It’s no secret that my love for Julia Clarke and her writing runs deep. I’ve been a fan of hers for a couple of years now and her books keep getting better with each new release.
To begin, if you’d like to know my thoughts on the first book in this series, then please check it out here: The Reverse Play. If you haven’t read the first book yet, then there might be some slight spoilers in this review. Read on at your own risk 😉
Playing Defense picks up where the first one left off. It’s the day after the fight and the players involved have to deal with the consequences of their actions. Considering the high level of offense it’s considered to fight during the game, I was actually kind of surprised they only had a week suspension. Apparently, that’s still a huge deal, though–don’t mind the sports illiterate over here–and Blake struggles through keeping her silence about the bet. I truly felt for Blake in this position because I’m one of those people who abhor lying to others–but I also understood where the guys were coming from. It’s just a tough situation all around and there really weren’t any winners in sight.
As Blake grapples with her warring emotions over what she deems as somewhat unethical behavior, there’s also the matter of the way she feels about three of the players on her team. Tristan, Colt, and Xavier have lit a fire within her heart–and her body–and try as she may, there’s nothing she can do to stop her feelings from growing deeper and stronger. By the end of the book, all four of them are tested and their true feelings are out in the open. To say this is going to be a struggle is putting it mildly, but there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I can’t wait to see how Ms. Clarke brings it all together.
There were several sweet and funny moments within the story, including plenty of Bastian quips and adorable interactions with Blake’s dad. I’m a daddy’s girl, so seeing such precious moments between the two of them warmed my heart <3
Also … while there aren’t any sex scenes in this book, there are plenty of scenes that fogged up my glasses! All three of these men are sexy, confident, and are all about pleasing their lady. I also loved that there was a bit more alone time with Xavier in this book and we get to learn more about him and his personality. Honestly, you learn so much more about all the guys in this book and I loved the new things that were uncovered about them–particularly about Colt. While I wasn’t necessarily surprised to find out these things, it certainly added another layer to him that I wouldn’t have thought about otherwise. I’m also super interested to see how these new things play out in the next book 😉
My absolute favorite part of this book–which also proves how obsessed I am with Julia, lol–is [spoiler]a small Stardust crossover toward the end. Oh my word. If you know me at all or if you’ve seen any of my book recommendations on Facebook or Instagram, then you know that one of my all-time favorite RH series is the Stardust series by Julia and Autumn Reed. I adore those books, and getting a little hint of how Haley and her men are doing post-Polaris (book five in the series–read my review here) was everything I didn’t know I needed. <3[/spoiler]
Anyway, needless to say, I’m so happy with this book and it’s easily right up there with the first one as one of my favorite reads of the year so far. I highly recommend for any contemporary/reverse harem romance fans out there–and don’t be dissuaded if you aren’t a sports fanatic, because Lord knows I’m definitely not. These books are written so well that while it’s obviously heavily football-themed, I didn’t feel like I was scratching my head at the terminology the entire time I was reading.
Bravo, Ms. Clarke. I can’t wait for the next book!
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