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Rules of the Game

Rules of the Game

4.1 8
by Sandy James

Kathryn West has it all—she's a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn't actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer's pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who's up to Kathryn's standards.

She finds Mr.


Kathryn West has it all—she's a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn't actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer's pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who's up to Kathryn's standards.

She finds Mr. Perfect shooting pool in a biker bar. He's a blue-collar hunk who just happens to look great in leather. But the mysterious Scott Brady has some rules of his own: he won't agree to her deal unless she poses as his girlfriend in front of his family and friends first.

As the reunion nears, Maddie tries to maintain her carefree façade, knowing she'll soon face some old ghosts. She's torn between her growing attraction to Scott and the nagging feeling that he's hiding something important. Will she still want him when she finds out his secret? What about when he discovers hers?

76,000 words

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Carina Press
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The reunion reminder card glared at me from the refrigerator door. The magnet holding it in place had a picture of Times Square lit up at night to remind me that I was a real person in New York. I wasn't awkward Madalyn Sawyer from Indiana anymore—the one with braces and a hick twang who couldn't walk a straight line without tripping over her own feet.

Here in the Big Apple, I was Kathryn West. That's how I signed all my books, the name I dropped at parties my publisher liked to throw, and how I introduced myself at book conventions where I met people who loved me even though they didn't know who I really was.

My stories were gritty. Rough. Raw. As Kathryn, I wrote of heroines who'd seen the very worst life had to offer and survived. Thrived, even. And happily ever after with the hero was secondary to the heroine coming out of the trial a better woman.

I didn't believe in happily ever afters anyway.

Kathryn West would be welcome at that reunion. She would have so many funny and raunchy stories to share, everyone there would adore her. Kathryn wouldn't be dragging all that baggage behind her or trying to keep all her skeletons stuffed deep in her closet.

But what about Maddie Sawyer?

She would be a proverbial wallflower. She would wear an outfit from Target and shoes from Payless. She would laugh at other people's lame stories, and no one would even remember she'd been there. Once a geek, always a geek.

I'd wished I was Kathryn West more times than I could count.

Then it dawned on me like a smack upside the head. Why in the hell couldn't I be Kathryn West? I'd invented that persona, after all.

She'd ride up on an extraordinarily loud Harley Davidson with some dangerous guy who had biceps the size of her thigh, a face with a couple of intriguing scars, and an ass every woman in the room would want to put her hands all over. She would drag him by his black leather jacket out on the dance floor and not be embarrassed at using a few grinding moves. She'd drink just enough to be funny. Kathryn West would be the life of the party and the person everyone at the reunion envied. All the women would want to be her, and all the men would want to have her.

All I needed was that guy.

* * *

After striking out in five other bars, I wound up at Trixie's. At least that would be the name of the place if all of the fuchsia neon lights had been working.

The first bar I'd chosen had great potential. Plenty of buff guys. Oodles of black leather. So much testosterone it left a haze in the air like some masculine version of cigarette smoke.

The third guy I targeted finally had mercy on me and told me everyone in the place was gay. Shit, my gaydar had to be way off.

At bar two, the moment I walked in the average age of the customers dropped a good twenty years. Gray hair and black leather really weren't a sexy combination, and I had to fight hard to prevent images of Grandma and Grandpa dressed like Hell's Angels from forming.

I blocked memories of the other three bars in hopes of avoiding post-traumatic stress disorder.

Trixie's in Jersey City looked as good a place as any to end this humiliating night.

The bar area was crowded, smoky and smelled of stale beer. Surely in this group of men I would be able to find a guy who fit the bill. All he had to be was gorgeous in a roughneck sort of way, a good actor and poor enough to need the money I offered.

Meet the Author

Sandy James lives in a quiet suburb of Indianapolis with her husband of thirty years. She’s a high school social studies teacher who especially loves psychology and United States history. Since she and her husband own a small stable of harness racehorses, they often spend time together at the two Indiana racetracks.

You can find Sandy on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest at sandyjamesbooks.

