappointed that Harper's step brother and step mother didn't get their just due. There was one small scene kinda early on but it was just a huge thread in the plot (at least to begin with) that I really wanted that scene near the end. An "in your face" kinda thing. It didn't happen, though. The story was typical and went as you might expect. I just missed the fake relationship things I was expecting. Thinking I'll pass on the rest of this series.
Playing It Cool by Amy Andrews contains one of my favorite types of heroines. The kind with curves! Harper Nugent has curves for days, but some people don’t see them as a blessing. When her stepbrother makes fun of her, Rugby player, Dexter Blake steps in and gets her digits. Harper thinks Dexter isn’t being upfront with her and thinks it’s a pity date, but Dexter really wants Harper. Because Dexter can’t be in a relationship right now, they stay friends. For Dexter, Rugby is everything. All his time and emotions belong to the game, but being with Harper makes him question everything and the more he’s with her, the more he wants her. Sooner than later, this platonic relationship develops into something more, something worthwhile. I loved Dexter and Harper together. They had this one-of-a-kind connection and their chemistry was off the charts. Playing It Cool is a must-read with its witty banter and sexy characters!
3.5 Stars! Playing It Cool by Amy Andrews is the second book from her Sydney Smoke Rugby series. Each novel is about a rugby player from the Sydney Smoke, a professional rugby team in the land down under. The characters are well-defined, the sex scenes are scorching, and the Australian lingo is quite entertaining. However, the plot gets buried due to all the sexual encounters. Harper Nugent is a talented mural artist with a curvy body. She sees herself as unattractive, which is reinforced almost daily by her stepmother and stepbrother. Then rugby player Dexter Blake waltzes into her life, and Harper is flooded by his attention, kind words and desire. Dex truly likes everything about Harper, however his number one priority is rugby. A relationship is not on his to do list and he has shied away from any type of commitment. A date or two later, Dex cannot get enough of Harper, and Harper is madly in lust and love. I liked this book. It was hot, flirtatious and the sexy times between Harper and Dex were off the charts. Harper's curviness played a major role in the story, and her anxiety and discomfiture was tangible. Dex was an all around good guy, and I loved the way the author evolved his heart. The last chapter was beyond exciting and as a result, I was grinding my teeth so hard my cheeks got sore. Overall a solid read. Complimentary copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley.
So Ms. Andrews... where exactly can a curvy girl find herself a 'non-fiction' version of Dexter Blake? I have a feeling that if a man like that existed in the real world, he would have to go into hiding. Women would flock to him like preteens at a Bieber concert. I really liked this story. It was a breath of fresh air in the midst of all the bombshell, tight body, super tiny girls ive been reading about lately. Harper Nugent is tall - 6' without the obligatory heels. And shes super curvy. In all the right places, if you ask Dexter Blake who cant stop appreciating them. He's a rugby star who is NOT looking for a relationship, at least not a real one. And Harper is definitely the kind of girl you have a relationship with. Dexter worked himself out of poverty with his skills on the rugby field and Harper is constantly hounded by her step family about her body size. These are the main drama issues in the book. What I loved the most is the fact that Dexter absolutely adored (and let it be known that he did) Harper's body. All women are sensitive about something and for a man to praise them like this means a lot, especially when they are being cut down by members of their own family - step or not. The banter they displayed with each other, their geeky wit and also the comfort that Harper had within herself to embrace her 'inner nerd' kept me laughing. Very good read!!
3.5 stars for Playing It Cool, a fun, flirty, and very sexy romance. Dex and Harper light it up with their feisty banter and scorching hot sex scenes. Their meet-cute is clever and I loved the way Dex was hot over Harper's curves. A fake relationship to aggravate her family turns quickly to a friends with benefits situation. What happens when the fake becomes all too real? The plotting plays out predictably, but enjoyably. Good development and backstory for Dex and Harper. Exactly what I would expect under the Entangled Brazen imprint, a fast romance with multiple intense sex scenes. Thought the inner narration was a bit repetitive, which grew tedious, wish there had been a better balance between that and character dialogue. Also wish there had been more with Harper's family, especially at the end. Would have liked to see some redemption there. Dex is a professional rugby player, and as I know nothing about rugby, that all went over my head, along with some of the Australian slang. The author provides a helpful glossary at the end, wish I'd known that was there from the start. ARC received from Entangled Publishing via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I received an ARC from netgalley.com in exchange for an honest review... We all have thoughts about ourselves that color our world and our self image. It may come from out families or our, God forbid, friends. This book takes a closer look at this very concept by following a woman in a non-traditional relationship with a rugby player. I love this book in every sense including how the main character feels. It is a very sexy book don't get me wrong but as a plus size woman I totally understand this mindset.
