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Playing Dirty

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When high school golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet, he broke her heart. Now a decade older and a head-turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was—and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can’t refuse. A documentary film p When high school golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet, he broke her heart. Now a decade older and a head-turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was—and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can’t refuse. A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She's certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn't count on Cade's determination. Because he's never gotten over her. And he's not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red-hot future...


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When high school golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet, he broke her heart. Now a decade older and a head-turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was—and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can’t refuse. A documentary film p When high school golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet, he broke her heart. Now a decade older and a head-turner with her own concierge business, Ava isn't the gullible dreamer she once was—and she plans to prove it when Cade, hotter than ever, breezes back into town with an offer she can’t refuse. A documentary film producer, Cade is shooting a movie about the mysterious mansion Ava inherited. And he wants her as his personal concierge. She's certainly professional enough to be at his beck and call without giving him everything he wants. Like another shot at having her in his bed. But Ava doesn't count on Cade's determination. Because he's never gotten over her. And he's not above playing dirty to score a second chance at a red-hot future...

30 review for Playing Dirty

  1. 4 out of 5

    Carmen

    I just can't with this. Hero took Ava's virginity in high school and then told everyone in school, received $200 for it off a bet with his friends that he couldn't bag the "fat girl?" And she not only ends up forgiving him for this shit, but falling in love with him? Uh-uh, no way. I like to think I have a good imagination, but this is stretching even my considerable powers. This book is too painful for me to read. Ava is humiliated, she lost her virginity to a shitheel, not to mention Andersen tr I just can't with this. Hero took Ava's virginity in high school and then told everyone in school, received $200 for it off a bet with his friends that he couldn't bag the "fat girl?" And she not only ends up forgiving him for this shit, but falling in love with him? Uh-uh, no way. I like to think I have a good imagination, but this is stretching even my considerable powers. This book is too painful for me to read. Ava is humiliated, she lost her virginity to a shitheel, not to mention Andersen trying to navigate the quagmire that is writing a fat heroine - difficult for even the most skilled authors to pull off correctly. Also, Andersen makes the (poor) choice to have Ava (who was obese in high school) lose the weight in adulthood and she is now a 150 lb size 12/14. Why is this a mistake for the author to make, Carmen? It's a huge mistake, because as any fat woman who becomes skinny knows, you can't trust any man who takes an interest in you now that you're thin(ner). So, the guy who not only broke her heart but humiliated her and shamed her in high school, after she trusted him enough to make him her First, is now sniffing around, interested again? How the fuck could you trust this? What happens when she gains the weight back? Who says she'll gain the weight back, Carmen? *Carmen is skeptical* But okay, let's say she doesn't. Let's pretend she keeps her size 12/14 figure for the rest of her life. At what cost? Being hyper-vigilant about her eating and weighing herself twice a day? Having a constant worry and fear that a man who claims to love her no matter what (despite this HUGE HUGE black mark on his record to the contrary) is going to ditch her if she gains 10 pounds? Or 20? Or 50? How the fuck is she ever going to fully trust him? She never will. She's always going to be looking over her shoulder and turning down ice cream after dinner and waking up at 5AM for a two-hour work-out because she knows in her heart that the man she's with doesn't truly love her for who she truly is, and will leave her if she gains weight again. She'll never be able to fully relax around him - which means she doesn't trust him - which means despite whatever words are exchanged, she doesn't really believe he loves her. They discuss this in the book. Yes, they discuss this in the book, and he makes a big deal about how he'll love her at any size, and she's like "What if I gain the weight back?" She's really afraid of his reaction, should this happen. And he's like "Even if you gain 10 pounds or 100 pounds, I'll still be here and I'll still love you" and I'm like "BULLSHIT." I'll believe that when I see it, mister. I don't trust him as far as I could throw him. But then again, she decided to date him again and even have sex with him again, which I think is a show of horrible decision-making on her part. I don't trust him, I don't like him, and I don't forgive him. I'd be fine with a book where he was the villain, but as a hero - no way. If the author had Ava remain an obese woman into adulthood - THEN had this guy show up like he did in the book (looks her up, begs for forgiveness, still has the hots for her) - then this would be a different story. Having NOT changed her body shape and size and having this guy reappear and be willing to make amends and showing a sexual interest in her, perhaps they could work something out. I still think it would be very tricky to write - I mean, that was an unforgivable shit move he pulled - but at least I would think he's on the up-and-up in re: his being attracted to her. As it stands, if I were her I'd be incredulous and highly suspicious. Only an idiot would make the mistake of trusting this dickwad twice - and she's coming off as a huge idiot here. ONE REAL STAR, ONE ROMANCE STAR

  2. 4 out of 5

    Mo

    Third book in the series and just as engaging. Maybe it was because the girls are kinda normal... Ava has some issues from her childhood/teenage years. I can empathize - with two brothers you have to be kind of thick skinned and girls are very conscious about their weight when they are teenagers. At least I was ... especially when those fucking brothers used to call me "Hippo"!!!! All is forgiven now. we are good friends. Third book in the series and just as engaging. Maybe it was because the girls are kinda normal... Ava has some issues from her childhood/teenage years. I can empathize - with two brothers you have to be kind of thick skinned and girls are very conscious about their weight when they are teenagers. At least I was ... especially when those fucking brothers used to call me "Hippo"!!!! All is forgiven now. we are good friends.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Saly

    Susan Andersen consistently delivers excellent contemporaries with good characters, friends and a little bad-man thrown in and Playing Dirty is no different. It is the third in the Sisterhood Diaries about three friends Poppy, Jane and Ava who are bequeathed the Wolcott estate by Agnes Bell Wolcott. Agnes was there for the girls since the age of 12 when they started having tea at her home. She helped them through heart-breaks, self-involved parents and even gave them direction in life. Ava Spence Susan Andersen consistently delivers excellent contemporaries with good characters, friends and a little bad-man thrown in and Playing Dirty is no different. It is the third in the Sisterhood Diaries about three friends Poppy, Jane and Ava who are bequeathed the Wolcott estate by Agnes Bell Wolcott. Agnes was there for the girls since the age of 12 when they started having tea at her home. She helped them through heart-breaks, self-involved parents and even gave them direction in life. Ava Spencer was over-weight when she was a kid and the fact the her mother never let off on her didn't help, but she found happiness with the sister-hood. Cade and she grew up together but he was always pulling pranks on her, but when she loses her virginity to him thinking it is the start of something new, she finds out it was all part of a bet, but even when she is hurt Ava had spine and instead holds her head high and calls him "quick draw". Now, Ava is a successful jack of all trades, she is an organizer and has contacts all over. She is curvy and happy with her figure but her mother's constant efforts to tell her to diet sometimes pull her into self-doubt and that same old insecurity. Cade is a documentary filmmaker and wants to make one on Agnes. It may give him a big break and the chance to get financing for a film he wants. Ava is less than pleased to see him but when he offers her a great price for the estate and her services she can't refuse since she needs the money in the economy. Over the years Cade has repeatedly tried to apologize to Ava but she is not interested, she hasn't forgiven him but tells him let us keep the past in the past. Suffice to say Jane and Poppy are not happy but Ava says that she is a big girl now and she can handle him and she does, she is totally amazing and such a professional. Ava can multitask, she handles her father's birthday party, organizing for the entire production crew, you name it. I liked that Cade knew what a jerk he was and has suffered for that. He never gives up trying to make up for that and has changed from the guy he used to be. He was attracted to Ava even then but let his family events and need to be cool, hurt Ava. He respects her like hell for not taking what he doled out lying down and admires the person she has become. And the best part was that they didn't have the perfect sex experience back in high-school, most of the time in romance books the guy is a stud the first time around but Cade agrees his 18 year old self was less than stellar. It was good seeing how Ava had come to accept herself with the help of her friends, yes she was human and had doubts sometimes but she was kick-ass and knew how to get back at Cade. Man when she wears that knock-out dress just to get back at Cade for giving her sleepless nights and when she gets her friend to act as her boyfriend when Cade doubts her. Cade, I didn't expect to like him after what he did to Ava but I did. He was jerk back then and he worked to make up for it, even accepting the blame when Ava doesn't trust him. He had matured and even let Ava know that he found her perfect the way she is, which allows Ava to point-blank tell her mother to back off, that her body is the way it is. And the best part how Cade falls for her first and tries to convince Ava that is real. The sisterhood books were great and finally they found the Wolcott jewels. I loved the way the girls handled the guy who tried to make them hand over the jewels. Girl power rocks. The book is a great end to the series. Courtesy netgalley

