About Playing for KeepsTitle: Playing For Keeps
Series: Heartbreaker Bay #7
Also in Series: The Trouble with Mistletoe, One Snowy Night, Accidentally On Purpose, Holiday Wishes, About That Kiss
Author: Jill Shalvis
Publisher: Avon, HarperCollins
Publication date: January 22nd 2019
Target Audience: Adult
Genres: Contemporary, Romance
Find It: Goodreads
Buy It: Amazon|B&N|Book Depository
If you’re planning on falling in love…
When it comes to the confident, charismatic Caleb Parker, Sadie Lane feels the spark—the kind that comes from rubbing each other the wrong way. She’s yoga pants, he’s a suit. She’s a tattoo artist, he’s a straight-laced mogul. But after they accidentally co-rescue an abandoned dog from a storm, Sadie sees a vulnerable side to the seemingly invincible hottie.
you’d better be sure…
Caleb doesn’t do emotions. Growing up the underdog, he’s learned the hard way to build up an impenetrable wall. Perfect for business. Disastrous for relationships. He’s never worried about it before—not until he finally gets behind Sadie’s armor and begins to fall.
… someone is there to catch you.
Both guarded and vulnerable, Sophie and Caleb are complete opposites. Or are they? Shocked at their undeniable connection, can they ever admit to wanting more? That all depends on what they’re each willing to risk.
What about Suits? a voice inside her head whispered as she made her way from one window to the next in order to keep him in her sights. It was misting now and his dark hair shimmered with droplets every time he passed beneath a lamppost. Like Wes had been, he too was sure of himself. Sexy, with an edge . . .
He was everything she no longer let herself want.
Suddenly, he abruptly stopped between the day spa and the Canvas Shop. Crouching low in the now pouring rain, he stared at something she couldn’t see. “I’ve gotta go, Mom. I’ll call you back.”
“You always say that, but you’re fibbing. You’re not supposed to fib to family.”
“Uh-huh,” Sadie said dryly. “Tooth fairy, Santa Claus, and the Easter bunny . . .” And at her mother’s gasp, she gently disconnected, squelching a wince because she’d most definitely pay for that later. Her mom had a lot of talents, and one of them was being able to hold a grudge for a hundred years.
Sadie had a few talents herself, such as not sleeping at night and enjoying chocolate just a little too much. And okay, so she also was talented at drinking tequila, preferably in the form of a frosty lime margarita.
Slipping her phone into her back pocket, she went back to window-gazing to see what Suits was up to. He was still balanced on the balls of his feet, the wind and now rain pummeling his back, seemingly unnoticed.
What the actual hell?
She knew a few things about him. Such as the fact that he had lean muscles everywhere you might want a man to have lean muscles, and that women tended to fall over themselves when he smiled. His eyes were a beautiful caramel, with flecks of gold that sparkled when he laughed. He was some sort of tech genius and used to work at a government think tank. He’d invented a bunch of stuff including a series of apps that he and his business partner had sold to Google. More recently the two of them had created a way of getting meds and medical care into remote developing nations via unmanned drones. He was innovative and inventive on a large scale, smart, charismatic . . .
Oh, and there was one more thing—he and Sadie rubbed each other the wrong way by just breathing. She wasn’t even sure how it’d started, but there was an energy between the two of them she didn’t understand. At best it made her squirm. At worst, it sometimes kept her up at night.
Sadie’s best friend, Ivy, who ran The Taco Truck parked outside the building, had decided that she and Caleb Parker shared an unrequited animalistic lust and nothing could convince her she was wrong.
But it wasn’t lust, because Sadie no longer gave in to lust, animalistic or otherwise. Yes, he was fun, flirty, and charming, but she was highly suspicious of all those things. Her idea of fun, flirty, and charming meant being as sarcastic as possible. It’d done the trick too, scaring men off for years. But oddly, Suits seemed to be able to handle her sarcasm without so much as blinking an eye.
She had no idea what to make of that.
And what was he doing still all hunkered down like that in the rain? Was he hurt?
Driven by curiosity and the inability she had of letting anything go, she unlocked and opened the front door of the day spa and stuck her head out. “Hey.”
Staring at the brick wall, he didn’t turn her way or even glance over. He didn’t do anything except to say “shh.”
Oh, no. No, he did not, and she stepped outside to tell him what she thought of him and his “shh” and where he could put it. Sideways.
But with his gaze still on whatever was in front of him, he held up a hand, silently ordering her to stop where she was.
It was like he wanted her to lose her temper.
But then he was reaching out to the wall, and she realized over the noise of the storm that he was talking quietly to something.
Something that was growling at him fiercely.
“Don’t be scared,” he said softly. “I’m not going to hurt you, I promise.”
The growling got a little louder, but Suits didn’t back away, he just held eye contact with what sounded like a huge dog that Sadie still couldn’t see in the dark shadows.
“Okay,” Suits said. “Come here. Slowly.”
Sadie realized with a start that he was talking to her. “What? No way. What is it?”
“Come closer and you’ll see.”
Damn him. And damn her insatiable curiosity because she stepped out from beneath the spa’s overhang and immediately got wind and rain in her face for her efforts. Pulling out her cell phone, she accessed her flashlight app and aimed it at the wall.
