Rules of the Game by Sandy James
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Maddie Sawyer is a successful romance novelist who decides to scope out the clientele of a few biker bars in search of a suitably masculine "bad boy" to hire as her date to her 15-year high school reunion. In one of the most improbably lucky encounters, she meets The Perfect Man, Scott Brady. He's gorgeous, calm, patient, intelligent, sexy, and only seems to have one flaw: he's a slob. Then again, Maddie is no neatnik, so she can hardly complain. Problem is, he doesn't want her money. He wants her to pretend to be his girlfriend so his family will stop fixing him up on blind dates. Her orderly plan flies out the window, though, when he changes the rules of the game on her and decides he wants to date her for real. But both have secrets, and Maddie's past is about to erupt into the present. She will need all the calm support Scott can muster to help her cope with her out-of-control life.
I never expected to be in tears at the end of a romance novel. I mean, really? Tears?! For a romance novel?! Yet, that's exactly what trickled slowly down my cheeks last night as I finished reading in the wee hours of the morning (despite end-of-week exhaustion and aching eyes). James' story grabbed me from the get-go and didn't let up until the last page. I felt like the characters were real people I might actually know, including the angry teenager. And while I heartily disapprove of Maddie's stupidly dangerous plan to hire a stranger to accompany her from New York to Indiana--ladies, do not try this at home!--it was such a good story, that more than made up for the implausibility. I will definitely be checking out more of Sandy James' books.
For readers' advisors: some spicy sex scenes and a few scattered swear words. Character and story doorways vying for primary status.
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