  4. 4 out of 5

    willaful

    I was so hooked on the premise of this story that I kept reading despite not loving the style. The fat girl whose first lover turned out to have been winning a bet.. and now he’s back in her life... wow. How on earth was Andersen going to redeem this jerk and make him a hero? Well, not that well actually -- Cade is given a shallow, slapdash backstory to make him seem less terrible, and honestly I think I would have preferred it if he’d just been a straightforward creep who grew up. Add in a dumb I was so hooked on the premise of this story that I kept reading despite not loving the style. The fat girl whose first lover turned out to have been winning a bet.. and now he’s back in her life... wow. How on earth was Andersen going to redeem this jerk and make him a hero? Well, not that well actually -- Cade is given a shallow, slapdash backstory to make him seem less terrible, and honestly I think I would have preferred it if he’d just been a straightforward creep who grew up. Add in a dumb mystery and the incessantly breezy, slangy style and this was sometimes a chore to finish. But I did stay interested by the repercussions of the past on Ava and Cade’s relationship, and thought that played out well. Ava is a good depiction of a woman working on being happy with herself, but still struggling with insecurities. Although third in a series, this works okay as a standalone. (I didn’t finish the first and didn’t start the second.)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Cc

    Ugh. I've had this on Mount TBR since '15 and finally......... finally it went on sale to .99 cents. And it sat on my iPad another 6 months. Monday I took the dive. It belly flopped. D*%#@mmit. Maybe it was bc it started in high school. Maybe it was the writing. Maybe it was her mother (who really really loved her but was so critical of her weight and used her for everything, but she really really really did love her). Maybe it was the other 2 friends who kept all the bad feelings alive ~ fro Ugh. I've had this on Mount TBR since '15 and finally......... finally it went on sale to .99 cents. And it sat on my iPad another 6 months. Monday I took the dive. It belly flopped. D*%#@mmit. Maybe it was bc it started in high school. Maybe it was the writing. Maybe it was her mother (who really really loved her but was so critical of her weight and used her for everything, but she really really really did love her). Maybe it was the other 2 friends who kept all the bad feelings alive ~ from high school ~ instead of helping her move on. I don't know about you, but I can't even remember high school. College and the gorgeous 42 year old professor with the amazing brown eyes who was married w/4 kids (ahem, maybe I knew a bit too much about him)? Yeah, that I remember. But not high school, much less what a shitty boy did. There were too many shitty boys to remember.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Jess the Romanceaholic

    This is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic Expected Release Date: July 26, 2011 Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: HQN Author’s Website: http://www.susanandersen.com/ My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Sisterhood Diaries Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy On Netgalley, this book was categorized as “FICTION – ADULT: Other: Coming of Age”. I admit that I didn’t notice that when I requested the book, and pro This is a Quickie Review. For the full review, please visit The Romanceaholic Expected Release Date: July 26, 2011 Publisher: Harlequin Imprint: HQN Author’s Website: http://www.susanandersen.com/ My Source for This Book: Netgalley Part of a Series: Yes, Book 3, Sisterhood Diaries Series Best Read In Order: Worked well as a standalone Steam Level: Steamy On Netgalley, this book was categorized as “FICTION – ADULT: Other: Coming of Age”. I admit that I didn’t notice that when I requested the book, and probably wouldn’t have requested it if I had, because I simply don’t “do” chick-lit. However, I am incredibly glad that I didn’t see the category before I requested it, because I would’ve missed out on a real gem of a book! In short? I loved it! It was light while still dealing with life issues, steamy without being trashy, and sweet without being saccharine. Ava has never fully embraced her curves, despite the fact that she’s worked hard to get and maintain her curvy figure of a fit size 12. Cade has never been able to fully make up to her for his cruel prank in high school. Throw in her work as a successful concierge, his skill as a producer/director of hit documentaries, a little intrigue about some missing diamonds, two friends who would walk through fire for our heroine, and some delicious chemistry, and you’ve got a truly enjoyable read. Recommended for fans of realistically sized heroines, righting a wrong that’s plagued you since high school, and having BFF’s who stick with you through everything. A very enthusiastic 4/5 Stars

  7. 4 out of 5

    Paige Bookdragon

    Let me get this straight.This book is good. I just dnf-ed this one because I was getting bored with the romance genre. This book is a total brain candy. It's fun, sexy, entertaining and if I wasn't fed up with blushes, butterflies in the stomachs and kisses, I would have totally finished this. But alas, life is a moody bitch. I'm now craving for some back stabbing, fist fights and blood. Let me get this straight.This book is good. I just dnf-ed this one because I was getting bored with the romance genre. This book is a total brain candy. It's fun, sexy, entertaining and if I wasn't fed up with blushes, butterflies in the stomachs and kisses, I would have totally finished this. But alas, life is a moody bitch. I'm now craving for some back stabbing, fist fights and blood.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Cheesecake

    The whole point of reading this trope (boy done girl wrong and later regrets), is that he is man enough to grovel well. DNF at 50% Cade spends weeks pretending to be Ava's friend in high school in order to seduce her for a bet. He succeeds and she is publicly humiliated in the cafeteria. I did like her character as she gives as good as she gets, but HE KNEW WHAT HE DID TO HER. So she goes on a diet and becomes awesome looking the following year. Years later, he wants to make a docu-drama about her a The whole point of reading this trope (boy done girl wrong and later regrets), is that he is man enough to grovel well. DNF at 50% Cade spends weeks pretending to be Ava's friend in high school in order to seduce her for a bet. He succeeds and she is publicly humiliated in the cafeteria. I did like her character as she gives as good as she gets, but HE KNEW WHAT HE DID TO HER. So she goes on a diet and becomes awesome looking the following year. Years later, he wants to make a docu-drama about her and her friends' mentor and the mystery of the woman's missing diamonds. Apparently the mystery of the diamonds isn't over... He's drawn to her but views his attraction as something like a bad rash that he can just get some cream for to eradicate. Well, he tries several times over the years to apologize, but he never puts any effort into it. It was more like something he seemed to want to get off his chest. (Get the guilt monkey off his back maybe?). There's absolutely no willingness to make a public gesture, and there's no sense of appreciation for her as a person. (except that he likes her awesome bod) In fact I quit reading half way because he almost does the same damn thing to her again! He doesn't want to get his fragile ego hurt, so he lets her believe the worst. This guy couldn't apologize his way out of a paper bag. But hey, I did quit half way, and maybe he redeems himself??? maybe. Maybe I'll go back and read the rest someday...

