I received an advanced/review copy of this book. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content and honesty of my review.
This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale. This comes at no extra cost to you, but it helps me out a lot!
Playing Defense by Julia Clarke
Scoring a coaching job with the Rebels was supposed to be a dream come true, a step toward achieving my goal of being the first female NFL head coach. But when three sexy-as-hell players blitzed their way into my life, I got distracted. I took my eye off the ball. And I’m at risk of losing it all, even the sport I love.
Now, the one thing that’s kept me grounded, kept me focused, is the last thing that could possibly bring me comfort. Because when it comes to Xavier, Colt, and Tristan, the lines are blurred. The rules—questioned.
I may be their coach on the field, but in matters of the heart, I’m playing defense.
Series: The Rebels #2
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance, Reverse Harem, Sports Romance
Format: ARC, eBook, Review Copy
Itâs no secret that my love for Julia Clarke and her writing runs deep. Iâve been a fan of hers for a couple of years now and her books keep getting better with each new release.
To begin, if youâd like to know my thoughts on the first book in this series, then please check it out here: The Reverse Play. If you havenât 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. Itâs 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, thatâs still a huge deal, though–donât 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 Iâm one of those people who abhor lying to others–but I also understood where the guys were coming from. Itâs just a tough situation all around and there really werenât any winners in sight.
As Blake grapples with her warring emotions over what she deems as somewhat unethical behavior, thereâs 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, thereâs 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 thereâs a light at the end of the tunnel and I canât 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 Blakeâs dad. Iâm a daddyâs girl, so seeing such precious moments between the two of them warmed my heart <3
Also â¦ while there arenât 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 wasnât necessarily surprised to find out these things, it certainly added another layer to him that I wouldnât have thought about otherwise. Iâm 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 View Spoiler »a small Stardust crossover toward the end. Oh my word. If you know me at all or if youâve 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 didnât know I needed. <3 « Hide Spoiler
Anyway, needless to say, Iâm so happy with this book and itâs 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 donât be dissuaded if you arenât a sports fanatic, because Lord knows Iâm definitely not. These books are written so well that while itâs obviously heavily football-themed, I didnât feel like I was scratching my head at the terminology the entire time I was reading.
Bravo, Ms. Clarke. I canât wait for the next book!
Sign up for my newsletter!
If you like my review, then I would love it if you would help me spread the word by pinning this image to your board! <3