Synopsis: As an accomplished architect, single dad of teenage twin girls, and co-owner of The Playground, Raleigh’s hottest jazz and blues club, it’s an understatement to say Malcolm Cobb has his hands full. Add to that an ex-wife who knows how to bring the drama, it’s no surprise he has little time or inclination for a personal life. But when he spots stunning, voluptuous Cilla Jameson, he’s suddenly considering rearranging his schedule and setting aside his concerns.
Independent and successful, Cilla would love to be in love. But when it comes to men, she has a lengthy list of requirements. And “no children” is at the top. Yet she can’t help being intrigued by Malcolm. He’s handsome, fascinating, respectful—and up for a challenge. But is Cilla? After all, the man has baggage—and it is fully packed. Can she handle the ex who’s determined to keep him single? Or the twins who are not quite the angels Malcolm thinks? She’ll have to decide, if she wants to play for keeps.
Review: Typically romance novels have a little bit of a cat & mouse feel to them, but I didn’t notice that so much with Playing for Keeps. Cilla and Malcolm jumped right into a relationship that quickly blossomed into a love affair and then marriage. And perhaps that’s why it rang untrue for me.
Cilla, a successful woman with no children of her own and the freedom to do as she pleases, willingly gives up that freedom almost immediately to parent her boyfriend’s twin daughters…teen twin daughters at that. What was her motivation for that? Malcolm’s love was just that strong? The reader never really finds out because while the author takes the time to create a background for Malcolm, outside of a friend/coworker that Cilla speaks with a few times, we don’t know much about her and the people that shaped who she becomes.
On the other hand, we’re introduced to Malcolm’s mother, his daughters, his business partner/best friend, that friend’s wife, etc. We know what attracts him to Cilla, how he came to own two businesses, all about his failed marriage, etc. Though some readers might be delighted to see a story that relies heavily on the point of view of the male protagonist, I think it’s important to tell stories from both sides, in the name of balance.
Billed as a romance, Playing for Keeps spends much more of its time focusing on everything but romance. At times, it was easy to forget that I was reading a love story. In fact, it reads more like a Tyler Perry script except, for once, the woman saves the man. That’s not to say that I won’t read anything else from the author. I’ll just have to do my due diligence before I do.
Published: October 2015
Disclaimer: Copy of book received from publisher, opinions are my own.