Published by Lauren Blakely Books on September 1st, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Barnes & Noble
A brand new sexy and fun sports romance from #1 New York Times Bestselling author Lauren Blakely!
Hands down, my favorite thing in the world is to score. Touchdowns.
Don’t let the fact that I’m the leading pick in the Most Valuable Playboy charity auction fool you. These days, I’m only a player on the field. I’ve kept my pants zipped all season long — and it has been long — because nothing’s more important than leading my team to victory every week. Except maybe escaping from the owner’s handsy-as-hell sister who seems dead set on winning more than a date with me at the auction.
Enter Violet and a well-placed Hail Mary.
She’s my best friend’s sister with a smile as sweet as cherry pie and a mind that runs quicker than the 40-yard-dash. After Violet saves the day with the highest bid, I don’t even give her a two-minute warning before I kiss her in front of the whole crowd and then announce that she’s my girlfriend. Which would be fine except my agent tells me the next day that we’ve got to keep up the act while he’s negotiating my contract.
Violet says she’ll take one for the team and pretend to be mine, but our boyfriend-girlfriend scrimmage quickly turns into a full contact sport. And soon enough, I want this game with her to go into overtime. The problem is — I’ve been riding the bench for years.
How can a guy like me, who finally has a chance to prove his worth on the field, convince the girl she’s most valuable to his heart?
*MOST VALUABLE PLAYBOY is a brand new standalone sports romance written in the guy’s POV!*
I don’t know what it is about a fake-relationship-turns-real trope that I love, but, I really do love it. Here, Lauren Blakely combines one of my favorite tropes with one of my least favorite – the best friend’s little sister – and I still finished this book with a smile on my face. (Seriously, the one thing Cooper did through this entire thing that made me want to smack him was wondering to himself if she should go ask his best friend for permission to kiss Violet. Which… No. Just. No. I won’t get up on my high horse about it, but, just… no.)
Cooper and Violet are caught up in a situation that turns into an assumption that necessitates maintaining a fake relationship for a little while. They’re both ok with it, mainly because they’ve both been lusting after each other for years, but also because they can both benefit from it. I loved this. So often a fake relationship like this ends up being extremely one-sided. One party (usually the one with the higher profile) gets exactly they need, whether that’s a shield from an interfering family or the press, to make someone else jealous, or whatever, and the other just goes along, usually because they’ve always had a crush and it seems like a fun way to spend a few days or weeks. Here, both Cooper and Violet are benefitting from this relationship. Cooper gets to look like a settled-down family guy to the owner of the Renegades, which should help with his ongoing contract negotiations, and Violet’s hair salon gets a much-needed income boost when it gets into the press that she’s Cooper’s girlfriend. Plus, they both get to make out with each other, which doesn’t hurt.
I didn’t love the portrayal of Maxine. She’s presented as this oversexed, aggressive, overdone cougar who can’t take no for an answer and who made Cooper so uncomfortable because of it. She definitely needed to learn to take no for an answer, but for fuck’s sake, the woman was under 40 and Cooper is 26. Cooper made her sound like he couldn’t bear for a woman of her age to even talk to him, much less hit on him. And, look, Maxine is a nightmare. She does hit on Cooper repeatedly, despite him being very clear that he’s not interested. And she does use her position as the sister of the team owner to do it. I’m not saying Cooper should have given in or been flattered. But for heaven’s sake, don’t make someone in her 30s sound like she’s a cougar on the prowl.
But that’s a really minor squabble. This book is exactly what I wanted. It was light on the angst, heavy on the sexy, and I genuinely liked every single character, up to and including Cooper’s duck-watching, meditating agent. This isn’t really part of a series, but I really hope Lauren Blakely goes back to the Renegades. Unlike a lot of sports romances, there are some actual on-the-field sports scenes, which a lot of them don’t have. You would definitely be doing yourself a favor by picking this one up. And as many of these standalones by Lauren Blakely as you can.