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jacqueline J

    Really enjoyed finally reading Ava's story. I enjoyed how she was such a strong person even though she had insecurities. I liked Cade. I especially liked that he had treated her so badly in high school but had not waited the 10 years until this book took place to apologize for his betrayal. He had tried many times over the years. It just took her this long to forgive him. This book was well written, light hearted without being farcical. It moved right along and all made sense. I really wanted to Really enjoyed finally reading Ava's story. I enjoyed how she was such a strong person even though she had insecurities. I liked Cade. I especially liked that he had treated her so badly in high school but had not waited the 10 years until this book took place to apologize for his betrayal. He had tried many times over the years. It just took her this long to forgive him. This book was well written, light hearted without being farcical. It moved right along and all made sense. I really wanted to watch the documentary when they were done with it. Too bad it's make believe. ;-) A solid end to this enjoyable series.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Glory hallelujah! Finally there is a book from this series that I love! I had troubles with Cutting Loose and my reread of Bending the Rules was less than stellar, so I was a little wary about Playing Dirty. However, I felt that Ava and Cade's story had the potential to be the best one of the series. There was so much history with them, and while that doesn't always guarantee a winner, I felt that it would work in their favor. And boy did it! I loved the plotline; I could actually feel all the e Glory hallelujah! Finally there is a book from this series that I love! I had troubles with Cutting Loose and my reread of Bending the Rules was less than stellar, so I was a little wary about Playing Dirty. However, I felt that Ava and Cade's story had the potential to be the best one of the series. There was so much history with them, and while that doesn't always guarantee a winner, I felt that it would work in their favor. And boy did it! I loved the plotline; I could actually feel all the emotion, and I could see how Cade and Ava could fall for each other, unlike some people *cough Dev falling for Jane cough*. I adored all the characters in this book, especially Cade. I haven't had trouble with the males of this series like I've had with the females, but neither Dev and Jase really pulled me in in that "Oh my God, he is so great and I love him so much and he's so damn cute!" way. Cade, though...Oh, he totally did. I loved him from the beginning. Well, maybe not in the prologue because of what he did to Ava, but as soon as the first chapter started. I think part of what enabled me to love him from so early on was the fact that it was clear from the beginning that he genuinely regretted and was sincerely sorry for what he did to Ava when they were in high school. That certainly doesn't erase the fact that he did it, neither does his explanation why, but the regret and reasoning went a long way toward making me sympathize with him, too, not just Ava. And he was a genuinely good guy who loved his job and was so adorable. I loved Ava a lot, too. I think, of the three women, she's always been my favorite; she wasn't as annoyingly judgmental as Jane and not as flamboyant as Poppy. She was her own person and, despite her insecurities, was a strong person, and there wasn't really any part of the book where I really disliked her, except for when she crushed my poor Cade's heart, but that's neither here nor there. She was pretty awesome. Beks, Cade's assistant, was pretty fabulous, too. The resident Goth girl with a sense of humor and no filter. I liked her from the first moment she was introduced when she ignored Cade while he was complaining about Ava being late. I even appreciate the recurring characters a bit more in this book: The guys (Jase, Dev, and Finn) were not in it as much, but they were still cuties. Poppy was as crazy as ever, especially since she was pregnant (and had the baby in the epilogue). And, shocking as it may seem, Jane did not annoy me this time around! Even she couldn't pop my Cade Happiness Bubble. I was less than impressed with The Villain of the book, Tony the Bad Guy, but I felt that was to be expected as I don't think I've found a bad guy yet in one of Susan Andersen's books that didn't just make me shake my head in exasperation and frustration. Oh! Maybe the guy in Burning Up. I distinctly remember hating him. But, again, that's neither here nor there. So, shocking as it may seem, I actually adored this book. One for three. I suppose it's not too bad.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    Ava was the "fat girl" in high school. She had her two best friends and she really didn't need anyone else. But when her long time nemesis Cade and she are partnered for a project sparks begin to fly between the two. Ava falls for him but he ultimately betrays her and humiliates her basically in front of the entire school. Fast forward thirteen years and Ava is now a gorgeous successful women who had inherited an old mansion with her two best friend from Miss Agnes. Cade is also a success in his Ava was the "fat girl" in high school. She had her two best friends and she really didn't need anyone else. But when her long time nemesis Cade and she are partnered for a project sparks begin to fly between the two. Ava falls for him but he ultimately betrays her and humiliates her basically in front of the entire school. Fast forward thirteen years and Ava is now a gorgeous successful women who had inherited an old mansion with her two best friend from Miss Agnes. Cade is also a success in his documentary type films and he wants to do a piece on Miss Agnes and the mystery surrounding her lost diamonds. But he needs Ava to agree to let him shoot in her house. Ava reluctantly agrees but she doesn't know how she is going to face Cade everyday because her heart still speeds up when she sees and hears him. Cade has long since changed from high school, and he has tried many times to apologize and explain to Ava what happened in high school. But she has never allowed it and see's now, with them working closely together, as the perfect time to settle things between them. He always thought she was beautiful and truly did care about her and that hasn't changed. But he comes to find he doesn't just want her forgiveness, he wants all of her. I liked this story and it was the last book in a series about the three best friends. I had read the previous book and in that book you get the first look at Cade and Ava. I was interested to see what would ultimately happen between the two. I liked there story but I didn't really feel the relationship grow. What was the great appeal between the two other than sexual attraction. I wanted to know what other things they liked about each other how they really fell in love. Because half the book was Ava being politely cool to Cade and then the next they were sleeping together. I didn't really feel a transition between the two sides as much as I would have liked. It was a cute story and a fast read. There were some definite typos which distract me but other than that it was a nice story.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    I was very excited to get an advanced copy of this book since I really enjoyed the first 2 books in the Sisterhood Series, I was amazed by the bond between these 3 women. I was also a little leery about how I would feel reading it because being someone who had struggled with weight my whole life and the insecurities that come with that, my heart ached for Ava. What Cade did to her was the most horrible thing you can imagine a high school girl going through and I was absolutely sure I could never I was very excited to get an advanced copy of this book since I really enjoyed the first 2 books in the Sisterhood Series, I was amazed by the bond between these 3 women. I was also a little leery about how I would feel reading it because being someone who had struggled with weight my whole life and the insecurities that come with that, my heart ached for Ava. What Cade did to her was the most horrible thing you can imagine a high school girl going through and I was absolutely sure I could never forgive him. I WAS WRONG! This book was magnificent story of love, and the power of accepting and embracing who you are! This was a great wrap to the series, including the documentary Cade does on Miss Agnes and the surprise find at the end. I won't give anything away, especially since this book has not been released yet. All I'll say is if you have read the other two Sisterhood books this one will not disappoint, and if you haven't read this series, if you enjoy a good contemporary romance the Sisterhood Diaries series is for you! ***I received this book as an ARC from Netgalley!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jae

    A cute story. My favorite quote "We have uteruses-they give us magic color sense." But I didn't like the ending much. It was too rushed and what's with the labor room thing? They let everybody go inside during child birth now? Even your friends and their husbands too? I didn't even want my hubby near me when I was in labor some years ago. But then, that was just me. Love the cover though. Fully clothed yet very suggestive. A cute story. My favorite quote "We have uteruses-they give us magic color sense." But I didn't like the ending much. It was too rushed and what's with the labor room thing? They let everybody go inside during child birth now? Even your friends and their husbands too? I didn't even want my hubby near me when I was in labor some years ago. But then, that was just me. Love the cover though. Fully clothed yet very suggestive.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jackie

    It was ok but I was wishing it would end at some points . It’s mills and boon so there is that kind of forced formal cheesiness but I love the idea of a hero messing up so spectacularly in high school and then having to face a very hot version of the woman scorned several years later so for that reason it got stars ⭐️.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Book Binge

