Friday, 22 December 2017

Book Review: Team Player: A Christmas Anthology


Eleven authors. Eleven Novellas. This is one thick . . . book.

Christmas just became a whole lot merrier...

TEAM PLAYER, A Christmas Anthology 

featuring titles by LJ Shen, Kennedy Ryan, Adriana Locke, Mandi Beck, Emma Scott, Charleigh Rose, Ella Fox, Sara Ney, Meghan Quinn, Kate Stewart and Rochelle Paige is available NOW!


Publication Date: December 14th, 2017 Genre: Contemporary/Sports Romance

Hot jocks. We love them all.
Sexy baseball players. Intense footballers. Sweaty MMA fighters, and sizzling hockey hotties. Score!
The good news? Eleven bestselling authors have gathered to give you a set of stories focused on the men we love most—sports heroes. We bet you’ll love this thick…book.
The bad news? The men in these novellas don’t actually exist.
*This anthology does not contain calories, just eleven original, never-before-seen stories by the following authors: Adriana Locke, Mandi Beck, Charleigh Rose, Kennedy Ryan, LJ Shen, Meghan Quinn, Rochelle Paige, Ella Fox, Kate Stewart, Emma Scott, and Sara Ney. We aren’t responsible for melted devices.

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My Thoughts

It's a long review! I've written a little about every story
One Good Man by Emma Scott
“…and I knew, in that moment, the greatest story of my life was about to begin.”
Janey Martin is sick of being held back in her pursuit of truth through journalism. Unfortunately for her, her father still pulls many strings, and Janey is sent to Paris, France to complete her college education.

On arrival, Janey is dismayed to find that again she is given fluff pieces to write about, starting with interviewing Adrian Rousseau; talented football (soccer) player whose star is on the rise. Worse, when they first meet, she is attracted to him. Can she get anymore stereotypical?

It’s not long before that Jane realises the surface Adrian and the real one are very different people. The more time they spend together, the more obvious it is to Janey that football is not where Adrian’s heart lies. 

One Good Man is a complete story. It’s slow burn. And I have no idea how Emma Scott fit everything into this short length. There were many layers, each one peeling after the other until we get to the core truth.

The 1970 setting in Paris, France, framed by the impact of several wars is an unusual choice but it fits. We see the impact of wars on several generations. We visit a city nearly 50 years in the past, one that is similar yet so different to the one today. We get to live through a time when attitudes about life and people’s place in it are firmly set and very different to today’s mindset. Ultimately we get a beautiful love story between two people who are driven to do great things in this world.

The End Zone by L.J Shen
“I’m in love with my best friend … With the girl who believed in me before even *I* believed in myself … And I’m going to conquer her. Consequences be damned.”
Sage, college football superstar and manwhore, time and again manages to thwart guys interested in his childhood friend Jolie. With only a few months remaining until graduation, he decides to go one better and convinces Jolie he needs her to play the role of “fake” girlfriend.

Jolie loves Sage but she will never tell him. His friendship is too important to sacrifice for a short-lived relationship.

Sage and Jolie have such a long history that there’s no need for that awkward getting-to-know you phase to muddle through. What we get is a story filled with funny one-liners and wisecrack remarks as Sage and Jolie navigate this new relationship of theirs. 

There is much playful banter as well as a few moments of drama that make this an enjoyable read all round.

Slapped Into Love by Rochelle Paige
“I think we need a rule that you walk around wearing my name on some part of your body every day.”
This second chance romance features Ryan Forrester, professional hockey player and Tamara Antonov, an Olympic medal winning speed skater.

Tamara is hired to coach Ryan’s team on power skating skills but there is the pesky problem that they already know each other thanks to a one night stand several months earlier. Ryan may be ready for a relationship but his reputation does him no good with the skittish Tamara. 

As he slowly manages to breakdown her walls, the future looms ahead of them with Tamara headed for Olympic training and Ryan remaining with his hockey team.

This book dealt well with two characters that have professional commitments forcing them apart. 

Full Court Press by Kennedy Ryan
“We both have pasts and we’ve both had pain, but what we’ve never had was each other.”
This story is about a romance that’s 10 years delayed. Mackenzie Decker (aka Decker) first meets Avery Hughes in a locker room after a basketball match. Already struggling to gain respect as a reporter, the “towel incident” ruins any romantic chances for these two thanks to Avery’s humiliation.

A decade later sees the now retired Decker facing off against Avery on a sports TV show. The time spent together brings back memories and many “what ifs”, especially since the attraction between them is still there.

This short story packs an emotional punch. Desire, heartbreak and determination to get it right this time around make for an all-round great story.

Out of Formation by Ella Fox
Elena has a complicated relationship with Colin. Having known him since childhood, she has over time idolised him, crushed on him and fallen in love with him. Colin, irrespective of his feelings, has stayed away from the 10 years younger Elena.

Colin’s new job at Elena’s college – where teacher/student fraternisation is strongly discouraged – makes life difficult for them both as this fledgling romance tries to take shape.

