Haven Briscoe has finally landed a dream job as a sportscaster for a major network. But she hasn't been able to move past the recent death of her beloved father, and it's affecting her career. A plum assignment following the daily life of sports superstar Trevor Shay might be just the inspiration she needs . . .
Trevor will do anything to spark life back into Haven, including letting her into every aspect of his world. The chemistry between them flames higher than one of Trevor's home runs and faster than his dashes to the end zone. But as they grow closer, Haven stumbles onto Trevor's closely guarded secret, one he's hidden his entire life. And despite his protests, now it's Haven's turn to put everything on hold to help Trevor. Will he let her in and trust her with a secret that could blow his professional and personal world apart?
Contains mature themes.
About the Author
Jaci Burton is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling, award-winning author of over seventy books, including the Play-by-Play series and the Hope series. She was awarded the RT Book Reviews Career Achievement Award in 2012. Jaci lives in Oklahoma with her husband and dogs. Visit her at jaciburton.com.
Lucy Malone is one of the most sought-after voices for erotica narration, counting numerous bestsellers among her titles. AudioFile magazine has said that "her presentation of the . . . scenes conveys excitement, surprise, anticipation, and fulfillment without reservation."
Read an Excerpt
***This excerpt is from an advance uncorrected proof***
Copyright © 2014 Jaci Burton
“Haven’s in trouble.”
Those were words Trevor Shay never wanted to hear, especially not less than a year after the death of Haven’s dad, Bill.
Bill Briscoe had been more than just a dorm parent back in Trevor’s college days. He and his wife, Ginger, had been like substitute parents, especially to Trevor, who’d needed guidance more than the rest of them.
And now he sat in Ginger’s living room, in a house he’d once thought of as his second home.
Trevor had always counted on Ginger’s confidence, that smile and optimism that had assured him everything was going to be all right.
Now she just looked worried.
He picked up her hand. “What’s wrong?”
“She hasn’t been herself since Bill died. You know Haven. She’s always been upbeat, and she’d come to grips with the eventuality of Bill’s death.” Ginger took a deep breath. “As we all did.”
Trevor squeezed her hand.
“It wasn’t like we all didn’t know it was coming. Bill prepared us all for it, made sure we were ready. Never thinking of himself.”
He saw the tears welling in her eyes and wished he could take them away.
“I know, Miss Ginger. I know. I miss him, too.”
She grabbed a tissue. “He’d kick my butt if he saw me cryin’ over him. But Haven, she has a great life and an amazing future. She got a job with the network as a sports journalist.”
Trevor smiled. “I heard about that.”
“It’s an amazing opportunity for her. One she should be seizing. I told her that her father would be so proud of her.”
“Instead, what is she doing? She’s thinking about quitting the job and coming back here to live with me.”
Trevor leaned back and frowned. “Coming back here? Why?”
“I don’t know. She said something about getting a job at the local TV station instead.”
“Is that what she really wants?”
“I don’t think so.” Ginger leaned forward. “Trevor, I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t even given this new job a shot. I think she’s scared, and without her dad, she feels alone for the first time in her life.”
“She’s not alone, Miss Ginger. She has you.”
“I know that. And believe me, I don’t feel slighted in the least. I know Haven loves me. I also know she’s worried about me being here all alone. I don’t want her to make a mistake and screw up the best job she might ever have because of me, and because of her fear.”
She paused, took a breath. “I was hoping you could offer me some advice, tell me what I could say to her to make her stay in her job.”
Trevor thought about it a minute. “Let me see what I can do about that.”
“Thank you. I know you’re big in the sports world, and I don’t know if there’s anything you can do for her, but gosh, I’d sure appreciate anything. Anything at all.”
An idea formed in his head. He had the pull. He could get this done. And he’d do anything for Ginger, and to honor Bill’s memory. Haven needed help, and he sure as hell was in a position to help her.
He spent the day with Ginger, and honestly, it was great to see her again, to while away the hours talking about Bill, reminiscing about college life. Besides, she fixed him lunch, and he loved her home-cooked meals. Hours later as he sat on the plane on his way back to St. Louis for a game, Trevor already had the plan formulated. The media were constantly hounding him for a feature story on his life and career. After all, it wasn’t too many athletes who played multiple sports. At least not too many who played them well. He’d been closed off to the idea of it for a lot of reasons.
He leaned back in his seat and smiled.
Now it was Haven’s turn to shine. And he was just the person to make it happen.
Haven tried to muster up enough saliva to swallow as she pressed the button to return the phone call she’d missed from her boss.
She knew what was on the other end of that phone call.
