Release Promo and Giveaway: PLAYING WITH HER HEART: Lauren Blakely

Playing With Her Heart
Lauren Blakely
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When you’re acting the role of a lifetime, how can you know if love is real—or all just a part of the show?

Twenty-three year old rising theatre star Jill McCormick has built a life out of pretending. Pretending she’s happy, pretending her long-distance crushes add up to something real, pretending she’s not haunted by the dark secret that shattered her world six years ago. Cast in her first Broadway show, she desperately needs to keep her façade intact, but that’s before she comes face to face with her devastating new boss…

Hot-shot director Davis Milo knows the first rule of directing: never fall for your leading lady. Captivated by Jill’s raw talent, he fights his feelings, but watching Jill on-stage with another man is more than his jealous streak can take. Keeping things professional isn’t an option. He wants all of her.

Soon the ingénue and her director are staying late in the empty theatre, their private rehearsals spiraling into new, forbidden territory. Caught up between fiction and reality, Jill struggles to find the truth in all their staged kisses. But how can she be sure that what she feels is real, and not a part of the play? And when two people spend their lives pretending, what happens after the final curtain falls?

PLAYING WITH HER HEART is a Contemporary Romance novel and is part of the Caught Up in Us Series, although it can be read as a standalone. 

View the book trailer  by Kristy Louise

Other books in this series/Related books:

Caught Up In Us(Book 1: Kat and Bryan):
Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/Kim's 4 star review

Pretending He's Mine(Book 2: Reeve and Sutton): 
Goodreads/Amazon/B&N/Kim's 4 star review

Trophy Husband(Chris and McKenna): 

Song inspirations from the book. Madness by Muse.



She leans her head back, closes her eyes, and lets me run my fingers through her hair. I gather her hair at the top of her head, the thick strands laying across my palms like silk waterfalls. I begin weaving one strand into another, then gathering another layer, recreating the French braid I saw her wearing the other day. The one that made me think of a moment of intimacy, when Paolo and Ava come closer together through touch before they kiss in the next scene. A tender moment, where he wants to take care of her, get her painted hair out of her face. I reach the point in the braid where I’m at her neck, and now I’m simply looping one strand over the other. There are no more lines in this scene until hers at the end, and as I finish I stare at her neck, at the way a vein seems to be beating harder, and then I listen, and her breaths sound like tiny little sighs.

I stop moving for a second, trying to collect myself. I am fighting everything in me that’s dying to touch her. I somehow find the strength to return to character, pulling a rubberband from my pocket, and fastening her braid. She turns around, and looks at me.

That’s not in the blocking. That’s not how she did it this afternoon with Patrick. She didn’t look at him. She uttered the last lines while gazing out at the audience, her body language saying how she felt, as she leaned into him, showing that she trusted him.

But now, she’s leaning back against my chest, and turning to look up at me. A tiny whimper escapes her throat, before she says, “It feels so good.”

I have no idea if she’s acting. If she’s Ava, or Jill, or both. If she’s acting, she’s so fucking convincing because her face says she’s never been more aroused in her life.

My hands are still on her back, my thumbs tracing the tiny strands at the end of her braid. She doesn’t break her gaze, nor do I. I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t what’s happening. But for the first time I don’t feel like I’m in control anymore.

She is.

I stay completely still.

She counters me by shifting closer. “What is happening here?” Her voice is unsteady as she says a line that’s not in the script.

“You tell me,” I say, and I’m not even sure where my own voice is coming from.

She turns around, uncrosses her legs, and mirrors me, kneeling. “You wrote that scene for me, didn’t you?”

I nod. My throat is dry. I can barely speak.

“That day you saw me with Shelby outside the theater, right?”

“Yes.” I swallow. I’m a fucking open book now.

“Did you write it because it makes the show better? Or did you write it for me?”

I close my eyes briefly. I’ve never had an actress question me like this. Then I look at her. “I put the scene in the show because the show needed it,” I answer with as much confidence as I can muster, grabbing the reins from her.

“But you’re also kind of into my hair, aren’t you?”

Now she’s in control in again. My chest rises and falls, and she is looking at me with such a challenging stare, and so much want in her blue eyes. Her breath is staccato like mine. She raises her hands behind her head, pulling out the rubberband, shaking out her hair, and letting it fall around her face.

