Playing for Keeps (Heartbreaker Bay)

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Playing For Keeps
by Jill Shalvis
Release Date:  January 22, 2019
Publisher: Avon
Book #7 in the Heartbreaker Bay series
Number of Pages: 384
Kindle Edition
Source:  MCL
Contemporary Romance M/F
Rating:  NC-17
Read 4/4/19 to 4/5/19

 

If you’re planning on falling in love… 
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.
you’d better be sure… 
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.
… someone is there to catch you. 
Both guarded and vulnerable, Sadie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.

Hoo boy!  This one took it out of me.  So much angst, but also such a wonderful connection between the characters.  This has been a bone of contention among romance readers and writers as of late, but I’m the type to err on the side of caution.  I’m going to give a trigger warning on this one.  Sadie has dealt with a lot of emotional issues in her past and there is discussion of self-harm.  I don’t like to give spoilers, and I don’t think this is actually a spoiler, but there are some heavy things that Sadie had going on as a teen and young adult.

I love that the author has Sadie, a girl who grew up comfortably middle class, show her problems.  While Caleb, who grew up sick and poor, is confident and successful.  It’s important to show that money doesn’t equal happiness and hard work can often be rewarded.  Don’t get me wrong…there are plenty of underprivileged people who work their butts off with no change in their status in life.  I’m not saying that’s not the case.  That actually is the case more than it’s not.  But I enjoyed the juxtaposition of the characters.  Plus, the fact that Caleb does not judge Sadie for her past actions makes him a superb hero in my eyes.

There are so many little things Caleb does for Sadie throughout this story that show his compassion and heart.  Sadie is very independent so it’s actually hard for Caleb to do anything for her without her getting her back up.  Yet he’s so patient and understanding, he really stole my heart.  As much as I wanted Sadie to stop being so guarded with him, I still understood where she was coming from and why she reacted to things the way she did.

The small steps Sadie and Caleb made toward each other with each interaction was touching.  Their chemistry is phenomenal. The ability for both of them to admit when they’re wrong (maybe not right away, but still) and the way they are open to each other in a way they are with nobody else just turned me to mush.

On top of all of that, there are a few references to Caleb’s cousin in Sunshine, Idaho so now I’m hoping that means that the Animal Magnetism series is being expanded.  That series is how I first discovered this author so it has a special place in my heart.

4 stars

About Cheri

I'm the mom of two boys and wife to my high school sweetheart. Our oldest, Josh, is living at home while working and paying off student loans. Our youngest, Griffin recently left his active duty Army job and is now National Guard here at home. He moved back to Michigan with his wife Kirsten and our beautiful granddaughter Hazel. I work part time and try to fit as much reading into my life as possible.
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