Review: Playing Games by Jessica Clare

playing gamesReviewed by Janell

You know how sometimes you just need some brain candy? A frothy, light, fun book to fill the space between longer books that have a little more drama? That’s exactly why I bought this book. This series is all based on reality tv shows. I had read the first one, about a Survivor-type show, because the reviews were like, “It’s better than you’d expect!” And it was! Then I heard the author on a podcast recently, which put these books back into my subconscious. This book is about an Amazing Race-type show, with a tattooed rocker competing, so I basically injected it into my eyeballs.

Let’s discuss the cover for a second. Based upon no research at all, I think this cover has the same models (probably from the same photo shoot) as Tammara Webber’s Easy. And that cover was hot. This picture has the models smiling, so it’s 98% less angsty, and the guy’s hair is softer and you can see more of their bodies. It’s got a sense of fun, which I think is so cool because it’s so different from Easy. Webber self-published Easy at first, and Playing Games is self-published, so I think it’s a set of stock photos put to different uses. I’m in favor of this guy model for everything (and if you dig around on Goodreads you’ll probably find more of his covers) so I’m happy to see him here, representing another hero with tattoos and a pierced tongue. So that’s my in-depth report on the cover.

Now let’s discuss the book. I’m kind of a serious Amazing Race fan, and I recapped it for several years for another blog, so I am too into minutia for that show. I had to set all that aside because Ms. Clare just flaunts the timing and planning that goes into a worldwide race. She flaunts them, I tell you! And I got over it, because Liam is lean and pierced, and I’m shallow.

So Katy is partnered with her brother Brodie on The World Races. Her brother wants to be a reality TV star, so she goes along to help him achieve his dream. Katy runs a cupcake shop, and her goal is to lose early, make $20,000, hang out in Acapulco while the show finishes, and then invest the money in her business. But on the first leg, her team gets switched up with the celebrity rock star team. Brodie gets partnered with the hot chick singer, while Katy is partnered with the brooding lead guitarist.

The winning couple from the previous book is also on The World Races, and Abby gives Katy the advice to “make good TV.” Which Katy interprets as, “flirt with Liam.” So she does, and he responds, and then they’re like, hey, we’re totally into each other and we get to spend all this time together, this is awesome. They even save their money for hotel rooms, so Katy discovers that Liam is pierced Down There, which turns out to be mind-blowing. Meanwhile, Liam teases Katy that her breasts are small and perky, just like her, and he refers to her un-inked skin as a beautiful blank canvas. Aw, he’s so soulful, you guys!

The book breezes over a lot of the show, focusing instead on a few crazy tasks and highlighting how well Liam and Katy work together (and have sex together). Katy’s brother turns out to be a jerk, acting as the villain of the show and trying to ruin her new relationship and her chance at winning. I hope he doesn’t show up in another book because I can’t even with him.

Everything ends happily! Katy and Liam make out and decide to shack up for a while to see where things lead, and he’s sexy all the time, and sweet and chivalrous. The book is told entirely from Katy’s perspective so perhaps I’m parroting her thoughts, but whatever. This is totally the best book I’ve ever read based upon The Amazing Race, and I’m considering reading the next book even though it’s like Ice Skating with the Stars or something like that.

Rating: B+

Click to purchase: Amazon

Playing Games
by Jessica Clare (Jill Myles)
Release Date: June 15, 2013

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