Tempting the Player by Kat Latham
Series: London Legends #3
Publisher: Carina Press
Publication Date: November 10th 2014
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Libby Hart and Matt Ogden are perfect for each other—as friends. They've known each other for ages. They act as each other's plus-ones. They even share custody of a dog. And if there's always been a little spark between them, so what? It's never been worth jeopardizing their friendship.
Professional rugby player Matt is fighting for a starter position with the London Legends—and that's not the only thing he's fighting. A crippling fear of flying means he's struggling to get his career off the ground. He has no time for a relationship, even if Libby does make him ache. As an airline pilot, Libby's looking for a stay-at-home husband so she can have a family without sacrificing her high-flying career. Matt's certainly not that man.
But just because they don't have a future together doesn't mean they can't have a right now. When Matt asks Libby for help overcoming his fear, they agree to take a vacation from their platonic relationship—whenever they fly together, they can have sex. It's the perfect way to resolve all that built-up tension. As long as they can avoid getting a little too comfortable…
I’m really loving this series. 1) Hot professional rugby players. 2) Independent, career-minded women. 3) Hot Rugby players. Did I mention the rugby players?
I’m a big fan of friends-to-lovers stories. Especially when the friends in question are really close friends. Matt and Libby are the best of friends. They’re neighbors and they often share their thoughts and feelings, along with joint custody of a dog. Matt didn’t realize how important Libby was to him until he has a panic attack on an airplane during some particularly rough turbulence and the team doctor tells him to picture his happy place, and that turns out to be Princess, the dog, and Libby.
His career was on a fast track upward until he got divorced and a breakdown ruined his chances of staying with his team. He traded to the London Legends, a move everyone expected to be mutually beneficial. But for five years he’s done nothing to standout. He occasionally shows flashes of brilliance on the pitch, but more often than not he’s unremarkable in every way. Until his chief rival for a starting position has to take an unexpected leave and Matt finally gets his chance to prove he’s worthy to start. Unfortunately his fear of flying is really putting a damper on his career. How can he be a starting player when he can’t even fly with the team to the games?
Libby didn’t know about Matt’s fear of flying until one of his teammates mentions it in her presence. When he asks her for help overcoming his fear, she’s happy to help. Except, she’s been dealing with an uncomfortable attraction to Matt for some time. One that’s been escalating at a rapid pace since Matt saw her naked. Being alone with him in a small aircraft doesn’t seem like such a good idea. Especially since Matt’s a career man and Libby is looking for a mate who will be willing to stay home and look after their family, so she can focus on her career. Until they decide to use their mutual attraction as a way to relieve Matt’s tension about flying. While they’re home, it’ll be business as usual – no inappropriate touching or couple-like activities. But after they fly together, all bets are off. Except, keeping things separate is never easy, especially since they had a mutual caring for one another to begin with.
I thought Libby was great. She’s a pilot who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants professionally. She’s strong and independent, but also kind and caring. Her feelings for Matt were complicated. She truly thought of him as a dear friend and she wanted the best for him. While she was attracted to him, she realized he wasn’t looking for the same things she was in life and didn’t push the issue or build castles in the sky about him. I did think it was rather shortsighted of her to expect a man to give up a career for her so she could focus on hers. Not that I didn’t applaud her for having ambition, but the expectations she had were a bit ridiculous. Nothing in her life would change, yet she’d have a husband and children? I’m glad Matt pointed this out to her and made her face exactly what that would mean for her in terms of her relationship with her spouse and future children. I definitely empathized with her need to start a family soon, however, since she was 35.
I have to be honest and say it was Matt who made this story for me. He loves a toy Chihuahua, is afraid to fly and has insecurities that made him seem cute and sweet. Plus, he was a badass rugby player. Such a winning combination. Though he’s several years younger than Libby (6, I think, though I can’t remember for sure) he was more self-aware about a lot of things. It wasn’t surprising that he didn’t want to face his fears and insecurities, but I admired the way he rallied when he could no longer keep his head in the sand. I also liked how honest he was with Libby. Not just about himself, but in his feelings about her and their situation. He didn’t pretend they had nothing, or scoff at her dreams. Instead he put it out there that he cared about her but wasn’t looking for the same things she was at that point in time. That he was vulnerable and in need of direction only added to his appeal.
The role reversal, friends-to-lovers theme, strong characters and open and honest development of the relationship really drew me in. It isn’t often I read a book and close it with such a deep sense of satisfaction. Definitely a winning read.
4.5 out of 5