    It wasn't until after I requested this book and then received it and started reading it that I realized this is the book that Holly blogged about last year. She blogged about the news the author broke about how it wasn't likely that she'd get to write this book. A few months later, Holly blogged again that things turned for the good and fans of the Sisterhood trilogy books were going to get Ava's book. Holly told me time and time again to read these books but like usual, I didn't. It didn't stop It wasn't until after I requested this book and then received it and started reading it that I realized this is the book that Holly blogged about last year. She blogged about the news the author broke about how it wasn't likely that she'd get to write this book. A few months later, Holly blogged again that things turned for the good and fans of the Sisterhood trilogy books were going to get Ava's book. Holly told me time and time again to read these books but like usual, I didn't. It didn't stop me from reading this book though. I jumped right in and thought I'd just fill in the blanks later. This book read as a good stand alone as I didn't feel like I'd missed much by not reading the other books. As a straight up contemporary romance, this book was great. Susan Andersen has a way with words and she definitely had my interest piqued while reading through this book. Seeing Cade grow up into the man that he was today made for some great reading and really, how sexy was he? I wanted to do him right from the jump which is always a good sign. He was an ass when he was younger but he learned from his mistake and he turned out to be an a-okay man. I really enjoyed the fact that Andersen didn't try to downplay Cade's teenage antics with the whole bet thing. I loved that we saw how much Cade regretted it all and how much he wanted to make things right with Ava...and even with all of that, he didn't come off as some cheesy bonehead. He came off real and I liked him. What surprised me in this book was Ava. She starts off as this great heroine and as you dig deeper into her life and get to know more about her, you can see the insecurities all over her. I understood her insecurities and even sympathized with them and what I enjoyed about Ava was that she wasn't blind to how dumb she was being (when she was being dumb) where Cade was concerned. She was woman enough to realize her shortcomings and I respected the hell out of her because of it. I'm usually not a fan of playing games but the games that these two had going on cracked me up. The whole teasing and Eduardo stuff had me laughing all the while I was reading it and it all added to the overall reading experience. This wasn't one of those books that was deep and held all of life's meanings in it but it was still an enjoyable read. The one thing that was a bit of a downer for me was the whole Tony thing. His whole deal with the hidden treasure and what not, I didn't care for as it didn't mesh well with the rest of the story but still, I enjoyed everything else to overlook that part. This book is the perfect summer read because of the steamy romance and charming characters. It was nice to see the friendship between Ava, Jane and Poppy. I enjoyed their scenes together and I really enjoyed seeing Beks peppered into the story (I so would have loved to get to know Beks more). I'd definitely recommend this book to fans of Susan Andersen and fans of contemporary romance. It's a good one. Grade: 4.25 out of 5 This review was originally posted on Book Binge by Rowena.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Holly

    I can't tell you how excited I was to finally read this book. I've been waiting years for it to be released. Thankfully it lived up to my expectations. What Cade did to Ava in high school was pretty unforgivable. High school is such an emotional, trying time anyway - and Ava constantly felt fat and out of step with everyone else. Her mother really fed into that. So his betrayal was even more devastating..because for the first time in her life, she actually felt beautiful. To know it was nothing I can't tell you how excited I was to finally read this book. I've been waiting years for it to be released. Thankfully it lived up to my expectations. What Cade did to Ava in high school was pretty unforgivable. High school is such an emotional, trying time anyway - and Ava constantly felt fat and out of step with everyone else. Her mother really fed into that. So his betrayal was even more devastating..because for the first time in her life, she actually felt beautiful. To know it was nothing more than a cruel bet to him was almost more than she could handle. I really felt her pain. Not only on the day it happened, but in the years since, as she tried to overcome her low self-esteem and become comfortable in her body. She has, for the most part. But she still has flashes of insecurity, especially after she speaks to her mother. That really worked against her and Cade as they tried to work through their past issues. It was hard to read sometimes, knowing how the past shaded everything in the present. I like that Andersen didn't shy away from that aspect of their relationship. Ava was hurt by Cade and that played a large part in their current story. They had chemistry in spades, but lust isn't everything. They also came to care for each other, but love isn't everything either. They both had to learn to forgive in order to move on from the past. I really liked that Ava wasn't a stick figure in the present day. She might have been overweight in high school, but now she's a healthy size 12. Which is pretty awesome in a world full of size 2 heroines. This is a sweet tale with a lot of emotional depth. They're journey from past to present wasn't always easy to read, but it was compelling. I couldn't put it down.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Lucy Monroe

    This is a great read. I quickly moved it to the top of my TBR pile after Susan gave an interview on my blog. I couldn't wait to read it and once I started it, I couldn't put it down. This is a great read. I quickly moved it to the top of my TBR pile after Susan gave an interview on my blog. I couldn't wait to read it and once I started it, I couldn't put it down.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Cyndi

    I had some problems with this book. Although I thought Ava handled most of the relationship with Cade like an adult, I don’t quite buy her forgiving him to the point of a romance. What he did to her as a teen was just too cruel.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Bekah

    Cade and Ava have known each other all of their lives, and truth be told Cade has always had a serious crush on Ava, but a lousy way of showing it. He’d put spiders on her, and look up her skirt and then the ultimate betrayal; he slept with her, the ‘fat girl’ to win a $200 bet and humiliated her in front of the whole school. 13 years later after this life altering betrayal finds Cade and Ava working together. Cade is a Hollywood documentary producer and Ava a personal concierge. Cade offers her Cade and Ava have known each other all of their lives, and truth be told Cade has always had a serious crush on Ava, but a lousy way of showing it. He’d put spiders on her, and look up her skirt and then the ultimate betrayal; he slept with her, the ‘fat girl’ to win a $200 bet and humiliated her in front of the whole school. 13 years later after this life altering betrayal finds Cade and Ava working together. Cade is a Hollywood documentary producer and Ava a personal concierge. Cade offers her a deal she can’t refuse and their professional relationship begins. Keeping it professional though might be a little bit of a problem. I haven’t read a Susan Andersen novel that I really loved since Present Danger and Obsessed. I loved her earlier darker, grittier works, but Playing Dirty was such a fun and sexy read! I loved the premise of this book; a boy who did the low down dirtiest thing a boy could do, and then 13 years later had to redeem himself. I wondered if he would be able to satisfactorily do it. I’m sort of hard to please in this department but after his numerous attempts to apologize, his honesty about his actions, and his willingness to give her space AND accept that he didn’t deserve forgiveness just because he requested it repeatedly really made me believe in his sincerity and true remorse. Also this speech he gave her helped A LOT: …he reached across to lightly trace his fingertips over the thrust of her cheekbone and down her cheek. The edge of his thumb brushed the outer curve of her lips, dragging the lower lip open for a second before his hand continued on to her chin which he lightly grasped. He merely gazed at her for an attenuated heartbeat, his eyes bluer than a tropical sky. “If you believe nothing else,” he commanded in a low, I’m-not-screwing-around-here voice, “believe this. You gotta be aware that you’re a knockout now, but even then? Baby, you may not’ve measured up to your mama’s standards, but I thought you were—God, Ava—so ripe and round and beautiful.” His mouth quirked in that crooked smile. “And seeing you naked remains to this day one of the highlights of my life.” Turning her loose, he opened the door and climbed from the car. One hand on the roof and the other holding the door ajar, he leaned back in. Gave her a look of sizzling intent. “Think about that.” I loved quite a few things about this book, mostly that it was so engaging and easy to read. Once I picked it up, I could not put it down and had to return again and again to find out what was going on with Cade and Ava. I also loved how Andersen wrote Ava. She was a real woman with curves. Big juicy curves. No willowy blonde reed thin heroine, but a size 12, 150 pound lusciously gorgeous red head. And she knew how to work it. It took her some time to work through her issues, particularly and understandable her weight issues, but she worked them out. And it was wonderful that Cade, the person who aided in creating her insecurity issues, was the one who was able to help break them down. And in such a wonderfully sweet and loving way. Their relationship and interactions felt real all throughout the book and I really appreciated that. Finally, the hotness factor was off the charts! Just as I remembered from past books of Ms Andersen’s that I have read. I needed a nice big cold glass of ice water after the tension had built and built and finally exploded! I just wish there had been more! Can't get too much of a good thing, right?? :-) My only complaint about this book is that there were a *lot* of ‘product placements’ within the story. A few I don’t mind, but there were so many that it took me out of the story for a bit and I found that irritating. We had references to Kate Spade bags, the OnStar feature in Cade’s rental, his MacBook Pro, Ava’s TriPedic mattress, and her Adidas Supernova Adapts. I thought enough already! In the end though, I highly recommend this book to any contemporary romance fan out there. It is the third book in the Sisterhood Diaries trilogy, but I read it as a standalone and had no problem with that at all. If you’ve never read a Susan Andersen novel this certainly is a strong example of her talent and worth your time!