Her ass was going to be fired, less than six weeks after she’d gotten the job of a lifetime.
It would have been much better if she could have resigned. It would have looked better on her résumé, but then again, what did she care? Her career in journalism was over anyway, right?
Never quit. Whatever you do, Haven, never give up on anything until you’re sure you’ve given it everything you have.
Her father’s words rang in her ears, guilt squeezing her stomach until nausea caused her fingers to pause on the call button of her phone.
It was too late to beg to keep her job. She’d already passed up multiple travel assignments, content to do the local ones, then sit in her apartment in New York, dwelling on how much she missed home, her mom.
This wasn’t the right career for her. She’d made a mistake accepting this job. She wasn’t cut out for the rigors of sports news—the travel, the insane schedule, the arrogant athletes.
What was she thinking? Her father hadn’t even been gone a year yet.
She couldn’t do it.
Be brave, Haven. You can do anything, be anything you want to be. Just be happy.
Tears pricked her eyes and she swiped them away as every conversation they’d had those last few weeks replayed in a reel over and over in her head.
She didn’t know how to be happy without hearing her father’s laugh, seeing his smiling face, being able to pick up the phone and talk to him every day.
Who was she going to go to when she needed advice?
She loved her mother, and in the ways of relationships and men and things like that, she had always gone to her mom.
But her dad—he’d been her buddy. She’d learned about sports from her father, had sat next to him and watched football, baseball, hockey, and every sport imaginable. He’d taught her balls and strikes in baseball and the difference between a post pattern and a shovel pass in football. They’d driven up to St. Louis together and taken in all the professional sports. She’d never been more content than to sit next to her dad and watch games with him.
She’d learned to love sports because of her dad.
She’d gone after this job because of him.
And now she was going to be fired because she hadn’t had the energy after his death to do this job she’d wanted for years. For that, she only had herself to blame.
“I’m sorry, Dad,” she said, then pushed the call button on her phone. It rang. She was hoping for voice mail.
“Haven. I’ve been waiting for you to call.”
She cringed as the loud and very no-nonsense voice of her boss, Chandler Adams, came on the line.
“Hi, Chandler. Sorry. I got tied up.”
“Well, untie yourself. I have a job for you.”
“A . . . job?” He wasn’t firing her?
“Yeah. You know Trevor Shay, right?”
“Trevor . . . yes, I know him.”
“Great. We’re going to do his bio. A whole feature on the life of Trevor Shay. Personal and professional. We’ve been after him for years to do this, and he kept putting us off, until now. He’s finally agreed to let us do the feature, and he’s asked for you.”
“Yeah. Says you two go way back to college.”
“Uh . . . yes. I knew him in college.”
“Then it’s a damn good thing we hired you, Haven. Pack a bag. You’ll meet him at his place in St. Louis to get everything set up. Narrative and background first, and then we’ll get camera work involved later.”
Was she in some alternate universe? She hadn’t been fired. In fact, she’d just been assigned to interview one of the biggest stars in the sports world right now.
“Okay. Sure. Thanks, Chandler.”
“No, problem. I’ll e-mail you the specs on what we’re looking for from you on this, Haven. This assignment’s going to take a while, so clear your calendar.”
“Consider it done.”
When she hung up, she sat back and stared out the window of her very tiny apartment, stunned that she hadn’t been kicked out the door. She’d been mentally prepared, and as she stared at the boxes in her apartment, already half packed, set in her mind that she was going to head back to Oklahoma to be near her mother, her roots.
Where memories of her dad were.
Now she had to change her focus.
Why had she agreed to do this interview? This job wasn’t what she wanted to do anymore.
She sat on the bed.
Follow your dreams, Haven.
She still heard her dad’s voice so clearly in her head. Maybe he was trying to tell her something. She didn’t know if this was her dream anymore, but she’d agreed to take this job.
With Trevor Shay, of all people. She hadn’t seen Trevor since her dad’s funeral. She wondered how he’d react knowing it was her doing this assignment.
He’d probably ignore her, just like he had in college.
No, wait. He’d specifically asked for her. He’d agreed to the interviews, so this time, she wouldn’t allow him to pretend she didn’t exist.
She got up and went to her closet to grab her suitcase.
Her and Trevor Shay. God, she’d had such a crush on him in college, back when she was tutoring him. All those nights they spent shoulder to shoulder, when she’d done her best to try to persuade him to focus on his books, when all she’d really wanted was for him to notice her as a woman.
He’d been more interested in trying to finagle a way to get her to do his homework.
Now she was going to be in the driver’s seat.
