Tag Archives: Play Me

Diane Alberts Adds To Her Take a Chance Series With Play Me

29 Jul

Play Me (Take a Chance #3 – Kiersten & Garrett) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, July 29, 2013)

I’ve made no bones in the past regarding my enjoyment of Diane Alberts’ Take a Chance series. The first two installments, Try Me and Love Me are heartfelt emotional rollercoasters that leave you a little teary and shaking when you finish the final page.

In Play Me, the sister of the heroine from Love Me is Kiersten Worth, who chose to take her nephew, Chris, when her other sister suddenly died.  It was a lot of responsibility at a young age, but she was happy to do it and thought she was creating a family when her boyfriend Pete asked her to marry him. That idea went up in smoke after she caught him and his skank secretary together. That incident, combined with a distant father and always dissatisfied mother has her giving up on love and happily ever after. She has decided to be content with watching her now middle school aged son play basketball, particularly when his coach is her long term friend and major eye candy, Garrett Kelly.

Garrett is a middle school math teacher and coach who works alongside his best friend, Mike Worth, Kiersten’s brother. Mike has been warning Garrett away from Kiersten since his crush on her in high school but it’s getting harder now that they’ve begun hanging out, even though it’s platonic. He’s accepted nothing will ever happen between them in his head, but his heart is saying something totally different, particularly with the waning of his string of one-night stands. When Kiersten comes onto him over drinks in her empty house, he assumes that she wants to try a relationship with him, ignoring the fact that this is the day she was originally supposed to get married to Pete.

girl-18918_640Kiersten is overjoyed that it was so easy to get Garrett to give her a hot tumble but she’s astonished when his pillow talk afterward indicates that he’s in this for something more than a friends with benefits night. It’s incredibly obvious how much she’s hurt a good friend, particularly when he lets her know that he can’t just hang out with her anymore and asks for some distance. Three months later, he’s annoyed to come home to his apartment only to find Kiersten in the kitchen making dinner. He tries to throw her out, telling her it hasn’t been long enough, but she brings his eviction to a screeching halt with the announcement that she’s three months pregnant – I wouldn’t be buying that condom brand again if I were her!

Garrett decides this is the opportunity he’s been waiting for. He wants a family and life with Kiersten and by insisting that he move in with her in order to be there for her, Chris and the baby, he has a chance to get just that. Lying to her that he’s over her and doesn’t want anything more is hard, but it’s the reassurance she needs to make it happen. It’s hard and awkward for them to be together but it’s all part of Garrett’s plan.

At 108 pages, this book in the series qualifies as a novella, and unlike the other two books which felt longer despite their length, this story felt rushed. Alberts employs three wonderful romance tropes – a relationship of convenience, the unplanned pregnancy, and best friends to lovers – but none of them work for me and that hurts because I love each one of them.

The problem was with Kiersten’s character – I completely understood how hurt she was from her fiancee’s betrayal but she was so inarticulate and cold that it was almost impossible to empathize with her decisions, even when I understood why she was making them. I honestly think that if she could have lost her temper at Garrett and showed some emotion toward him (something he could have seen as him making progress with her caring or cracking through her shell) that it would have made the astonishingly rapid progression from wariness to trust a little better. And was she actually pregnant? The real symptoms of pregnancy are a great way to establish intimacy, but there was no scene of feeling the first kick together, seeing the heart beat at the doctor’s office, Garrett desperately finding her a bathroom to pee in, or extreme horniness in the second trimester. Missed opportunities, since she seemed to have the easiest pregnancy the world ever saw.

Additional page time for small acts on Garrett’s part, actions which would have Kiersten expressing happiness and appreciation toward him, would have also bolstered his goals while showing her gently moving toward acceptance of the fact he wasn’t going anywhere. Why couldn’t he have heard her crying after another hurtful exchange so he could have gone in and comforted her, getting behind that wall of hers? Instead we got a rapid fire transition where she’s unable to tell Garrett how she feels, hurting him again, and she goes out and acts jealous but not enough for Garrett to realize what’s going on. Then we get a page-long speech from Kiersten about how she feels toward him, which he happily accepts. It’s a quick wrap up from that point with a satisfying epilogue and the set up of brother Mike as the next hero in the series.

Alberts’ writing is just as wonderful as always – it’s tight and conveys the internal struggle of her characters well. Entangled Publishing has managed yet another sexy cover which manages to showcase Garret’s balls connection to basketball, I can only imagine that Diane Alberts loves where readers have to look to check her author name!

When it comes time for Mike’s story I’ll certainly try it, but I’ve got to say that this story did not match the previous stellar installments of the series.

Diane Alberts Take a Chance Series Gets Even Better with Love Me

30 May

Try Me (Take a Chance #1 – Jeremy and Erica) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, May 2012)

One great book is a delight but two in a row constitutes an author I can trust. Diane AlbertsTake a Chance series delighted me with her first novel, Try Me, (which I devoured last summer) but she’s proven herself an author to be reckoned with after this month’s release of the second in that series, Love Me.

