Monday 14 April 2014

#CBR6 Book 33: "Play" by Kylie Scott

Page count: 304 pages
Rating: 4 stars

Anne Rollins is having a really bad time of it. Her roommate ran off, owing Anne more than two months' of back rent, taking quite a bit of the furniture with her. She needs money, and fast, or she won't be able to keep her little sister in college. She reluctantly accompanies her next door neighbour Lauren to a party at Lauren's best friend's, who just happens to be recently married to David Ferris, the guitarist in world famous rock band Stage Dive (see the previous book in the series, Lick).

Anne feels out of place at the party, surrounded mostly by strangers, and her teenage idols, so tries to find privacy on the balcony. There she has an argument with her boss/best friend about how she shouldn't have let herself have been taken advantage of. The conversation is overheard by the object of all her teenage fantasies, Malcolm Ericson himself, the drummer for Stage Dive. Mal claims Anne is a doormat and needs to learn to set boundaries for herself. As their conversation progresses, Anne shows that she can hold her own and catches the eye of most people at the party when she loudly tells Mal to mind his own business.

Still worried how she's going to pay her rent, not to mention her sister's next tuition fees, Anne is surprised to discover a new sofa in her living room when she returns from work the next day. Mal claims he's been kicked out of David's, and needs a place to stay. He also really needs an image change fast and a nice, sensible, steady girlfriend would do wonders to calm his bad boy, rock star playboy reputation. He's already paid Anne's rent and promises that they will keep things completely platonic in private, as long as she agrees to play his girlfriend in public. Not one to say no to the half-naked rock god she's idolised for much of her life, Anne agrees, even though she's not sure how she's going to be able to keep feelings out of the deal.

In Lick, the protagonists woke up surprisingly married after a drunken night in Vegas, and had to figure out if they actually had a future together. In Play, there is very little time for the couple to get to know each other before they're suddenly thrust into a relationship together. Always extremely impulsive, Mal doesn't really consider that Anne might find it strange that a man she just met at a party the night before wants to move into her tiny apartment. They talked, they danced, they had a good time. Mal knows he's irresistible to women and can tell that Anne likes him. He also sees that she's in need of help, and lets herself be taken advantage of far too easily. Because of Scott's skillful writing, there is nothing creepy or inappropriate about Mal's impulsiveness and enthusiasm. He doesn't come off as threatening or condescending, just energetic and a bit oblivious.

Anne really does need someone who takes care of her. Mal is right that she lets herself be taken advantage of too easily. She's also had to be the one who cares for other, after her father left the family when she was a young teenager, and her mother flaked out completely. Dropping out of high school to make sure her mother didn't commit suicide, Anne has pretty much had to raise her younger sister and works hard to give her sister the college education Anne herself could never have. She puts up with her boss/best friend Reece friend zoning her completely, only really having time for her when one of his many dates have fallen through. Reece, of course, suddenly discovers that Anne is quite the catch once she has a rock star suitor and tries, unsuccessfully, to put the moves on her. Luckily, there is no real love triangle here, as Anne really is incredibly sensible, and more or less instantly sees that any feelings she may have nurtured for Reece fade completely compared to what Mal makes her feel.

I was impressed at how convincing and enjoyable Kylie Scott made a romance between two people who got married after a drunken night together, and once again, even though it shouldn't really work, the growing romance between two people who agree to pretend to be in love is very well done. The preposterous nature of the situation is even commented on in the book, which is one of the reasons why you're willing to suspend your disbelief. Mal and Anne are great characters, and the book is very funny. Mal is pretty much a super bouncy dog trapped in the body of a smoking hot drummer. Anne needs someone to make her laugh and take life less seriously, as well as someone who puts her first. Mal needs someone who grounds him and makes him think things through before he acts. It's a quick and easy read, and I'm already looking forward to the third book in the series, featuring the lead singer of Stage Dive and his personal assistant (who's also introduced in this book). I suspect the fourth and final book may be the romance between the bass player and Anne's little sister, as there were definitely sparks every time they met in this book. Either way, I'm in for the duration now.

Crossposted on Cannonball Read.

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