She stared out over the boxes, debating whether to unpack them.
She’d leave them, see how this assignment went. If it didn’t work out, if it didn’t light the fire under her after a few days, she’d call Chandler and tell him she was out.
But she’d give it a try. For her dad.
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play Novels
“[Jaci Burton] delivers the passionate, inventive, sexually explicit love scenes that fans expect….However, [it] isn't just about hot sex. Burton offers plenty of emotion and conflict in a memorable relationship-driven story.”—USA Today
“One of the strongest sports romance series available.”—Dear Author
“Ms. Burton has a way of writing intense scenes that are both sensual and raw….Plenty of romance, sexy men, hot steamy loving, and humor.”—Smexy Books
“The characters are incredible. They are human and complex and real and perfect.”—Night Owl Reviews
“Holy smokes! I am pretty sure I saw steam rising from every page.”—Fresh Fiction
“Hot, hot, hot!...Romance at its best! Highly recommended! Very steamy.”—Coffee Table Reviews
“As usual, Jaci Burton delivers flawed but endearing characters, a strong romance, and an engaging plot all wrapped up in one sexy package.”—Romance Novel News
“Burton knocks it out of the park…With snappy back-and-forth dialogue as well as hot, sweaty, and utterly engaging bedroom play, readers will not be able to race through this book fast enough!”—RT Book Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
4.5 Stars ~Reviewed by FRANCESCA & posted at Under the Covers Book Blog Meet Trevor Shay. Well, we’ve met him already in previous books and I personally was anxious to read his book because I could tell there would be some crazy sparks that would fly between him and Haven. Trevor just became my favorite book boyfriend in this series right after Tyler Anderson. He is hot, sweet and just perfect. One thing I was surprised by with this book was the relationship between Trevor and Haven. She always had a crush on him since college and he couldn’t have looked at her twice back then. The daughter of his dorm parents though, they always had a close relationship. But when Haven’s mother manages to put them in a situation of really close proximity, and just as I was expecting, sparks start flying! They get along great right from the start when I thought they would be more at each other’s throats. And I loved that! I also loved Haven. Her easy going attitude, she doesn’t take herself too seriously when is not necessary, she’s playful, she’s caring, she’s independent. She was pretty much the perfect heroine for the perfect hero. Did I say perfect enough? But she really is a cool chick, that immediately warms you up to her. Another great thing about this book is the interrelations with friends. All of our favorite characters, almost, are back. With Trevor playing for two teams we have access to the Rileys again and their women, as well as some of Trevor’s best friends from college and their girls. Haven fits right in with them and that feeling of friendship and family that I love is strong in this book. But what can I say other than I devoured this book in one sitting? Prepare to swoon, drool and sweat. STRADDLING THE LINE is romantic and tender, funny, but also spicy and very sexy. Jaci Burton once again with a winner. Not sure if in Trevor’s case it should be a home run or a touchdown. ;)
Love that the story has a PSA on illiteracy. Was a plus that the main character was hot and confident.
Hotness Rating 3 out of 5 I really enjoyed Straddling the Line. I don't know how Jaci Burton does it. This is the 8th book of the Play by Play series, yet every book feels fresh and has new storylines. It just doesn't feel like the same story with a different sport and character names like many do when you get this far into a series. I loved Trevor as a character. He was a bit cocky, but never in an annoying "I am entitled way". It was more like "eh, since I'm so bad*ss at everything I do it's expected of me". But, it was more with the flippant off-handed not trying very hard cocky comments. He made me laugh. It's not often that a character offers so many sides in a book, but I really felt like we got that with Trevor. He was an amazing athlete that excelled at not one, but two sports. He was a genuinely nice guy that would stop at nothing to repay old debts and help out a friend. He was a loving and proud brother. And he was hiding a secret that if came out would be the worse thing in the world to him. Haven broke my heart. Losing her father was so hard for her and she just couldn't seem to bounce back from it. Worse yet she beat herself up because of it and began to question pretty much every choice she made. When Trevor requested her to be the one to tell his professional story she had hoped it would rekindle the drive she once had, but also worried about working with the guy that held her heart so many years before. The one positive she held onto was that Trevor had no idea that she had a mad crush on him back then. Trevor and Haven together was explosive. I truly enjoyed their romance in and out of the bedroom. Trevor was all hot, sexy and sweet. Haven had no problems holding her own with Trevor and his teammates. And when Trevor's secret made itself known it broke my heart for him. I think this kind of thing is hard for anyone to admit to, but when you are used to be the best of the best it has to be even harder. This was a great subject for Ms. Burton to illustrate and for that I thank her.