  20. 4 out of 5

    KimberlyRose

    A sexy little second-chance contemporary novel with likeable characters and an engaging plot that can be read as a standalone. The heroine is a size 14, which was lovely, and her mental struggles with her weight were believable. I would have liked it better if she didn't always comfort herself when she was feeling body-shame by saying things such as, 'but I'm smart/successful.' What if you lost those identity attachments, lady? The hero was imperfect, making big believable mistakes in his youth bu A sexy little second-chance contemporary novel with likeable characters and an engaging plot that can be read as a standalone. The heroine is a size 14, which was lovely, and her mental struggles with her weight were believable. I would have liked it better if she didn't always comfort herself when she was feeling body-shame by saying things such as, 'but I'm smart/successful.' What if you lost those identity attachments, lady? The hero was imperfect, making big believable mistakes in his youth but growing into a stand-up guy... who occasionally still pouts. The novel does suffer from a surface skim technique used to explain, to create tension, or to propel the plot forward. Tony, a secondary character, was pure forced plot device. It would have been a stronger story if he were a real person, so to speak. The sudden introductory thought the hero has about forgiving his mother and for what, was introduced ridiculously late and therefore a wasted opportunity for strong character growth scenes. Overall, a believable journey with characters I liked and a story I found interesting.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Splage

    The prologue starts out with big promise- the heart of the story. Ava is a chubby beauty, a senior in high school, a confident and witty girl. She has had a HATE relationship with Cade since she was 8 years old. Even though he would put spiders on her, pour drinks down the front of her pretty dresses, or step on her feet while dancing, she never let him get the better of her. She always put him in his place quickly and never would back down. Well things changed later senior year when she worked The prologue starts out with big promise- the heart of the story. Ava is a chubby beauty, a senior in high school, a confident and witty girl. She has had a HATE relationship with Cade since she was 8 years old. Even though he would put spiders on her, pour drinks down the front of her pretty dresses, or step on her feet while dancing, she never let him get the better of her. She always put him in his place quickly and never would back down. Well things changed later senior year when she worked on a class project with him and got to know him... and gave him her virginity. She was on cloud nine until in front of the whole cafeteria he accepts $200 from his friends for "bagging the fat girl". It actually made me sick because there was no remorse from Cade just humiliation for Ava and this is where the book lost steam for me.Although Ava does get a little pride back at the time by announcing Cade McGraw should be called "quick draw McGraw" and her two best friends (from the previous books) get a few jabs in themselves- I am all for retaliation. Cade & Ava come back together 13 years later when they are both successful and beautiful, but I still never felt the remorse from Cade that he should have felt- he just kept trying to justify the bet- SCUMBAG!- major groveling was needed. I did like him better at the end when he shed a little of his arrogance and gave a heartfelt explanation- which I still didn't think was good enough. Ava was great; proud, confident, and beautiful (still a bigger sized girl which was perfect) She still gave Cade attitude, but I never felt their connection strongly in the love department. There were a few hot scenes, but the romance didn't get going until page 200, a little sexual tension beforehand, but not much.It was a cute story that was easy to read, but not the best I have read by this author. Be My Baby and Skintight I connected to much better.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Tori

    Playing Dirty (Sisterhood Diaries #3) by Susan Anderson Romantic Contemporary Paperback July 26, 2011 HQN Books Ava Spencer was humiliated and heartbroken when Cade Gallari announced in a crowded lunchroom that he had slept with her on a bet. Now, ten years later, Ava is a bombshell with a successful concierge business. When Cade contacts her with a proposition; he wants her house and services for one month, Ava agrees with one stipulation. This is business only. She isn’t the same naive girl he knew Playing Dirty (Sisterhood Diaries #3) by Susan Anderson Romantic Contemporary Paperback July 26, 2011 HQN Books Ava Spencer was humiliated and heartbroken when Cade Gallari announced in a crowded lunchroom that he had slept with her on a bet. Now, ten years later, Ava is a bombshell with a successful concierge business. When Cade contacts her with a proposition; he wants her house and services for one month, Ava agrees with one stipulation. This is business only. She isn’t the same naive girl he knew back then. Cade regrets what he did to Ava and wishes to make amends. When Cade sees Ava for the first time in years, he decides he wants her services to include nightly bed checks, but Ava’s all business and no play. Playing Dirty started out wonderfully. Snappy dialogue and a dynamic chemistry is apparent from page one between Ava and Cade. You can sense the hurt in these two and the soon we are privy to the background information that explains it all. I enjoyed watching them get to know one another again and rooted for them to “kiss and make up.” The story begins falling apart for me with the introduction of the villain. It reads painfully and doesn’t make sense half the time. The character comes across as inept and his dialogue made me cringe. It didn’t blend at all into Ava and Cade’s story at all. As we progress, I noticed that Ava and Cade seemed to come down with the same affliction-juvenile lines and dragging scenes. Once they acknowledge and act on their mutual attraction, the story stalls. Ava’s inability to get over her hurt from the past becomes repetitive and boring. Cade seems to get stuck in a perpetual, “lets have sex” mode. The ending is quick and solves everyone’s problems in one over dramatic finale. This story started out strong but loses speed quickly and fizzled out for me. Overall Rating: D

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aarann

    My last review of the night and it's gonna have to be short because I have a migraine trying to descend. I actually finished this re-read over a month ago and I'm gonna have to go off an increasingly vague memory here so bare with me. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I love books where the hero actually fucks up in the past, so I can watch him grow as a character. Admittedly, some fuck-ups can't really be sufficiently redeemed but I felt like Ava made Cade go through enough hoops through My last review of the night and it's gonna have to be short because I have a migraine trying to descend. I actually finished this re-read over a month ago and I'm gonna have to go off an increasingly vague memory here so bare with me. I know this sounds counterintuitive, but I love books where the hero actually fucks up in the past, so I can watch him grow as a character. Admittedly, some fuck-ups can't really be sufficiently redeemed but I felt like Ava made Cade go through enough hoops through this book and the ones that preceded it that he proved he was sufficiently sorry for his past actions. For her part, I liked Ava and thought she was a fun character to read about. I liked that she was a larger woman and even though I'm a little tired of authors having a "fat" character who somehow still has a tiny little waistline and no cellulite, I liked that the book stated Ava was a size 14 who managed to draw looks. I did have an issue with the way the book paid way too much attention to the bad guy and his motivations, even though I understand why it went this route. The good guys didn't really even know there was a bad guy until almost the very end of the book, so it would have come out of the blue, but to be honest, reading frequent long-winded bad guy perspectives just isn't my cuppa and I tended to zone out during those scenes. I have no good way to end this one and my head is pounding so I'm just gonna end it there.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jasja

    I love this book, love, love, love it! Did I mention that I really love this book yet? I have to admit that I am not quite finished yet (8 pages left to go), but I am trying to extend my joy of reading this book a bit by 'saving' these last few pages while I can. I feel like I've been reunited with some close and wonderful friends, and I really don't want to say goodbye to them yet. I think Susan Andersen has done such an amazing job in creating a wonderful friendship between Ava, Jane and Poppy I love this book, love, love, love it! Did I mention that I really love this book yet? I have to admit that I am not quite finished yet (8 pages left to go), but I am trying to extend my joy of reading this book a bit by 'saving' these last few pages while I can. I feel like I've been reunited with some close and wonderful friends, and I really don't want to say goodbye to them yet. I think Susan Andersen has done such an amazing job in creating a wonderful friendship between Ava, Jane and Poppy that I'm thinking she must have some pretty wonderful friends of her own. The bond these 3 women share is the main reason why I love this book (and the other 2 in the series) as much as I do, closely followed by my complete understanding of and sympathy for Ava's insecurities. When you're young, sometimes people can really make you feel insecure about something such as weight and it can be a really difficult process to let go of these insecurities, no matter how unnecessary they may be. With some help from her friends (and Cade who seriously regretted -and felt ashamed about- the huge mistake he made in the past), Ava did a wonderful job dealing with (and overcoming) her insecurities. All in all, I had been looking forward to this book coming out for a long time, and it did not disappoint one bit.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Cute finish to the Sisterhood Diaries trilogy. I was a tad bit annoyed with the product placement. I am now very aware that Andersen is a Mac person. Sheesh. I liked how Cade always came back to Ava. He had been trying for 12 years to apologize. I understand how Ava was hesitant to trust him when he said he loved her. He scarred her pretty bad in high school. And I liked that even though he was upset at her lack of trust he said he knew he wouldn't be able to walk away. The side plot of finding th Cute finish to the Sisterhood Diaries trilogy. I was a tad bit annoyed with the product placement. I am now very aware that Andersen is a Mac person. Sheesh. I liked how Cade always came back to Ava. He had been trying for 12 years to apologize. I understand how Ava was hesitant to trust him when he said he loved her. He scarred her pretty bad in high school. And I liked that even though he was upset at her lack of trust he said he knew he wouldn't be able to walk away. The side plot of finding the diamonds was just kind of annoying. I wasn't really invested in that part of the book.

