Playing by Her Rules by Amy Andrews
Book One of the Sydney Smoke Rugby series
Publisher: Entangled Brazen
Publication Date: July 11, 2016
Rating: 3 stars
Source: eARC from NetGalley
***Warning: this is an adult book, and for the eyes of mature readers***
Summary (from Goodreads):
In this grudge match, the first to score…
When style columnist Matilda Kent accidentally lets slip that she was once involved with the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team, she suddenly finds herself elevated to the position she’s always wanted – feature writer. The catch? She’s stuck doing a six-part series on her ex. Still, there’s no way she can turn down a promotion…or the chance to dish the dirt on the guy who so callously broke her heart.
…could win it all!
Tanner Stone wants to be involved in a feature series about as much as he wants to snap an Achilles. But the thought of seeing Tilly again is a bonus—and has him more worked up than he wants to admit. Only he’s not prepared for how different she is – all cool and professional. His Tilly is still in there, though…and he still wants her, now more than ever. All he has to do is charm her into giving him a rematch. And this time, winner takes all!
What I Liked:
Ehhhhh. I didn't really enjoy this book. I didn't hate it either, but it was nothing special. This review might not seem the most positive, but I honestly don't know how to put my thoughts together. Three stars isn't bad, but this book is on the not-so-memorable side of three stars. Apologies in advance if this review isn't up to my usual standard - I'm feeling very meh about this book!
Matilda is a journalist for a local magazine, and lately, she hasn't been loving the work she's been assigned. When she lets it slip that she used to date the rugby star and captain, Tanner Stone, her editor demands that she writes a six-piece cover on Tanner. And Tanner's coach tells him he needs to do it, because rugby needed a bit of good PR at the time. Matilda doesn't want anything to do with Tanner, after the way they broke up eight years ago. But Tanner wants to take this opportunity to show her that his mistake from eight years ago was just that - a mistake - and that he has never stopped wanting her.
I love sports romances, and this one wasn't too bad an example of a sports romance. I've never read one about a rugby player, so that was a neat experience. I must say, rugby players seem like the real deal. I personally like soccer players and hockey players, but we'll go ahead and add rugby players to the mix. *peers at athletes*
This is one of those cases where I loved the male but didn't really care for the female. Tanner is alright by me! He's a gentleman and a sweetheart, even though the media (and Matilda) portrays him as a shallow playboy. He donates so much money and time to charities, and he never stops to help someone or be kind to someone. Matilda has such a negative opinion of him because of how they broke up... eight years ago, when they were still in high school.
More on Matilda in the next section.
I liked the chemistry between these two. While there definitely could have been more sex scenes (there were only two, and they were at the end of the book, and rather abbreviated), I liked the boiling chemistry that the author cooked up.
But I also liked the progression of the relationship. Matilda has to do a six-piece interview, so they decide to meet once a week of six weeks. Each encounter is funny and steamy, whether directly or physically or emotionally. It's nice to see them reconnect and fall in love again, even though Matilda is a stubborn, prickly thorn (more on this later).
Overall, I liked the story, the sport aspect, and the chemistry, but I wasn't feeling the female protagonist and her drama.
What I Did Not Like:
I already mentioned the minimal sex scenes - you really can't get away with only two. And one of those scenes was SO short. And both were at the end of the book. I liked the tension that the author built up, so that should stay. But the ending could have been more drawn out.
I didn't really like Matilda. She held on to something so stupid and silly for eight years. She let it ruin relationships and dubbed herself as "broken", because of something that Tanner did (for her own good, by the way). If she really loved him back then, she would have talked to him. But she ran. She didn't fight for him.
Eight years later, she's rude and mean and cruel to Tanner, and I personally don't think he deserved any of that. I tried putting myself in her shoes; while I could maybe see why she would still be mad at him, I could not understand why she was so petty. As a journalist, she needed to be impartial, and let her personal feelings stay out of the written story. She didn't do this.
Honestly, Matilda was a bit too dramatic and bratty for me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and this is my opinion of her.
Would I Recommend It:
Ehh, I wouldn't recommend this book. It's not life-changing, and it wasn't even a hot Brazen novel. It was short (shorter than most Brazen novels!), and there definitely was not enough steamy scenes (though the chemistry and tension was hot). I may keep up with the series (especially if Linc is a future protagonist!), but probably not.
3 stars. This book has received some really positive advanced reviews so far! I'm sorry that mine isn't quite one of them. But I hope you'll see the book in a different light. While it didn't work for me, I did like it somewhat, and I could see others enjoying it.
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