Review: Playing Dirty – Amy Andrews
by Amy Andrews
Series: Sydney Smoke Rugby #6
Also in this series: Playing By Her Rules, Playing House
Publisher: Entangled: Brazen
Publication Date: July 9, 2018
I received an advance review copy of this book from NetGalley. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.My rating:
Sydney Smoke star recruit Kyle Leighton can’t believe the best sex of his life was just a one-night stand. He didn’t even know her name… Until she shows up at the locker room two weeks later and he connects the dots.
Val King. Oh shit.
Coach has one hard and fast rule: Never, ever date (much less f*ck ten ways to Sunday) his daughter. And not only did Kyle break that rule, but he wants to break it over and over again. In the shower. Against a wall. On every flat surface in his home.
But the coach and his daughter share more than just DNA. Their issues run deep and fooling around with her could widen the family chasm.
And get Kyle benched for life.
So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Flirting with her? Suggesting they date for real and damn the consequences?
Trigger warnings: View Spoiler »death of a child (in the past) « Hide Spoiler
I’ve been following Ms. Andrews’ Sydney Smoke series since the second book, and I’ve been waiting for the resolution of the troubled relationship between Griff, the rugby team’s gruff and unemotional coach, and his daughter, Val. So, yes, while this is also the story of Val’s HEA with new-to-the-team Kyle, a pretty large part of the story is about Val and Griff repairing their relationship.
“The sudden thought that her father would not be impressed by this fraternisation with one of his players made it feel even better.
Val is drinking away her 24th birthday when rugby player Kyle slides up next to her at the bar. While Val knows who he is – she’s made a habit of inserting herself into the rugby team’s life in order to find a way into her father’s heart – Kyle has no idea who she is, other than a beautiful (and very knowledgeable about rugby) woman. Things proceed much as you would expect, with Val disappearing the next morning, never intending to let her father know what happened since it would affect Kyle’s career. Kyle can’t get the mystery woman out of his head, so when he sees her outside the Smoke locker room after a game, he immediately grabs and kisses her – in front of her dad and the whole team. Already on Griff’s bad side, violating the Smoke’s number one rule – the coach’s daughter is off-limits – leads to a ultimatum: never see Val again or get kicked off the team and blacklisted from rugby forever. But Kyle can’t get her out of his thoughts, and Val can’t forget him, either. Can their love survive the weight of Val and Griff’s strained relationship?
“What if I told you I could handle my career and your father just fine without dancing around and pretending I’m not totally hot for his daughter?”
I’ve liked Val since we first met her in the series, and I’m just going to reiterate that it was so nice to see her finally get her HEA. Most of her life has been shaped by the horrific tragedy that happened when she was 2 (and which we finally find out the details of in this book), and then by trying to earn her father’s love after he emotionally distanced himself after the accident. She’s tried to be good and undemanding, even going so far as to insert herself into the running of the rugby tam and the WAGs just so she can be close to him, because if she can’t win his love, she can at least be involved in the one thing he does love. Even though she knows Kyle is off-limits – and she certainly doesn’t want to tank his career – the chemistry between them is undeniable.
“The Smoke is great because they work together as one. Not because one guy decides he can do it all himself. There are seven other guys out there on the field at any given time, and you’re going to need your team behind you when you’re shit out of luck, Leighton, and you will be. It happens to everyone at some point.”
Kyle, on the other hand, comes from a big self-described bogan (the Aussie version of redneck family) family, and while they love him, he’s resigned to the fact that he’s the person in his family who gets things done. He’s admired and looked up to Griff for pretty much his entire life, and getting to finally play on the Smoke should be a dream come true. Problem is, he’s highly self-sufficient, something that carries over in to his rugby game and is certainly not endearing him to the team or Griff, even before his one night stand with Val is revealed.
“What do you want from Griff? If you could have anything? A relationship? An explanation? An apology?”
The question shredded Val’s usual bravado where her father was concerned.
Nobody had ever asked her that.”
Beyond that, though, this is a ridiculously steamy book, with some of the hottest sex scenes yet. But when they’re not scorching up the sheets (or her bakery’s prep area), Kyle listens to Val, and offers a new perspective that just might succeed at shaking up 22 years of resentment. A good portion of the end of the book is spent on Val and Griff’s relationship, but it didn’t lessen the impact of her romantic relationship with Kyle – rather, it was her relationship with him that allowed her to finally start the work of repairing her relationship with her father.
Overall, I loved this addition to the series, and I’m already eagerly anticipating the next one. I’m not sure who’s next, but now that Val has her HEA, my eye’s on Griff and Eve! I highly recommend this series to anyone who enjoys hilarious and sexy romances!
And just for giggles, my new favorite romance quote:
“Even in the dark, his cock stood out like a freaking beacon, thick and heavy, springing proud and free from a thatch of black hair. So goddamn…ready.
If she’d been an artist, she would have sketched it. If she’d been a sculptor, she’d have cast it in bronze. If she’d been a poet, she would have written a bloody sonnet about it.
But all she was right now was a woman, and all she really wanted was to fuck it.”