Usually with the Play by Play series the books are either a hit or miss for me and I’m glad to say that this one was definitely a hit! Haven is in a bad way after her father died. She lost her best friend and has been in a terrible funk ever since. Haven’s mom is worried about her and enlists Trevor to help Haven find purpose again. Trevor decides the best way to help Haven is to get her back to work so he contacts the network Haven works for and requests her to do a bio on his life playing dual sports. Haven (not knowing Trevor is behind it) jumps at the chance her boss gives her to interview Trevor. After all, they’ve known each other a long time and it should be a piece of cake…right? Never mind the fact that she’s had a HUGE crush on Trevor since college. Haven can be professional about it. Or so she hopes. I really enjoyed reading Haven and Trevor’s story. Trevor was Haven’s rock, helping her grieve and start the slow process of moving on. Trevor also gave Haven a lot of steamy sexual healing as well. If Trevor’s charming ways and heart-breaking smile wasn’t enough to make Haven’s knees weak, his dirty talk certainly was! The heat factor was scorching! I loved watching Trevor’s secret come out and how Haven didn’t ridicule him but embraced him. Even while Trevor was pushing her away, Haven remained vigilant and supported him just as Trevor had done for her earlier in the book. The pair complements each other well and I would love to see these guys down the road in a few years and the progress they’ve made. I also loved the description and sports lingo used during both baseball and football seasons. It was very exciting as well as the wonderfully supportive secondary characters. I was so happy to see Tara, Liz and Jenna (Books 1, 2 and 3 series heroines). I miss the Rileys and was so glad to catch a glimpse of them! Another great installment to the series. ***I was gifted an eARC copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own***
I was actually quite impressed with Straddling the Line. For all the sports fans you get some yummy fantasy and for non sports fans its still just as hot and not overwhelming at all. I really liked the childhood crush hook being instilled in the beginning and woven through the entire story. It really brings the reader into the characters emotional ties and gives them a history that they can really appreciate. Its not common to find that in books these days and I really liked that. The love scenes on top of the character interaction is so out of this world its mind blowing. Every book Jaci writes just gets better and better every time. I really enjoyed reading this book from the first line all the way to the last.
I always likd Jaci,s books, but this one was soooo boring!
Good story started out slow something in the middle was off but ended with a bang
Nice to get some background on past characters. Would have like to see more development regarding the secret that was discovered. Great series of books. Always look forward to the next one in the series!
This is another hot read by Jaci Burton. This is the 8th book in the Play by Play series. Meet Trevor and Haven and follow their story and the great chemistry they share. I guarantee you will love this book. If you haven't read this book or the entire Play by Play series yet, I highly recommend that you pick them up. You will not be disappointed.
If you love the play by play series you will love this one to. Jaci has out done herself once again
Trey is a very talented man. He not only plays one sport professionally but two. He’s a very busy man considering he jumps from baseball season to football season in one year with no breaks. He gets a call from his old college dorm parent who calls in a favor. Her daughter (his college tutor) isn’t handling the passing of her father well and with her being a sports reporter, she should do an interview piece on him to take her mind off of her father. Have I mentioned that Trey is a very private man? However, he’d do anything for his dorm parent and agrees to help out. Only, he doesn’t plan to fall for the sexy reporter who shows up, or her persistence in revealing his skeletons. I LOVED Changing the Game. So I was really excited when I got this book. Even though I haven’t read the other books in the series, each one can be read as a stand alone. However, this one just didn’t work for me. The characters seemed too scripted. There were parts that were just about robotic in both the characters speech and actions. I just found myself not connecting with anything going on because of this. I did like that the author didn’t include a lot of nonsense drama. The problems that these characters face are real. They don’t play cat and mouse, leaving the other person confused on their feelings. I liked that twist at the end that the author gave Trey. It definitely humanized him. This was a nice romance with some erotic highlights to it. However, it wasn’t the best one from the series. The characters came off as fake and that really detracted from the story for me.