  26. 4 out of 5

    CRO

    2 Stars Oh God I'm so behind on my reviews and I haven't been doing any reading at all lately. Maybe it's for the best - I can deliver a more concise and streamlined review because only the cleanest and strongest impressions of this book still exist for me. It's just your run of the mill romance novel with a second rate "who stole the family jewels" mystery with a superficial, sugary icing exterior of "hey kids let's put on a show". In the case of this book, the “show within the show” framework i 2 Stars Oh God I'm so behind on my reviews and I haven't been doing any reading at all lately. Maybe it's for the best - I can deliver a more concise and streamlined review because only the cleanest and strongest impressions of this book still exist for me. It's just your run of the mill romance novel with a second rate "who stole the family jewels" mystery with a superficial, sugary icing exterior of "hey kids let's put on a show". In the case of this book, the “show within the show” framework is a documentary being shot in the inherited mansion of our heroine. And it has all of the nuance of a book report, as there are random info dumps regarding the documentary film-making process. There was something kind of forced about the documentary interview scenes as a means for the hero (the documentary film maker/ interviewer) and heroine (interviewee) to come to a mutual understanding of one another. I wanted that moment of mutual insight to really ping and it just seemed trite and obvious. Hero realizes how strong, beautiful, insightful and womanly the heroine is – heroine begins to see the thinking, feeling, person under the asshole disguise. This is usually the point in a romance novel that I enjoy the most (besides the sex scenes where the woman comes until her eyes vibrate out of her sockets) – the conversation, the recognition – oh, I know who you are, the attraction and connection. This book didn't really do it for me...that way. But that is not the reason for the 2 stars. This is actually a pretty well written romance - one I would normally give the obligatory - all encompassing 3 stars - love-hate tension between hero and heroine that ultimately becomes love, frisky banter, heroine's obligatory emotional growth and conquering of self esteem issues, fun sex scenes. The book hit all of the marks that you would expect in a contemporary romance novel - it should have been 3 stars all the way... The basic premise of how the lovers first meet - it set my teeth on edge. The hero and heroine (sorry I can't remember their names) are long time childhood acquaintances that went to school together forever. In their senior year of high school, their childish name calling and bickering becomes something more. Of course, in her high school years the voluptuous and buxom heroine was out and out pudgy. And of course, heroine loses her virginity to hero, who it turns out was setting her up for a bet. His creepy friends bet him $200.00 to get him to take her virginity. And of course it all unravels in a dramatic scene in the lunchroom. And I really appreciated how the author handled this scene and brought us into the heroine's head. We clearly see how badly she has been traumatized by this situation, but still, she doesn't allow herself to become a victim. This scene is the first chapter. These are the 2 lovers who end up together, for whom I'm supposed to be rooting. Uugh. Sorry, I just felt that the emotional betrayal of the bet was too much for the couple to overcome. Not that I feel that the heroine should hold a grudge or not get over this...yes – please forgive, reconcile and move on with your life – but 15 years later re-unite in a steamy sexcapade ….ooooo – really not for me. This set up totally bummed me out and jarred me from the lighthearted mood of the romance. That the hero actually had sex with the heroine for the bet– that was the line in the sand for me. Make the bet be that he had to kiss her or record her admitting her undying love – or even take her to the prom and dump pig's blood on her – those are situations from which I can lightheartedly believe that the couple can resurrect a healthy and positive sexual relationship – not the sex bet – ick, yuck. So that's what I have to say about the book – the rest of this is going to be a tangent about author/ reader relationships on Goodreads – so if you're not interested feel free to move on – can't say you haven't been warned. A lot of very recent and public ill will between authors and the reviewers who didn't like their books has seriously bummed me out and made me very deeply ponder this whole writer/ reviewer relationship (or even if there should be one) here on Goodreads. And I'm bringing this up here with this book, because this is a book I didn't particularly like – and I tried to imagine Ms. Andersen coming across my slightly snarky, little review and tried to put myself in her shoes. Would I want Ms. Andersen to then come after me on my own thread? How would that make me feel, if here I was writing my glib little review – thinking that I was only one of a very small group of people to actually read this review – just shouting into the wind and then the wind bitch-slapped me in response (and let's be honest any kind of author response – even benign or cordial would make me piss my pants)? Thinking all of this, I suddenly felt very uncomfortable and some of the pleasure of reading my books and writing my little book reviews eeked away from me. Why am I here? Why do I do this? ( I seriously wish it were for the money – did anybody else read about that guy on the yahoo news feed who writes glowing reviews for authors for a fee and then posts them on Amazon and the ilk – he was making $28,000/ month). For me, I originally came to Goodreads to find a kind of on-line book club – time and transportation prevent me from participating in real life ones. That isn't exactly what I found. I completely understand the Facebook loneliness epidemic now. There's nothing more gloom and loneliness inducing than the entity of internet social media. If you're not careful ,I could see how it could just totally reinforce your feelings of being a molecule of piss in a broiling, uncaring ocean. It's not as if you just jump on here and people are just automatically interacting and commenting on your reviews – like you suddenly become a literary Norm at a bookish Cheers. And while I have not been trolled, I have had my fair share of friend collectors and publishing house interns try to glaum onto me to form their no-cost/low-cost focus groups. So it wasn't the on-line book club of which I fantasized; or the on-line interaction that I hoped – I still do really find a great deal of pleasure in being here reading books, writing my reviews, and reading other people's reviews. Sometimes I will make comments, but only occasionally - passively from the sidelines. I like the creativity of writing my little reviews here. It forces my brain to work and remain nimble. I also like the aha moment of discovering someone else's review and realizing that they felt the same way about a book that I did – and of course I've also found some really cool authors and books that I wouldn't have otherwise. So, in this way, the internet does shrink a little bit for me. How should authors and reviewers/readers interact? IMO – as little as possible. I think I would be just as embarrassed by an author's response to one of my glowing, gushy, total nerdy fan-girl reviews as I would be to an author's response to one of my negative/ snarky reviews. I believe that it is Goodreads responsibility to create programs and forums and formats that allow for positive author/ reader interaction and to help bring attention to some of the truly great undiscovered authors floating around out there. In the same way that I don't think that an author deserves to be trolled or harassed on their own website ( I do believe that they have the right to block or delete unflattering comments – even if that may seem vain – they have the right to preserve the tone and atmosphere of their own piece of the internet )I don't think that it is very cool for an author to drop deus ex-machina style into a thread of someone else's review of their work. Goodreads can only be seen as a marketing tool for its authors; I sincerely hope none of them are taking writing advice from any of us rabble here at Goodreads. I would wish for any author a group of true-blue, scathingly honest, yet gentle editors and readers for that purpose. Because good, bad, or indifferent – we're just the rabble – and the noise we make about an author's work – good, bad, or indifferent only serves to bring attention to that work. I'm also a firm believer in the idea that once that movie, play, book, work of art is put out there – it really doesn't belong to just the author or artist anymore – it belongs to anyone who comes across it and experiences it. It's like jazz – the author just gives us the first few notes and we are all just riffing here. So good, bad, or indifferent – our reviews have got to be flattering right – it's an honor to be talked about even if it is unflattering – better than feeling like a molecule of piss in a broiling ocean, right? So my advice to authors (as if anybody cares) is to ignore those little pesky author dashboards and to just rise above. Because while there is no such thing as bad press, bad behavior will be seen and judged for as long as there is an internet -meaning – for all intent and purposes – forever. My responsibility as reviewer: I can only speak for myself here; I would never presume to impose my views on any other reviewer and I will defend the right of any reviewer to say anything they like about a book – snarky, self-serving, gushy sycophantistic, or apathetic. But for myself, I really agonized about this. What right do I have to say anything about anybody else's work? Also, I didn't like the idea that my words would either purposefully or involuntarily cause someone else pain. Because, let's face it, it's far too easy – far too much fun to get all quippy and condemning... and that's just a slippery slope. I've read many funny, terribly caustic and scathing reviews of books here on Goodreads, but they were all of really well-known, very successful authors. I would hope that Stephenie Myers is not ever here, skulking about reading her reviews on Goodreads, but if she were – I would think the cash from her multiple best sellers and block bluster movies would cushion the blow to her pride. Besides she probably doesn't have time to loll around Goodreads; she's probably way too busy counting her money in her special money counting room. My hubbie and I had a whole long conversation about this – and it all came down to that addendum to the Golden Rule – don't say anything about anyone on the internet that (given the right circumstances) you wouldn't say to their face. And I took a long hard look at what reviews I've written – and I feel pretty comfortable. So here are my personal rules for reviewing 1)try to always back up my comments and criticisms with sort of specific examples (but let's be real – these aren't English papers and I'm leaking short term memory like a shot up dinghy). 2)Even if my review is drifting off into snarksville – try to be balanced and fair – try to find the positive and not make too much fun of the negative – this is a really hard one. 3)Remember who the author is – if this is a new or under-reviewed author, maybe wear the kit gloves and err towards the positive - if this is a mega, best selling author - the gloves can come off. Sorry Ms. Andersen to hijack your review – but this is what I think – if anyone cares.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Nath