I really enjoyed the set-up of how these character’s lives intertwined. I kept wondering how the story would play out given the restrictions in place at the college. Disappointingly, the momentum fizzled out and the eventual solution was anti-climactic.

Sweeping the Series by Kate Stewart
“Have you ever done something so incredibly life-changing that you can’t make it right?”
PR consultant, Erica Wild, is assigned to overhaul professional baseball player, Ren Makavoy’s bad boy reputation; the reputation that Ren has earned in the last couple of years since he and Erica split.

Ren was heartbroken when Erica left him. Further, he never understood why. Resenting management’s dictates that she babysits him; it’s a perfect opportunity for him to show his indifference to her. He really tries but those feelings just keep getting in the way.

Erica’s reservations about their relationship may be valid but even she is wondering if breaking up was the right way to tackle her misgivings.

The emotional aspects of this second chance romance are balanced with moments of comedy. 

A special mention goes out to Alice & Rafe’s behind-closed-doors scene. I was howling with laughter.

Back in the Game by Meghan Quinn
“Where did this woman come from and why was I so lucky to find her?”
This was such a sweet, endearing read that it felt like a sugar overload of the best kind. It was also incredibly funny.

In somewhat of a role reversal to the typical romance, it’s Calder, our hero, who is awkward, nervous, lacking practice in the dating world and being the sole carer for his daughter. He might be a beast on the ice but this hockey player is the kindest and most loving father you will encounter for a long time.

He is very attracted to Rachel and he wants to pursue this thing between them while protecting his daughter. Rachel’s honesty and straight-forwardness equally impresses him, reassures him and leaves him questioning if it’s possible she is real. 

A special mention goes out to Calder’s teammate Hayden. The conversations these two have and the dating advice given by Hayden definitely bring out the laughs. 

Yard Sale by Charleigh Rose
Cam and Mollie’s one night stand results in an unplanned pregnancy. Mollie’s decision about when (if?) to tell Cam he’s going to be a father is taken out of her hands when they run into each other unexpectedly.

The story is about them navigating this reality and their feelings for each other.

I struggled to take this story seriously because none of the characters seemed to. There was nothing funny about it yet the lackadaisical attitude taken by most characters has me thinking this story has just gone over my head.

Instead of cheering for our couple to get their happy ever after, I was perplexed. The reasons why the pregnancy was kept secret from everyone seem insignificant given the relaxed attitude taken when all the circumstances were revealed. 

Sin Bin by Mandi Beck
“Who are you?” She asks bewildered.“Tell you the truth, I have no fucking clue. I am scaring myself a little.”
Stella Cruz spends several wild, passionate days and nights with Jason Dagger who is 10 years her senior. When she tries to reconnect with him some months later, he cruelly and deliberately cuts her off. Monogamous relationships are tough given his nomadic life as a professional hockey player. Furthermore, the age difference between them is too much for him.

It seems like third time’s a charm though. Stella’s life has veered off course and Jason’s attempts to help her come with a change of heart.

The bones in this story are good but it suffers because everything is condensed in this short story format. Things happen too fast and I did not believe in Jason’s change of heart.

Switch Hitter by Sara Ney
“I don’t think you should kiss me. “ 
I pull back, eyebrows drawn together, perplexed. “Why?”
“Because I want you to,”

In this humour filled story, Amelia, ever the sensible sister, is roped into helping her twin, Lucy, by impersonating her on a date with Dante “Dash” Amado.

Never mind that Amelia and Lucy have opposite personalities, the real problem is that Amelia really likes Dash. But breaking the sister-code is a no-go.

Not helping matters is an intrigued and fascinated Dash. Where has the shallow Lucy gone? And why is he attracted to her now? Lucy’s the same person - right?

This was a fun, light-hearted read.

Cross by Adriana Locke
N/A. Not included in my review copy.

Meet the authors:

