Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen
Series: Sisterhood Diaries #3
Also in this series: Cutting Loose, Bending the Rules
Published by Harlequin
Publication Date: August 1st 2011
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When old enemies are thrown together, all bets are off…
Way back in high school, golden boy Cade Gallari publicly revealed he'd slept with "fat girl" Ava Spencer to win a bet. 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…
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.
4.5 out of 5