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. 4.5/5 (B+) I am soooo happy that Ms Andersen got to write this book and we, readers, got to read it!! Playing Dirty was definitively an enjoyable read with great characters and totally worth the wait :) The best part of Playing Dirty was definitively the H/H. Ms Andersen was able to come up with characters that were smart, likable and real :) I can't tell how much I enjoyed Ava. She's strong and determined, she knows how to deal with people, is good at her job and enjoys it and has great friends f 4.5/5 (B+) I am soooo happy that Ms Andersen got to write this book and we, readers, got to read it!! Playing Dirty was definitively an enjoyable read with great characters and totally worth the wait :) The best part of Playing Dirty was definitively the H/H. Ms Andersen was able to come up with characters that were smart, likable and real :) I can't tell how much I enjoyed Ava. She's strong and determined, she knows how to deal with people, is good at her job and enjoys it and has great friends for support. She's also not afraid to confront her feelings, admits when she's made a mistake and take steps to rectify it. I mean, seriously, isn't she awesome? LOL. Oh sure, life is not perfect. At times, she still fears insecure about her weight and I think it's perfectly normal, especially since her mother keeps harping her about it. Also, she might come from money, but it does make up for absent parents. Still, she's happy and she's comfortable with who she is and her life... and that's really what stood out for me from Ava :) As for Cade, well from the little appearance he had in Bending the Rules, I was expecting him to be a bit more cold, a bit more aloof, a bit more "I come from money." Surprisingly though, he turned out to be outgoing, quite a likable fellow and a very good hero. I liked his personality and his dedication to his work. And also his patience and determination. To keep apologizing and having his apology shoved into his face... well it's not easy. Sure, he deserved it, but not everyone would keep on apologizing. Another point in his favor is that Cade realized immediately the mistake he did, betraying Ava - how much he hurt her, but also hurt himself because he genuinely liked her... and strangely enough, I think it made him a better person. I also appreciated that he was not simply a stupid jock when he was in high school, but that there was circumstances to the bet. It doesn't excuse it, but at least, it explains it. I think the romance in Playing Dirty was great. Given the circumstances, Ava and Cade had a lot to overcome in order to have a successful relationship and Ms Andersen handled it well. I think the secret to this story was balance. In order to make this romance work, there was three points in my opinion: 1) Cade had to grovel, 2) Ava had to forgive him and 3) Ava's insecurities about her weight. What I liked is that Cade did a good amount of groveling - perhaps it helped that the bad thing he did was prior to the book. Too often, heroines let the heroes go too easily in my opinion... but it was not the case with Cade. Another thing that works is that Ava wasn't too stubborn about Cade. She still harbored a lot of bad feelings towards Cade at the beginning of the book, but gradually, she changed her mind. She saw him, interacted with him and her opinion changed. She did cling to the bet from time to time, but that was mainly at the beginning of the story which was understandable. Later on, she was able to let go and move on and that was great. As for Ava's insecurities about her weight, I was glad that it wasn't mentioned at nausea. Yes, it was an important part of the book, but Ms Andersen didn't repeat it over and over again. See, like I said, balance :) There was just enough of everything for it to work for me :) Of course, it helped that Ava and Cade were such great characters with very good chemistry :) All in all, I really enjoyed the dynamic between the H/H... They gave as much as they got which made for a great romance :) Other things that Ms Andersen did well in Playing Dirty was to show the friendship between Ava, Poppy and Jane. I really enjoyed the dynamics between the three women and Ms Andersen gave us just enough of it :) As in, Poppy and Jane did not steal the spotlight from Ava. Also, I really enjoyed seeing Ava works as a concierge, jack-of-all-trade indeed, as well as seeing some of the steps for the documentary. It gave the readers the opportunity to really understand the characters and see another side of them :) Unfortunately, I also had a few issues with Playing Dirty. As with everyone, I find that the diamonds mystery was a bit superfluous. It would have been more interesting to have Ava and Cade try to solve it, instead of adding a villain. His presence broke the pacing of the book in my opinion, because having his point of view just felt out of place. Another issue is that I felt the last quarter of the book was a bit too rushed. I would have liked to have seen Cade and Ava develop their relationship a bit more before declaring their love. When Cade said "I love you" to Ava, I knew she was going to freak out. It definitively was too soon. It's true that from Cade's POV, he's always loved Ava... but she has just forgiven, you've just started "seeing" each other and already, you're saying the words... Nope. At least, Ava realized that she needed to grab onto Cade :) Also, there was the relationship between Ava and her mother. It was nice to see Ava's mother finally realizing what she's been doing all those years... but I thought it was a bit too perfect. Like Ms Andersen was trying to wrap up everything a bit too nicely. Perhaps if it was a bit more developed... LOL, I guess I just wanted the book to be longer LOL. All in all, I think Harlequin was wise to come back on their decision and allow Ms Andersen to write this story. Also, big big kudos to Ms Andersen to deliver, because this was a book readers were looking forward to and it was really good :)

