Title: Talking Dirty with the Player
Author: Jackie Ashenden
Series: Talking Dirty
Genre: contemporary romance
Format read: ebook
Photographer Judith Ashton has got everything under control. She’s doing a job she loves, and if she felt a slight…pang watching her brother marry the love of her life, well, she’ll get over it. The even bigger pang she felt seeing Caleb Steele again? Well, that might be a little bit harder to get over. Especially since she’s never quite managed to get over Caleb—even though their single night together was eight whole years ago.
Caleb is a professional rugby player, though he knows his days as a paid athlete are numbered. His next job will probably move him out of the country—and that’s not the only reason he should stay far, far away from his best friend’s little sister. That long ago night scared him, because he felt things he knew he shouldn’t feel for the last person on earth that he should be involved with….
Talking Dirty with the Player is book two in the series, but it can definitely be read as a stand-alone. (Warning: you’ll probably want to read book one, though. I know I do—and fortunately, I picked it up when the Indulgence line was on sale last month.) Judith is Talking Dirty with the CEO‘s Joe’s little sister, and Caleb is his best friend.
I really enjoyed this book. There was a lot of amusing snark flying back and forth between Jude and Cal, interspersed with a whole lot of heat:
Judith blinked, a shivery feeling moving through her. “Excuse me?”
“I said ask me nicely.”
The hand on her hip moved, fingers pressing gently through the silk. “Or we continue to dance as long as I want.”
The shivery feeling intensified, the liquid heat pooling in the pit of her stomach. He’s moved even closer, so close they were almost touching. Judith forced herself to ignore the inconvenient physical feelings. Wow, was she that easy to read? Not liking the thought one little bit, she gave him another saccharine smile. “Hey, I’ve got no problem dancing with you. However, since you insist, please tell me your wonderful, special idea. Pretty please with sprinkles on top.”
Caleb’s grin was revoltingly self-satisfied, as if he knew exactly how discomfited she was by him. “Hmmm. I think that was a bit too nice. Less sprinkles and more smiles.”
Caleb, I swear to God—”
“Okay, okay. Keep your hair on, sweetheart.”
As fun as their banter was, it was also balanced out by quite a few really sweet moments.
His attention flicked to the box. “Open it.”
“Oh, I don’t think—”
Judith let out a breath, went over to the reception desk, and picked up the box. Probably jewelry. Probably the kind of sparkle his TV bimbos would like. Something generic that he usually gave to—
Her heart gave a little jump as she opened the box.
Nestled in black velvet was a pendant, a small bird crafted out of platinum, New Zealand’s native fantail. Its wings were spread, distinctive tail of feathers spread out in a graceful arc, a tiny sapphire for an eye.
A lump rose in her throat. Because she knew this necklace. Had seen it in her favorite clothing shop and had lusted after it for months, but it had been far too expensive. How had he known? She tried to swallow. “Why this?”
He hesitated. “It reminded me of that bluebird necklace I got you for your thirteenth birthday.”
She remembered too. The thirteenth birthday Joseph had forgotten, and so had her father. Caleb hadn’t. And that bluebird necklace had been the start of her crush on him. She’d worn it constantly for years afterward and still kept it in her jewelry box.
He hadn’t just bought her some random bit of bling. He’d thought about it. Thought about her. Like he’d used to.
Their chemistry—and the love scenes—were hot! All good things. I had a lot of fun with this book.
The only part that gave me pause is that both Jude and Cal did a whole lot of backtracking in and second guessing of their relationship throughout the novel. Much of it made sense with their characters—both had less than ideal lives growing up, and both had major trust issues and feelings of inadequacy due to past relationships. So a lot of the back and forth and up and down in their relationship made sense. In some instances, though, it really seemed to come out of nowhere and left me feeling as blindsided as the other character. Once I even backed up a few pages to see if I’d missed something. Still, it all came together in the end (with a very sweet—and super-public declaration), so I’m going with the “all’s well that ends well” maxim here.
The epilogue was absolutely adorable! I read it twice. 🙂
In a nutshell: an entertaining and sexy read. In spite of a few minor issues with this one, I’ll definitely be reading more from this author. B rating.
I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Twitter handle: @JackieAshenden
Talking Dirty with the Player is available today!