In glancing at the cover, it’s not hard to see what drew me! Entangled Publishing could give the fuddy-duddy Big Six publishers lessons in how to produce contemporary romance covers that have depth and appeal – and look like they are from this century. This one conveys a great deal about the hero, with not only his military background clearly indicated by the dog tags and bullets, but the tattoos indicating a tough background (do you love the title at the top and the author name at the waist? It’s genius.) and the heart on his pec helping us realize that there’s a chance for a happily ever after. The bare chest and sculpted abs also successfully transmit that this is a book with a high sensuality rating, or in common parlance, Mmmmrrrooowwwww.

Jeremy has had a pretty crappy R&R in his hometown of Las Vegas. He hadn’t even enjoyed his first sip of beer before some asshole sailor took offense that Jeremy was a Marine and a colossal fistfight ensued. He’s not sure how, but he’s now wandering the Mars landscape of a desert, beaten and dehydrated. When a lone car screeches to a halt, knocking him on his butt, he’s wondering if his life can get any worse, and it does. The professionally dressed beauty asking him if he’s okay is none other than Erica, who he’s been in love with since he first saw her in the first grade.

He hasn’t seen her for seven years, not since the day her brother Tommy – who happened to be Jeremy’s best friend – accused him of sleeping with his wife. Jeremy might actually have been the only man Nicole didn’t sleep with, but the colossal hurt of his best friend turning on him sent him straight to the bottle. Drunk and wounded by the accusation, he turned up on Erica’s doorstep to drunkenly profess his long-standing love for her. Rather than answer she just ran away and Jeremy in turn ran into the arms of the Marines, having lost the two people who meant everything to him.

Erica cannot believe it’s Jeremy she just rescued – gorgeous, kind Jeremy who she’s been in love with forever. She knows that her brother should have realized Jeremy would never have slept with his bitch of a wife and she also knows that she should have had the backbone to put up a protest, particularly after Jeremy told her he loved her. Now that Jeremy is here, he’s just as tempting as ever but Erica knows she can’t have him. She’s harboring a secret that puts him off limits to her, although her body hasn’t gotten the memo.

Because they both know one another already, this romance has serious backbone and progresses rapidly as Jeremy and Erica both succumb to the heat that has always been between them. There is no way to not love the persistent, loyal Jeremy who can’t seem to stop himself from hoping where Erica is concerned. The dialogue is outstanding, conveying a playfulness between the couple that speaks to their longstanding relationship as friends, and while there isn’t a lot of sex since they are both working through their issues and emotions, sexual tension abounds and the sex scene at the end is worth waiting for, as is the wonderful epilogue chapter.

Love Me (Take a Chance #2 – Tommy and Brianna) by Diane Alberts (Entangled, May 13, 2013)

We also get a good glimpse of the happy, settled couple in the series sequel, the recently released Love Me. That’s a good thing, because Love Me doesn’t lack emotional turmoil. Erica’s brother Thomas, again in Vegas for work, feels tremendous pressure to land the casino near the airport to cinch his position in his marketing company. He’s blown away when the blond 50s pin-up businesswoman he runs into turns out to be the contact he’s there to woo, and he wants a lot more than Brianna’s business. They are both aware they are crossing a professional line, but after against the wall sex in his hotel room and then over the desk in her office, it’s a moot point.

Yet Thomas has colossal baggage from the cheating, manipulative wife he divorced eight years ago, baggage which leads him to lash out with horrible accusations at Brianna. She’s also desperate to push him away since her feelings for him are overwhelming, yet his two week assignment hardly offers a chance for something more permanent, even if he did want to take on a widow with three children.

Thomas has an unattractive shell that he has donned for years to work which I initially found very off-putting. Fortunately, Alberts’ excellent writing from his POV reveals not only his conflict with realizing he wants more than a fling from Brianna, but also his tremendous determination in the face of her running hot and cold. Brianna was harder to care for initially. It’s easy to empathize with her feelings of guilt and protectiveness toward her children, but her vacillation in the face of Thomas’ pursuit was frustrating, even while you understood her perspective. The outstanding writing of the children in this story gave the plot enormous depth, and one of Alberts’ strength as a writer is her unwillingness to gloss over real issues a burgeoning couple would face. An amazing resolution and tear-jerking epilogue cinches this novella’s keeper status in my Kindle.

Interestingly, Love Me is over twice as along as its predecessor, clocking in at an estimated 134 pages, versus 65 pages for Try Me. Yet both stories pack an emotional punch so strong that you’d swear after finishing them that you just put down a 250 page stand alone novel. There aren’t any details up yet for the third book in the Take a Chance series, but it does have a title, Play Me, and an expected publication date in 2013, so fingers crossed we get to see it soon. In the meantime, I’m going to be exploring Diane Alberts’ other books, since this is a writer who has certainly proved her worth when it comes to my allotted book dollars.

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