Yes, Jaci write some pretty hot stuff and Straddling the Line is no exception. However, I wasn't expecting to fall in love with Trevor and Haven. Seriously, these two were amazing and I absolutely loved them. They both knew each other back in college and Haven had a crush on Trevor. Of course, she wouldn't admit it cause he was Mr. Hot Stuff back in the day. Now Haven is at a crossroads and doesn't know what to do with herself since her father had passed away. Yes, her mother is worry about her, so she enlisted Trevor's help to get Haven out of her funk. Since Trevor is so clever he decides to let Haven do a full exclusive on an assignment. He never thought he would want Haven more than a friend. So, they end up as bed buddies too. Anyway, I loved Straddling the Line, because of the storyline. I love how Trevor comes to Haven's rescue, but she also saves him. Yes, they have some hot steamy scenes, but they also have a great emotional connection. I love how Trevor's secret is something that effects a lot of people and his condition is relatable. I adore Haven, because she's floundering in grief which gives her character more depth. Yes, she's a reporter, but you get a sense that she's human too. I don't know how describe this book other than it was AWESOME! I absolutely loved the whole thing. Jaci had me hooked from first page to the last. I had a hard time putting this book down. I'm telling you it's absolutely amazing. I hope that you get a chance to read it. Not just for the hot steamy sex, but for the wonderful story of two people connecting and helping each other overcome their trials. Copy provided by Penguin via First to Read (Did Purchase)
I always love Jaci's books, but I had a hard time with this one. I couldn't get into the two main characters relationship. For me the connection wasn't there that has been in all the other Play by Play series. Don't get me wrong - it's still a good read, just not great, which is what I'm used to from Jaci.
Not the best in this Play by Play series by Jaci Burton. I just could not feel the connection between the two main characters this time. The writing is great and the storyline was meant to be great but it fell short. I loved the other books in this series and you should read them especially if you want to get an inside look at sports and their players. This one can be missed though.
I love this series and Trevor's story is as good as the rest. You always are left wanting more after reading one of Jaci Burton's books.
Wish this author could write faster as her books always go to the head of the list... Doesn't matter if you like sports or not, her stories are always great... She finds so many ways to make original stories and realistic characters in her offerings... Love scenes are always hot but not over the top like some writers... Her "people" are always folks you would like to know... Just enough of the previous books to keep you "up to date"...
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 4 REVIEW: Trevor Shay maybe a superstar that straddles the line between baseball and football. But there is so much more to this superstar then what he does on the field. So when Trevor is asked to check in on Haven and make sure she is okay he is more than willing to help. But when Haven shows up Trevor gets a little more than he bargained for. As always Jaci writes a great story wrapped in the sports world. I have loved all of her Play by Play books and Straddling the Line was the same. I loved getting a closer look at Trevor and Haven. We have seen glimpse of them in the past books but it was great to learn all of their secrets. I can’t wait for the next book in this series and to learn more about Quarterback Cassidy and his clan. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of the book from NetGalley & PENGUIN GROUP Berkley, NAL / Signet Romance, DAW in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
Emotional and Hot. Trevor and Haven are very hot together. The story of Haven's grief over her her dad is incredibly touching. So is the story of Trevor's past. The weaving of them together and their chemistry makes this book a masterpiece. Besides all that, the sex scenes are nice an steamy. A truly great book.
Jaci Burton has done it again!!! I absolutely love this series. Jaci has made me a sports fan with every one of these installments. I love how each couple has their own unique story of how they got to their HEA. The common thread being sports. It's so much fun when the characters from the other books pop in for cameos and we get to see what they are up to. I was so excited for release day on this one I dropped everything to read it and I was not disappointed. Trevor Shay is a football and baseball player and he does both well. He hasn't really thought about having a girlfriend or wife in the future. His career is his life, and he holds a secret that he is terrified will get out and ruin the life he has so carefully put together. He had me from the beginning with his charming and charismatic ways. Trevor charms everyone he meets. He is just an all-around good guy that warms my heart. He decides to help his mentor’s daughter who needs help getting through her grief since her dad passed away. He comes up with a plan to give her the sports interview a lifetime. Little does he know he is setting himself up to fall for a girl he thought he knew. He quickly realizes there is so much more to her then he thought. Haven Briscoe, lost her dad who was her best friend. She is having a really hard time dealing with the loss. In walks Trevor Shay to turn her life upside down. He offers her the chance to interview him, the dual sports superstar for the major sports network she works for. Haven had a major crush on Trevor back in college when she tutored him and she thinks she can put that aside and be professional. But she finds out fast that the attraction is still there and apparently now it’s mutual. Trevor and Haven had such great chemistry. I really enjoyed reading their journey together. I really felt the emotion of Haven's loss of her dad, and how she was torn between going on with her life and feeling like she was betraying her dad's memory by being happy without him. I know the grief of losing a parent and I felt that Jaci Burton really portrayed that very well in this installment. The sex scenes were hot and well written as I would expect from this author. I loved the introduction of a new group of sports hotties the Cassidy brothers and I can't wait to delve into their story. Great job!!!! - Keep 'em coming Ms. Burton we love 'em.