BOOK REVIEW - The Perfect Play (Play by Play #1) by Jaci Burton

03 August 2014

The Perfect Play (Play by Play #1)
by Jaci Burton
Published by Penguin Berkley Heat on February 1st, 2011
Genres: Romance, Contemporary, Chick Lit, Sports
Format: eBook

Football pro Mick Riley is an all-star, both on the field and in the bedroom. But a sexy, determinedly single mom just might be the one to throw him off his game...

For years Mick has been taking full advantage of the life available to a pro athlete: fame, fortune, and a different girl in every city. But when he meets and beds confident, beautiful event planner Tara Lincoln, he wants much more than the typical one-night stand. Too bad Tara's not interested in getting to know football's most notorious playboy any better.

As the single mother of a teenage son, the last thing Tara needs is the jet-set lifestyle of Mick Riley; even though their steamy and passionate one-night stand was unforgettable. Tara's life is complicated enough without being thrust into the spotlight as Mick's latest girl du jour. Tara played the game of love once and lost big, and she doesn't intend to put herself out there again, especially with a heartbreaker like Mick.

But when Mick sets his mind to win, nothing will stop him. And he has the perfect play in mind.

I came across the Play by Play series on the recommendation list Goodreads provided for me, after reading a couple of contemporary romance novels. The Perfect Play is not the first sports romance novel I’ve read, although it is the first Jaci Burton novel I’ve read, and I’ve got to say… WOW. Jaci sure knows how to catch a reader’s eye through her covers. I mean, would you look at that beautiful piece – all toned and rock hard. Kudos to the author and the publisher for a cover that gives tons of panty dropping promises. (My mouth's so dry just by looking at this.)

The Perfect Play is the beginning of the Riley family era, starring Mick Riley, an absolute hottie of pure deliciousness. He’s notorious – a total superstar – and he’s known to be the kind of guy that shows up in front of the cameras with different babes each time. But upon getting it on with Tara Lincoln, an event organizer and a single mother, he wants more than just a one night stand… but she’s not up for it, or so her mind thinks.

Mick Riley plays for the San Francisco Sabers and he’s a superstar. He’s got everything – the looks, the fame, the fortune… the women. The media thinks he’s one of the most notorious superstars out there – a total player – but that’s all due to the wondrous works of his sports agent, Liz. It’s her job to get him in the spotlight and have all these sponsors lining up to get his face on an endorsement or a giant billboard. But contrary to the media belief, Mick is not who the people thinks he is.

Tara Lincoln is an event organizer, and a mother to a teenage son due to a youthful mistake. But Nathan was never regarded as a mistake. She’s a simple sweetheart who loves her son to the core, even though he’s now turning into a hard headed angst-y teenager. With tons of events lining up, and with Nathan not even wanting to spend family time, she’s a wreck. But when she meets Mick at a sports event she had organized, she ends up spending a night of overflowing erotic sex with the superstar. To her, one night was all she needed after a long dry spell. But Mick can’t get enough of her, and he’s willing to see more of her, and get to know her family.

What I love about The Perfect Play is the extreme sexual tension oozing from the pages of this novel. You can actually feel fireworks shooting out from every page. Hah! But Burton’s not exactly a dirty talker, unlike Tessa Bailey (Shameless plug: She writes hot romance novels with tons of dirty talk that will make you squirm). Burton’s more of a romantic, smooth talker with the right amount of sexy lines to match. The sex scenes are to die for. They’re detailed and elaborate; Burton definitely does not leave anything behind.

Unlike most romance novels that only work because of the whole erotica package, Burton makes sure that there’s the right amount of emotion to captivate the readers. It’s great that the story does not wholly revolved around just Mick and Tara, and their sex life, but also with the involvement of other characters as well, from Tara’s son, Nathan, to Mick’s mother, Kathleen. Tara’s relationship with her son was a realistic touch to how most single mothers are with their kids. Her insecurities on how she juggles a job and a 14 year old kid, while she decides to have some HOT FUN with a celebrity quarterback. But like any other mother, she would surely put her child first.

The only complaint I have would be the way it ended. Sure, it wasn’t a cliffhanger, but the ending happened a little too fast, with the mention of marriage and starting a family together. As if Mick was really obligated to marry the hell out of Tara after a publicity stunt that Liz pulled that almost ruined Mick and Tara’s relationship. I felt like it was too soon, a wee bit shallow closure if you ask me. But regardless, I love The Perfect Play, from the cover to the story line, to the characters and to the sexy times.