I am undone by her.

My hands are twitching to touch her. I am aching to taste her lips.

“Do it,” she breathes out in a voice so low it’s barely audible, but it’s all I need.

I place my hands on her face, and cup her cheeks, and she closes her eyes and sighs. Then my hands thread through her hair, and I pull her to me, pressing my lips to hers again. I am unable to stay away from her.

Her lips are soft and full and greedy. But I like to lead, so I kiss her deeply, possessively, twining my hands through her glorious hair, as I trace the soft underside of her lips with the tip of my tongue, eliciting the sexiest moan from her that I kiss away. I nibble on her bottom lip, and she gasps. “Davis.”

My name alone sends me into another realm, and before I know it I am tugging on her hair, exposing her neck, and roaming my mouth down the gorgeous column of her neck, and right before I reach her shoulder blade, I press my teeth to her skin, lightly, but enough to make the smallest of marks.
“Ouch,” she says, but the word tapers off, and the next thing she says is more, in a breathy whisper that turns into a groan of pleasure as I give her what she wants.

Because love like that only happens when it's make believe. At least, I've always thought so. Then I met Davis Milo and everything in my life changed. Irrevocably.

If you have read any of Lauren Blakely's other books, you are already familiar with Jill. She is the room mate of Kat in Caught Up In Us, friend to Reeve in Pretending He's Mine, and sister of Chris from Trophy Husband. So it was time for Jill to get her own story. 

Jill just landed her "almost" dream job. She made understudy and chorus for a new Broadway musical, with her longtime actor crush Patrick as the lead, and a one of the hottest directors in New York, Davis Milo.  Davis is not only at the top of his career, he is also freakin' crazy hot (like melt your panties hot). Charming, and irresistible aren't even close to describing his dominating personality  (and not to mention the amazing book cover with Steve Boyd totally captures his essence).   But Jill isn't too keen on the intense chemistry between them and sees Davis as completely off limits. She is all about seeking what's safe and familiar. In Jill's mind it's all about Patrick...she has wanted him for years and this gig is her perfect opportunity to get even closer to him. And since Patrick has been thrust back into her life, there should be no contest to who wins her heart...the guy who has held her heart for years (even if he does not know it) vs. the one who scares the living day lights out of her.

But acting is really all I've ever done. Acting like I'm fine. Acting like what happened back then...wasn't all my fault. I suppose now, six years later, I'm mostly fine. People who know me say I'm carefree, laidback, happy go lucky. Sometimes I truly am. Other times, I've become so damn good at the appearance of moving on that I even believe the illusion. Fake it until you make it, right?

Davis has been also heartbroken in his past, and he now has rules. First and foremost, he does not date actresses. But Jill knocks him on his ass in more ways than one. He is immediately drawn to her even though deep down he knows he should resist her at all costs. I loved seeing this strong alpha male who makes no excuses for who is develop cracks in his armor. It allowed me to delve into the many layers that made up Davis Milo, giving me a better understanding of what he felt he really wanted and needed. I had a blast watching such a domineerng man lose complete and total control.

Davis Milo is the strangest mix of sophisticated class and unbridled intensity I've ever seen. It's as if a Merchant Ivory movie fucked a Quentin Tarantino flick and made him. 

I tell myself to turn it off for her. It should be business...Besides, I didn't cast her because she's fuckable. I cast her because she's fucking amazing.

There are to many reasons Jill and Davis are wrong for each other, yet nature takes it course. Their chemistry is off the charts and seems to have a mind of it's own. It's like an unstoppable force with a magnetic pull that links them together and puts them in situations they are not prepared for. The best part about it, no matter where they are... lust happens (it's often fast and intense, plus you get the added benefit of it happening in some interesting places). The jealousy these two feel when it comes to each other is a strong emotion that just adds more fuel to the fire. Life imitates art as their interactions and those of the characters in the play become intermingled and gain intensity.

