Monday, May 21, 2012

Review: Rules of the Game by Sandy James

Rules of the Game
Sandy James
April 2, 2012
Carina Press
76,000 wds

Synopsis (from the publisher):
 Kathryn West has it all – she’s a confident, bestselling author living it up in New York City. Too bad she doesn’t actually exist, and is only timid Maddie Sawyer’s pseudonym. Determined to attend her high school reunion with a man right out of one of her racy romance novels, she plots to find a sexy bad boy who’s up to Kathryn’s standards. 
 She finds Mr. Perfect shooting pool in a biker bar. He’s a blue-collar hunk who just happens to look great in leather. But the mysterious Scott Brady has some rules of his own: he won’t agree to her deal unless she poses as his girlfriend in front of his family and friends first. As the reunion nears, Maddie tries to maintain her carefree façade, knowing she’ll soon face some old ghosts. 
She’s torn between her growing attraction to Scott and the nagging feeling that he’s hiding something important. Will she still want him when she finds out his secret? What about when he discovers hers?

I started reading this book expecting a fun, light romance novel. A self-proclaimed boring, mousy woman wants to hire a "bad boy" to help her change her image and show off to old classmates. A plotline that's been done before, but one I still enjoy reading. About 50 pages into it, I was wondering how the author was possibly going to keep this story going for another 150 pages or so. Then BOOM! the twist came - one I was not expecting it at all and one that changed the tone of the book completely. Don't get me wrong, it was still first and foremost a romance, but now it had so many more layers. Layers that forced me to sit up and take this book more seriously than I had intended and compelled me to keep reading because I honestly didn't know how it would end. My only complaint is that at times it seemed like she was trying a bit too hard to make this book more serious and maybe added in one too many challenges -- there're only so many dramatic incidents a person can have in their life without it seeming unbelievable(I'm intentionally being vague to avoid spoiling any of the story - if you read it, you'll know what I mean). Maddie (the heroine) becomes a little annoying with her over-the-top prejudices about Scott's profession, but she redeems herself later in the book. I really enjoyed watching their relationship evolve as they learned more about each other.

 Even without all the twists and drama, this book would have been worth reading just for the pleasant romance alone. But, Sandy James impressively takes some not-so-pleasant subjects and uses them to add depth to what would have been an otherwise run-of-the-mill love story.

Rules of the Game: 4/5 stars
Cover: 3/5 (while pleasant enough, doesn't reflect the book in any special way)

Note: I received a copy of this ebook from the publisher via NetGalley for review purposes.  


  1. Thanks so much for the great review, Laura!! I'm thrilled you enjoyed the story! I always appreciate such an insightful write-up. :)

    1. You're welcome! I love books with moments that cause my heart to ache for the characters - I felt that a few times while reading this one, so job well done! And thanks for stopping by!

  2. If that's the case, you really need to read my new book when it comes out in September. Lots of heartbreaking moments. :)

    1. I definitely will! Sounds like something I'd love! Does it have a name?

  3. The series is Alliance of the Amazons (urban fantasy). The first book is The Reluctant Amazon. It releases on Sept. 3rd. Should be on NetGalley in August. :)

    1. I haven't read much urban fantasy, but a few people have recommended that I would like it, so I'll have to check that out!