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Rules of the Game 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 8 reviews.
Book-Whore More than 1 year ago
When I first started reading this book, I wasn't really into to it. In my mind I was thinking Rules of the Game was a cute read and didn't expect much more out of it. I thought maybe judging by the book's synopsis it would be a predictable read, and I would guess everything that was going to happen. Let me just say, holy crap was I wrong. This story was fabulous, and when I wasn't reading this book, I couldn't help but wonder what was going to transpire, and craved time to jump back into the story. Having a busy life is a dreadful thing when a great unfolding plot is calling your name. The thing I enjoyed most about this novel is the way the story unravels; or rather the way Maddie's life unravels. As you are reading this story everything that occurs takes you completely by surprise. I was mind blown when Maddie's skeletons leaped out of her closet to dance the night away with her at her high-school reunion. I literally had my mouth hanging wide open reading, as Maddie’s secrets are revealed in front of the very people she was trying to impress. The romance between Scott and Maddie isn't some intense romance with two people falling head over heels in love; you need to walk into this story very clear of that. Scott and Maddie's "relationship" is in the background of the story itself, adding-to but never taking away from the plot. This novel is more about Maddie and her life, and the things that have happened in her life. Scott, seriously ladies is the definition of the words great guy. Scott is willing to stand by Maddie's side through everything she is going through. Scott is ready to battle against all of Maddie's "demons", but Maddie can't seem to stop pushing Scott away. I really enjoyed watching Scott's character develop from some guy Maddie picks up at a bar; to this magnificent guy I want to meet (if I wasn't happily married of course). Scott is no angel in this novel he has secrets of his own, although they don’t really compare the crap storm that is Maddie’s life. I would of liked to know more about Scott’s character; you get a small glimpse into his life and it kind of fades under the spotlight of Maddie. Ah and now for the recommendation. I recommend this book to reader, but it is for adult readers only. Happy Reading!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Enjoyed the book. Fast paced and kept me interested. Being a Hoosier, didn't care so much for the portrayal of Indiana. Was surprised to see the author was also an Indiana resident.
TheAutumnReview More than 1 year ago
I'm not really sure what I expected when I got this book, but how the story actually developed surprised me a bit. I thought it was going to be a light hearted love story, but it turned out that the story went deeper than that. It is a love story, but Maddie's past plays a bit part in how the story develops. I loved that Maddie had an alter ego. Her writing allowed her to open a part of herself that I think she suppressed. The real Maddie was vulnerable and a bit insecure at times. The writer was less inhibited. I liked the combination of both personalities. I think Scott helped her open up a bit more too. Maddie had a major trauma as a teenager and she needed someone like Scott to help her heal. The relationship they developed was mature and loving. I liked that they took time to get to know each other before jumping into the physical connection that they clearly had. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I think this a good contemporary romance for the summer. If you're looking for a romance that has a bit of a deeper story, this is a great pick for you.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book took me by surprise! But in a good way! I was afraid it was simply another fluffy contemporary romance, but when Ms. James brings the conflict, she really brings the conflict. Don't want to spoil the read for anyone else, so no info on the major shifts. Hold on to you hat and enjoy the bumpy ride. Loved, loved, loved this story!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the story and its twists thst aren't the run of the mill you get with some romance writers. Ms. James created people the reader cared about and rooted for. I had trouble putting my Nook down long enough to get anything done!!
RtBBlog More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by: JoAnne Book provided by: Author Review originally posted at Romancing the Book Rules of the Game was an unexpectedly quick read that kept me interested from beginning to end. So much so that I read it straight through in one sitting. Rules of the Game had tears, laughter, heartache, tension, family and friends along with lots of romance and ultimately love. There were so many surprising twists and turns to the story that I didn’t see coming but added multiple layers to the storyline. The chemistry between Maddie and Scott was so hot it burned the pages and the sheets. Maddie was so hard to read at times since she had so much baggage from her past that she carried with her that she had never worked through. Once Maddie let go of her prejudices and fears she was a different person and Scott’s calming influence gave her the comfort and balance she needed. Scott always seemed to “get” her and always knew when Maddie needed him by her side or needed his strength. The happily ever after gave closure but also let their love shine through. James is a new to me author but this won’t be the only book of hers I read. I will definitely be adding her other contemporary romance novels to my TBR pile. Favorite Quote: “Look, if a big ox like me can learn to dance, someone as graceful as you should have no trouble at all?” “Graceful? You think I’m graceful?” His smile always made my heart skip a beat. “Most of the time. Not so much when you’ve had a few beers.” He leaned in to kiss my cheek. “Trust me on this, okay? Let me do this for you, Maddie.”
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
No really what I expected but I loved it. This us defanatly a reread.
Michelleeeeee More than 1 year ago
I really was enjoying this book right from the very start. It had a good storyline and was moving right along. Once you finally get to the reunion it takes a huge twist and I just did not follow why it was going in such a different direction. Usually there is a hint that there will be a secondary story line but this did not and I think that is why once it happened you felt like you had been sideswiped. Not the worst I have ever read but not the best either.