LJ Shen
L.J. Shen is an International #1 best-selling author of Contemporary Romance and New Adult novels. She lives in Northern California with her husband, young son and chubby cat. Before she’d settled down, L.J. (who thinks referring to herself in the third person is really silly, by the way) traveled the world, and collected friends from all across the globe. Friends who’d be happy to report that she is a rubbish companion, always forgets people’s birthdays and never sends Christmas cards. She enjoys the simple things in life, like spending time with her family and friends, reading, HBO, Netflix and internet-stalking Stephen James. She reads between three to five books a week and firmly believes Crocs shoes and mullets should be outlawed.
Connect with LJ Shen
Stay up to date with LJ Shen by signing up for her mailing list:
Kennedy Ryan:
Kennedy Ryan is a Southern girl gone Southern California. A Top 100 Amazon Bestseller, Kennedy writes romance about remarkable women who find a way to thrive even in tough times, the love they find, and the men who cherish them. She is a wife to her lifetime lover and mother to an extraordinary son. She has always leveraged her journalism background to write for charity and non-profit organizations, but enjoys writing to raise Autism awareness most. A contributor for Modern Mom Magazine, Kennedy’s writings have appeared in Chicken Soup for the Soul, USA Today and many others. The founder and executive director of a foundation serving Georgia families living with Autism, Kennedy has appeared on Headline News, Montel Williams, NPR and other outlets as a voice for families living with autism.
Connect with Kennedy
Adriana Locke:
A contemporary romance author running on coffee and sticky kisses from my rowdy four little boys. From Indiana, I’m a true Mid-Westerner. Life, for me, is about family, faith, and food. When I’m not running my kiddos around or having a lunch date of fajitas with my husband (and high school sweetheart), you can find me outside. I love a good sunny day almost as much as I love candy, random quotes, and steamy bad boys in fantastic books. I’m on nearly every social media platform. Please find me on the ones you frequent – I love chatting with readers.
Connect with Adriana
Mandi Beck:
Mandi Beck has been an avid reader all of her life. A deep love for books always had her jotting down little stories on napkins, notebooks, and her hand. As an adult she was further submerged into the book world through book clubs and the epicness of social media. It was then that she graduated to writing her stories on her phone and then finally on a proper computer. A nursing student, mother to two rambunctious and somewhat rotten boys, and stepmom to two great girls away at college, she shares her time with her husband in Chicago where she was born and raised. Mandi is a diehard hockey fan and blames the Blackhawks when her deadlines are not met.
Connect with Mandi
Emma Scott:
I write romances with flawed characters, characters with artistic hearts: builders, poets, and writers of various makes and models. I love to write book lovers; those who have found refuge, companionship, and escape in books, much as we do in real life. I like realism, honesty, authenticity in storytelling. I love to write about enduring love, soul-deep love, in as real a setting as I can make, but with big smooshy HEAs. I believe in diversity, open-mindedness, and inclusion. I like sweetness mixed with steam, love conquering all, and above all, hope. Love always wins.
Connect with Emma
Charleigh Rose:
We are a duo of an international best-selling author and a blogger who teamed up to write the taboo, thought-provoking stories we want our audience to have--without filters. Both Charleigh and Rose are committed to giving you witty, sexy, intelligent novels that will leave you wanting more.
Connect with Charleigh
Ella Fox:
When she’s not writing, Ella indulges the gypsy in her blood and travels the country. Ella loves reading, movies, music, buying make-up, reading Tmz, Twitter and pedicures… not necessarily in that order. She has a wild sense of humor and loves to laugh. Her favorite thing in the world is hanging out with her family and watching comedy movies.
Connect with Ella
Sara Ney:
Sara Ney is the USA Today Bestselling Author of the How to Date a Douchebag series, and is best known for her sexy, laugh-out-loud New Adult romances. Among her favorite vices, she includes: iced latte’s, historical architecture and well-placed sarcasm. She lives colorfully, collects vintage books, art, loves flea markets, and fancies herself British.
Connect with Sara
Meghan Quinn:
A BLONDE AT HEART Born in New York and raised in Southern California, Meghan has grown into a sassy, peanut butter eating, blonde haired swearing, animal hoarding lady. She is known to bust out and dance if “It’s Raining Men” starts beating through the air and heaven forbid you get a margarita in her, protect your legs because they may be humped. Once she started commuting for an hour and twenty minutes every day to work for three years, she began to have conversations play in her head, real life, deep male voices and dainty lady coos kind of conversations. Perturbed and confused, she decided to either see a therapist about the hot and steamy voices running through her head or start writing them down. She decided to go with the cheaper option and started writing… enter her first novel, Caught Looking. Now you can find the spicy, most definitely on the border of lunacy, kind of crazy lady residing in Colorado with the love of her life and her five, furry four legged children, hiking a trail or hiding behind shelves at grocery stores, wondering what kind of lube the nervous stranger will bring home to his wife. Oh and she loves a good boob squeeze!
Connect with Meghan
Kate Stewart:
Kate Stewart lives in Charleston, S.C. with her husband, Nick, and her naughty beagle, Sadie. A native of Dallas, Kate moved to Charleston three weeks after her first visit, dropping her career of 8 years, and declaring it her creative muse. Kate pens messy, sexy, angst-filled contemporary romance as well as romantic comedy and erotic suspense because it's what she loves as a reader. A lover of all things '80s and '90s, especially John Hughes films and rap, she dabbles a little in photography, can knit a simple stitch scarf for necessity only and does a horrible job of playing the ukulele. Aside from running a mile without collapsing, traveling is the only other must on her bucket list. On occasion, she does very well at vodka.
Connect with Kate
Rochelle Paige:
Rochelle Paige is the Amazon bestselling author of nineteen books. She absolutely adores reading and her friends growing up used to tease her when she trailed after them, trying to read and walk at the same time. She loves stories with alpha males, sassy heroines, hot sex and happily ever afters. She is a bit of a genre hopper in both her reading and her writing. So far she's written books in several romance sub-genres including new adult, contemporary, paranormal and romantic suspense. She is the mother of two wonderful sons who inspired her to chase her dream of being an author. She wants them to learn from her that you can live your dream as long as you are willing to work for it.
Connect with Rochelle

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