Monday, August 8, 2011

66 of 111 Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen

When old enemies are thrown together, all bets are off…
Way back in high school, golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet. Now a decade older and a head turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was— and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can't refuse.
A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She's certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn't count on Cade's determination. Because he's never gotten over her— and he's not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red–hot future…(from Published:HQN Books July 26 2011

A contemporary romance without a paranormal twist? Me? Yes I tried something new. I signed up for the Romance Reading Challenge by Book Chick City but haven't made any effort to read romances outside of my regular choices. Since I tend to avoid contemporary romances (no reason, I'm just never drawn to them) this would be one of them. Author Eloisa James has wrote an article with some romance recommendations. This was one of them and the one I chose to try out.

Playing Dirty impressed me more than I thought it would. There was a really nice maturity to the characters that added the the pleasure of reading this book. Reading the book description it's hard to imagine how Cade can become a love interest for Ava. You would think that the humiliation Cade caused would be enough to make Cade the last man she would want to become romantically involved with (again). I won't ruin the resolution but the way the Cade is explained as a person goes a long way towards redeeming him and his actions. He wasn't trying to hurt Ava so much as hurt himself.
When I started this book I honestly thought I'd be annoyed at the end since I couldn't see how I'd like Cade but Susan Andersen pulls it off. She doesn't wrap things up neatly at the end, rather, she takes her time letting the reader understand the history between the two main characters. As we gain more understanding of how they interacted over the years, the way we see their history starts to shift.
Playing Dirty is the third in a series but I haven't read the first two. While you can tell Ava's friends are former heroines (both have handsome, dashing husbands with hero names and interesting back stories) it didn't interfere with the reading of this book, so I wouldn't worry if you want to pick this one up first. There is a side plot about an attempt to steal diamonds from the house Ava and her friends. It felt a little added in but it may relate back to an earlier book in the series in some way. It was the only time I felt I might not fully understand everything going on with the characters.

3.5 a lighthearted story with a thoughtful romance

sparks fly between Ava & Cade!

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