Monday, November 2, 2015

REVIEWS & BLITZ: The Game Plan (Game On #3) by Kristen Callihan

A beard-related dare and one hot-as-hell kiss changes everything.

NFL center Ethan Dexter’s focus has always been on playing football and little else. Except when it comes to one particular woman. The lovely Fiona Mackenzie might not care about his fame, but she’s also never looked at him as anything more than one of her brother-in-law’s best friend. That ends now. 

Fi doesn’t know what to make of Dex. The bearded, tattooed, mountain of man-muscle looks more like a biker than a football player. Rumor has it he’s a virgin, but she finds that hard to believe. Because from the moment he decides to turn his quiet intensity on her she’s left weak at the knees and aching to see his famous control fully unleashed. 

Dex is looking for a forever girl, but they live vastly different lives in separate cities. Fi ought to guard her heart and walk away. But Dex has upped his game and is using all his considerable charm to convince Fi he's her forever man.

Game On!

Release Date: Nov 1st, 2015

4.75 "FearTheBeard" Stars

This was really well done. Ethan Dexter blew my socks off. This was sexy, sweet, endearing and yes, angsty but not because of immature about a mature and refreshing relationship!

I know I'm not alone when I say that I freakin' LOVE LOVE LOVE this series!!! I seriously don’t know how Kristen Callihan does it but each of her leading men in this series have stolen my heart. I was gaga over Drew, loved Gray and now, Ethan! I’m going to steal Fi’s words to best express what Ethan does to me -- “sweet hot peppers”…

“…you were a sexy-as-fuck, sly-as-all-hell charmer who grabbed my attention and held it.”

“Jesus, there’s something downright dirty about beards. Fucking naughty. All I can think about now is sex. About other places with hair that’s both soft and wiry.”

Ethan Dexter (aka Dex), an NFL center and best friend of Drew and Gray, has wanted Fiona Mackenzie, Ivy's little sister (The Friend Zone), from the moment he met her. While he hasn't made a move and it's been years, he plans to. Whereas, Fi doesn't see him other than her brother-in-law's friend. He's not her type - she doesn't do athletes, big muscular men or beards!

As luck would have it, these two find themselves in the same place at the same time and Dex makes his move...or maybe it's Fi? These two connect, flirt and then something takes root between these two and a nickname is born…

“And it’s like my brain turns off, because I pull that cherry out of my drink and put it between my lips to suck it. Like some damn porn star. His gaze snaps to my mouth, and his eyes narrow.”

These two are definitely opposites attract. Cherry (Fi) is bubbly, vibrant, snarky, funny and confident.

Ethan is quiet, contemplative, sweet, smart, sexy and all pure broody male.

“I don’t know what to make of this,” I whisper. “I didn’t expect you, Ethan.”

“I’ve wanted you from the moment I saw you, Cherry.”

These two have a lot of obstacles with living miles apart in two different cities, Fi's pattern of running when the going gets tough, Ethan's past and much more. And yes, Ethan is a virgin but you know what? That was the least interesting bit and that's saying A LOT.

“The power I have over him hurts my heart. It might unnerve me except that I suspect he has a similar power over me.”

Ethan was simply amazing and ALL man. And Fi, even with her past track record, she's so likable and true, and they SEE each other. These two together were golden! And when trouble did hit, it was so honest and so mature. There was no drama but real, raw and unadulterated feelings, conversations and actions.

I highly recommend this! The entire series is a must read!

***An advance reading copy was generously provided by author in exchange for an honest review.***
4 Stars

I absolutely ADORE this series!! Gray Gray was my favourite and he still is to be honest, he was just everything saying that this one is a close second and a much more mature developed story. There was no immaturity and they dealt with their path pretty well..

Fi is Ivy's younger sister and is a bit of a fly away in that she is always searching for something better. In her career to the men she sleeps with, that is until Ethan Dexter walks into her life.

Dex is Grays buddy and after needing a small break from his job. Being in the NFL brings ALOT of hardship, plus Gray and Ivy could do with some sleep after having their newly born baby, they really need some sleep and Dex wants to hep them. Therefore Dex comes to stay with them for the week and that also includes Fi so they are in arms reach of each other during that time.

Ethan has always been the one to want Fi and not the other way round, that doesn't mean he doesn't make her hot and in need of some 'attention' when he looks in her direction in that intense needing way.

They were such a sweet and devoted couple to each other from early on, and this story came with a lot of the feels I love to enjoy when reading Kristen's stories.

But Dex has been a very subdued in his past, if you've seen him about in the The Hook Up and The Friend Zone then you'll see how he's reserved and quiet. Yet here you see who he actually is, see the fire he carries deep inside, see what kind of deep and devoted heart he carries for Fiona and see how he has felt like that for quite some time.

And once they get together, there is a lot of...

The thing about Dex though is that he has never let anyone in until Fi said yes, she's always been his Forever. And he is a NFL player which comes with the press and being in the spotlight. Therefore having a secret to keep, because frankly that's no else's F'n business, means that brought on a whole lot of publicity. Ethan wanted to keep Fi from it, yet it also put them both in the light and they had to deal with that as a couple and as individuals. Gah throughout that part of the story in the last 30% had me on tender hooks but again in a much more maturer way, these characters knew how to deal and then to loose control as well.

