Audiobook provided by publisher for review. No remuneration was exchanged and all opinions presented herein are my own except as noted.
Way back in high school, golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he’d slept with “fat girl” Ava Spencer to win a bet. Now a decade older and a head turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn’t the gullible dreamer she once was—and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can’t refuse.
A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She’s certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn’t count on Cade’s determination. Because he’s never gotten over her, and he’s not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red–hot future.
Contains mature themes. https://tantor.com/playing-dirty-susan-andersen.html
I think this is the second book I have listened to in one month that has featured a curvy woman owning her sexuality (CREAM OF THE CROP by Alice Clayton was the other). In this book Ava is curvy and successful; but she still has to deal with her mom’s pressure to be thinner. That’s really the way she is going to leave the chubbier Ava behind.
Cade, on the other hand has to earn her forgiveness and explain the reasons behind the epic screw-up in high school when he hurt Ava. He didn’t have it quite as easy as Ava thought. And the attraction they felt back in high school before he screwed up is still there. But, it would be really hard to forgive what he did.
Andersen does a great job with character development and both characters’ overcoming their backgrounds with the world in general and with each other. The characters and their actions support the relationship.
With a series, continuity is always great unless it becomes repetitive — that is not a problem here. When the girls inherited their wealthy mentor’s house they inherited the expense of maintaining it. There’s plenty of great stuff inside they can sell, once they get it in saleable condition. But a bad economy is keeping the market for historic mansions low.
The author comes up with a clever device in having Cade renting the place to do a documentary on the woman who left the mansion. He rents the place to do it and hires Ava to be the local concierge. It’s pretty smart, and Andersen doesn’t skip details like contracts being needed.
I enjoyed the thriller-suspense aspect of the story too. It offers continuity from something mentioned in the first book.
I liked this series, the hook ups are great and each woman goes in thinking it’s a fling. I also liked the “second chance” aspect of the story. And the narrator does a great job with good variety in the voices without making the male characters sound aggressive.
We all wish we had friendships shared by Ava, Poppy and Jane, and a mentor like Agnes Wolcott. I like stories that are about women supporting each other.
If you like a steamy, fun, contemporary with an edge of suspense then this is a great series and book. I have enjoyed them overall.
Other books in the series are CUTTING LOOSE and BENDING THE RULES. It’s the first time in a while I have liked all the books in a series. But I did have issues with the technicalities of the recording of BENDING THE RULES.