Seriously if anyone is in need of some hot orgasms, it is Jill. She has been through so much and has turned herself off emotionally and physically. She is damaged and fearful of being hurt or causing others pain. Davis on the other hand is completely alpha, sexy, commanding, intense, and possessive. He just oozes power, sexuality and charisma. In addition, he is also vulnerable and incredibly perceptive when it comes to Jill. Davis is the one man who can see the real Jill enough to break down her barriers. Their interactions are so passionate, impulsive, and full of need. And as the walls slowly come down and insecurities and pasts are revealed, it becomes all too real and scary.

Something about the way he looks at me makes me want to tell him things, to open up, to share all sorts of secrets I've never told anyone else. His dark blue eyes are so pure and unflinching that they seem to demand nothing less than total honesty. 

"Because we will hurt each other, and we will fight, and we will argue. And sometimes it'll be less than perfect. But it'll be real. Every second of it will be completely real."

What I really love about Lauren Blakely's books is her sense of humor and fun. This book does have that, but it also delves much deeper and adds more layers. Both of these characters have been broken, have past demons, and are hiding pieces of themselves. They have fears, insecurities, jealousies, and mixed feelings. Their connection is intense, but confusing. They both try to resist but cannot seem to. Lauren Blakely did a wonderful job making the reader feel their passion, their need, and their conflicting emotions. At times it was funny, flirty, and sweet. And at other times heartbreaking and emotional. And still there were times it was hot, steamy, and completely out of control. And she does not give us all of the information about these characters up front, she slowly lets it come out throughout the story adding some mystery as well.

But these characters were so well developed, so real, and so likable that I was totally invested in their relationship. I am so glad she gave us both Jill and Davis' points of view. Davis was such a perceptive guy and I loved seeing how his mind worked and when things clicked for him. Even though I loved his possessive, domineering alpha side, I think I preferred his softer, vulnerable one. His need and desire was palpable and you could literally feel the profound way Jill affected him. I thought it was funny that Jill was a romance novel junkie who liked the dirty talking alphas. But she also mirrored the broken heroine you see in many novels.

I consider Lauren Blakely  a comical genius. Her characters are funny, sassy, and have no filters. She can have you shocked and laughing one minute, but then turn around and make you want to throw your kindle or grab for the tissues the next.  I love this series because each book is unique and complete, but also has common threads or characters. They can be read as stand alones, but part of the fun are the connections. It was great to catch up with some of the favorite characters from the rest of the series: Kat and Bryan, Reeve and Sutton, and Chris and McKenna. Jill is really the connecting factor to all of these people and it was definitely time for her story to be told. And as much as I enjoyed the other books, this one is by far my favorite. It had everything: humor, passion, romance, heartbreak, emotion, love and redemption. It was written flawlessly, flowed effortlessly, and kept me completely engaged until the very end. And Davis Milo is my new book boyfriend. He is so scorchingly hot and perfectly delectable that he made me tingle and swoon...sigh...No wonder Jill did not know what hit her!

I cannot wait for The Breakup Album coming in October. She teased us a bit with the rocker Jane Black in this book and I look forward to her story.

Thanks to Lauren Blakely for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

Lauren Blakely is an unabashed fan of clever jokes, toast, and good guys in novels. Like the heroine in CAUGHT UP IN US, she thinks life should be filled with movie kisses and coffee drinks. Lauren lives in California with her husband and children, and spends her days writing both true stories and make-believe ones.

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  1. thanks for the giveaway you guys are awesome denise smith denise226@verizon.net

  2. I would love to read this one!!! Thank you for the giveaway!!

  3. These are the type of books I love to read. :D Has a happy aura, not too much angst that your heart starts aching while reading (and hopefully no cheating! I hate those plots...grr....).

  4. I love you guys! Thank you so much for giving us great reviews and opportunities to win the books you review! You LADIES ROCK!!! <3

  5. Thanks for the giveaway! :)
    You are awesome :D :)

  6. Thanks for the giveaway and yes bloggers are awesome!!!!

  7. Bloggers are awesome, and this series is so much fun to read! :)

  8. So true, bloggers are awesome. Thanks for the giveaway!

  9. Love Lauren Blakely! thanks for the giveaway

  10. I absolutely love your blog. Thank you for the chance to win some swag from one of the most amazing authors I've had the pleasure of talking to!

  11. That is an awesome excerpt!! Thanks for the chance! (:


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