“Don’t,” he said, wrapping his hand around her wrist, bringing the phone down to her side. “You’ll scare it.”
“Better that than getting eaten.” She shrugged off his warm hand but went still when the growling upped a notch.
“I think it’s hurt,” Suits said. “Come here, baby,” he coaxed gently. “Let me see.”
Sadie bet that voice worked for him in the bedroom, but no way would it work here. And yet . . . the matted, drenched shadow scooted away from the wall, not nearly as large as she’d thought. Not a young puppy but not a grown dog either.Its tan-colored body was way too skinny, and black eyes stared out from a black face. “Aw, looks like a young oversize pug,” she murmured.
Suits shook his head. “Too big for a pug. It’s probably got some bullmastiff in it though.”
A skin-and-bones bullmastiff with only three legs, Sadie realized as it shifted closer, and her entire heart melted. “Oh my God.” Moving toward it now without hesitation, she got only a few steps before the dog scrambled to escape her approach like a cat on linoleum, heading right at Suits.
With a surprised grunt, he fell to his ass on the wet cobblestones. “Okay,” he said, hands up, backing up on those fine butt cheeks as if suddenly terrified of the dog trying to get into his lap. “Okay, see? You’re safe now, right? Stay. Stay and sit.”
The dog didn’t stay. Or sit, for that matter. Instead, it leaned on Suits’s bent legs, leaving dirty beige fur sticking to his pants.
He sucked in a breath and seemed to hold it. “I’d really like to be your person, but I can’t.”
“Arf!” Translation: Too late, buddy, you’re totally my person.
“No, you don’t understand,” Suits said. “I literally can’t.”
Undeterred by this news, the dog continued to huddle close to his new human, even as that human shifted back, trying to avoid further contact.
Finally, Suits lifted his head and looked at Sadie. “Help.”
Fascinated by this unexpected show of weakness in the man who’d always come off as invincible, she shook her head. “I think it thinks you’re its mama.”
He glanced around the courtyard as if to see who the dog might belong to, but there was no one.
“Arf!” the dog repeated and sat on Suits’s foot
“Oh, I hear you, and we’re going to help you, I promise.”
“I know you must mean you and the mouse in your pocket because we”—Sadie gestured with a finger between him and herself—“are most definitely not a we.”
Ignoring that, he got to his feet, lifting his hands at the dog, giving the universal gesture for stay. But the minute Suits raised his hands, the dog squeaked in terror and leapt back as if he’d been shoved. Off-balance with only three legs, it fell to its back, exposing its underbelly and the fact that it was a she.
Sadie didn’t easily attach. To anything. But right then and there, she fell in love with her. Not partially, but all the way in love, because neglected and mistreated meant they were soul mates. “I’m going to kill her owner.”
“Not if I get to them first.” Suits’s eyes flashed absolute fury, though his voice remained calm as he once again squatted low, trying to get his six-foot-plus frame as nonthreateningly small as he could. “It’s okay, baby,” he crooned softly. “We’re together now, for better or worse, even if you’re going to kill me.”
“What are you talking about?” Sadie asked. “She wouldn’t hurt a damn fly, much less kill you.”
Proving that, the dog slowly once again scooted toward Suits, head down, her hind end a little wiggly as she crawled close, trying to get into his lap.
The sweet hope of it had Sadie’s heart pretty much exploding in her chest.
With a sigh, Suits wrapped his arms around the dog and hugged her close. In response, the cutie-pie set her oversize head on his broad chest.
“Yeah, that’s some killer,” Sadie said, shoving her wet hair from her face.
Suits said this so nonchalantly that she blinked. “Is that some sort of a euphemism for ‘I hate dogs’?”
“No,” he said. “Reach into my front left pocket.”
She snorted. “You’re kidding me, right? Does anyone actually fall for that?”
“If I pass out, you’ll need my keys to play Nurse Nightingale.”
She paused, staring at his face. She saw no sign that he was teasing—very unusual for the charming, easygoing guy she knew him to be.
“I’m trusting you to not let me die,” he said as if he was discussing the weather.
“This isn’t funny.”
He met her gaze, his own more serious than she’d ever seen him. “If I don’t make it, promise me you’ll at least make up something really good for my funeral, okay? Like, I died heroically saving your sexy ass, and not because a sweet dog like this one hugged me.”
“Okay,” she said slowly, “I’m starting to think you’re really not joking.”
“I never joke about dying.”
Another cute installment in the Heartbreaker Bay Series!
Both Caleb and Sadie are interesting well thought out characters. I admit that I liked Caleb a lot…much more than I did Sadie. He was thoughtful and kind, smart and sexy…who wouldn’t love him?
Sadie was likable but also a bit predicable and annoying. She seemed more immature and stubborn than I would have liked…but by the end of the book, we finally saw some growth to her character.
Lollipop was adorable! Books with animals are always better!! And as usual, I loved getting a peek back into the lives of our friends from the previous books in the series.
Though perhaps not the strongest edition to this series, Playing for Keeps was definitely enjoyable and a worthwhile read!