She’s been playing it close…
Ara Martin and college football star Ty Masters have been best friends since the first day of school when Ty literally ran her over. She fell for him immediately, but having lived under the shadow of her famous father, she knows a relationship with irresistible Ty would only end in heartbreak. For four years, she’s kept her feelings hidden. But one drunken encouter weeks before graduation is about to expose Ara’s biggest secret and destroy her most treasured relationship.
He’s been playing for keeps…
Ty is about to be drafted into the NFL, but his personal life is a mess. He’s got an agent he doesn’t like, a brother who can’t stop offering his opinion, and a beautiful woman he craves but can’t have. He can fire his agent and ignore his brother, but he’s not sure what to do about Ara. Ty’s been able to run down every quarterback he’s faced, but his sexy, stubborn best friend keeps slipping through his fingers.
Luckily, he’s not one for giving up, and once he gets his hands on her, he’s never letting go.
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What reader doesn’t love a good slow burn sports romance…one where a friendship turns into something beautiful and sexy, even if it takes a bit for the hero and heroine, more her than him, to get out of their own heads and realize that they’re the ones stalling their own happiness.
Ever since meeting Ty, Knox’s twin brother, in Sacked, Knox and Ellie’s story, I’ve wanted to know what makes Ty, Ty – a standout football star in his own right and a guy who puts all of his drive and time into a game he lives for and one that’s going to springboard him into stardom. I wanted to gather a bit more insight on his relationship with best friend, Ara Martin, because there’s something so easy about their connection…something so refreshing about the way they stand by one another regardless of the situation. And, despite the fact that they’re clearly in love with one another even if Ty is oblivious to the fact and Ara works hard to pretend she doesn’t have more than friendly feelings for Ty, it’s a bond that hasn’t faltered since they first bumped into each other during Ara’s freshman year of college.
As I started to read, I wanted the inside scoop about these two best friends and their drunken bowl night hookup, and I was eager to see if Ara would continue to deny what happened or if she’d finally get out of her own way and realize that the reason none of their other romantic relationships worked was because they’re each other’s ‘one,’ which means that regardless of the ‘twin test’…regardless of Ty’s devotion to football…regardless of Ara’s fears of breaking the ‘friendship seal,’ they’re meant to be together in more than a fraternal way.
What I loved most about Ty is that he wanted to be his own person and enter the NFL draft solely based on his skills on the field, and while some would call him naïve and a bit one-dimensional when it comes to showing his ‘worth’ to potential coaches and teams, the fact that he didn’t give into all the hype or be someone/something that he’s not is actually what should make him standout in a field of dozens of other potential stars.
Most of the time when I was reading Ara’s perspective, I wanted to shake her a bit and help her to look past her fears and realize who Ty truly is to her because pigeon holing any romantic relationship with him simply because of Ty’s and her father’s failing ones isn’t fair to how deeply Ty and Ara feel for one another, and while I get why Ara hides and/or runs away when things get too heavy, the confident and kickass woman she appears to be retreats inside, leaving a coward and a woman who simply accepts the little bit of attention/affection/compliments that she gets, which doesn’t match the feisty, ballsy woman her friends, her dad, and readers know she is.
I absolutely adore Jen Frederick’s Girdiron series. The storylines are interesting and vary based on whose story is being told and the characters all have their own quirks and personalities, so the books don’t feel repetitive. Ty and Knox Masters are probably my favorite out of the players’ stories already told, but it took me some time to deal with Ara’s cowardice because most of the situations she found herself in was from her own doing, which means that she’s the only one who could pull herself out of the victim-like position and take the control that she needs to be successful in all areas of her life.
Even though I had some slight problems with Ara’s behavior and actions, I really enjoyed Played. Ty’s dedication to the sport he loves and his devotion to Ara make him one hell of a book boyfriend and the tenaciousness with which he pursues his best friend once he realizes that they share way more than friendship definitely made me deem him worthy of a top spot in my list of favorite book heroes.
4.5 Poison Apples
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What he wants he gets…
Knox Masters is a quarterback’s worst nightmare. Warrior. Champion. And…virgin. Knox knows what he wants–and he gets it. All American Football player? Check. NFL pros scouting him? Check. Now, he’s set his sight on two things. The national title. And Ellie Campbell. Sure, she’s the sister of his fellow teammate, but that’s not going to stop him. Especially not when he’s convinced Ellie is the one.
…but he’s never met her before.
But Ellie isn’t as sure. She’s trying to start a new life and she’s not interested in a relationship…with anyone. Beside it’s not just her cardinal rule of never dating her brother’s teammates that keeps her away, but Ellie has a dark secret that would jeopardize everything Knox is pursuing.
Knox has no intention of losing. Ellie has no intention of giving in.
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She’s always played it safe…
College junior Lucy Washington abides by one rule—avoid risk at all costs. She’s cautious in every aspect of her life, from her health, to her mock trial team, to the boring guys she dates. When a brash, gorgeous jock walks into the campus coffeeshop and turns his flirt on, Lucy is stunned by the force of attraction. For the first time ever, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone, but can she really trust the guy who’s determined to sweep her off her feet?
He’s always played around…
Entering his last year of college eligibility, linebacker Matthew “Matty” Iverson has the team captaincy in his sights. And it’s his for the taking, if he can convince his quarterback Ace Anderson to give up the starting position. Luckily, Matty already has an edge—the hottie he’s lusting over just happens to be Ace’s childhood best friend. Getting Lucy on his side and in his bed? Hell yeah. Matty is more than confident he can have both, but when he falls hard for Lucy, it’s time for a new game plan: convince the woman of his dreams that she’s not sleeping with the enemy.
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He’s the guy no one likes…
Despite winning two national championships, JR “Ace” Anderson was sent packing from his old school after losing the trust of his coach. At Southern U, he has a second chance to prove that his college legacy isn’t endless debauchery and selfishness. But his reputation precedes him, and his teammates offer a chilly welcome in the locker room. The one person who is willing to accept him is the very woman he should stay away from—his new coach’s daughter.
She’s the girl everyone loves…
Bryant Johnson’s only goal in life is to make others happy, even at her own expense. One look at her father’s new star quarterback, and she knows that Ace is her next project. With a reputation for being a “jerk whisperer”, Bryant has spent her last three years at college reforming sorry behavior and turning bad boys into the best boyfriends ever. In Ace, though, she’s met with surly resistance and a sizzling attraction she doesn’t expect. Fixing this wounded warrior will be her biggest challenge yet. Not falling for him will be even harder.
Between her big heart and his damaged one, a battle is ensuing. In this game of love, every defense will crumble.
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About the Author
Jen Frederick is the USA Today bestselling author of Unspoken, part of the Woodlands series, and Sacked, part of the Gridiron series. She is also the author of the Charlotte Chronicles and has had several books on the Kindle Top 100 list. She lives in the Midwest with a husband who keeps track of life’s details while she’s writing, a daughter who understands when Mom disappears into her office for hours at a time, and a rambunctious dog who does neither. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.