"Pastries and rugby make for unusual and fabulous bedfellows"
Reviewed by Monique Daoust
Posted July 8, 2018
Valerie King hated celebrating her birthday, that's why
she was sitting all alone in a bar nursing another
martini. When yet another man accosts her, she's ready to
tell him off, however this one is different. He seems a
gentleman and actually has a sense of humor, and for the
first time that day, Val laughs. She knows he's Kyle
Leighton, one of the Sydney Smoke players, the team her father
coaches. Being new to the team, Kyle doesn't know who she
is; players are barely allowed to look at coach Griff
King's daughter, and Val's father didn't even want Kyle
on his team. But Kyle makes her feel good when it counts,
and they are so attracted to each other, that they find
themselves in bed the same evening, without Kyle ever
knowing who Val really is. Her father never needs to
Readers already familiar with the series already know how
gruff Griff is (I couldn't resist!), but newcomers will
get the gist of his personality quickly, and what a
personality it is. The only reason Val and Griff's
relationship is difficult is because of Griff's
overprotectiveness, the reason for which was handled
extremely well by Ms. Andrews; Val and her father's
relationship is really heartbreaking. I also fell for
Kyle nearly as quickly as she did; he is a very witty
man, open-minded, and definitely someone to have in one's
corner. They are stuck between a rock and a hard place,
as admitting to the budding relationship could be
detrimental to Kyle's rugby career, but they cannot keep
their hands to themselves. While there are few mentions
of rugby playing per se, I loved reading about the team
dynamics, and how Tanner proved himself to be the perfect
captain when things got out of hand.
Griff is an incredibly impressive character: a former
rugby star himself, he is so redoubtable and so well
written, that his temper is nearly a palpable thing. I think
I must have recoiled in fear at some point,
because he is such a powerful presence. He is intrinsic
to the romance, because he is the sole reason that Val
and Kyle have issues. The dialogues are spectacularly
well written, be it the playful and flirtatious banter
between Val and Kyle or the shout-out matches exchanged
between the men, players and coach, which couldn't have
sounded more realistic, and the sex is sizzling hot.
Smoke Rugby series is such a favorite
of mine, that I picked up the book solely on the series
title, which coming from me says a lot. PLAYING DIRTY is
another brilliant feather in Amy Andrews' well-decorated
cap, and the best news is that there are two other books
remaining in this series. Bring it on!
Sydney Smoke star recruit Kyle Leighton can’t believe the
best sex of his life was just a one-night stand. He
didn’t even know her name… Until she shows up at the
locker room two weeks later and he connects the dots.
Val King. Oh shit.
Coach has one hard and fast rule: Never, ever date (much
less f*ck ten ways to Sunday) his daughter. And not only
did Kyle break that rule, but he wants to break it over
and over again. In the shower. Against a wall. On every
flat surface in his home.
But the coach and his daughter share more than just DNA.
Their issues run deep and fooling around with her could
widen the family chasm.
And get Kyle benched for life.
So why can’t he stop thinking about her? Flirting with
her? Suggesting they date for real and damn the
Each book in the Sydney Smoke Rugby series is STANDALONE:
* Playing By Her Rules
* Playing It Cool
* Playing the Player
* Playing With Forever
* Playing House
* Playing Dirty
ExcerptThey stared at each other for long moments. She didn’t know
if it was just her, or just her imagination, but there was
a far earthier aroma to the kitchen right now. It smelled
more like a boudoir than a bakery, an erotic reminder of
their rather animalistic coming together.
She was going to need nuclear strength disinfectant.
Kyle inspected the contents of the bag before returning his
gaze to her. “About before.”
“It’s okay, I know. You don’t have to say it. I
He frowned. “You do?”
“It was a mistake.”
His frown deepened. “Weeeell…I wouldn’t call it a mistake,
exactly. Something that good could never be a mistake.”
Oh Lordy. More with the mouth. Val steeled herself against
its panty-dropping effects. “You told my father you’d leave
me alone. What would you call it?”
Val almost laughed. “As in, you tripped, and your dick
slipped into me?”
He did laugh, but sobered quickly. “No. That was a hundred
Her heart leapt at the admission, but her more pragmatic
angels prevailed. “But not what you came here for.”