  28. 4 out of 5

    Brie

    Originally posted at Romance Around the Corner Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. If you are a fan of contemporary romance then you must be familiar with Susan Andersen’s books. Because her latest books have been a bit of a hit and miss for me I wasn’t aware that this book was the last one of a trilogy but the synopsis was so interesting that I just wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. After realizing that Playing Dirty was part of a series the first thing Originally posted at Romance Around the Corner Source: we received an e-ARC of the book through NetGalley for review purposes. If you are a fan of contemporary romance then you must be familiar with Susan Andersen’s books. Because her latest books have been a bit of a hit and miss for me I wasn’t aware that this book was the last one of a trilogy but the synopsis was so interesting that I just wanted to read it. I’m glad I did. After realizing that Playing Dirty was part of a series the first thing I did was get the previous book Bending the Rules. The books are related but I think that they stand alone quite well, I haven’t read the first one but I don’t feel like I missed anything. This series is about a group of friends that just inherited a mansion and they are remodeling it in order to sell it. This is the background in which each story takes place. Playing Dirty is Ava’s story. When she was in high school she was overweight and insecure about it, she had an overbearing mother who was constantly criticizing her. Ever since she was little she has been butting heads with Cade Gallari. Everything changes while they get assigned to work on a school project and start spending time together, in a short amount of time they become friends and she ends up losing her virginity to him. The day after, when she enters the cafeteria, she finds out that Cade slept with her because his friends dared him to sleep with the fat girl. Fast forward ten years and he is back in town and needs Ava’s help to film a documentary about the mansion and its former owner. Ava is not happy about it but needs the money, there is a lot of chemistry between them and Cade has changed, but can Ava forgive and forget? That’s up to you to find out. I really love this type of plot devices where the hero does something to the heroine and he comes back groveling (as long as he didn’t cheat on her, I hate cheating heroes). Even though I enjoy this type of stories, I do know that they might be tricky to pull off. When the guy does something as awful as what Cade did to Ava it takes a very good author to achieve a believable happily ever after and a likeable hero. I think that Susan hit the nail with this one. I can honestly tell you that I was rooting for Cade the whole time and that I liked him a lot and by the end of the book I was sure that they were meant to be together. Ava was a wonderful heroine. First of all, she wasn’t a size 0, she was curvy and proud of it. She was a very realistic character because after what happened to her she pulled herself together, lost some weight and got to a healthy size 12 instead of a scary starved size 0 (like I’m used to reading when authors use this particular plot devise) but sometimes she was insecure, she still had to deal with her mother and she still had to forget and see past through what happened with Cade. She grows up a lot during the book and it was great to see a character that was strong but flawed and very relatable to any woman who has ever felt insecure about anything in her life. Cade was a great hero. Susan doesn’t shy away from the errors he made, she doesn’t try to make it look like a misunderstanding, or peer pressure or anything, he was a jerk and that’s that. When he did that to Ava he was going through some very difficult things, but he never uses that as an excuse for what he did even if it does offer an explanation. His character also does a lot of growing up but he does it off-camera, the guy he is now is nothing like the teenager who broke Ava’s heart. I think that I was able to forgive him because he was sweet and goodhearted, but mostly because once he realizes that he loves Ava, he goes for it, he doesn’t care that she is skittish or that she doesn’t trust him, and he just proves that he loves her over and over. I admit that out of the two of them I ended up liking Cade even more that I liked Ava because there were times when she actually got on my nerves, mostly because she was too hung up on the past; I do think that it was a traumatic experience but sometimes I just wanted to say to her that it was enough already. There was this weird secondary plot involving some hidden diamonds and a thief that was completely unnecessary and somewhat boring. The book didn’t need it and I’m still wondering why Susan felt the need to include it. It isn’t even slightly suspenseful because you know who the villain is from the get go, and the final confrontation was anti-climactic. Fortunately the main focus of the book was the relationship between Cade and Ava and this part of the story was almost like background noise that I was able to ignore. Overall I loved the book, the love story was fantastic, the heroine was real and the hero was to die for. If you are a fan of contemporary romance you can’t miss this book. It stands alone perfectly well and even if the story seems like it might be uncomfortable to read it really isn’t. Susan did a wonderful job and I’m glad that I read it because I had a great time. Oh! And the sex was burning hot, there’s a sex scene that was one of the longest I have read all year in a non-erotica novel. That’s it, go and get it, you won’t regret it!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Kento Bookworm

    I hope there's helluva grovelings I hope there's helluva grovelings

  30. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Yummy Bite of Brain Candy Thirteen years ago Ava Spencer was a senior in high school, overweight, and despite her two best friends, not one of the popular girls in school. Dating the wildly popular and sinfully gorgeous Cade Gallari was like a dream. She gave him her heart and her virginity. Then at lunch the day after that momentous event, in front of a jeering crowd, Ava watched in growing horror as Cade's best friend stood up, peeled off two hundred dollars from his wallet, and loudly proclaim Yummy Bite of Brain Candy Thirteen years ago Ava Spencer was a senior in high school, overweight, and despite her two best friends, not one of the popular girls in school. Dating the wildly popular and sinfully gorgeous Cade Gallari was like a dream. She gave him her heart and her virginity. Then at lunch the day after that momentous event, in front of a jeering crowd, Ava watched in growing horror as Cade's best friend stood up, peeled off two hundred dollars from his wallet, and loudly proclaimed that Cade had won the bet to bed the fat chick. Though she'd shed pounds and kept them off for twelve years, Ava would always be lush and curvy instead of svelte and lean. Most days, she's comfortable with her body and can see herself as the sexy woman she is. Most days, she's confident in her job and her stellar people skills, and runs her own business with flair and determination. Most days she loves her life and herself. Standing in the mansion that she and her two best friends inherited, waiting on documentary film director Cade Gallari so they can finalize arrangements for him to rent the mansion for his next film, however, isn't most days. There's no excuse for what he did to her all those years ago, and Cade is most sincere in his apologies. There were mitigating circumstances, but none that would matter to the gorgeous Ava. Truth is, Cade had been hot for her since he figured out he liked girls around when puberty hit, and looking at her now, fully appreciative of her stunningly gorgeous and deliciously womanly body, regret is a hot knife in his gut. He can finagle his way into the mansion, he can even convince her to work for the production as the concierge, that's business and he's very good at his business. As filming commences, though, and they start rubbing elbows, he realizes a few more painful truths. He respects her. He likes the woman she's become. Hell yes, he wants her in his bed again. And Ava is never going to forgive him for the worst mistake of his life. ~*~ This enemies-to-lovers themed romance was a sexy delight, driven by two strong characters with charm and charisma. Andersen entertained and impressed with a sassy, quick witted dialogue, slick narrative, sexy hero, and feisty heroine. Cade and Ava were truly fantastic...um...once we got past the Cade's-a-scum-sucking-maggot portion of the story, anyway, and I especially appreciated the realism of Ava's body image issues. They weren't so overdone that they turned Ava self-pitying, but the flashes of insecurity were completely understandable and sympathetic given her past with Cade and a lifetime with her mother. I thought they were deftly handled as a factor in her burgeoning relationship with Cade, and balanced nicely with her natural saucy demeanor and wicked wit. That mother-daughter relationship was another believable element of the story - scarily so, actually. On a much brighter note, Ava's friendships with Poppy and Jane were warm and wonderful. I haven't read the first two books in this trilogy...yet...but as soon as I finished this one, I snatched up the first two and set them on my terrifyingly tilted tower of TBRs. I don't normally like reading books out of order like that, but this one was enough of a stand alone novel, and Poppy and Jane were such lovely little spitfires as secondary characters in this one, that I have to go back and find out more about them and how they got their HEAs. I have to admit, I didn't care for the small thread of suspense that wended through this book with the grifter's character. He was nothing more than a distraction to me, and I wish there had been a different plot thread concerning the diamonds. I didn't think the book's light tone fit well with the darker thoughts and contingencies he was dreaming up. Then the climax of the conflict with him at the end tread a little too close to slapstick absurdity for my tastes, and set up a way-too-cheesy-for-me resolution scene between Ava and Cade that seemed a little trite and altogether too easy. Still, I had a heck of a good time with this book. I was yearning for some brain candy and a guaranteed sexy, sassy read when I started this book, and Playing Dirty delivered all the goods. Andersen is solidly dependable for that, for sure. The chemistry between the Cade and Ava worked perfectly throughout the book, sparking the fires of all sorts of heated emotions, and the friendships between Ava, Jane, and Poppy added depth to their character definition and story. Mostly, it was just a raucous good time and I enjoyed almost every minute of it. I can't wait to get started on the first two. Disclosure: An ARC of this book was provided to me by HQN Books, an imprint of Harlequin, via Netgalley. This rating, review, and all included thoughts and comments are my own. ~*~*~*~ Reviewed for One Good Book Deserves Another.

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