Series: Fourth Down #1
Published by Loveswept Source: Netgalley
Genres: Alpha Guy, Contemporary Romance, Friendship, Romance, Sports
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It’s no secret that sports analyst Jackson Gray doesn’t do relationships. What is a secret, however, is the reason why. Jackson’s life is . . . complicated. And it doesn’t help that his current hands-off “friendship” is with the cute-as-hell new sideline reporter he’s assigned to train. Turns out, not only is the woman damn sweet, she also knows as much about football as he does. Like it or not though, Jackson has to remind himself that sex is the only thing he has to offer . . . until now.
Leila Hart’s fast-growing friendship with Jackson is something she’d never risk, no matter how unbelievably seductive the reward. Becoming an NFL sportscaster has always been the goal, and thanks to Jackson’s fierce support and mentoring, it all finally seems within reach. Problem is, a girl can only take so much of that sexy-as-sin voice whispering dirty, filthy football stats in her ear before she loses all self-control. A workplace romance with Jackson is a disaster waiting to happen, especially for someone with big dreams . . . and secrets of her own.
I have made no secret of my love of sports romances, and generally speaking every time I read a book blurb about something having to do with sports, I know its a book for me. Normally the books tend to be about the players or sometimes the coaches, but this was a little bit different. The main characters don’t actually play or work for any sports team, instead they work for a television station devoted to football. Our hero is the senior analyst and our heroine is new to the network, and works as a sideline reporter. This really intrigued me, and I had high hopes. High hopes that thankfully panned out beautifully.
So our book starts and first off the chemistry is just off the charts between Leila and Jackson, I loved it, they have a great dynamic. Also the first thoughts Jackson has about Leila is that she’s a beautiful liar, which was just perfect, I know that sounds horrible, but the context was just right, and trust when you read it you will get it and you will love it. The thing about both Leila and Jackson is that they both know they like each other and have fantastic chemistry, but neither one them has any intention of acting on it. Leila doesn’t want to mix work and sex together, she wants to excel at her job and be taken seriously. Whereas Jackson has a complicated life (one that won’t be revealed until pretty far into the book) and because of that complicated life he never does anything more than fun between the sheets, no breakfast. And when it comes to Leila, Jackson knows he is going to want more than no strings.
For a good section of the book these two people are great friends, and its really fantastic to see the two of them bring there friendship to such a great place. It never gets boring with them just being friends, the work dynamic, the progress Leila makes at her job, work conflicts, all make this book flow fantastically. And then when the switch flips and they start taking it to another level, well lets just say it gets even better.
There is a lot to be said about this book, especially the last half, because so much happens, and the book goes in a direction I really honestly can say never saw coming. But the shift didn’t feel wrong, it felt interesting and compelling. I found myself trying to fit the pieces together, trying to figure out what was going to happen next, would these two people be able to find a way to make things work? In spite of all the things that had happened? I didn’t know, truly. I don’t want to ruin anything for anyone, so I won’t go into detail about the second half of the book, but I will say that Leila and Jackson’s dynamic truly makes this book as great as it is. You rarely have two people who genuinely just want the other to have all their dream come true, and willing to help make them happen. It’s great to read.
During the course of the book you are introduced to some of Jackson’s friends, and their characters are just fabulous, I can’t wait to read their stories in the coming books of this series. Without a doubt a fantastic start to a new series, one I am already a huge fan off.
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“My life is . . . complicated.” Jackson broke his gaze away from her. “A relationship would be doomed to fail from the start.”
He sounded genuinely disappointed. Almost wistful. The way her grandmother had sounded years ago when her doctors told her she had to change her diet to cut out sweets, her favorite thing ever.
His eyes found hers again. “Funny thing is that I used to be one of those guys who figured he’d have a kid or two by now. Cute hell raisers who’d help me spoil their mom on Sunday mornings, that sort of thing.” Doting affection filtered into his tone. “And vice versa. A partner in crime who’d help me plan surprises for the kids that would be so stinkin’ adorable that I’d max out the memory on my phone taking photo after photo.”
Good grief, she was pretty sure one of her ovaries just fainted.
Leila had the sneaking suspicion that she was going to fall for this man. Hard. “So because of your secretly complicated life, you only date women who want . . .”
“Sex.” His eyes stayed glued to hers as he dropped the one word like a bomb. “Just sex. At their place, not mine. Occasionally, with lunch or dinner as well, but never breakfast.”
Wow. That was the very definition of just sex, alright.
“That honest enough for you?”
Yep. That worked. Did it settle her curiosity at the moment? Unquestionably. Did it get her to want to widen the number of spaces between them on the game board?
Not so much.
She watched him watch her reaction to his answer, and gave him the smile she knew he wasn’t expecting. Along with the follow-up she knew he really wasn’t expecting. “So you flirting with me earlier was you picking up on some sex-only, no-breakfast-in-bed vibe I have going on?” she teased. “That’s a pretty powerfully accurate gift you got there, Skippy.”
Aaand they were back to standing on the same square on the game board.
“Sunshine, why do I get the feeling you don’t really have a boyfriend?”
* * * * *
Jackson found his palms flat against the wall on either side of her shoulders before he could stop himself. And yet he did nothing to remedy what was surely a bad decision on his part, work-wise. Instead, he just watched her, and waited for an answer.
Leila’s gaze pulled away from his a moment later, and dropped down to his tie. While her teeth sank into that lush lower lip he’d been fascinated with since yesterday, she reached out her free hand to straighten and smooth out his tie.
Oddly, the unbidden action was a penetrating fist to his chest. He hadn’t been lying about having had more than a few passing thoughts of a wife and kids to spoil. And this tie-straightening? It belonged right there in the vault with all the other untouchable daydreams for his life.
When her lips parted then, instead of an answer, he got another question. “Why do you insist on calling me sunshine?”
“You don’t like it?”
“I’d rather you call me by my name.”
Exhaling slowly, he admitted, “Me too. Which is why I’m sticking to sunshine.”
Eyes still glued to his tie, she resumed her distracting lip biting, looking as reflective as she did amused. “So does that mean I shouldn’t call you Jackson?”
Holy shit, he liked the sound of his name on her lips. Too damn much. “Call me Jackson.” It wasn’t a reply to her inquiry. It wasn’t even a request. It had edged over to a demand…