Harper has been put down by her stepmother and stepbrother since they came into her life when she was a teen. She's learned how to ignore them but when Dex overhears Chuck's awful comments, he has no choice but to step in. Dex typically doesn't date but he and Harper agree to hang out as friends and have Chuck believe they're dating to get under his skin. Dex is amazing. He is so devoted to being successful in his career so that he doesn't have to ever go back to the poor upbringing he had. His desire to be successful has kept him from some of the dating antics his teammates get into. I loved Harper. She might not stand up for herself when it comes to her family so that she doesn't rock the boat, she definitely holds her own with Dex. She is hilarious and loves her siblings more than anything. With new each book, I love this series more. I can't wait to read about the rest of this crew! *I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
I loved this book! After reading the first one, and having some issues with the Aussie terminology, I knew to flip to the back for the glossary first thing this time! It made it much easier and I enjoyed it so very much! Harper and Dex were combustible! Their chemistry was off the charts from go and I really loved their interactions with each other. Dex plays pro rugby, on the same team with Tanner, the hero from book 1. He comes from a very poor background, and is always worried that his success could be snatched away like that, so he's very focused on his game. He doesn't date for that reason, but Harper appeals to him greatly. Then he hears her heinous, sports reporter step-brother say something nasty to her about her weight, on the sidelines after a match. He takes offense, and wants to stick it to the guy, so he asks her out. They have such fun together, and are into each other, but since he doesn't want distractions, they decide to keep it platonic. That lasts about 5 seconds, of course! Harper is an artist. Her parents are both gone, but she's stuck dealing with her piece-of-work stepmother and jerk stepbrother, if she wants to see her younger brother and sister. So she takes their crap and doesn't put up much of a fuss. That starts to change when she meets Dex. He makes her feel confident and sexy, and she really enjoys that, and him. She knows they will never have a real relationship, so she's having fun and not making any demands. Things go well for a while, but then when things start to change, as these things do, it starts to crumble. I really loved this couple together! Their banter was fantastic, full of humor and heat. Their chemistry was on fire, like whoa. And, best of all, there was an excellent man grovel towards the end. Boy, do I LOVE a good grovel. Everything about this book kept me smiling and I'm so glad I read it. I can't wait for more! I especially can't wait to see Dex's crazy, womanizer of a teammate, Linc, head over heels and no idea what to do. I'll be looking forward to it!
Dexter Blake is a dedicated rugby player. Coming from an impoverished background, rugby was his way out so he gives the game all of his focus. That leaves little time for women and definitely no relationships. The one thing that can get his heart racing though is a woman with a little "junk in her trunk" and Harper Nugent definitely has that going on! She's a big girl. Always has been and she doesn't see that changing. So when Dex asks her out she certain it's just part of a big joke the rugby guys have come up with but it's no joke. Dex wants to know her - intimately! As they spend time together and feelings start to develop, Dex gets a little freaked out. Afraid he's letting his focus on the game slip he calls things off. Now he can't focus for missing Harper. What does he do now? This is a fantastic fun and super sexy read! I definitely recommend it.
Loved this book! This is a very sexy contemporary romance that fans of the genre will love. In it, Harper is an artist with a horrible step-brother. He always insults her, aiming his barbs where they'll inflict the most pain, at her body. As a result, Harper is very insecure about her self image and thinks she is too tall and too heaving in the wrong places. Dex is a professional rugby player who is stunned by Harper when he sees her. He sees a statuesque gorgeous woman with perfect curves. Too bad he doesn't have time to date and will only focus on his rugby career. However, just like the old proverb, when man makes plans, God laughs. Nothing prepared Dex for Harper and she has turned his world upside down. Dex is prepared to protect his career and won't let Harper into his heart, while somehow managing to make Harper believe he won't be seen in public with her. The author is on my must read authors' list and fans of the genre will love this book.
We as a society should be disappointed in ourselves. So much attention is given to the superficial that important issues fall by the wayside. A person can have good looks, a fit body and money but an ugly disposition. Cruelty is not a good look for anyone. Playing It Cool tackles the sensitive issues of self worth and body image with accuracy and painful honesty. Harper has endured tragic losses in her young life but nothing hurts more than the constantly bullying her stepfamily heaps on her. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree and her stepbrother Chuck is rotten to the core. Like mother, like son. Dex scored major hero points with the way he treated Harper. Ms. Andrews may not have set out to put the world on blast, but she gave an important voice to a serious problem.
Dex Blake, superstar rugby player has no time for relationships, he doesn’t even date much. One day, after a game, he was staring at this dark-haired Jessica Rabbit lookalike, when he heard a very much disliked sports journalist insulting her. The hottie is Harper Nugent, gorgeous but not sylph-like, and the bully is her step-brother Chuck. Dex can hardly stand it, especially since he was trying to figure out how he could get a date with the stunning woman, even though Dex thinks she’s the relationship type, while he’s not. Upon seeing her humiliated publicly, Dex asks her out, and to his consternation, she is not enthused. Women fall at his feet all the time, and the one he fancies just about says no to him! Still he gives her his phone number and manages to get hers. But Harper has noticed some teammates of his smiling and finger-pointing, she figures Dex wants to win a bet, but if she accepts, she’ll get back at her stepbrother. Why not, if only for one date, at least, she’ll at least get some sort of revenge against Chuck! PLAYING IT COOL is exactly why I love Amy Andrews! Irreverent, funny, great characters, hilarious banter; it’s all there. I really liked that Harper has an unusual occupation: she’s an artist, a painter, more precisely a muralist. I love that both Dex and Harper are physically “imperfect” – which makes them perfect for me! PLAYING IT COOL sparkles, pops and shines, and when Dex and Harper get up close and very personal, well, fireworks abound! Ms. Andrews depicts so well the torture of being a plus-sized woman in this body-conscious society, the needless pain it causes. Harper and Dex face some difficult times as well, in spite of their having such glorious sex. He is so career-oriented, he denies himself what’s right in front of him; he’s a wonderful man, but his childhood makes him too stubborn for his own good, and he behaves like an idiot sometimes; she has issues with her size and finds it difficult that a man like him wants her, but why not for more than sex? But what a splendid couple they are, so real that you cannot help for Dex to see the light and cheer for Harper! And Amy Andrews writes the heck out of it! Dex and Harper are an explosive combination, and PLAYING IT COOL is a fantastic book! Do not miss it! I received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.