ARC Review: Playing by Her Rules (Sydney Smoke Rugby, #1) by Amy Andrews

playing by her rules

I received a copy of this book in exchange of an honest review from Entangled Publishing.

I’ve read a couple of book by Amy Andrews, but so far Playing by Her Rules is my favorite. It shows one of my favorite tropes in the romance genre: second chance romance.

Matilda Kent is a style columnist at Standard, but that’s not where she wants to remain. When she accidentally lets it slip that she was involved with the Rugby God; Tanner Stone, she gets tasked with writing a six part feature on him. Being part of the “elite” feature team is what Matilda wanted, but she is not happy with the strings that are attached to the promotion, namely Tanner Stone, the man who broke her heart back in the day. Despite everything, Matilda is determined to be a professional and do the piece, and in the process extract her revenge from the man who broke her heart.

Tanner ‘Slick’ Stone is the captain of the Sydney Smoke rugby team. The man every man envies and every woman wants in her bed. All he wants to do is play rugby, but when the suits from above decree that Tanner has to do a six part feature series for a journo, he is not so happy. But when he finds out the journo is Matilda Kent, a.k.a. his Tilly, he is more than happy to do it, even if it is under the pretext of apologizing to her for his dickish move in the past.

Tanner is one of my favorite heroes of the year. He made a mistake when he was younger, and like Matilda even I wasn’t willing to forgive him, but with each passing page, he won me over. Tanner is the kind of guy who is innately good from the inside and has a strong moral compass. His is quite a rag to riches story. The boy who came from very little to the man who owns the world. Despite his success, Tanner never appears to be snobbish or arrogant, which I loved the most about him. He is proud of his success and all that he has achieved and even enjoys it, but he does not rub it in your face. The various things that you learn about Tanner in the book will definitely make you fall in love with him. Initially I was very wary of him due to his past actions, but the man he became overshadowed his one mistake and I found myself forgiving the man and begging Tilly to do the same.

Tilly too was a great character. She is a strong, independent woman who wants to go far in her career but unfortunately couldn’t. When she is offered a chance, even though hesitant at first, she takes up the project with panache. Her history with Tanner changed her a lot. His actions highly affected her life and not in a good way. She is aware of her shortcomings, but she doesn’t cry and moan about them. She does not want to see Tanner and remember all the good things about him, but he is a force to be reckoned with.

I loved the banter between Tilly and Tanner. They were so good together. Tilly had a big fat wall built around her heart, but Tanner methodically keeps breaking it down. You could see the chemistry between them oozing from the pages. Their dates / interviews were so fun, especially the soup kitchen date. The playful side of their relationship comes forth in that particular episode. There are tiny things that are the most fun in the book. Like the twitter chats of Tanner, his fans and sometimes Matilda, the story behind how Tanner got the name “Slick”, their past despite the big bad ending. The most fun characters in the book are Hannah Kent, Matilda’s grandmother and Lincoln, Tanner’s teammate.

Tilly’s gran was the best side character in the book. She loves her granddaughter, but does not spoil her. She gives you a shoulder to cry on, but she doesn’t give you pity, only the truth and the facts. She is the catalyst that finally brings Tilly and Tanner together, so I love her even more for that.

Lincoln was the quintessential funny guy , who is an unapologetic playboy who loves to make double entendre jokes. I can’t wait to read his story. The man is gonna fall hard and I already love the woman who will bring him to his knees.

While the majority of the book was enjoyable, one thing that irritated me was the constant reference to Tanner’s “ouzo essence”. It was mentioned so many times that it just got on my nerves. Other than that the book and I had a #definitelylove situation.

If you need another reason to love Tanner, I just loved, loved, loved what he says to his Tilly.

This isn’t maybe love or probably love or even definitely love anymore. This is forever love, and I want that to start right here, right now. Today

4 stars

This review also appears in the Gemstreet Reviews