Why not 5?
The only reason I would say it's not a full 5 Stars to me was because 'for me' I didn't fully feel a deep connection between them both. In the middle their is a lot of sex, and as a couple it lacked that chemistry for me. They were very sweet and in love, but it didn't carry the intense connection I felt with Gray and Ivy's book. Saying that this is still a sexy sports romance, and I love this author, so will still recommend this and will continue to read on. Here's hoping Ronaldo gets a M/M book of his own in the future.. Wink wink..

**ARC gifted generously in exchange for an honest review**
I grin up at him. “You know, before this, I’d have taken you for a hard rock, or maybe even a bluegrass fan.”
“It’s the beard, isn’t it,” he asks.
“And the man-bun.”
He laughs, a short rumble of sound. “Want me to let it down?”
Yes. Maybe.
“Not necessary. Man-buns are hot. I blame Jason Momoa. There was only so much watching him bang Khaleesi the female population could take before they wanted their own Khal Drogo.”
Shit. I really don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Because it sounds a lot like flirting to me. Instinct tells me flirting with Ethan Dexter isn’t something to do lightly. And there’s the fact that I don’t go for athletes. At all. I don’t care how fit they are. Or how confident. I don’t like sports. Football bores me. Oh, I know tons about the sport—kind of impossible not to in my family—but I don’t want to pretend that I care when I’d rather talk about other things.
Dex’s eyes crinkle again, and he turns toward me, leaning an elbow on the table. “Doesn’t Momoa have a beard?”
I wave my hand. “Who has time to look at his beard when his muscles are on display?”
I most certainly do not look at Dex’s phenomenal arms.
“So your stance on beards is?” His gaze so strong I feel it in my toes.
My breathing picks up. “Don’t particularly like them.”
It’s the truth. And yet I can’t help but look at his. It’s dark, framing his mouth, which should be a turnoff for me. Only it draws all my attention there. To the shape of his mouth—the upper lip a gentle curve, the lower lip fuller, almost a pout. There’s something slightly illicit about the whole effect.
I clear my throat, glance up, and find him watching me through lowered lids. He doesn’t seem particularly put out by my frankness.
“What don’t you like about them?”
Is he serious?
He stares at me.
I guess he is.
Taking a quick sip of my drink, I search for an answer. “They’re just so…fuzzy. Prickly.”
He moves in, not crowding me, but putting himself at arms’ reach. He smells faintly of cloves and oranges. It must be his aftershave or cologne, but it works for me.
I’m distracted by it and almost jump when he speaks again. “Do you know this based on experience, or are you making an assumption?”
My gaze narrows. “Aren’t you the philosopher.”
“You didn’t answer the question.”
“Fine. Assumption.”
His lips quirk. “You should find out if your assumption is true before you condemn the beard.”
“Is this some sort of creepy way to get me to touch your beard?”
A challenge flashes in his eyes. “There are a few guys at the bar sporting beards. You could go ask them. But I figure since we know each other…”
“Not that well.”
“You’d rather ask a stranger?”
“You’re assuming I care enough to ask, Slick.”
His teeth shine white in the shadows of the club. “I know you’re curious. You’re fairly twitching with wanting to know.”
I flatten my hands against the table and glare. Is it just me, or is he closer? Close enough that I can see his eyes are hazel, lighter around his cornea with a starburst pattern. I wish I could see the colors, but he’s painted in shades of blue and gray right now.
And he’s watching me. Patient. Calculating. Tempting.
“It’s always the quiet ones,” I mutter before taking a breath. “Okay, I’ll pet your fuzzy face.”
“Hold up.” Without hesitation, he reaches for my drink and takes a sip. “Liquid courage.”
A strangled laugh leaves me. “Because I’m sooo scary.”
“You have no idea, Cherry.”
I think I growl at him. I definitely want to give his precious beard a good, hard tug. But he simply lifts his brows at me. “Get on with it, then.”
This cheeky bastard is totally playing me. And here I am falling into his trap. Because I cannot look away from his beard now. More specifically, his lips, which are parted just slightly. An invitation. A dare.
Shit. I’ve never been very good at ignoring a dare.
I hate that my hand trembles as I reach up to touch him. He stays perfectly still, his arm casually slung on the edge of the booth behind me, his body turned toward mine. But I don’t miss the way his breathing has kicked up just slightly.
I hesitate, shy almost. Hells bells, I’m only going to touch a bit of facial hair. Why does it feel like we’re two kids tucked in a dark corner, playing a game of “I’ll show you mine”?
Annoyed with myself, I close the distance between us.

Kristen Callihan is an author because there is nothing else she’d rather do. She is a three-time RITA nominee, and winner of two RT Reviewer’s Choice awards. Her novels have garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly and the Library Journal, as well as being awarded top picks by many reviewers. Her debut book FIRELIGHT received RT Magazine’s Seal of Excellence, was named a best book of the year by Library Journal, best book of Spring 2012 by Publisher’s Weekly, and was named the best romance book of 2012 by ALA RUSA. When she is not writing, she is reading.

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