He sighed. “No. I really did just come here to check on
you. To talk about the night we met.”
“And we did. We agreed that I was alright and that night
was great, but shouldn’t happen again because of your
career, and then we blew it. We…slipped.” She smiled at the
She’d slipped up a lot in life. Never had it resulted in a
mind-blowing orgasm. Clearly she’d been doing it all wrong.
“But we really, really, really can’t let it happen again.
I’ve seen my father bench players for far less provocation
than you’ve just given him. He doesn’t believe in idle
“Yeah.” He gave a half laugh. “I figured that one out
“So this is it. Finito.” Val chopped her hand through the
air to underscore her point. “The last time. We can’t do
He nodded. “Agreed.”
But it was as reluctant as hell. He didn’t look that
certain, and they both needed to be on the same page with
this or it was never going to work. “Why do I sense a but
His sigh whispered to all the parts of her that were still
excitable from their last encounter. “I just wish I’d known
it was going to be it, you know? I could have prepared
mentally. Plus—” He took a step towards her, and Val’s
senses, still in a state of alert, sizzled with awareness.
“I could have made it really good for you.”
Really good? Christ, if he could do better than that, she
was a bloody goner. “Did you hear me complaining?”
Of course he didn’t. Because he’d rendered her speechless.
“Then you can rest easy, big guy.” She patted him on the
shoulder, an impulsive, affectionate gesture. Immediately
she wished she hadn’t. They didn’t have that kind of
relationship, as evidenced by the itch in her fingers. An
itch demanding she curl said fingers into his shirt and
drag him close.
She snatched her hand back. He noticed, but thankfully
ignored it. “So we just carry on as normal? Like nothing
ever happened between us?”
“Yep. It’s not like we’ll see each other that much, is it?
The odd home game get-together at Tanner’s. The occasional
official rugby function. Easy.”
His cocked eyebrow mocked her attempts at downplaying their
crazy chemistry. “Easy?”
“Yes.” She doubled down, clinging desperately to her
conviction. “I think perhaps it would be advisable for us
not to ever be alone together, if it can be avoided.”
He chuckled. “You think?”
The chemistry flared between them, so did her temper. For
the love of all that was holy, she was doing this for him.
If he wasn’t Kyle-hotshot-Leighton, she’d be fucking him
and flaunting it at every opportunity. And screw what her
father said. “I’m trying to look out for your career, Kyle.
“What if I could have both? What if I told you I could
handle my career and your father just fine without dancing
around and pretending I’m not totally hot for his
Val’s stomach did a three-sixty turn in her belly. Her
heart did the same in her chest. “You’ve known me for two
The whole thing was bloody preposterous.
“I was hot for you the moment I saw you sitting on that
barstool all alone, murdering olives with a toothpick.”
God. She wished Kyle would stop saying all the right
things. It made him very hard to resist. But she’d known
her father for much longer than Kyle had. She knew how
bloody minded he was, and Kyle damaging his career like
this over some chick he picked up in a bar was monumentally
Nobody gave up the chance of a lifetime for a bit of tail.
She appreciated Kyle’s bravado, but her father couldn’t be
handled. The only person who could really do that was Eve,
and there were times when he sorely tested her calm,
Val knew she’d never forgive herself for getting between
Kyle and her father. The sex was good—incredibly good—but
some things were bigger.
“Trust me, you’ll thank me for this one day.” He eyed her
dubiously. “Rugby glory, Kyle. My dad can make that
His tawny gaze glittered at her, obviously torn between the
temptation of the flesh and the temptation of the pitch. Of
achieving his lifelong goal. No matter how much he wanted
her, she knew he wanted that more.
She didn’t know Kyle very well, but she knew guys just like
him. Driven. Focused. Ambitious. Every Smoke player, every
pro rugby player was the same. They wanted to be the best.
The top of their game. They wanted the glory. And they
worked their asses off to get it.
She knew without having to even ask him that Kyle would
have been working towards the glory all his life. He
wouldn’t give it up. And she wouldn’t let him.
What do you think about this review?
1 comment posted.
Re: Pastries and rugby make for unusual and fabulous bedfellows
This is a book I'm going to have to read! Great review and
(Kathleen Bylsma 8:46pm July 8)
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