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    Back In The Game

    Back In The Game is an entertaining romance with a hint of magic. I really like how Lori used a Hope Chest to weave some magic into Breeanne and Rowdy's story. It's a small part of their story, but a unique starting point. I really liked Breeanne. She has been through a lot in her life but she doesn't let it hold her back. I like how even though she has a safe place with her family and their business, she has her own dreams she is pursuing. She's not taking the easy way, and she is willing and wants to work hard to prove herself. Working with Rowdy on his book will help her goals, if not her love life too!! Rowdy wants to do the right thing in life and work, but he has secrets that could hurt more people than just himself. I like his sense of loyalty even as he is so conflicted internally. Neither Breeanne or Rowdy are perfect and there are quite a few rough patches for them. The fact that they were both so attracted to each other but took their time acting on it really worked for them and what else is happening in their lives right now. Their problems, worries, and hopes make them real. I like that they both see so much good in the other that the other doesn't necessarily see. I could feel the connection between them, and the dialogue between them was catchy, making me part of their world. Their characters really touched me. There are various secondary characters who all have relevant roles in Back In The Game without clogging up the main plot. I liked the strong sub plot and bit of mystery surrounding Rowdy, between this and the budding relationship between Rowdy and Breeanne, Lori kept up a smooth, easy to read, flowing story. The first in a new series, Back In The Game has me excited for the next book in this series. I'd recommend Back In The Game to contemporary romance readers.
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    Great read

    I enjoyed this book very much and I am excited for the rest of the books coming in this series. I love the way Lori Wilde weaves a bit of the magical into her stories and she didn't let me down in this one. Breeanne Carlyle has had rough times in her life but she is ready to spread her wings and really live now. With her medical problems in her past she wants to hopefully get on with her career as a writer. Her first job, being a ghost writer for hometown hero Rowdy Blanton. Big league baseball player who had to abruptly leave the game he loved. The story definitely turns into much more than she ever hoped for. This is a fun read and one I definitely recommend.
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    Fun & Different

    Breeanne is tired of being the one that everyone's so careful with, the one cautiously walking through life instead of running with abandon, the one who still lives with her parents and can't seem to get her writing career off the ground. So when she hears that baseball star and local celebrity Rowdy Blanton is looking to hire a ghostwriter, she's all in. But... Cheetah print is never acceptable. Never. Also, I now realize there should be a limit on how many vowels are allowed in a name. Judging Covers: I really like this cover. Well, the big yellow stripe on the side is a little odd, but the composition of the picture is just perfect. I hadn't even planned on requesting a book, but my eyes kept going back to this cover. The Verdict: First off, I should say that I thoroughly enjoyed this book. There were lots of really funny and sweet moments throughout, but at the same time, I'm not sure what to think of it. While still a great read, the plot heads off in several directions, only one of which is thoroughly explored. First there's the fantasy element. Breeanne sees what appears to be a hope chest at an estate sale, and a creepy old woman nearby drives a hard bargain to sell it to her. The chest has some cryptic notes and several locks but no key. And when Breeanne tries to point out to her sisters the woman who sold her the chest, the woman has vanished. Or maybe she didn't exist in the first place. And then a few days later a mysterious old woman just happens to drop off a key that fits just one of the locks. Unfortunately, that key opens the compartment that contains a fashion crime — a cheetah print scarf — and while Breeanne thinks it's the softest material in the universe, everyone else who touches it finds as silky as burlap. Except Rowdy. Because it's (hideous) magic. Then there's the romance. This was clearly the strongest theme, based around Breeanne, who has led a sheltered life filled with surgeries and isolation, and Rowdy, who made a name for himself in baseball but may have lost everything if he can't recover from an injury. She's not overly self-conscious of her scars, but she's well aware that her life has been very different from others, and she's not showing them off. Rowdy is a bit lost and angry that his career may be ruined, but he keeps his cool around most people and plays up his local celebrity status to hide how directionless he is. Then there's the conspiracy/mystery/crime element, since Rowdy didn't injure himself in a game or training; he was attacked by some unknown man with snake tattoo, and his attacker has never been found. Until he ties the attacker to the team manager. Who hates him. And then signs his brother to screw with Rowdy even more. And there might be some doping going on. And Mr. Mean Team Manager is afraid Rowdy will spill the beans in his new autobiography, so of course there's more suspense to be had. Rowdy hires Breeanne, a struggling author, to ghostwrite his story, and in their spending time with each other to records the details of his life for the book, they get to know each other pretty well. Breeanne is rather plain and nothing like the women who normally surround him, but that seems to be the draw. As their love story unfolds, she tries to seduce him, so she can experience the things most women her age already know well, and they begin to blur the lines between friendship and more. Through it all, you can't help but like the characters, their refusal to fall into any one category of person, their utterly human traits and genuine caring for each other. Along the way, the fantasy element rears its head from time to time, as does the suspense bit, and it culminates in what appears to be a betrayal. Rowdy gets past it in a way that's altogether atypical for romances, and while I felt that was completely unrealistic, it led to a very sweet happy ending. The story itself was a lot of fun, and I loved both the main and secondary characters. However, despite the neat wrap-up and the introduction to happily ever after, I'm not sure I was entirely convinced. I liked it, and it was a fun read, but that hideous scarf really didn't belong in the story. It was enough that the Breeanne and Rowdy defined opposites attracting and that they faced the conspiratorial threat to his career, and I'm sure the series could be tied together by the town. There really wasn't a need for the oddly placed element of magic. ***FicCentral received this book from Harper Collins (via Edelweiss) for free in exchange for an honest review.
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    Sweet Small-town Romance

    Welcome to Stardust, Texas where it’s all about baseball, romance and family, with a little bit of magic sprinkled on top! Breeanne Carlyle has been sheltered and coddled all her life, unable to participate due to major health issues but with a clean bill of health, she is ready to live her dreams. At the top of the list is her writing career and the perfect opportunity arrives in the form of ghostwriting an autobiography for Stardust’s famous son and star baseball pitcher, Rowdy Blanton. Rowdy is back home recovering from a career-threatening injury and taking a breather from the machinations of his team management. Breeanne may be a plain Jane in looks, but her spunky, fun personality and zest for life eclipses her looks. Rowdy has depths that he keeps hidden underneath his charming smiles and teasing comments. Their mutual attraction intensifies as they spend together and get to know each other. Secrets and fears are shared, blackmail plots and intrigues come to light and bonds are tested. I really enjoyed reading Breeanne and Rowdy’s story and loved Breeanne’s creative cursing. I also loved her supportive family and look forward to her sisters’ stories. The inclusion of the magical elements of the hope chest and the wishes puts what could have been a run-of-the-mill romance over the top. BACK IN THE GAME is a perfect and sweet small-town romance. Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.
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