My life revolved around two things. Football and my cock. And not necessarily in that order. Being the head football coach for a top university in Texas had its ups and its downs. The ups? Endless women to f*ck. The downs? The politics that came with the job. From the moment Aubrey Cain walked into my office, she turned my world upside down. Being forced to have her follow me around for a month was going to be a pain in the ass. Especially since I couldn’t keep my eyes off of her. The best I’d hoped to come out of this was a few nights with her in my bed. I never imagined she’d be the game changer.
Brett Owens was my assignment. Head football coach for a top college, bad boy reputation, short temper, and handsome good looks should have scared me off. But I was tougher than that. From the first words out of his obnoxious, dirty-talking mouth, I knew it was going to be a long month. It wasn’t five minutes after meeting him, he hit on me. If only I had known his blue eyes would haunt my dreams and awaken a desire inside of me I never knew existed. This was business. There was no way I would be tempted by him no matter how good looking he was or how many things he whispered in my ear. He was only supposed to be my assignment. Not the man who threatened to destroy both my heart and my career. I would follow along with his playbook for now. But who would end up winning was anyone’s guess.
The Playbook is a stand-alone novel.
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Reaching into my brief case, I took out my notebook that I had already filled with research on Brett and the university college program.
I flipped through the endless pages of notes until I found a blank page.
“So, I’m assuming since it’s spring training, I’ll be granted full access to the stadium.” Peeking up at Brett, I added, “That includes the locker rooms.”
His jaw muscles flexed and I couldn’t help but smile. “I’d like to really observe you, Mr. Owens, for the first week or two here at work. Really get an understanding of your work habits and ethics with the team and, of course, your habits away from the team as well.”
His lips parted to say something, but Mr. Stevenson coughed and Brett shut his mouth.
“This piece is going to be about getting to know Brett Owens. Three-time national championship winner. Youngest head football coach in college football, and rumored ladies’ man.”
“What?” Brett gasped, nearly chocking on his own spit.
I shrugged and flipped through my notes where I found a reference to picture in People magazine.
“Yes, here it is. A picture of you with two women on your arms exiting a bar in downtown Austin. I believe it was on New Year’s Eve.” I held it up for him to see.
His eyes narrowed and I swear they turned black. “What in the hell do you have written down in that book?”
I pointed to my notebook, while keeping my focus fixed on him. “This notebook?”
When his hand combed through his hair, I felt a tug in my lower stomach that I quickly pushed aside.
“Yes, that notebook, Aubrey! I don’t see another notebook on the fucking table.”
My head drew back with raised eyebrows. I quickly flipped back to the empty page and wrote a note.
Curses like a damn sailor.
“Wh-what are you writing?”
I couldn’t help but feel giddy knowing I was getting to him. “Just taking some notes, that’s all.”
Brett leaned closer to me as I covered the note with my hand. “What did you say? I saw sailor written down!”
I flashed him an evil smile which only irritated him more, causing him to curse more under his breath.
Mr. Stevenson sighed heavily next to me. “Oh, for the love of God. The two of you are going to have to learn to play nice. Your boss, Ms. Cain, and the president of the university, want this thing to happen. Now I hope you will shine a more positive light on Mr. Owens and not focus on his… on his um—”
Brett and I both looked at him, anxiously waiting for him to finish his sentence.
“On my what?” Brett questioned.
With a roll of his eyes, Mr. Stevenson answered, “On the colorful lifestyle you lead outside of work.”
“That was gently put,” I mumbled.
“Ms. Cain,” Mr. Stevenson started.
“Please, call me Aubrey.”
He nodded. “Aubrey, you will have full access so getting in places will not be an issue. I advise you to stick close to Brett until you learn your way around.”
“Thank you, Mr. Stevenson.”
“Pat will be fine.”
“Pat, it is.”
“Now, I believe, Brett, you have a staff meeting at noon.”
I swear it looked like Brett was sitting over there pouting. It probably killed him he had no safe-zone to hide in. I was going to be stuck to him like glue. Oh, this made me all kinds of happy right now.
“Yeah. It’s at noon.”
Pat stood. “Good, show Aubrey around and to the office she’ll be using.”
My heart skipped a beat in my chest. “Thank you, Pat. That means a lot to me to have a place to work while I’m here. That’s very thoughtful of you.”
He looked at Brett and then me. “Don’t thank me, thank Brett. It was his idea.”
My head snapped to the side as I looked at him. That was totally unexpected, and I couldn’t hide the fact that it made my chest tighten some.
As with most readers, I’m sure, there is a list of authors that I am devoted to. It’s a long enough list that with new releases coming out regularly, they keep me fairly busy. Once in a while, though, the synopsis for a book comes along from an author I haven’t read before, and it piques my interest. The Playbook is one of those, and it’s the first book I’ve read from author Kelly Elliott.
The thing struggled with most about this book has nothing to do with the actual story. The innumerable sentences beginning with ing words became a distraction for me early in the book. While I know that is an accepted writing style, it happened so often that, as a reader, I became preoccupied to the point that it became difficult for me to concentrate on the story.
Both of the main characters had me conflicted in my feelings for them. Brett, at times, came off as lacking respect for women, and that condition never quiet resolved itself, in my opinion. Don’t get me wrong, there’s not a thing wrong with a dirty-talking lover, but it seemed like when Brett used them, it sounded crass and vulgar, rather than sexy and seductive. In a way, it felt like his strategy to keep women at arm’s length, more times than not using those words as weapon more than foreplay, making it difficult for me to warm up to him as “sexy.”
On the other hand, Brett’s devotion to his family and his roots was heartwarming. It was clear that he put his family first, not just now, but even more so in the past as he made his career choices. With the evolution of the story, Brett’s commitment to his parents developed more and more, so that by the time the story was reaching its conclusion, he had transformed his image.
Aubrey’s character was also equal parts frustrating and likable. Fighting to earn her place in a man’s world – on the NFL sidelines – Aubrey is dedicated and committed to her career ambitions. Her resilience with both her boss and Brett’s attempts to see her fail was inspiring. On the other hand, I found Aubrey’s yes-I-want-him, no-I-don’t inner dialogue a bit tedious at times. Ultimately, however, I was pleased that she stayed true to what she saw for herself, rather than conceding based on what others wanted.
The Playbook book lived up to the anticipation promised by the synopsis. It was an enjoyable read with good plot and character development, and a narrative that continued to move the story along. The ending was a little abrupt, but by the time the story nearing its conclusion, it was fairly predictable where it was going, so it was really okay.
Kelly Elliott is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling contemporary romance author. Since finishing her bestselling Wanted series, Kelly continues to spread her wings while remaining true to her roots and giving readers stories rich with hot protective men, strong women and beautiful surroundings. Her bestselling works include, Wanted, Broken, Without You, and Unconditional Love, to name just a few. Kelly has been passionate about writing since she was fifteen. After years of filling journals with stories, she finally followed her dream and published her first novel, Wanted, in November of 2012. Kelly lives in central Texas with her husband, daughter, and two pups. When she’s not writing, Kelly enjoys reading and spending time with her family. She is down to earth and very in touch with her readers, both on social media and at signings. To find out more about Kelly and her books, you can find her through her website.
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