Book Review: Jaci Burton’s Playing to Win

Posted December 29, 2012 by Kathy Davie in Book Reviews

I received this book for free from the library in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Book Review: Jaci Burton’s Playing to Win

Playing to Win


Jaci Burton

contemporary romance in Paperback edition that was published by Berkley Trade on September 4, 2012 and has 320 pages.

Explore it on Goodreads or Amazon.

Other books by this author which I have reviewed include Mountain Moonlight, Unlaced, Riding on Instinct, The Perfect Play, Riding the Night, Fall Fury, Changing the Game, Heart of a Killer, Forbidden Fantasies, Taking a Shot, Nautier and Wilder, Wild, Wicked, & Wanton, Thrown by a Curve, One Sweet Ride, Straddling the Line, Melting the Ice, All Wound Up, "Hot Holiday Nights", Unexpected Rush

Fourth in the Play-by-Play sports romance series revolving around the Rileys and their friends in St. Louis.

My Take

I really dislike sports, but I really enjoy this series. Burton has a way of putting heart into this with warm family ties and an inside look behind the scenes of the sport she’s targeting. In this case, it’s football with an exploration of what makes one team trade out a player. It makes a nice break from all the business billionaires running about in the romance genre.

In this one, it got rather tedious as it kept going on and on with Savannah’s fears and pulling back while Cole was so defensive! Over and over. It seemed as though the Burton didn’t pay as much attention to keeping it even what with some of Cole’s stupid moments and the experience I would have expected Savannah to have.

It was funny how terrified Savannah was by the intimacy and it was certainly a new experience for Cole to be on the receiving end of a woman running out the door in the morning.

Still, I did enjoy Savannah’s ideas of how to turn him around and Cole is amazingly sensitive and considerate. And I loved the end idea of the foundation.

I understand Cole’s reasons for not warming up to his teammates, but he must not have been too warm on his very first team if it’s been a problem from the start.

I am kind of surprised that an image consultant, someone who has experience with the media, would believe everything that’s printed. She certainly isn’t much of a diplomat. Although, then again, Cole is obstreperous from the start!

The Story

Cole Riley’s career is teetering on the brink. Oh, he plays well. Really well and his ego reflects it. But his attitude toward his teammates and out of the stadium leaves a lot to be desired. He’s only been hired because of favors owed Liz and Mick.

It’s Savannah Brooks’ job to turn that around. A program he kicks and screams about when she makes him do things he hates. It’s another thing completely when they’re “dating”.

But it’s not a one-way lesson…

The Characters

Savannah Brooks is an image consultant hired by the Traders to clean up Cole’s bad-boy image. It will entail her hanging around him day in and day out. Getting a feel for the real Cole Riley.

Cole Riley is Mick, Gavin, and Jenna‘s cousin. And he’s blue-chip when it comes to football where he plays wide receiver. It’s just that he doesn’t think it’s anyone’s business what he does off the field. Mario Genino is his gay trainer. Jack and Cara Riley are his parents; Alicia is his sister who works in sports medicine for the St. Louis Rivers team (she’s up next in Thrown by a Curve).

Elizabeth Darnell, about to be married to Gavin, is his agent (see Changing the Game). And she lays down the ultimatum. Mick, Nathan, and Tyler are mentioned with the very-pregnant Tara and Jenna Rileys having a much larger part to play. (Jenna and Tyler are still remodeling the new karaoke bar (Taking a Shot.)

Grant Cassidy is the Traders’ quarterback. Jamarcus Davis and Lon Fields are offensive stars. Kenny Lawton is the new rookie. Jay Martin is a tight end. Ted Miller owns the Traders.

Thomas and Selena Rogers are the about-to-be owners of the house the team helped work on.

The Cover and Title

The cover has such an angelic feel with all that white at first glance, but that gorgeous, naked, chest pulls you in and the unlaced pants draws the eye to all those bulging muscles. Mmmm-mmm. The ball held in Cole’s hands is a pretty good tip-off that this Play-by-Play is football-oriented.

The title reflects Cole’s priority and this boy Plays to Win. No matter what the goal is.