I adore a good sports romance and it’s the reason I’ve always enjoyed Jaci Burton’s Play-by-Play series, which focuses on the hot and sexy Riley family, whose DNA is simply chock full of athletic awesomeness. Friends and partners enter the hero/heroine quotient as well and what you end up with is a rich mix of playful, sensual goodness bound to warm any romance reader’s heart.
It’s always a gift to fans to offer a holiday romance when you have a successful series such as this one, and Jaci Burton (bless her) has done exactly that, delivering a heartfelt, fun Christmas novella which still packs her trademark hot-sexy-times punch in its 147 pages.
Fans remember Gavin Riley from the second book of the Play-by-Play series, Changing the Game, when he was dealing with the fallout from a poor decision on the part of the hot agent he and his football star brother, Mick, shared. Liz Darnell knew that she let business get in the way of Mick’s happiness and she was sorry, even more so since it looked like she was going to lose not just Mick and the extended Riley family, but the hot first baseman she had lusted after from afar. Gavin decided to give her a chance – taking a decent amount of flak from his brother as a result – but these two started a hot affair which quickly sprang into much, much more.
Several books later, lots of Rileys and their friends are happily married, with Gavin’s sister Jenna about to tie the knot before Christmas with her hockey player fiancee, Ty (their story can be found in the kinkiest of all the Play-by-Play novels, Taking a Shot). Gavin and Liz decided to start trying for a baby almost a year ago and, while medically everything is fine, Liz is used to get what she wants in business and in her personal life, so she’s more than a little frustrated she’s not pregnant. She and Gavin have hot sex all the time, but it’s disappointing to not get results after they’ve decided it’s what they both want. Luckily Jenna and Ty’s wedding, as well as Liz’s decision to host the Riley family Christmas, provide welcome distractions, even if Gavin does worry that she’s going to make herself nuts worrying about every detail.
This book is a must read for anyone who has enjoyed Burton’s erotic sports romance series as you gleefully watch all these wonderful couples in the midst of their happiness. Seeing Nathan, Mick and Tara’s college-age son, all grown up with a girlfriend is the cherry on the top of the sundae, and it’s great to see the Riley parents in good health and enjoying all their new family members. Gavin and Liz are even more amazing than they were the first time around, and it’s satisfying that they are going strong after a year of marriage (and a couple years of being together). These two people are actually quite vulnerable under their tough exteriors so it’s lovely how they understand and care for one another.
That Christmas turns out even better for them is a grin-worthy finish and one that has me eagerly awaiting the next installment in the Play-by-Play series, Melting the Ice, due out in February 2014. Featuring a hockey player hero (a teammate of Ty’s?) who gets an opportunity to prove to an old college flame that he’s changed, hopefully enough for her to take a second chance on him, I’ve already got this one pre-ordered. It’s going to be a great pre-Valentine’s Day present for myself.
Make sure this novella makes its way into your e-reader this holiday season since at $2.99 it’s a welcome addition to Burton’s outstanding sports series. She’s written yet another home run!