Series: Sisterhood Diaries

Review: Playing Dirty by Susan Andersen

Posted July 13, 2011 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Playing Dirty by Susan AndersenReviewer: Holly
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
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-half-stars

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

The Series:

Cutting Loose
Bending the Rules
Playing Dirty
This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-half-stars

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Author Spotlight Review: Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen

Posted November 11, 2009 by Holly in Features, Reviews | 7 Comments

Author Spotlight Review: Bending the Rules by Susan AndersenReviewer: Holly
Bending the Rules by Susan Andersen
Series: Sisterhood Diaries #2
Also in this series: Cutting Loose, Playing Dirty
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: July 1st 2009
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary, General
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

Tall, dark and intense, Detective Jason de Sanges excites all kinds of fantasies in Poppy Calloway. But when she suggests the three teens caught spray-painting a Seattle neighborhood be given art-related community service and he just wants to see them pay—all bets are off.
With the men in his family always in and out of the slammer, Jase was raised in foster care. He knows what it takes to walk the line. And his number one self-imposed rule? Avoid his hunger for sexy, irresistible Poppy, who challenges him on everything. But it's a vow that's getting harder and harder to keep.…

 

 

I really enjoyed this book overall, but the hero annoyed me quite a bit in the beginning.

Because his father and brother are “bad guys” who’ve spent more time in jail than out of it, he figures he’s a bad seed too. At first I understood he had bad impulses, but as the story progressed I became increasingly annoyed with him. For more than 15 years he’d been on the straight and narrow. Seems like he should have given up on being an idiot long before he did.

I real…more The premise of the trilogy: Poppy, Ava and Jane are best friends. When they were young girls they befriended Agnes Wolcott, a rich old eccentric widow. When she passed away she left her mansion and all her collections (of which there were many) to the girls, with instructions on which ones to sell, which ones to keep and what to do with the mansion in the meantime. Each keeps a diary and the beginning of each chapter features an excerpt from them. I really liked that.

I wasn’t sure what I would think of this novel going into it, because I didn’t love Poppy in the previous book. I didn’t dislike her, I just didn’t love her. As it happens, she turned out to be a wonderful heroine. I really enjoyed this book overall, but the hero annoyed me quite a bit in the beginning.

Because his father and brother are “bad guys” who’ve spent more time in jail than out of it, Jase figures he’s a bad seed too. Especially based on some things he did in his misspent youth and the thoughts he often has now. At first I understood he had bad impulses, but as the story progressed I became increasingly annoyed with him. For more than 15 years he’d been on the straight and narrow. Seems like he should have given it up and stopped being an idiot long before he did.

I really liked Poppy. Her overall attitude was a good one and I like that though she tended toward being flighty, she wasn’t really. Although she was what many would consider a do-gooder, it wasn’t annoying in the least. She truly cared about the kids in her programs, and though her profession is an unconventional one, she made it work. Often characters who are artistic are written in an over-the-top way, but Poppy wasn’t. She was just a down-home girl who was passionate about her work. Her character was well written.

I liked Jase and Poppy together. Because Jase never experienced any kind of family life growing up, he really cherished the little things about his time with Poppy. Even though I was annoyed with him for most of the book, I couldn’t deny his appeal, or the attraction he and Poppy shared. They just clicked.

I loved the relationship between Poppy and her girlfriends. That was once again my favorite part of the novel. They acted like true friends do, calling each other out over silly things, supporting one another, and generally just being there – whether it be with tough love or understanding. Too often I think female relationships are talked about rather than shown, but that wasn’t the case here. We saw what great friends they were, we weren’t just told.

I also enjoyed the other secondary characters, especially the kids Jase and Poppy were working with. Andersen really excels at writing young characters, IMO. She seems to find the perfect balance between youth and maturity, especially considering their backgrounds.

It must be mentioned (again) how pissed I am that we won’t getting Ava’s book. So infuriating.

4 out of 5

The Series:

Cutting Loose
Bending the Rules
Playing Dirty

Book CoverBook Cover

This book is available from HQN. You can buy it here or here in e-format.

four-stars

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Review: Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen

Posted August 25, 2008 by Holly in Reviews | 5 Comments

Review: Cutting Loose by Susan AndersenReviewer: Holly
Cutting Loose by Susan Andersen
Series: Sisterhood Diaries #1
Also in this series: Bending the Rules, Playing Dirty
Published by HQN Books
Publication Date: May 28th 2013
Genres: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
Buy on Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Goodreads
four-stars

From New York Times bestselling author Susan Andersen, a classic tale of a good girl, a bad boy and the chemistry they can't resist…
Jane thinks nothing can make her lose her cool. But the princess of propriety blows a gasket the night she meets the contractor restoring the Wolcott mansion. Devlin Kavanagh's rugged sex appeal may buckle her knees, but the man is out of control! Jane had to deal with theatrics growing up—she won't tolerate them in someone hired to work on the house she and her two best friends have inherited.
Dev could renovate the mansion in his sleep. But ever since the prissy owner spotted him jet-lagged and hit hard by a couple of welcome-home drinks, she's been on his case. Yet there's something about her. Jane hides behind conservative clothes and a frosty manner, but her seductive blue eyes and leopard-print heels hint at a woman just dying to cut loose!

I’ve been a Susan Andersen fan for a long time, but I was disappointed that her last couple (ok, more than just the last couple) featured stalkers. Trust me, it was starting to get old. I’m happy to report there was no stalker to be found in this one. Though there’s a slight suspense plot involved, Cutting Loose is basically a simple contemporary romance and just what I’d been craving.

I really enjoyed the relationships in this novel. The way Jane was with her two best friends is totally real and just like I am with my friends in real life. Open, honest, straight forward and loving. They knew each other better than anyone else and it totally showed. Jane herself was a good character, though I did wonder at her hangups about passion. Because her parents are crazy, over the top second (or maybe third) rate actors who’re overly dramatic and didn’t provide a very stable environment to for Jane growing up. The thing is, while I appreciate children are a product of their environment and Jane was bound to have some issues, it got to the point where I just wanted to say, “GET OVER IT ALREADY!”. Even so, I enjoyed her sense of humor and watching her come unraveled around Dev.

Dev’s relationship with his brothers – and the rest of his family – was wonderful. They joked and got on each other, but you could feel the love. Like Jane, Dev had his share of ridiculous hangups. He hated being part of a large family growing up because he felt he had no privacy, so he took off to tour the world as a yacht captain. Which is all great and well, but that was what, 15 years ago?

Still, I do think they were great together. I love that Dev stuck up for Jane when her parents tried to put her down. I also love that he helped her break out of of her shell and embrace her emotions more. She was a great for him, too, helping him realize how wonderful his family truly was. I think they really complimented each other. Their dialogue was fabulous and the sexual chemistry between them was excellent.

The suspense plot pretty much stayed in the background, which worked. Had it been at the forefront I don’t think it would have held up. I honestly can’t say much about because it didn’t really work for me. I understand it was necessary in order for some of the conflicts to work, but it was a little over the top.

I really enjoyed it as a whole, though parts of it didn’t work. In the end both main protagonists grew and learned together. The relationships between all the secondary characters were well done and saved this from being an average read.

4.25 out of 5

The Series:

Cutting Loose
Bending the Rules
Playing Dirty

This book is available from Harlequin. You can buy it here or here e-format.

four-stars

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