Playing for Keeps by R. L. Mathewson
Series: Neighbors from Hell #1
Publication Date: June 1st 2011
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Done with being the world's biggest pushover, Haley decides that things are going to start changing. The first thing that she was going to do was to put a stop to all the crap that her aggravating neighbor put her through. What she hadn't expected was to be sucked into his world, but Haley has a game plan and she won't let herself forget what the bad boy next door is capable of.
The last thing that Jason expected was for his shy little neighbor to go Rambo on him over some ruined flowers, but he quickly got over it once he realized exactly what he'd been missing. After he decides to take her under his wing, he can't help but notice how nicely she fits in his life. Now the only thing left to do was to convince her that this is anything but a game.
*Author's Note: There is no rape in any way, shape or form in this book. That is one thing that readers will never have to worry about reading in any of my books. Haley does in fact save herself for the right man and since that man is a Bradford, I'm sure that many readers would agree that she made an excellent decision 😉
I read this at some point before, but I didn’t mark it down and I can’t remember when. So I’m marking it as a new read, which might be cheating, but whatever.
Jason and Haley have been next-door-neighbors and co-workers for years. Unfortunately for Haley, they haven’t been very happy ones. Jason is the worst neighbor in the world. He’s loud, has zero respect for property boundaries and, in general, makes her life hell. She’s pretty shy, so she hasn’t worked up the courage to say anything to him. Until attacks her grandmother’s flowers one day and she finally snaps. She confronts him and they end up scuffling in the yard, until a swarm of bees forces them inside her house.
Once there, they both realize neither is as bad as the other assumed. Haley is pretty down to earth, loves baseball and baking, and isn’t interested in Jason at all. He kind of takes her under his wing and helps her come out of her shell. Rather than shying away from confrontation and letting people walk all over her, she gains confidence in herself and starts taking care of her needs, too. In return, she becomes his best friend. They spend the majority of their time together, and settle into a kind of domestic relationship, but without sex. Jason recognizes that Haley is an attractive woman, but he considers her his buddy. Until they end up sleeping in the same bed together one night (in the platonic way only) . Then they have trouble sleeping without each other and end up snuggling together every night. From there things develop into a sexual relationship.
I kept remembering the hero getting all possessive of the food the heroine made, calling anyone who stole his baked goods a bastard. I remember thinking the first time around that it was a little weird, and that feeling didn’t change upon rereading. I think it was meant to be silly and cute, but instead I found it weird.
The book is a little campy and parts of it are just over-the-top silly, but I enjoyed it for the most part. Their relationship developed well from sworn enemy neighbors to friends to lovers. The end drug on a bit and it should have ended at least 2 chapters before it did. I can’t deny it was an entertaining read and the story stayed with me, so there’s that.
3.5 out of 5